vendredi 25 juin 2021

Kitchen Notes : Echōdead on Random Headnoise Parallax


Carsten a eu la gentillesse de répondre au questionnaire des kitchen notes pour nous expliquer comment il a conçu l'album très équilibré Random Headnoise Parallax de son projet Echōdead de bout en bout.
L'occasion d'évoquer des types de synthétiseurs numériques qui pourraient bien sortir de l'oubli dans quelques années à voir les derniers produits Korg.
Comme nombre d'entre nous, le gars semble être parfois victime des heures passées sur la création de son sans nécessairement faire de musique, mais a la chance et assez de talent pour pouvoir pondre facilement des titres efficaces. Vous noterez le bon goût en matière cinématographique affiché sur les photos.

Carsten kindly answered Kitchen Notes questions to explain us how he made the very well balanced Random Headnoise Parallax of his Echōdead project from start to end.
An opportunity to bring a specific kind of digital synthesizers back that might be be in fashion again soon if we consider latest Korg products.
As many of us, the guy seems to be victim of lost hours of deep diving in sound design without actualy making music but is lucky and talented enough to easily create powerful tracks. Also note his good task when it comes to movies if you take a look at the pictures.

Gears and software

What gears/software did you use for this album ?

The album is recorded, produced and mastered in Logic Studio 9 on my MacBook Pro built in 2012 (a real granny)

The following Hardwaresynths were used on the album and can be heard on nearly every track of the album:

  • Yamaha TG77
  • Ensoniq SQ80
  • Casio CZ5000
  • Korg Poly800
  • Kawai K3r
  • Korg MS20
  • Roland XV3080
  • Yamaha EX7

Following Software synths were used:

  • GMedia ImpOscar
  • GMedia Oddity
  • OB-XD (Amazing Freeware Oberheim Expander Emulation by DiscoDSP)
  • Korg Legacy Cell
  • Prosoniq Orange Vocoder 3
  • Izotope Vocal Synth 2
  • U-He Zebra 2
  • Re-fx Vanguard
  • NI FM8
  • NI Massive
  • Lennard Digital Sylenth

All vocals were recorded with a Neumann TLM103 microphone directly without any pre-compression through a Mackie ONYX 820i. As a main compression for the vocals I always used the Vintage warmer of PSP. For me the most unbeatable compressor/Limiter. In addition to the PSP plug ins (the PSP Master Eq is my standard eq plug in) I use the Waves stuff a lot.

The entire album is mastered in Ozone 9.

Monitors: Adam P11, Alesis Monitor One Mk2, 10€ trash Computer monitors, Apple EarPods, Bose Soundtouch 10,20,30, Bose Soundlink,  

No external fx racks were used creating the album.

The composition and musical production was mainly done in my home studio.

The vocal recordings, additional mixing and mastering were done in my studio where I work.

Your favorite gear(s)/software(s) ?

My favorite Synth will always be the SY77 / TG77 by Yamaha. It was my first REAL Synth which I bought, back then as the Keyboard Version SY77, and I’m still in love with it, because still it’s possible to get unheard sounds out of it. I love the combination of FM Synthesis and Samples (AWM Synthesis).

I love synths of the so called „hybrid“ age….digital Oscillators/waveforms/synthesis with analog filters like the Ensoniq SQ80. They produce a very special, direct and dirty sound, which is not so well presented by the synth plugs of this time. And they are so exciting, because you never really know what happens when you change one of the 1500 parameters :-)

Plugs I like are the Gatekeeper and manipulator by Infected mushroom, the LFO tool and a free plug called pancake by the cable guys. A very cool panning tool which I use in every mix for doing exciting stuff in the stereo panorama.


Any evolution in your setup ?

Yes. A few years ago I had much more hardware and software synths and fx racks and stuff. Especially the analog synths went away, because I think the software synths in that field do a perfect job. But in my opinion there are just a few , especially in the software field, which do a special and unique job, so I sold a lot of equipment and kicked out a lot of plugs to concentrate on the few plugs I really like. So you better learn how to use them.


