With a new EP out on Tresor Records, Irish producer Kerrie flexes her hardware muscles, musically connects to early Detroit heritage and questions how machines are impacting culture. We asked her to walk us through the new EP, Track by Track.

A1. Machine Alliance

The lead track and EP’s title, ‘Machine Alliance,’ has two opposing but intersecting meanings. The first is based on the potential for machines to take over or replace humans. The second refers to my relationship with my machines.

Created with Elektron’s Analog Four, Analog Rytm, Digtakt and a Sequential (Dave Smith Instruments) OB6. The drums and percussion are from the Analog Rytm, and the sub bass is from a bass sample in the Digitakt. I also have a subby 808 kick underneath the Analog Rytm kick for weight in the low end, creating a stomping, steppy groove between the kick and bass.

The evolving swirly FX pad in the background is from the Analog Four, which has an LFO on the filter for constant movement. The trippy looped sequence is a plucky synth sound I created with the Analog Four.

The dub chord stab sound at 1.52 is from the OB6. I jammed a riff into the Digitakt sequencer and detuned some of the notes. When I was at the final recording stage of the track in Ableton, I edited the audio more intricately by chopping/detuning and reversing.

I always use in-the-box FX, the Soundtoys plugins (reverb, delay, Decapitator), some of the Ableton stock plugins, and the FabFilter Pro-Q 3.

Kerrie’s studio

A2. Symbiosis

Again, the title refers to a symbiotic relationship between myself and my machines.

Created with Elektron again – the Analog Four, Analog Rytm, Digtakt – I think this is the most classic sounding out of all the tracks on the EP.  I have performed this one live many times, and it works!

It’s really simple in terms of elements, just one main synth from the Analog Four with lots of dynamics. This sound is a simple detuned chord sound made up of 2 oscillators, which are detuned. The actual sequence is really simple, repeated over 32 steps in the Analog Four with some slides and trig conditions inputted on the sequencer to keep it interesting.

The drums and percussion are from the Analog Rytm, while the bass, pads/fx sounds are from the Analog Four.

I use a few elements or add counter melodies in my tracks, and the structure usually has varied sections. But with this one, I jammed the main part in one take, just gently opening the filter up until the main drop to create tension and then closing it for release.

B1. Technopoly Dream

The title refers to the book Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman. The book tells the story of society’s transformation into a “Technopoly” – a society that no longer merely uses technology as a support system but instead is shaped by it.

I created it with Elektron – Analog Four, Digtakt –, Behringer RD-9, Mutable Instruments Plaits, and my voice. My Analog Rytm was off being repaired by Elektron, and I jumped at the chance to use the RD-9, which was gathering dust in the studio!

This one is straightforward in terms of elements. The RD-9 drums drive the track. I added some snare hits from the Digitakt to create some groove and reversed them in parts to keep it interesting.

The vocal is just my voice saying ‘dream’ repetitively with an LFO on the filter. I created two versions of the vocal with different rates on the LFOs to generate variation in different sections throughout.

A gritty rhythmic layer sits underneath everything, which is from the Mutable Instruments Plaits). The drums/groove remind me so much of Joey Beltram – Energy Flash, which was created subconsciously, but I can’t imagine a better track to be (subconsciously) inspired by!

B2. Ode To The D

The name says it all here – I have a real deep love for Detroit techno. When I got the main riff going on the machines, I could automatically hear elements of Detroit, especially Robert Hood’s minimal style. ‘Minimal Nation’ is one of my favourite albums of all time and I think the first proper techno album I bought. It’s a masterpiece!

Created with the Analog Four, Analog Rytm, Digtakt by Elektron and the Sequential (Dave Smith Instruments) OB6. The lead synth part is from the OB6 synth which I have sampled into the Digitakt as I prefer sequencing with the Elektron sequencer.

I created variations of the lead on three tracks to create a ‘call and response’ groove. I really love the Digitakt for editing audio samples, especially with the most recent update; it’s like a mini Octatrack.

The rest of the track elements are from the Analog Rytm, and the pads and atmospheric sounds are from the Analog Four.

DX1. Replicants

The title is an homage to the legendary Blade Runner movie. I love both the original and the 2049 version.

I used the Analog Four, Analog Rytm, Digtakt plus Plaits and Beads from Mutable Instruments. The vocal throughout the track is a sample from Blade Runner 2049 – it’s from the “cells” scene with K, the main character who is a replicant, being reset to his baseline.

This one is straightforward in terms of elements. The lead synth is from Plaits, and I have created textured layers feeding the output of the Plaits into the Mutable Instruments Marbles module, which is a granular looper.

I tend to sample various pieces of kit in the studio into my Digitakt to use them in live situations and get creative with the amazing Elektron sequencers. The modular synth line is a bit out of time, as I recorded it at a different tempo. I could have fixed this, but I love the wonkiness and human element to it, so I kept it in the final recording.

I always love using broken beat elements in my tracks, which I think is probably due to being based in the UK for 17 years now and also because of my love of electro!

DX2. System & Structure

The title and meaning here refer to my relationship with the machines. A system is a set of interrelated components that work together to achieve a specific goal or objective. Its structure refers to the arrangement or configuration of its components.

I made this with the Analog Four, Digitakt, and the Behringer RD-9. The lead sound is an FM sound from the Elektron Digitone. I have made various versions of the lead sound and copied them onto different tracks on the Digiakt. Some of these will be filtered and sculpted to cover different frequency ranges so they all add up to make one larger sound with lots of movement and groove.

Each layer of sound is also panned slightly differently to create space in the mix. The drums and percussion are from the RD-9, and the pads and atmospheric sounds are from the Analog Four.

DX3. Human In The Loop

The title refers again to the feedback loop between myself and the machines.

I made it with the Analog Four, Analog Rytm, Digtakt, and Sequential (Dave Smith Instruments) OB6. This track was created during the pandemic. Due to having more time, I explored many ambient/electronic styles during that period. It was a cathartic process during an extraordinary and tough time.

I love the freedom of making this style of music. I find I really connect with the machines, and I also find I will pay more attention to the percussive elements and make them more intricate in this style of track.

All of the synth sounds are from the Analog Four, apart from the bass pad that comes in halfway through, which is from the OB6. The percussion is from the Analog Rytm.

Find Kerrie on Instagram.

Machine Alliance is out now on Tresor Records. Listen/purchase on Bandcamp.

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10th May, 2024

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