For the second edition of our Studio Talk series, we introduce Andy Lee a profound 'gear head' and the man behind Samplestate. Andy has not only had some amazing releases on the likes of ElRow Music, Lost Records and Criminal Hype, he has also published some of the best sample packs via Loopmasters. I was lucky enough to catch up with Andy to chat to him about music production, where he has shared with us to some top tips & tricks and also his go to bits of kit.
1. Talk to me around your studio set up, What are your go to pieces of Software & Hardware?
I bounce between Ableton and Logic depending on what i’m working on. I absolutely love Soundtoys, U-he, and UAD plugins and use them on everything just about as they are all easy to use and sound amazing. External synths and outboard has always been a passion for me, something I fully admit I don’t really need but something I love having. For hardware synths my Moog Voyager is amazing, its one of the first synths I bought and one I’ll never sell, its a got competition from my Electron A4 now, but the bass on the Moog is just so nice. My SSL bus compressor is another bit of kit I love, its the ultimate glue tool and has been on just about every record i’ve ever made. Once you get used to working with it, it kind of lets you know if something isn’t quite right in the mix down. It just sits on my master almost permanently. Ive also been getting into modular over the last 12 months, it taught be a lot about synthesis, it makes absolutely crazy sounds which is ace but I aways seem too engrossed in it to hit record most of the time and just vibe away for hours and once you’ve patched a few more cables in the sound you had before is gone forever! Im still not 100% convinced its something that agrees with my workflow but its mega fun to mess about on.
“Invest in good quality monitors, converters and acoustic treatment before you rush out to buy anything else”
2. You have been in the Sample Pack industry for many years now with your Samplestate brand. How did Samplestate come about and what is coming up next?
Yea, i’ve been in sample pack industry for at-least the last 15 years now. Ive worked in-house for Loopmasters since the beginning and i’ve made some of their best selling packs in several different genres. They asked me if I’d like to run a label, and I saw this as a brilliant opportunity to involve other producers I know in the business and Samplestate was born. We’ve helped loads of up and coming artists to realise their dream of working full time doing music and we are really proud of that.
We’ve just completed our 10th collaborative pack with Little Helpers, which has featured artists such as Hugo, Hermanez, Proudly People, Jesus Soblechero and many more.
We have some great packs coming up from Apollo 84, Daniel Dubb, Pax, The Mechanism as well as our in-house genre packs. Some great things coming up and we couldn’t be happier with the people we are working with.
3. You have released tracks on some big labels like Lost Records, Throne Room and Elrow in the past. The track that always caught my eye was your original on Leftwing & Kody’s Lost Records, mainly for its industrial, harder hitting sound. Talk me through the process you followed to create that track? and what tips and tricks have you got to achieve that sound?
Thanks Chris, Deeper is one I’m still quite proud of making. The drums are relatively simple in terms of production, a lot of the elements such as this clap were giving a chunkier feel by using the drive circuit on the UAD Moog Filter to add distortion and harmonics then I folded the cut-off back to get rid of anything too sharp in the highs. Ive also delayed one side by 303 samples to give it loads of width and cut the bottom end off with an eq to leave room in the mix for the kick/bass etc. That small delay on one side works great on claps and snares. The whole drum bus was then sent out to analogue compressors to glue it together. You can do all this in the box and you don’t necessarily need to be limited to compression, distortion or tape saturation also work brilliantly for making your drums pop out as well.
“Always make sure your cutting frequencies below 150-200hz on things that don’t need it. Save headroom and space down there for your kick and bass.”
4. When it comes to studio day, ready to start a new project. What would be your structure for making a track? and how do you manage your workflow?
I tend to start any studio day by just listening to music, either a mix or record shopping online and I find that generally gets me into the right kind of mood for making a new track. Im using both Ableton and Logic for making music now, I find them both just as quick and easy but my output musically is often more loop based with Ableton and I tend to make more stripped back music in Logic and use a lot more external synths and drum machines like the RYTM. I normally kick off a track making some solid beats, I try and hold off adding musical elements as long as possible to try and define the groove and vibe with just the beats alone. Thats the basic start to a track, after that point anything goes. I try and challenge myself every time I make a track to do something new or different or explore a different piece of kit or technique. I don’t like making the same type of records twice tbh, I know some people have made a living making the same record over and over but thats not how I like to work.
5. What advice would you give up & coming DJs and producers wanting to break into the industry?
Be patient, learn your craft, and don’t just follow faddy trends that are currently selling on Beatport. Finding your own sound is possibly the hardest task for any real artist or producer to achieve but its possibly the most important.
6. Which artists do you look to for inspiration when hitting the studio?
I listen to a lot of music, loads of different styles as well. I think its important to be broad minded with your listening. Currently Im enjoying grooves from people like Ben Rau, Diego Krase, Burnski, NTFO and the Fuse guys like Enzo and Archie Hamilton. Amazing grooves with the simplest of elements, its difficult to get right but these guys nail it.
7. Could you name some artists that is set to breakthrough in 2018?
There are some obvious ones that will do well this year that are making that big tech house sound like PAX and Mason Maynard, and I’d love to see to see Kreature smash 2018 as well. He’s been doing great music for a while now. Mark Jenkyns is definitely one to watch this year, He’s been around for a while but he’s doing amazing tracks at the moment. He’s a lovely guy and his music is quality.
8. Whats next on the release front for Andy Lee?
Ive got a few collaborations I’ve been working on with people actually “in the studio”. Ive done online collaborations before and its not the same at all. This has been much more fun and a lot more productive, Ive got some tracks to finish with Leigh D Oliver, Matty Mardula and Dan Bradshaw from our Solar Knights crew as well as one or two others with people that are sounding really cool. Im working on new material of my own as well. It probably looks like i’m not doing much or have been quiet on the release front recently but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Plenty of new stuff inbound, some of it under a new alias as well. Watch this space I guess.
Check out the latest sample pack from Samplestate provided by Leigh D Oliver
Samplestate present Essential Lo-Fi House, an expansive collection of beats sourced from analogue hardware, hits, vocals and music loops which are soaked in saturation, character and vibe. Hard pushed tape reels, glowing valves, dusty stomp boxes, and classic pre-amps that come to life when the red-line get hit and pushed beyond. Bringing together all the elements you need to produce music in the style of labels such as Lobster Theremin, L.I.E.S, Shall Not Fade, Unknown II, The Unknown and artists including DJ Seinfeld, Ross From Friends, DJ Boring, Fabio Monesi and Mall Grab.
Solar Knights presents:
MARK JENKYNS (Hot Creations, Crosstown Rebels)
ANDY LEE ( Lost Records, SUAH)
Solar Knights (Kena Records, Mile End records)
SATURDAY 24th FEBRUARY