Silkie In The Studio

Silkie is a dubstep producer and DJ from West London. His debut LP, City Limits Volume 1, was released in July 2009 on Deep Medi Musik, a label run by Mala of Digital Mystikz. Silkie has been in the studio working on new material but he took five minutes out to explain just how he gets his sound.

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 usually start with the beat if I’m planning to make a track, but some tracks just happen because I’m bored playing around with a sound and something sparks an idea.

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?
Sometimes you think ‘Yeah, I’m gonna do something good’ and nothing comes out and other times you’re just messing about and the good stuff comes through; so you never know if you’re in the right state of mind. I mostly do it when I’m bored but there are times when I feel more up for it but that enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into good music. If I do it enough something good will come, the law of averages.

Does your approach differ depending on which genre you are making?
Not really because I don’t think in genre, I think in tempo. So the vibe will naturally be different and need different things so I don’t consciously have to think about my approach.

Out of the tracks you do start, how many get finished?
If I start 100, ten will be near completion. I never absolutely finish until I know it’s being released. So they are works in progress that I test for mixdown, structure, etc when I play out.

What time of day do you work best?
Night time. Fuck all on TV, Facebook and Twitter calm down, less distractions.

Where do you get your inspiration / motivation from?
My motivation comes from me wanting to learn how to make the music I want to hear, has been that from the start.

What do you do when you’re not feeling inspired?
Watch conspiracy documentaries.

Where is your studio set up and what does is consist of? Do you use any hardware or are you software only?
It’s all set up across the floor from my bed and it consists of a PC, CME UF 60 MIDI controller and an Edirol FA-66 soundcard. I use software only.

What’s your most used plugin, and what makes it so essential?
I use the Korg MS-20 the most. I love its sound and its simple options mean you have to be creative with it to get an unusual sound. I like messing around with the patches wiring it up in weird ways. It also come in handy as an effect; I use it as a filter and a saturator, you get a nice sound when you run things through it.

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 use mainly synths and sounds from sample packs but Harry Craze is that sort of guy, so I take his sounds after he’s done the hard work!

Which sequencer do you use and why?
I use FL Studio 9, I’ve used it since version 3. I like the fact that there are many different levels to work on – you can use in a basic way and teach a five-year-old to use it or like a computer programmer. There are many different layers of complexity and you choose at will which layer you want to work at.

What’s your monitoring situation like? What speakers and / or headphones do you use?
I’ve got Yamaha HS-80m monitors on Quik Lok speaker stands. I also have Adam A7s but I lent them to a friend.

Any advice you can give us regarding mixdowns?
Don’t chase the other man’s sound unless you want to be the other man. Basically just mixdown to your own specifications and if people say you should have more bass or treble then only take their advice if your see their point and it makes sense with your sound.

What production technique do you think is really overused / annoying?
A build up of kicks before the drop.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?
Music theory.

What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been working on City Limits Volume 2 for the last six months.

What do you have coming out soon?
Got a double pack on Deep Medi coming in March the album following shortly after.