Tyke In The Studio

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Tyke, aka Simeon Vambe, sits down with Kmag and shares specific details about the inner workings of his London based studio. The master of experimental bass frequencies talks about his third EP Do It Now on Real Playaz and how he keeps his sound so fresh.

At what age did you get into producing and how did you learn?
I’d say I first started when I was about 12 messing about on an old Yamaha QY20, just for fun and to keep myself occupied as a child. Then later on I started messing with Cubase when I was about 17 as I loved DJing and wanted some of my own stuff to play. I learned most of what I know from trial and error, just teaching myself and some I picked up off others that I was around. Modified Motion, my mate Recipe and Lems and Jason from Camden Towns public toilet studio which AI and many others used played a part In that aspect some 15 years ago..

What producer or artist were you trying to sound like when you first started producing
It would have to be Twisted Individual, I was a massive fan when I was young and it’s weird now as his one of my good friends and later on in my life is where I learned a lot from him.

What was your ‘eureka moment’ as a producer?
I’ve had a few and I know when I do get one that I’ve hit something special, with the way I work you never know what might happen and sometimes u stumble on some really weird shit. But at the same time it can be long and frustrating waiting for that moment to come. I’d say when I realised how much me and analog get on.

How did you get your music noticed in the beginning?
Sending demos to labels, I’m from an era where we used to send demos via post on cd, it seems like a lifetime ago though now that the internet has taken over. Grid came about as my good mate Steppa one half of Northern Lights was on there and he had introduced me to Twisted.

Talk us through your typical workflow from idea development to conception…
I never start off with a plan to be honest. I will normally have a drum loop running and keep messing with basses and until I find something that gives me a vibe. Then I’ll start to build everything around it. I find it’s easy to finish a tune but to get it started that first drums and bass bit is hard it can take me from a day to eight weeks before I move on. All my best tracks have been the ones that have taken the longest time, started the eight-week ones. But once their started they normally take no longer than two days to finish. 

What part of the production process do you find the most challenging?
Balancing, my ears are not great so balancing levels is a nightmare for me. It’s bad how big the mistakes I make can be. Like I can have the kick like 2 db low or the mid bass 3 db low/high right until it’s either pointed out by someone or I hear it randomly. I’d like to think I’m getting better though as I don’t listen to music nowhere near loud anymore.

How do you come up with melodies or chord progressions?
I try to keep in scale if I can and key with whatever sample or riff I might be using. So if I have made a bass in a certain scale I’ll try to pitch the sample I use on the intro to fit it or I’ll find a sample in the same key. I do most of that by ear. I come up with my bass melodies just randomly depending on the drums the intro sample or whatever feel I’m going for.

Out of the tracks you do start, how many get finished? How many get released?
I start loads but don’t finish, I normally start about 10 before I finish one so on average roughly start about 25 before I finish a EP.

Where is your studio set up and what does is consist of? Do you use any hardware or are you software only?
It’s now set up in a studio which I share with a couple of other people off the label, I’m all hardware and rarely use software and when I do it’ll be just for basics like internal sampler and use the EQs for filters.

What are the best tools for beginners? 
The simpler the better I’d say, looking at Logic or Ableton can be overwhelming to even me let alone someone just starting. But I’d say Native Instruments Komplete would be a pack to grab as it gives u everything, good synths, sampler and samples and a drum machine. All you need to get going. Hardware wise a Korg ms20 or something learn how to patch that etc and you will be well on your way.

What are your favourite plugins and synths?
Kontakt for me as I resample a lot, I’d be lost without it. Synth wise I like UHE ACE, z3ta, Reaktor.

What’s the coolest bit of kit you own?
I love my Thermionic Culture Phoenix Compressor; use it on everything drums, whole mix.

Which bit of kit would you love to have for your studio?
API mixing desk please!

Is there a piece of equipment you regret getting rid of?
Loads, Culture Vulture, Distressors. I will be getting both back real soon I hope.

Which DAW do you use and why do you use it?
I use Logic just because it’s what I’m used to over the years, I’m quick with it now so don’t want to change.

What audio interface do you use?
I use a MOTU 828MK2, but I want a Prism Orpheous anything thing on my list.

Any new studio technology or gear you like at the moment?
Moog Sub Phatty is pretty tasty’ I like the way you can load it up as a vst/au so easily.

What’s your monitoring situation like? What speakers and/or headphones do you use? 
I use Neumann Kh310a, a great speaker. Headphones I’m on standard Sennheiser HD25.

Any advice you can give us regarding mixdowns and mastering?
Ye don’t listen to me! Always have fresh ears when mixing, monitor at reasonable levels to stop ear fatigue, compare regularly, listen outside of room and make sure everything is cutting through.

What production technique do you think is really overused / annoying?
Massive.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?
That it becomes harder not easier, otherwise I wouldn’t have started. Na I’m joking, probably listening levels for many years I used to monitor in the studio really loud and didn’t realise how much I was damaging my hearing, making mixing so hard for me now.

What piece of advice would you give to producers still honing their craft?
Be yourself, don’t get carried away, listen to advice, work fast as your still in early learning.

What’s key to creating your own sound?
I think being yourself, we all have our own tastes and it’s our tastes as producers I believe that define the style we create. So be confident in yourself that if it’s good enough for you it’s good enough for the people.

Whose productions do you love right now?
Love DJ Marky’s new bits, Potential Badboy, Heist & Pleasure, Annix and many more.

Got any releases in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Just this ‘Do It Now’ EP which is out in a few weeks on ‘Playaz’. Watch out for that, a track with Prestige and Cat Knight as well as the legend that is Daddy Earl.

Read all the interviews in our In The Studio series

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About Author

Colin Steven co-founded Knowledge Magazine in 1994. He also runs a book publishing company called Velocity Press specialising in electronic music and club culture.

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