For the seventh edition of Studio Talk we introduce Frankfurt's Robert Johnson resident Einzelkind. Frankfurt born Arno Völker is the owner and curator of Pressure Traxx, La Peña and Harlo Records which has seen collaboration EP's with Ricardo Villalobos and EP's from Vinyl Speed Adjust. Einzelkind has been releasing music consistently since 2005 signing original material to the likes of Cocoon Recordings and Get Physical. We caught up recently to chat about music production, take a tour of his studio where he has kindly shared some of his top tips & tricks, go-to bits of kit and best ways to crack the industry.
1. Talk me around your studio set up; what are your go to pieces of Hardware & Software and why?
I will list three things that I really like and that I'm never gonna get rid of.
1. Eventide H9 I just got this effect unit and I really like it a lot. The good thing is you can get the core version for a reasonable price and then buy and add the effects that you really need. You can connect it with your smartphone and control the whole unit via app which is really useful. You can also try all available effects 5 minutes a day to see if they might be useful for you. A nice step into the future and really great sounding effect unit.
2. Esx-1 Electribe The best 300 € i ever spent. I just love this machine. Yea it sounds raw and it has it´s limitations but i always keep coming back to it. It is really hands on and i really like to add little drum fills or pitched fx sounds aswell as writing whole tracks on it. If you wanna start making music with hardware this is the best starting point for me. You can even load your own samples with the Sd Slot and the basic functions are very easy to learn.
3. Pamela's New Workout I am still new in the Eurorack Modular world so most of my patches can be described as "The fabulous fart orchestra” or "I think there is something wrong with my scooter”, but I just love the flexibility and endless possibilities. It´s a lot of fun and if you get your head and budget around it it opens up another dimension of producing electronic music. So, Pamela's new workout is my latest module and i can only recommend it. My friend Simon (Hot City Orchestra) showed it to me and I ordered it straight away. A multichannel clock source, rhythm generator and LFO in one device. Check this video to see what it´s capable of:
Big shouts to my good friend Paul Walter. He helps me (and some of my friends) a lot when it comes to Eurorack and Palatschinken.
2. How did you first get into music production and what was your studio set up like back then compared to now?
It was a natural and logical progression for me. When I started buying records in '96 I soon wanted to know how this music was made. I had a friend back then called Stevan Krakovic (still a producer and engineer to this day) that had a studio at home.
He had Cubase 1.05 (Black and White!) a Mackie 1604, Zoom FX, Behringer Ultrafex Exciter and an Akai S200XL Sampler aswell as a few other things.
So my friends MBR, Dj Draft and me would go there and produce our first Drum´n´Bass tracks up there in his 'Kinderzimmer'. It all started from there really. When I started producing electronic music the only way would be the hard(ware)way.
So I bought a small emu sampler and a 8 channel mixing desk.
The sampler was running with floppy discs so many times when i wanted to go back to a project it would say
"Floppy Error" after the third disc and the project was gone. Then the software "Reason" came up and it was crazy to have unlimited tracks and sampling time with total recall. So then I was really hooked with that software stuff.
After a few years i got really bored and fed up with only working with a computer so I started getting more and more back into hardware. So now I got back into working with hardware. Nothing too crazy really and i always say the machines don’t make the music.
You can still make the most amazing track with some samples loaded into Reason. And you can sit in a million $ studio but not come up with anything great..
I just enjoy it much more, working with machines these days. Every piece of equipment has it´s own life and for me there is no way back.
3. Touring the world and performing on a weekly basis, I can only imagine being a killer for your studio time. What measures do you put in place to make sure you keep an active release schedule?
Making music is nothing i have to find a way to incorperate in my schedule or anything that happens. I need to make music to be happy.
If I can´t make some music for a while I get weird quite fast. So I don´t have that problem really.
Some people only produce music because you kinda have to these days to become and stay relevant.
For me making music is like therapy it is and always will be a major part of me and who I'am.
4. You have been releasing music since 2005, starting off your catalogue with some big tracks on Playhouse and Kindisch. How different do you think the scene is now compared to back then for a young producer looking to get signed to a label?
