lundi 20 septembre 2021

Kitchen Notes : Jen Dewulf on Mildreda's I was never really there


On l'a vu ouvrir pour les légendaires Skinny Puppy lors de leur dernier passage en Belgique et le choix du programmeur était parfaitement justifié.
Aujourd'hui Jan Dewulf, aussi derrière Diskonnekted nous revient avec sa dernière sortie pour Mildreda : I Was Never Really There, album de parfait de Dark Electro à l'ancienne tant du point de vue de la composition que de la production.
Aidé par Henry aux poils et aux griffes sur le JP8080 (et on reconnait aussi un Virus Indigo ...version 1 ou Version 2 ?), il nous fait le tour du studio.

We saw him opening for the legendary Skinny Puppy for their last date in belgium and programmer's choice was definitely the right one.
Today, Jan Dewulf, also behind Diskonnekted, is back with his last release with Mildreda: I Was Never Really There, a perfect oldschool Dark Electro album on arrangement and production side.
With the help of Henry on fur and claws on JP8080 (and it looks like we also have a Virus Indigo ...V1 or 2 ?), we get a studio tour.

Gears and software

What gears/software did you use for this album ?

I use Cubase as the main platform where everything happens. I started with ‘Cubasis’ in the nineties for midi, and evolved with it. So now the platform almost has no secrets for me anymore. I use a lot of software synths but I like to incorporate some hardware gear because they make things sound more organic. I guess the most important stuff used on the album is the Komplete family by Native Instruments, Omnisphere and the Mopho by Dave Smith.

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

Sampling is the core of the Mildreda sound. I started with a cheap 3 seconds 8bit sampler in the nineties, learned all the sample secrets with professional hardware later on (I used the Yamaha A3000 which was an amazing machine), and now I’m using the great Battery by Native Instruments. I love Battery. I guess this is my favourite plugin. It’s just too easy to load samples and do whatever you want with them. I used to do that stuff on a small LCD display on a hardware sampler back in the days, but now you have it all on a big screen, and it’s fast and stable as hell.


Any evolution in your setup ?

It all started with a simple workstation that was blessed with a sampler. I was a teenager and pushed that machine to its limits. After that, it was a combination of synths and a sampler, driven by midi. I remember the early days when softsynths were a joke, but they evolved into something truly amazing. Now software is the core of my production process.

Sound Design

Do you use/tweak presets  ? 

I try to create my own sonic universe. So I will avoid using presets that sound obviously prefabricated. Having said that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being inspired by what’s in the box.

Do you design you own sound? On which synth/plugin in particular?

Yes, I like to create my own sounds. There’s a lot of sampling involved for Mildreda. I start either from textures and action hits from movies, or orchestral cuts from classical music. I edit those sounds rather drastically to make them my own. I do this sample manipulation in Battery. I also make a lot of textural sounds from scratch with Omnisphere.

Any personal synth story ?

Well, I love synths and I love technology. But in the end I’m still more interested in the result. I use technology to serve my purpose. It definitely shouldn’t be the other way around. I won’t let a synth and its cool presets define what I will sound like. No, I’m in charge, not the machines.


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 always start from an idea, whether it’s a melody or some lyrics. Those ideas are all pieces of the puzzle and everything comes to place while moving on. Things grow spontaneously and organically. But there’s no solid scenario for this process.


Producing/mixing method

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

I do the mix in the box, Cubase that is. Pretty happy with what’s virtually out there nowadays. I like the stuff by Waves and iZotope when it comes to mixing.

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

Vocals mean stress. I don’t like recording it, I don’t like processing it, I don’t like anything about it.
I like recording guitar parts. Just being alone there in the studio playing guitar and building those walls of sound in an instant. God bless modern recording technology!

Jan Dewulf's Tip

Don’t be lazy. It sounds trivial but laziness is my biggest enemy. Don’t be satisfied too easy.  


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