Misanthrop In The Studio

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Misanthrop is a drum & bass producer based in Stuttgart, Germany. Over the years, he’s released on labels like Subtitles, Renegade Hardware and Full Force but recently he’s been concentrating on his own Neosignal imprint that he runs with Phace. With Misanthrop’s Sidereal / Latitude 12″ imminent, we sat down to find out how he goes about producing music in the studio.

How do you 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 really have a standard approach of how I start a tune. All I can say it’s usually a fragment of a tune like bass, mids, drums or a melody that makes me start a tune. The importance thing is that these fragments have to transport a certain vibe to me.

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?
It depends, sometimes when there’s enough time I like to sit down and just experiment without a goal. The outcome of these sessions can be very inspiring for future projects. When I’m composing a tune I definitely need to be inspired or at least in the right mood to make music. I think it’s very important to have a certain physical energy when writing tunes, otherwise you won’t be able to transport the same energy to the dancefloor.

Out of the tracks you do start, how many get finished? How many get released?
Nearly every project I start gets finished sooner or later. There are always projects which lead to nothing but I usually recycle the parts for other projects.

What do you do when you’re not feeling inspired?
I always try to find the right balance between what I do. That means I try no to overdo certain things in life. This helps me to keep me focused in a specific timeframe and I’m not exhausted that fast. I don’t do special things to feel inspired, I just try to be open-minded. That helps a lot…

Where is your studio set up and what does it consist of? Do you use any hardware or are you software only?
My studio is in a dedicated sonic treated room in my flat at the moment. I work on an i7 3.2 GHz Windows 7 64 bit PC with 12 GB RAM and separated SSD / hybrid hard drives for samples projects. The most important stuff on the software side are:

  • Ableton Live Suite as a DAW,
  • DIGI 003 and a Motu 2408 mkIII as Sound Cards
  • 3 Powercore cards (MD3, VSS3, NONLin)
  • 1 UAD-Solo
  • Liquid Mix
  • Native Instruments Komplete
  • Vienna Symphonic Library
  • Wavelab 7

Hardware

  • Adam P22
  • Genelec 1030 A
  • Genelec Subwoofer
  • Access Virus b
  • Novation Bass Station
  • Alesis Micron
  • Korg MS-20
  • Akai APC-40
  • Axiom 49
  • EMU e6400 Ultra / rfx board
  • EMU e4X Turbo
  • Roland Space Echo RE-201
  • Guitar Pedals
  • Yamaha 03D
  • TLA C-1 Dual Valve Compressor
  • Mackie Big Knob
  • Audio Patch-bay

What’s your most used plugin?
I’m in love with the TC Electronics MD3, it just sounds great. Unfortunately, TC ceased production for the Powercore platform, so there won’t be new driver development for future operating systems.

Are you the sort that likes to use old vinyl to get snippets of atmos, FX, melodies, etc or do you use synths mainly for your sounds?
I don’t record samples from records, I like to modulate my own sounds and resample them. I often record fragments with my phone to get some ideas…

How much of your sounds come from random samples, i.e. stuff you’ve recorded yourself etc, rather than sample packs?
I don’t use pre-made sample packs. I like to put effort into music to make it sound outstanding and to have a signature sound. I’ve been producing for 12 years so I’ve collected many samples over the years.

What’s the coolest bit of kit you’ve got and do you actually use it much?
It’s not a piece of gear actually, but I love the possibilities of Max4Live. I recently built some interesting plugins I couldn’t find out there as a VST, like a white noise envelope follower.

What’s the best piece of equipment you’ve ever used?
I haven’t found it yet, but I guess that’s what makes you searching for synths all the time. I’m very interested in Teenage Engineering’s OP-1. That piece is a devil’s toy…

Which sequencer do you use and why?
Ableton Live because I get the sounds I’m looking for in a minute. I never have the feeling of not knowing how to achieve a certain effect or sound. Desert Orgy was solely done in Live by Florian and me, so this should answer why I/we use Ableton Live….

Any new studio technology or gear you’re liking at the moment?
I’m using Ableton’s Operator a lot. It’s so versatile, I use it for nearly any element in the mix.

What’s your monitoring situation like? What speakers and / or headphones do you use?
I use ADAM P22 and Genelec 1030A and a Genelec Subwoofer controlled by a Mackie BigKnob. For headphones I use the Beyerdynamic DT 770.

Any advice you can give us regarding mixdowns?
Having a good mixdown is like cooking. If you use bad ingredients your food won’t taste good. If you’ve got good ingredients but you use too much salt it will also taste bad. So a good mixdown is having a moderate balance between all things you do during the production and the final arrangement stages.

What production technique do you think is really overused / annoying?
Cheap sounding arpeggio lead presets with boring repetitive arrangements!

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?
The more effort you put into doing something, the more you get out of it.

Tell us more about your new single…
My next 12″ will be Sidereal / Latitude on April 1st (Neosignal 007). With it I tried to combine my roots in dnb with a timeless dancefloor approach. Latitude is a quote from Stakka & Skynet and Audio Blueprint. I always liked their sound, so I thought it was time to bring back these vibes. Sidereal is something I started right after the From Deep Space LP.

I constantly kept going with it over the months because I wanted to do something different after the LP project. I put a lot of effort into it and I think I learned a lot from finishing it. After that we have a split Phace / Misanthrop single on Neosignal 008 around June. We also have several bigger projects planned for later this year, but we can’t tell you about it now.

What else have you been working on recently?
I’m working on several solo drum & bass tunes but also on a dubstep tune for Neosignal as well as some random downtempo tunes. Phace and I also have another collab going on at the moment, so we are really looking forward to finish that piece ASAP.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
If you want to get the latest news about what’s going at Neosignal, please make sure to subscribe our newsletter at www.neosignal.de and don’t hesitate to send us demos, we’re constantly searching for good music! The best way to send us your tunes is to use our SoundCloud DropBox.

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