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Kyle Watson shares 5 studio tips to elevate your tracks

Kyle Watson has been perfecting his craft over the course of fifteen years. Over that period, he’s grown his personal catalog and discography to include hundreds of originals, remixes, and private edits. In his current ‘My Machines’ tour, Watson aims to tap into this expansive collection to develop a specially curated all-original Kyle Watson DJ set. Each show features a blend of the fresh and familiar, the old and the new, and a dash of personal edits and VIP mixes that have remained exclusive to his collection throughout his tenure as an artist. Alongside the auditory component of the experience, Watson has put together a visual element and brand that echoes the concept of ‘My Machines’ including custom visuals.

To celebrate his current ‘My Machines’ tour, Kyle Watson invites EG into the studio  for 5 production tips to elevate your track:

1. Get width out of your drums

If your track is feeling too narrow, getting stereo content into your drums can immediately make things feel bigger even in simple instrumental tracks. Choose 2 new hat samples, pan them hard left and right, high pass them, and mix them in under your main hat. Adjust the length of each sample to roughly match the length of your center hat layer. Works well for claps too.

2. Add aggression to your drums

Set up a bus and send all of your drums to it, including your kick. Add some saturation and add very aggressive compression to the bus, with a slow enough attack to let the initial transients through. Mix this in under your original drums for extra transient energy and to bring up the tails of the drum samples. The saturation will also add some subtle grit to the drums.

3. Use textures and make things imperfect

Textures add a natural and organic feel to electronic music which can sometimes feel clinical and clean. Layering chopped-up textures under your drums and main melodies can take even great sound design to the next level. Classics like vinyl crackle, crunchy sand and waves crashing, etc are all great for layering under individual synth riffs and basslines.

4. Use tremolo effects

Tremolo effects are extremely useful for adding movement to build up elements and create tension. Soundtoys Tremolator is one of my favorites because it allows you to modulate the stereo channels independently to create extra width. Try repeating a vocal chop or synth note in a break to create a sustained loop and running it through the tremolo effect, increasing the rate as you approach the drop.

5. Use soft clipping on individual elements

Soft clippers are one of the most useful tools to squeeze as much volume out of individual elements as possible. Find one that is light on the CPU and use it often during the mixing stage. Recently I have been adding a soft clipper onto almost every channel to tame rogue peaks and get as much volume out of each channel as possible. What you end up with at the end is a much more leveled-out mix, which lets you get more out of the master. Be careful though, use just enough to tame the peaks otherwise you end up squeezing all the life out of the sound.

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