Fracture In The Studio

Fracture from drum & bass duo Fracture & Neptune is the latest producer to make a sample pack for Loopmasters Artist Series, Cosmic Drum & Bass.

“Every loop and sound has been worked on especially for this pack and, let me tell you, it was often hard work stopping myself turning them into full tunes for my label!” says Fracture.

We spoke to Fracture to discover just how he goes about working in the studio…

How do approach starting a new tune? Do you have a standard workflow of building beats / bass first, or focus on another part to begin with?
I don’t have a strict method but I do try to have a pool of samples / ideas ready to go with each tune. These days I usually have an idea of what type of tune I want to write and then take it from there. Sometimes I will sit around and experiment but I often write most of the tune in my head, while I’m at the swimming pool or something. Then I come home and transfer it. Whether it comes out the same is anybody’s guess!

Do you usually wait till you’re in the right state of mind before starting a track or do you just sit down and see what comes out?
Yes, definitely. I never try to force it. The best tracks I have ever done have come together organically, never forced.

Does your approach differ depending on which genre you are making?
Only in terms of the arrangement and sonics I guess.

Out of the tracks you do start, how many get finished? How many get released?
Most of them to be honest. I know pretty quickly if something isn’t working out. That’s something I’ve learnt to do as I’ve got more experienced. It’s very important not to get too attached to your music and just learn to let it go if it isn’t working. It will speed up your process loads. Never scrap it though as you may find it just wasn’t right on that day and you can go back in a year later and make an amazing tune out of it.

What time of day do you work best?
Early morning and then from around 9pm.

What do you do when you’re not feeling inspired?
Cook amazing meals.

Where is your studio set up and what does is consist of? Do you use any hardware or are you software only?
It’s in my house. The heart of the studio right now is the E-Mu e6400 sampler. It’s integral to the Astrophonica sound. Then I run a MacBook with Logic Pro. It all runs through a Mackie mixing desk. Simple, but effective.

What’s your most used plugin?
My music is very hardware based but something I use on every channel of song I make is Voxengo Span. It’s a frequency analyser which is really helpful when EQing.

How much of your sounds come from random samples, i.e. stuff you’ve recorded yourself etc, rather than sample packs?
Around 80% I would say.

What’s the coolest bit of kit you’ve got and do you actually use it much?
Again, the E-Mu sampler. I use it every day. If it was bigger I would sleep in it.

What’s the best piece of equipment you’ve ever used?
I recently borrowed a mate’s Roland TR-808 drum machine. It’s a classic drum machine that appears as samples on everybody’s hard drives but when you play around with the actual hardware something magical happens. I borrowed it to make loads of samples but I ended up just jamming for hours.

Which sequencer do you use and why?
I use Logic just because I have been for years. I’ve been playing around with Ableton recently too which is wicked. I’ve also collaborated with people using Cubase and really like that too. I think it’s a case of whatever works for you.

Any new studio technology or gear you’re liking at the moment?
I’m a bit out of date there I’m afraid. Everything I want is vintage. I’m planning on making a spring reverb unit soon.

What’s your monitoring situation like? What speakers and / or headphones do you use?
I use Mackie HR824 Mk1s, I love them. They are not the best and most high quality monitors but they have lots of bottom end which really helps me vibe.

Any advice you can give us regarding mixdowns?
Don’t overdo it, less is more.

What production technique do you think is really overused / annoying?
Erm, I dunno really? Sidechaining has been used a lot recently but when it’s done well I love it and have used it loads myself.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?
Not to take each tune as your masterpiece. Finish it and move on.

Tell us more about your sample CD and how you approached it…
I set out to make this sample pack with a very clear vision. I wanted to create a pack which married the classic gritty sounds of vintage drum & bass with today’s contemporary sound and crystal clear high end production.

This ethos and cross-pollination of techniques is something that runs very strong in Fracture & Neptune productions and is the building blocks of our label, Astrophonica. The use of the E-Mu sampler was huge in this sample pack. I really wanted to give people the chance to hear what it’s all about and experiment with it in their own productions.

How come you did it without Neptune?
A time thing really. I sit in the studio all the time whereas he works full time. I wanted to make sure the pack was of a very high quality so a lot of time was spent on it.

Got any forthcoming releases you want to tell us about?
We have an album coming out on May 30th called Retrospect – A Decade Of Fracture & Neptune and it’s an 18 track digital LP that brings together the classic, always cosmic, Fracture & Neptune sound from the year 2000 right up to the current date. Some released faves, some unreleased, some brand new and some unheard tracks from the vaults. All wonderfully remastered by Bob Macc and sounding better than ever. Along with the digital package will be a very special hand-printed limited edition vinyl release of the lead track Customtone.



What else have you been working on recently?
Printing the sleeves for the Customtone vinyl! It took three days and now they are drying all over my house.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
HP is a better brown sauce than Daddies.