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Lawrence Hart shares five workflow & production tips for the studio

Lawrence Hart’s 2021 EP ‘Surrender Yourself’ amassed millions of streams and won key tastemaker and BBC radio support (including Essential New Tune), adding to a chameleonic back catalog of singing (on tracks with George Fitzgerald, and most recently ‘Warning Signs’ with Alan Fitzpatrick), remixing Foals, producing for Lil Silva. On the road now to the launch of his new SSEM label this year, Hart is now back with ‘Dust’, a striking collaboration with Model Man. The two producers impel you to dance with joyful abandon, in a euphoric celebration of clubbing’s renaissance, with Lawrence’s breakbeats, a compelling vocal hook, and Model Man’s signature subtle piano, as they combine to bring the track to a blissful crescendo.

In celebration of ‘Dust’, his new single with Model Man, Lawrence Hart shares 5 tips to improve your workflow in the studio.

1. Start with something that inspires you

When writing a track, I find that the beginning of the process can sometimes feel a little cold and sterile. So, I tend to start by finding a piece of music I love and using the program PaulStretch. I granularly stretch the sample by 100x or more, then load it into Ableton and hi-pass it so it’s just the high-end information. This creates a sonic landscape that helps drive my inspiration and gives me something to interact with. A lot of the time I’ll end up taking it out or minimizing its role in the track, as it’s just helpful for that initial period. I will often use choral music or music without drums in, but really anything will work!

2. Get to the arrangement as soon as possible

Too many ideas get stuck at the loop stage, so I try and get it into a form as soon as I can. You can always keep editing the structure and swapping ideas around, but as soon as you’ve done a basic arrangement you start having ideas about what needs to be changed and what needs to be developed. It’s a lot easier to move forward this way, otherwise, you can get stuck in a place where there’s endless potential but you’re scared to make those next steps.

3. Give the track some life

Adding movement to your track with automation can be the difference between it being finished and wanting to bin it. It can really lift something that sounds flat. Once I’ve got the form roughly sorted, I’ll set up some FX sends. I’ll have a chain of quite a few plugins (reverb, delay, granular FXs, sidechain compression/expansion, etc) on each return channel and midi map the sends of different instruments to rotary knobs. Then I do a pass sending different instruments out to the different return channels and record the automation as I do so. This will add a lot of movement and excitement to your music.

4. Ableton’s transient gate Is your new best friend

When it comes to drum programming, I like to use a mix of electronic and organic sounds to add depth to the sonics. For the organic side I’ll sample drums from old jazz and soul records, but a lot of the time there’s too much ‘room sound’ in there. You can deal with this by setting the sample to the ‘Beats’ on the Warp Mode and setting the Transient Loop Mode to ‘Off’, then adjust the Transient Envelope to shorten the decay of each hit. It’s a lifesaver for tightening up drums (or anything else for that matter) and making space in the mix.

5. Make space

Something that massively improved my production and mixing was learning about multiband sidechain compression. It allows you to sidechain a certain frequency band of one instrument off another instrument. For example, if you have a sub bass part that’s living in the same place frequency-wise as the kick, you can pull out 100hz and below from the bass every time the kick hits. This allows you to keep the power of the sub bass without it interfering with the kick. I use Fabfilter’s Pro MB to do this, but there are a number of plugins you can do this with. Another method is to use Soothe2 in sidechain mode, as this will thin out the sound by taking down the resonant peaks. This works great if you have a big pad that’s obscuring the vocals, but don’t want to lose the power of the pad or for it to sound like it’s pumping. You can put Soothe2 on your pad and set the sidechain input to the vocals. This way every time your vocals come in, the pad will thin out in the frequency band you set.

Lawrence Hart & Model Man ‘Dust’ is out now via LG105. Purchase your copy here.

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