Lucky Star is one of my favorite up-and-comers. I recently got the chance to ask him about his music production techniques, and took a look at what went into the making of his “Spectrum” remix.
PART A – PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES
In what way does Studio One aid your production process? Are there any unique features that have made it especially helpful for you?
Studio One has the quickest workflow I’ve found among other DAWS so far. The only thing I miss is quicker sidechain capabilities, like in Logic. Bussing and organizing a project is very easy and intuitive, plus lately I found out how much easier your life can be when you start to use mixer grouping presets, especially when you’re working on a massive amount of tracks in a project.
What do you think of Studio One’s internal plugins and effects? How have you been using them in your productions?
I can’t really comment on them, as I’ve never really used them, since I’m quite familiar with other plugins, especially from Fabfilter bundle. But the new FAT channel is something I’m definitely going to try out.
Your music has a lot of lush reverb sounds. What are some of your reverb processing techniques? Do you have an FX chain for that, or do you just simply bus sounds to a reverb?
90% of the time, I use reverb sends that are routed into some of the sidechain busses that I use in projects, which are always EQ’d, and sometimes compressed. They rarely get more treatment than that. But sometimes, I try out reverbs as an automated insert, mainly on acoustic instruments or whole song parts.
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Which synths do you turn to for your growl basslines? Are these hard to make?
90% of the time, I use Zebra2 for that. When I found that synth, I was absolutely stunned by it’s capabilities and ease of use. You can do absolutely anything with that beast.
I don’t know if they’re hard for me. Sound design is simply fun, although it may take a lot to get somewhere, especially when you don’t know what you’re aiming for.
What have been your most-used source of drum samples? Why these sample packs?
I use mainly Vengeance samples, and lately a lot of my own libraries made in my Hip Hop era. I went back to using Stylus RMX more when I found out that you can route every single slice of its loop into different mixer channels.
What type of mix plugins/FX chains do you often use on the following sounds, to get your desired sounds:
Kick: Fabfilter Pro-Q and Fabfilter Pro-C. Sometimes I go for Waves’ SSL 4000 or Softube’s CL-1B
Snare: Fabfilter Saturn, Fabfilter Pro-q, Fabfilter Pro-c , Valhalla Room reverb, and Cl-1B.
Bass: Fabfilter Pro-Q, Fabfilter Pro-C, Fabfilter Saturn, and LA2A emulations.
In the case of things like synths and bass sounds, it’s way more about synthesizing proper sounds in first place, in the same way that it’s all about the right sample choice for drums. If you do all of these right, and the song still isn’t clicking, it’s the arrangement that sucks.
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How important is master buss processing to you? Do you start with plugins on the master, or do that afterwards?
The master buss is the icing on the cake. I always start with nothing on it, but during the production process, I might decide on a certain compressor. But I try to think about that kind of thing later, so as to not geek out and stop the creative proccess.
In certain song keys, when there is a lot of going on musically, some frequencies will always spike, but I take care of that in the mastering stage.
PART B – “SPECTRUM” REMIX BREAKDOWN
Your percussion is very punchy in this track. Did you stack any kicks or snares to make it sound bigger?
There is just one kick sample and not really much done with it just some EQ and comp. The snare is made of 3 layers: the bottom, 200HZ punchm and some high frequency content on top of it. Drums stand out a lot in this track because they are much louder then anything else.
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The drums also have a lot of reverb on them? Is this a gated reverb or just a hall?
There is some room reverb as an insert on drum buss, plus some plate and room sends for different snare layers.
What sort of processing did you us on the vocal, apart from pitching up and down?
I just put it into Kontakt, and created tons of slices and played melodies with them. That’s what I usually do. Sometimes I bounce the results and process it as a background vocal, by modulating formants and pitch with Melodyne, which is integrated into Studio One as a plugin. Chopping samples gives me a lot of space for experimenting.
You use a lot of low pass filter automation in this track, like on the drums at 1:50. What was your choice of filter for that, and why?
I’ve automated Pro-Q on this one, though lately I’ve been really digging the Fabfilter Volcano. You can get absolutely lost in this plugin. It’s just too much fun!
How did you create that stuttering, metallic synth sound at 1:25 come?
I created some layers of sounds with Massive, with tons of processing and bouncing .
What piano sound did you use for the breakdown?
I think it was one of the Omnisphere pianos.
With so many things going on in this track, how did you avoid having your sounds become muddy and indiscernible? Did you use any EQing, automation or sidechaining techniques for that?
I always use tons of automation. That’s another reason I like Studio One more and more, because I’m able to organize my automation tracks much more elegantly then I’ve done in other DAWs. I used only one sidechain buss for instruments. Lately I’ve been using more sidechain busses with different thresholds levels and release times.
Sounds like your production skills will only keep improving at this rate! I’ll be keeping an eye on your music to see what you release next. If anyone wants to keep up with what Lucky Star is doing, follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.
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