Hey, how you doing? Today I got a real nice treat for ya. DJ Producer and Label Boss Chook has agreed to give us the skinny on how he makes his beats so phat and what gear he uses in the studio.
If you have no clue as to who i’m talking about than click here.
Now, if you’ve been into drum and bass for a while then you’ve probably heard of the name Chook and Full Force Recordings. You’ve probably even been witness to his skills behind the “steel” and boogied to a few of his tunes on the dance floor.
Well, Phillipe is good friend of mine (even though he uses Logic!) so I asked him if he would do a Q&A for DnBBeats.
So, check it out.
1. What software/hardware are you using?
I got a mac pro 2.6 eight core, with 4 tera hd and a raid card, + 12 gig of ram.
I’m using Logic pro as a sequencer. Other than that I have a Virus Ti, UAD Quad,
SPL VItalizer and Charisma, A mackie 24 vlzpro and a dbx 1066 that i both wanna sell if anyone’s interested. I use a pair of mackie hr 824’s a monitoring system.
Plugin wise I mainly use the UAD’s and Sonnox as well as the SPL bundle which I just discovered and love, Spectrasonic Trillian and Omnisphere. NI’s…
2. How to make your basslines?
There’s no big secrets about them. I like to use a good synth like the virus or trillian. I use it on two seperate tracks. The first will be used as the sub, which i tend to cut between 70 and 100hz. The second track will be used for the midrange and will be cut somewhere between 100 and 300hz. I generally use the cambridge eq to do this. I then draw a filter automation on the midrange track generally using the cambridge’s low pass. In case my midrange goes down to 100hz I’ll make sure to get rid of resonances in the low mid area.
I might use the grm tools or logic’s space designer to further process the midrange. SPL’s charisma or twin tube for a bit of saturation. That’s it. I guess the most important thing is to get a groovy filter automation going on your mids the rest is just enhancing the whole thing.
3. How do you make your drums?
I’ll use one good sounding kick and snare both are going to my drum bus.
Then I might use a few chopped up breaks always taking out kicks and snares though. I like to keep everything as clean as possible. I’ll also quantise all the elements.
Then I generally add some hats and rides and some percs which are going to a seperate bus with the breaks, which is then again going into the drum bus. This bus is probably the one with the most processing. It might look smth like this:
Eq (generally a filter at 100hz and possibly one at 17 khz depending how sharp the top end of the hats etc are. I’ll then use a 1176 and a LA2A in series for the compression. I’ll then add some reverb and maybe some limiting.
The main drum bus will be eq’ed, slightly compressed and limited with the Sonnox Limiter. If I can’t get the drums loud enough I’ll also use the Sonnox Inflator on them.
Oh and one thing I forgot is that I’ll always cut out resonances around 250hz on the kick and the snare before they go into my drum bus.
Towards the middle of the production I’ll use parallel compression on a separate bus for my drums with very high compression levels. I’ll then pull up the level of that bus until it blends well with the original drum bus sound. As the mighty mastering engineer and producer Rob Acid put it:
This will give your drums some balls! Definitely check out the his interview. You’ll find it easily if you just Google it.
This generally works well for my midrange bus as well.
4. Where do you get your samples from?
Most of my sounds are made from synths. I buy my samples at soundstosample or loopmasters. I rarely buy dnb sample libraries though. Most of them suck I find. Same if you use a sound in a synth called dnb or smth similar it will almost always be shit.
5. How long have you been producing?
I started producing right after I got back from the Red Bull Music Academy in 2001.
6. Was it hard setting up a record label?
Setting it up wasn’t so hard. We got picked up by St Holdings right after we sent them our first release. I’d say it was easier back then than it would be nowadays. Selling a 1000 records back then was easy even for an unknown label.
7. How long was it before you first release?
I think the first release was in 2004. It was under the name full force on FF recs. It was the first release on our label. The flip was a remix by D Pulse and Xplorer.
8. What 3 plugins are your favorite?
My favourite plugins would be the Sonnox limiter, cambridge eq, and Logic’s space designer especially with it’s new warped reverbs.
9. How long do you spend on tunes?
I do spend quite a lot of time on tunes. It all varies though. Some tunes I finish in a matter of a few days, some i spend weeks if not months on them. I think i spent 6 months working on Trainspot. I like to make a tune and leave it aside for a few months and come back to it to finish it.
10. Do you write every day? How do you stay motivated?
No, 3 days a week i work as a dj’ing and production teacher in a highschool in Luxembourg.
Then there are the gigs, sports, girlfriend etc… the time left I spend in the studio. I’d say I spend between 2 and 4 days a week in the studio. Over the summer I’ll probably be in the studio a lot more. I get frustrated if I don’t come up with new tunes regularly so staying motivated to write tunes is not much of a problem. What is harder is when you don’t have any inspiration. That can get me really down. I find a run in the woods will almost always solve that problem though.
To be continued…
Hey, thanks for stopping by and checking out the Chook Q&A. This is only part 1 of a 2 part interview. I’ll post up more juicy drum and bass production secrets and tips from the one like Chook later this week. If you haven’t had the chance to check out his album Cocoon then give it a listen soon. The production quality is A1 and will keep you inspired to keep going with your beats.
hope to see you on the dance floor.