In the studio this week was Green Light Gang, a west side Chicago collective of rappers and singers.
GLG has been coming to Studio 11 for years, sometimes solo dolo, other times with fellow west siders The Dutch Boys. Collectively their catalog is huge, and continues to grow. These guys have a knack for finding cool and abnormal beats, which is really refreshing for us here considering how Soundclick has changed the game.
Here we get to see Taka, working on his new joint “Blow Minds Away“, to be released on GLG’s next project. The song features a spaced out beat, a melodic hook, and a particularly “smokey” tone on the verses. The half sung vocals on the hook and uplifting feel of the beat help make this one a classic Chicago Lake Shore Drive ridin’ song.
Since the beat is still building in the beginning, we decided to start the song with an un-stacked hook to give listeners a taste of what is to come. Once the drums enter, Taka starts his verse with a direct flow, working around the beat’s interesting rhythmic aspects, with the clap only falling on the “2,” similar to a lot of Dub Music.
On the vocal mix I used some of the newer Waves pluggins from the Hybrid Line, utilizing a variation on the tape delay preset from the H-Delay. Taka’s vocals have a lot of life and dynamics on this track, and the beat had plenty of headroom, so I didn’t need to compress much…and the compression used was in parallel, using the Waves H-Comp.
Taka also has very present upper harmonics in his voice, so not much hi-shelving was needed, but I did have to do some low mid dip using the Sony Oxford GML eq. In front of the eq is a Waves R-De-esser to tame the sibilance.
The goal on this mix was to achieve a laid back, un-aggressive sound while still capturing the energy and animation. Be on the lookout for GLG’s next mixtape, coming soon.
About the Free Music Archive:
The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads. The Free Music Archive is directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America. Radio has always offered the public free access to new music. The Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose, designed for the age of the internet. (Read More)
For the first Studio 11 release on the Free Music Archive, we have featured James Curd of Greenskeepers and Ziggy Franklin: (Read The Full Story)
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The history of Studio 11 and Kompute Records dates back a decade – easy. Our cumulative group of friends met at classic venues like Karma on Grand and underground rave parties throughout the city. Some of the earliest memorable Kompute recordings featured artists such as Hidden Variable, Soultek (Steve Hitchell of Echospace), and Billy Dalessandro. The sounds at the time were of a pioneering direction with almost no constant. From hard beating techno soundscapes to trippy minimal cuts, there was a broad scope of ideas. As time swept forward, so did the direction. Some of Kompute’s establishing artists went on to pioneer sounds of their own and in that time the new Kompute sound emerged. While giving a steady nod to the Chicago legacy of the past, the new Kompute is a culmination of great things that have come before and what is yet to be.
Hot Mix 5 - WBMX - Chicago - From left to right (back): Scott "Smokin" Silz, Ralphie Rosario, Farley "Jackmaster" Funk; (front) Kenny "Jammin" Jason and Mickey "Mixin" Oliver.
Chicago has always been the hub for balance within dance music, best known for House and Industrial styles. While House music was the disco of the streets, Industrial followed and brought rock n’ roll to the dancefloor. The new era of Kompute kicks Chicago’s legacy up a notch with a strong regard for both.
“Disco Fresco” features dance music pioneers Alexander Robotnick and Scott “Smokin” Silz (Hot Mix 5) alongside Kompute visionary Matt Nee in a spicy blend of nouveau electro. Alexander Robotnick, heralded as the grandfather of italo disco lends his disco antics with his snaky voice and winding keyboard leads. To bring the whole track together we had some work cut out for us in the studio mixdown….
Here’s a few session notes:
For the wild and untamed voice of Mr. Robotnick, the Waves De-Esser was just the ticket. The vocal part, while deliberately slathered with sibilance warranted the objective of maintaining said sibilant EFFECT, without the associated ear-splitting sibilance. Our de-esser, Waves RCompressor, API 550 EQ, and the Oram-Trident (Console) EQ proved the perfect combination to tame unwanted dynamics while retaining desirable breath and air on the vocal.
Our big pow wow on mixdown landed on the keyboard break through the solo. Scott and Matt wanted the solo to stand tall in the mix. For sonics, I started with a DIGI delay to get a nice tail of ambience going. The solo has nice spacing between the notes thereby making delay an excellent choice. From there I cut to my trusty Fatso compressor for leveling. At the board I sprinkled a little aux out to the Sony R7 plate for a nice distant long tail. After some battling with the equalizer at the board we determined that something just wasn’t working. The track was too busy at the break. After pulling a few instruments, desired space was achieved and solo restored to towering stature.
All in all, the track sums up a classic 2011 Chi-Town Sound with a nod toward the classics that made Chicago great.
Last Friday Studio 11 got a visit from one of our favorite clients, N.E.P.H.E.W.
NEPH is a real grinder who has put in a ton of work up here since 2005. I can recall a line from one of his earlier raps that went something like “I coulda bought a house the way I’ve been recording.” Its always a pleasure when NEPH rolls through, not just on a musical level, because a session with NEPH is sure to bring talks of politics, religion, the rap game, history, and a general look at life.
In this video blog, we get to peep N.E.P.H.E.W. working on a commercial joint called Pumpin’ That Bass. The track was produced by Florida hit maker Wreck Wregular, and as you can hear, its a banger. The hook came with the track, and features some really cool chopped and screwed vocals, some chants, and some high pitched vocal chops.
I tracked NEPH through the Audio Technica AT-4060 and the Manly VoxBox, which is an all tube signal path. On the vocal mix, I stuck to my old standbys, Renaissance De-Essers before hitting the Eq-3D night-pro, a unit famous for its high frequency “air” band. Once the lead vocal was tuned in and tamed, I added some filtering and delays on the ad-libs, and did some pan automation. Usually I use a heavy handed limiter on hip hop tracks, like the Waves L2, but it sounded a bit harsh on this record, so I ended up making it slam with the Sony Oxford limiter.
All in all it was a short, but really fun and productive session with a high energy track. NEPH’s music is available on itunes, amazon, and his website.