I don´t think it is such a big difference. Make some music and try to get it to the right people and maybe one of them will release it.
That´s what it is and what it was basically. The scene itself of course is changing all the time but this would take up too much time and space.
I think this article has some really good points :
5. A record that has found its way into my DJ sets is your collab EP with Nail on your Pressure Traxx label you co own with Frost back in 2015. The B-side ‘808 Rhythm Traxx 3’ is the one that stands out to me. Talk me through the process you followed to create that track?
I used to share a studio space with my old friend Dj Katch and he had an Tr -808 standing in his studio so one day I borrowed it and programmed this pattern. I jammed and recorded the whole thing in one take with no single tracks or editing. When I played it to Frosti he liked it so we decided to release it straight away. I like that it is really raw and you can even hear that his 808 has a little bug. Pay attention to the clap. At some points when i bring it back it the decay is short and needs one or two hits to become long again. It is a really raw recording and i captured this moment. The sound of the 808 is one of the reasons I love dance music. And I don´t know a single person that won´t get down to a nice 808 beat. It is the ultimate rhythm machine ...with the 909 of course.
6. When it comes to studio day, ready to start a new project, what is your structure for making a track? How do you manage your workflow?
I always start with some kind of rhythm. The drums and the bass are the foundation of any dance track I think, so for me the starting point is the beat.
Sometimes if I have a sample that I wanna use so i will tweak the sample first but next thing is the beat and then the bass. I usually collect and record many different ideas and then I get back and arrange or record them live. Sometimes I don´t finish anything for weeks and then i record five tracks in a row.
I have to be in the mood to do the arrangement. Sometimes it happens straight away and sometimes I come back after a while and do it when i feel like it.
I never had a real writing block. To create some ideas is the fun part and usually I can come up with something anytime. To do the arrangement and really finish the track is more work sometimes. Some tracks tell you how the arrangement has to be and for others you have to try different arrangements to see what works best.
I usually record the arrangement live. It feels more natural as you decide by feeling when something should change and not by looking at the screen.
7. After playing your releases in clubs over the years, the low end to your productions always translates very well on a big club sound system. What tips & tricks can you share for producers wanting to get the best out of their low end?
Oh, that´s nice. First you need to know the acoustics in your room so you can be sure that what you hear is what is actually happening. EQ'ing is everything. I got an EQ on every single track all the time to make sure that every elements only works within the frequency range i want it to. I also check on headphones and different speakers to see how it sounds, of course.
I have no secret compressor or anything. It´s about picking and combining the right sounds and frequencies really. And try to get the chance to listen to your music on a club PA because in the end of the day no matter how nice your monitors are this is were the truth is.
8. What advice would you give up & coming DJs and producers wanting to break into the industry?
Anything you do you should do for yourself in the first place. Do your thing and do it the best way you can. Quality will find it’s way even it might take some time. Times are changing a lot. Marketing and Facebook likes have become more important then skills but i still believe in quality and if something comes from the heart and for the right reasons you will find your way.
And no duckface on Instagram please. Thanks. And no bikini pics for girls please. Thanks !
9. What is next on the release front for yourself and where can we next see you play?
Here are my latest and upcoming releases:
Einzelkind - The Hoal EP. - Naural
Harlo - Belmondo EP - Harlo 002
Project / Label of Charlotte T. and Einzelkind
Einzelkind & Giuliano Lomonte - Surrounded by You EP. - Pressure Traxx Silver Series
Implosive Inc. (Randy Fox, Robin Scholz, Einzelkind) - Birds of Canada EP. - Implosive
Einzelkind - youtoo - Rooted Various Artists
(coming in summer 2018)
Einzelkind & Giuliano Lomonte EP. - AKU010
Catch Einzelkind alongside Sven Vath, Tim Green, Martyne, Andre Galuzzi & Dana Ruh this Friday 4/5/18 @ Fabric for Cocoon London
FONO Newcastle - Fridays @ Illegitimate Newcastle