Coming straight out of Hamburg in Germany, Syncopix is one of the most interesting and innovative drum & bass producers around. He’s put together Hospital Records’ Drum & Bass Vol. 3 sample pack for Loopmasters, so we tracked him down to find out more about how he goes about making music in the studio…
When did you start producing music?
I’ve been DJing since 1996. There was a point in 1998 when I decided to have a go at production, I had my first PC ready to make some beats on it. I had been playing drums and other music instruments before and was keen to try writing my own songs that I could play out when I DJed.
There are some great producers in Germany. We hear Booka Shade are from Saarbrücken…
Well, Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger are based in Berlin. There are a lot of very good producers in Berlin now. It’s such a nice city for creative and musical output and inspiration. Talking of Booka Shade, their live performance is outstanding. My favourites are coming from all over the world. For drum & bass it’s Matrix, Brooks Bros, High Contrast and Nu:Tone. I also rate the originality of Trentemoeller, Milton Jackson, Grum, James Ford and Sebastian.
What’s the typical technology being used in Germany?
When I take a look at my mate’s studios it’s all about a big Mac running Logic Audio. More and more original old school synths are coming back to use. Arp Odyssey, Moog, Juno and the new Rhodes. I’ve been waiting for a pearl-white Rhodes Mark 7 with MIDI controller for two years now! Shame!!!
What set-up do you have software / hardware wise?
I’m using an old PC running Logic 5.5 and a lot of real instruments I’m re-sampling mostly. I also have a Virus Indigo with an exidental red wine bug, I won’t fix.
What’s the key to producing drum & bass?
The key to an original d&b production is listening to as much music as possible for inspirations and then doing sound analyzing on your favourite drum & bass vinyl. Your brain finds a way to combine all kinds of genres and make something new out of it. You should have a feeling for broken beats on high speed
Tell us about your sample-pack for Loopmasters…
Hospital Records asked me if I’d be up for doing this sample pack and I said yes straight away. I have always wanted to do something like this and was waiting for the right time. It is a pleasure for me to share a bunch of self-made sounds and samples with other producers.
How long did it take you to make?
It took longer than I originally thought. I wanted it to be perfect, to make a collection that I would use for future productions myself. There are music loops/inspirational loops for all kinds of styles. jump-up, liquid or techy stuff. It took a lot of time and effort to compose these loops.
What are your strengths in the studio?
As long as my idea comes through I’m happy with the results. Some say I’m good in finding the right “sound world” for a sound image I’m painting. I’m happy with my way of re-sampling synths and finding a new definition for the sound.
What are your top three tips for making drum & bass?
As I said, you should listen to other music and put your feelings into the d&b arrangement, it’s pretty simple when you have once learned to do it. Check other d&b records and count the bars for breakdowns, drops and switches. You will get the feeling for it very quick. Don’t put in too many ideas. Keep things simple and roll out with the beats and the bass. That’s the main thing you will hear in a club. Analyze the EQs of other records, each element. Learn how frequencies work. That will help you for making all kinds of electronic music.
How do you make a good bassline?
Get a simple sine wave from any software synth and play around with LFO and attack, decay, sustain and release time. Try using some easy distortion too. Resample that sound four seconds and put it into your sampler for example. Or get the sample pack I made, there´s a lot of basslines to use.
How do you make a good drum loop?
Hi-hats! The hats are so important. Check out what you can do with a pink or white noize, using the ADSR. Bassdrums! The BD in drum and bass productions is not as low as in techno or house music. Get a nice “tap” in the middle / high eq-range and a “peak” on 85Hz. Snares! The snare needs a high “round hill” on the tops, not too sharp – watch your ears! Try how it sounds when you “peak” it on 200H for a punch on your chest… you will feel it when you hear it in a club later. Try to double it up with other hits for a wider range of frequencies. I make beats in stereo and combine it with monohits and percussion. Then give the whole thing a nice room or short delay on the snare… check it through headphones solo and with the full-on beat!
What is the key to success in being a producer?
Do your thing, don’t copy but get inspirations. Then you will probably delevop an ear for it.
What are your future releases, plans?
Mr. Resident on Sick Music (Hospital Records), So In Need (Good Looking), Stay In Touch (Spearhead), Smile (SyncSaphire), Girltalk on digital compilation Urban Symphonies (as Syncopix), as well as New York and Soul Happiness. A new album is coming towards end of this year. I’m currently doing a lot of other productions which are not drum & bass. I’m putting out an electro-house album, that will reflect more the sound of my childhood and the music of the mid-80s.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
I’d like to say that I’m really happy for the support the people have given me over the last ten years of making music! I thank Hospital Records and all the fellow artists in the camp. I wish there would be more open-minded people that step out of their narrow box and understand that drum & bass music is there to stay and not a trend. I’m looking forward to genre breaking co-productions that will close the gaps between the press and our music. It’s all the same – we deliver the sound for people who like to go off and dance. We’re entertaining with our heartblood and we love to share it! Your smile is our reward. Long live club culture!