Sound Design

Do you use/tweak presets  ? 

Usually I program own sound banks categorized in bass, fx, leads etc. with all the synths I like. Only this way I learn about the synths and get to know what they are able to do and what they can sound like. I think if you are doing electronic music and have a specific sound in mind you have to do so….cause the guys who program the plugs usually don’t program the style I like .-) And also I love programming synths…I can do that for days without making music or record a single note…hahaha.

But it also comes that I find a preset which fits in the production and then I use it. For example the choir-drone in the Intro from the song „Before I die“. That’s a preset from the Roland XV3080….so what?

And I also spend a lot of time in sampling film speech, noises out of films etc…all interesting stuff I can find…I used the Logic Sampler EXS 24 and the NI Kontakt for that.


Writing/composing method

What would be your main writing/composing method ? Do you start classical rythm/bassline then arrange around it ? Do you already have structure in mind ? Do you improvise, record sessions then select ?

I don’t follow a specific composing/writing method. I usually start playing on the keys until I have an element, a bassline, a sequence…anything which sounds like it should be recorded. I only press the record button, when I have the element right played by my hands. Every sound/note on the album is played live and then of course quantized, edited and stuff…but the main parts are played live by me as they can be heard on the album. Sometimes a song is there in minutes with all parts in a basic way and sometimes it takes longer to get the link between one and another part. But I always try to capture most of the elements in a short period of time, as long a the inspiration of a song is fresh. So sometimes it works and after a few hours I have a well produced instrumental layout and sometimes I wonder what I did all the time ;-)

Very often I have only an idea of the songs name or an idea of a songs story. Then I am inspired by that and start searching sounds, which fit in that mood and start recording synth lines. Mostly I always have a musical layout before I start programming any drums. When I am inspired it goes bam bam bam….one line and part after another….the main bassline of the song „Wonderland“ for example was recorded in realtime on my TG77…all parts in one go.

Nothing of my music is calculated…I’m just following my gut feeling.


Producing/mixing method

Do you produce/mix in the box or do you use mainly external gears (effect/comp/eq...) ?

Although I also own an old and good analog console (TAC Scorpion with 40 channels, 8 busses, Langley pre-mics) lots of analog output gear, for example an UAD 6176, I produce and mix echōdeads music entirely in the computer. The analog outboard equipment I own is just used for acoustic or for bandprojects for which I also do the recordings and mixing. But for echōdead it is perfect to have everything in the box, except the Hardware synths. I think there is a lot of software gear outside there which is as good as the Hardware stuff. My favorites are all plugs from PSP, the Waves Diamond Plugs and FabFilter stuff. So with these weapons on my laptop I can work everywhere on the music and do mixcorrections and stuff.

What is your most painful / enjoyable step in track production ? Sound design, arrangement, mixing, mastering ?

The most enjoyable and fastest step in producing echōdead is doing the musical layout, finding the right arrangement and programming the sounds and stuff. That’s a step where I am really fast and I enjoy it pretty much. I think that’s because my background is that of a real musician and I have lots of experience with bands and life music.

Next step is writing the lyrics…that’s much harder for me than writing the music :-) It takes quite a while until I have a text that I’m satisfied with and that fits perfectly to the music….that makes my brain hurt regularly ;-)

Vocalrecording is also fun for me, cause the track gets more and more complete and gets to life…also it’s a very liberating process.

I enjoy and I hate the mixing of a song, that I produced all by myself and I call myself a kind of perfectionist in that field…that sounds cool but also means that you’re going over and over the song again…until it’s exactly as you hear it in your head.

The same withe mastering process…I don’t like mastering at all, but I have to do it by myself to get exactly what I want 


Echōdead tips

Never use a sound that does not work from the beginning…never say „fix it in the mix“….everything should work and sound good from the start.

Get to know your software synths !!! Spend time with them, create sounds with them, that’s the only way that they sound personal and sound special. It is not important to have as many as possible, but to get everything out with the few good ones. Less is more !!!


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