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Marbs, along with his Desert Hearts Black co-owner Evan Casey, explore the realm of vocal psychedelia with the double-sided ‘Birds On A Wire’—featuring vocalist Katie Kilbride. Damian Lazarus provides a cerebral remix as well, marking his grand debut on the label. The release is one of their most unique and ambitious to date, and shows off a new side to the producers previously hidden.
Most already know the story of Desert Hearts—the Southern California festival institution that Marbs helped co-found. With the brand’s roving party series, he’s traveled the world from Central America to Europe, and most recently, to Australia right before the pandemic hit. In 2019, he and Evan Casey launched their heavier, melodic-leaning subsidiary Desert Hearts Black. The imprint has opened new doors for the brand as a whole, bringing in top-level producers to its fold like Township Rebellion, Rinzen, Thugfucker, and Tim Engelhardt, to name a few.
These days, Marbs can be found taking the Twitch world by storm, where he and Evan Casey host their weekly Desert Hearts Black residency on DHTV. They’ve ascended to partnership status on the platform, becoming one of its top performers in the dance music category.
Ever the experimentalist and evolving producer, Marbs provides us some tips on spicing up your approach to electronic music making. He also brought Katie Kilbride with a crucial tip for those starting out in the vocal arena.
1. Start with a groove
If you can make the track move without drums then you know when you add them it’ll REALLY make it pop. I try to get my basslines and melodies written before completing the drums. It helps me focus on the emotion and movement of the track. Then, I slowly add drums to complete the groove.
2. Create from the heart
Don’t only make music for peak time dance floors. Explore all of your interests and create without restriction. It should always come from the heart.
3. Take ear breaks
I’m bad at this one. I more often than not get carried away and a whole day will go by without taking a break. The times that I do give my ears a pause and maybe even take a day or two away from the track end up boosting my creativity and results. If you’re in a flow state then ride that wave, but make sure to also know when to step away to rejuvenate and approach the project with fresh ears.
4. Don’t be afraid to over-record
Record more than you’ll need to arrange the track. Happy accidents can turn into massive steps forward and make your productions unique.
5. ….But Less is More
When arranging the track, play around with removing sounds. If a sound doesn’t significantly enhance the groove or movement, consider leaving it out. Less is more. It’ll make your tracks cleaner and give your sounds room to breath.
6. Extra Tip -Katie Kilbride’s Vocal Tip – Stay Curious
Going into the recording process, things might be a bit overwhelming…especially if it’s your first time in the studio, or in my case, you might not have access to a proper studio 24/7. Explore the areas in your house that are quiet, inspire creativity, and allow you to sing and move freely. Also, it never hurts to have a second set of ears to uncover an echo or errant noise, you didn’t catch.
Fun fact: The vocals from ‘Birds On A Wire’ were recorded in my bedroom in Encinitas, California, and sent to Marbs & Evan in Los Angeles to mix into the final track. This process taught me location doesn’t matter; you can collaborate with anyone in the world if you’re curious enough to test a few things out with a simple vocal recording setup.
Marbs & Evan Casey feat. Katie Kilbride’s ‘Birds on a Wire’ EP is now available via Desert Hearts Black. Stream and buy here.