dimanche 20 mars 2022

Kitchen Notes : Beta Virus on Like That, But Not That


Skot Shea nous livre dans le détail les secrets de composition et les moyens mis en oeuvre pour concocter son album Like that, but not That sous son projet Beta Virus. De l'Electro-Indus fait maison comme on l'aime. L'occasion de découvrir des logiciels encore différents des canons habituels, des méthodes de composition et de sound-design stimulantes.

Skot Shea gives us his very detailed composition secrets and the resources he used to concoct his album Like that, but not that under his Beta Virus project. Homemade Electro-Indus as we like it. The opportunity for us to discover software solutions still different from the usual canonical ones, inspiring composition and sound-design methods.

Gears and software

What gears/software did you use for Like That, But Not That ?

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to reach out, I love talking shop!

For 'Like That But Not That', I used Reaper as my DAW. I love the flexibility in it. I have tried most of the major DAWs over the years and Reaper fits with my workflow the best. Specifically within Reaper, I use ReaSamplOmatic5000 extensively, primarily for drums and guitar samples. LTBNT is largely based around EMU sp12 drum samples. Vital, Surge and sometimes Massive for the main synths.

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

By far right now, Vital is my favorite soft synth. It is fantastic for everything from drones, to basslines, to super saws, to strings and pads, to kick drums.


Any evolution in your setup ?

Always. I'm starting to bring in more and more hardware. I just started dipping my toes into Eurorack and that has me very excited. I also have a Behringer Neutron, which is wonderfully buzzy and analog; and I just picked up a Td-3 which is always fun because acid. I'm planning on bringing in a nice sampler to get away from the computer a bit. Maybe a 1010 Blackbox or a Digitakt.


Sound Design

Do you use/tweak presets  ? 

These days, almost never. I find it much faster and more rewarding to just learn a synth and then program what I need from init. For some more Rompler-like synths: Korg Wavestation or M1 for example, I feel like the appeal is in the presets so for things like that yes, I will pull up "8' piano" or something, but otherwise, it's almost all from scratch. (and of course I have nothing against those that do use them, it's just not for me.)

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

Almost all of them, Vital is my go-to, Surge after that. The routing options make them pretty hard to beat. I love making drones with Vital. The Perlian random is great for slightly detuning over time, as well as bringing in varying amounts of distortion or FM or whatever else. I also do a lot of DIY sampling. For example, the metal percussion on Run The Kill is just a bunch of screws and nails and stuff in an aluminum paint tray that I hit with a drumstick. I am working on a track now where I sampled myself throwing Allen wrench-keys across the room. Another track, that didn't make it to the album, featured an insulated metal cup filled with varying amounts of water and whenever I would tap the cup it would make this really cool metallic "woo-woo-woong" sound as the water settled.

Personal synth story

My first synth was a novation supernova 2r, and it was 100% completely wasted on me. As were the next half dozen or so synths that I bought and sold without a shred of an idea of how they should be used. These days my hardware collection is far less extensive but also far more intentional, and it actually gets used.

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 typically start with drums, getting them to sit together just right. Working out a basic but interesting rhythm.
Then I move on to the bass, which is the most important step for me. I want my basses to be rhythmic, and punchy, so I spend a lot of time on them. The bass has to dance around the drums, but also drive the song.
Getting the sound design, as well as rhythm just right is very important.
With those done, I move on to trying to craft a chord progression. This may come in the form of strings or might just be a temporary synth that I tweak the bass to follow and then delete.
At this point, most of the compositional work is done and I go about spicing up the rhythm section with samples, maybe some guitar, or repeating synths. I will then go in and design a crash cymbal-like sound, some transitions, stingers or whatever else the track might need.
Then I move on to designing the melody, which will usually come pretty quickly at that point, followed by a counter melody just for some more depth at the end of the track.
From there I start arranging, but I usually stick to basic pop structures, *intro verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus outro* kind of thing.
Lastly I will go in and try to write lyrics to whatever I have. Lyrics have always been tricky for me, but I am getting the hang of it. My process is typically just to write literally whatever comes to mind for about 5 minutes, then start pulling the best ideas out of whatever I wrote, developing them and then writing and rewriting, auditioning and rewriting, until it is acceptable to me.
A lot of people start with the chorus, but for me the verses are more time consuming, so I start there.

Producing/mixing method

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

I mix in the box. I use a lot of parallel processing, busses, aux sends, EQing, Saturation and limiting. Nothing too special there. Mostly just freeware, or stock plugins. I master for myself too, also in the box.

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

Most enjoyable is sound design. Most painful would be lyric writing. It is where the whole production grinds to a halt if I am not careful.

Skot's tips

For sound design in general, I would say you have to know when to stop screwing with a sound. Do what you set out to do and call it done. I always used to fall into the trap of "maybe just one more LFO" and it totally rips the life out of a sound.

Contact info 

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/betavirusmusic/

bandcamp page, where all of my music is available (for free) : https://betavirus.bandcamp.com/

Just a quick plug for the label, these folks are all amazing at what they do, and you should really check them out.


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