In this latest Beat Dissected, we demonstrate how to program an electro breakbeat inspired by DJ Seinfeld’s ‘Sakura’.
The title track of DJ Seinfeld’s EP, released on Deep Sea Frequency in April 2018, features a peak-time electro groove running hand in hand with the Swedish producer’s signature lo-fi and found-sound textures.
Beat Dissected is a regular series in which we deconstruct drum patterns, showing you how to program them in any DAW. Just copy our grid in your own software to recreate the loop. To follow along, download the project session here . To enlarge any photo, just click on the image.
If you find this tutorial helpful you might also enjoy our book, “The Secrets of Dance Music Production“.
Here’s the beat we’re building today:
SwingManual using nudge
SoundsSplice, Ableton, Found sounds
As one of the vanguards of lo-fi, DJ Seinfeld’s production techniques reflect the current trend of achieving analogue warmth by means of additional textures, noise and a dip in the high frequencies. In ‘Sakura’, this ambience floats above a pumping beat made from samples of classic drum machines like the Roland TR-808 and the electro-friendly TR-606. We’ll be using only five samples to recreate the beat: Live’s Glitch Kick4 and 606 hi-hat samples, an 808 snare sample from Splice and an industrial found sound.
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Add Live’s Glitch Kick4 from the Konkrete Breaks Factory pack to the drum rack. The sample has a great, punchy low end but its subby sustain is excessive. To fix this, lower the sustain in its Simpler to -13.
Program a four-bar pattern in a breakbeat style with lots of syncopated kicks. DJ Seinfeld’s beats are rarely quantized so recording these kicks in live and then tweaking individual hits is a good way to achieve a similar natural feel. This also brings more variation to the velocities of each hit.
For the snare, use Snare_S11_T3_H_H_-_TR808TDM_Zenhiser from Splice’s “TR-808 The Drum Machine” pack or any 808-style snare.
Transpose the sample up by 2 semitones in its Simpler, insert Live’s Reverb with a short decay time for a ‘snare room’ feel and add an EQ to cut the lows and bring out the sizzle in the high frequencies.
The snare programming is straightforward, hitting on the 2 and 4 of every bar. This completes the breakbeat-defining call and response pattern with the kick!
Make sure to nudge the snare hits slightly so that they work well with the kick. They do not need to be quantized.
Time for the electro hats!
With this style, the Roland TR-606 can do no wrong and Live’s 606 samples from the Drum Machines Factory pack are more than up for the task. Drag the “Hihat Closed 606” and “Hihat-606-Open” samples into the drum rack.
For the closed hat, program four 16th notes with varying velocities and duplicate these for the entire four bars. Delete some of these hats throughout the four bars to add anticipation.
In the fourth bar, program two fills by simply using 32nd-notes instead of 16th-notes.
For the open hat, program occasional syncopated hits to add more movement to the beat. Edit the velocities so that some of the hits are louder than others. To ensure that it does not ring out too long, lower the release to around 760 ms in the open hat’s Simpler.
A DJ Seinfeld beat is never complete without found sounds! To achieve a similar industrial texture to that of ‘Sakura’, we will use a recording of steel wires being hit.
Create a new audio channel in Live and drag in the sample. Transpose it up 12 semitones to make it sound more electronic and then speed it up by setting the Seg. BPM to 31.
Experiment with chopping up and looping parts until you achieve a rhythm that goes with the beat. You can also use our chopped version of the sample.
To add even more character, insert Live’s Reverb, a subtle amount of Live’s Vinyl Distortion and an EQ to isolate the mid-frequencies. Doing this will help avoid unnecessary low-end rumble and screechy or noisy high frequencies.
Once you are happy with the texture, bounce it out and bring it into the drum rack. Program it on the first downbeat and extend the hit for all four bars so that it continues to play.
Now to bring the beat into warmer lo-fi territory with some drum buss processing!
On the drum rack channel, insert an EQ, cutting lows below 30Hz above 5kHz.
Insert Live’s Saturator in the “Soft Sine” mode, driving the signal by 6.29 dB and compensating for this with an output reduction of -6.57 dB. This glues the drums together and adds some general grit.
Finally, use Live’s Glue Compressor to get some punch. A gain reduction of -3 or -4 should be enough. Set a high make-up gain to drive the signal even more.
Here is the end result:
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