Voyeur talk us through the making of their debut album, which includes collaborations with their mentor, Kerri Chandler.

Over the last few years, deep house icon Kerri Chandler has dedicated much of his time to working with the younger generation, releasing music by the likes of Krystal Klear and Citizen, plus acting as a mentor to a number of producers. Starting out on MadTech, Voyeur – aka Londoners Leo Picking and Benson Herbert – have benefited more than most from Chandler’s support.

When we spoke to them back in early 2014, the duo told us about their love of MPCs, J Dilla and dusty samples (plus, er, avocados). Those influences (minus the avocados) shine through on their debut full-length, I, released via Chandler’s Kaoz Theory label. Not only does the album bear signs of Chandler’s influence – deep, soulful grooves and rolling percussion for a start – it also features guest appearances from the man himself.

Here they talk us through the making of the album, track by track.

Silents

The whole album features a lot of live recordings from studio sessions, particularly on ‘Silents’, ‘Presence’ and ‘Seamless Seamstress’. The piano recording for ‘Silents’ was done by Leo on a Steinway baby grand. After recording we ran a lot of the elements from the recording through granular synths, creating the distant, sporadic piano looping you hear from the beginning of the track. ‘Silents’ also features overlaying with the Nord Stage via an original Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal, giving the Rhodes sound a really wet and natural tremolo. Most of the string sounds come from the Nord too!

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Presence

A lot of our tracks start with the Maschine. Leo has had a mk1 since we first met and the drum production on this track and many others comes from there. It’s strange to talk about a controller, but the software itself is so quick and clear it can take a few minutes to create a drum pattern that we’re really happy with. As it’s modelled on the MPC it feels quite natural.

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Nina

This track is essentially constructed from samples from one of our all time favourite artists and quite a few other of our favourite records. These samples were then played with, mangled and put together using the Elektron Octatrack. The pad sound, which comes in later in the track, is a layering of the Roland Juno-60 and the Novation Ultranova. The Ultranova is the first synth Benson bought and features on pretty much every track on the album – a very versatile modern synth.

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Seamless Seamstress

‘Seamless Seamstress’ again features many live studio recordings. The improvised jazz drums are by Leo’s old friend Jake Long and the screeching (‘col legno’) violins are by Aimee Ingham. This track was written quite a few years ago and was made around the time Benson bought the Ultrnova – almost all of the synth sounds you hear in the track are from the Ultranova apart from the strings in the build-up, which came from the Nord.

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Space Voyage

Another piece of gear that features very heavily on the album is the Roland RE-201 Space Echo. We have wanted one of these for years and Benson finally got one for a decent price around a year ago . It just has the most beautiful sound. Original tape delays are the best and this seems to have added another dimension to our production technique. It features somewhere on every track but particularly on ‘Space Voyage’ and ‘Long Beach Island’. We wanted to feature a track like ‘Space Voyage’ on the album as we are both big trip-hop and hip-hop fans and wanted some of our older work in here, not just an album of 4/4 club tracks.

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Tough Love

This track is a culmination of pretty much every piece of gear we own. The pads were from the Juno-60, the bass came from the Ultranova, and the drum sounds have come from the Roland TR-8 or from mashed-up disco breaks. Layering acoustic drum recordings with 909, 808 and 606 sounds has amazing results, creating more of a fusion between their tones; this technique features a lot in our drum production.

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Long Beach Island ft. Kerri Chandler

The groove on this record was constructed almost exclusively on the Electribe SX (the red one), which Leo uses sometimes either to process drum sounds or in this case to chop up a sample. The percussive loop is a sample from a record that has been rearranged and layered. Kerri’s vocal of course has the wondrous iPhone 6 compression on it!

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Patron Saint (co-produced By Kerri Chandler)

This track started off as just the chord loop, made on the Akai S3000XL from a sample off a record. The drums started on the Akai MPC2000 but had later additions and manipulation made in Logic and Maschine. The glitching on the chords in the breakdown is done by manipulating the loop size on the S3000XL. We could spend days playing with just that function!

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Spirituality

This tune is all about the Moog bassline. In fact, most of the sounds apart from the drums are from the same Moog Slim Phatty. That thing can rip hard and at a seriously good price. After recording the bass loop successfully for the first time it felt like it could be even chunkier still! So we layered it with the same sound again, with varying live automation, which came out with some interesting phasing sounds in parts.

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Lost In Paris

Samples, samples and more samples! This track is full of them, from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, to Elgar and Ravel and Debussy. Leo did a house clearance for an elderly lady whose brother had been a massive vinyl collector and after listening through selected records we decided some of these orchestral sounds needed a home in a track of ours. We used the S3000XL again to pitch and loop parts from numerous records. The track is inspired by our many visits to Paris, one of our favourite cities to play in!

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Voyeur’s I is out on October 31st via Kaoz Theory.

27th October, 2016

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