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Melawati shares 5 creative studio tips

Belgian artist Melawati steps up to Ellum Audio with an arresting debut album, ‘Artimia’. Produced with an array of modified machines and modular synths, it is a testament to finding beauty in chaos.

Martijn Ravesloot (aka Melawati) makes music out of mistakes. He comes from an indie background but has always admired Aphex Twin while playing in bands such as The Subs and working in theatre. He has a love of experimenting with soundwaves that gives rise to his complex, experimental and improvised sounds.

Now, to celebrate the release of ‘Artimia’ on Maceo Plex’s Ellum Audio, Melawati invites EG into the studio for 5 creative production tips:

1. Make sounds when not working on a track

Reserve some time to make sounds, without the looming shadow of a track you are trying to finish. Trying to make a sound you are already hearing in your head, is one thing, experimenting with instruments and just recording all the sounds that come out of that, is another. The first one is what I’m doing most of the time, but I have to remind myself to do the latter as well. You will end up with more surprising and weird stuff, which you can dig up later.

2. Listen to your tracks with your eyes closed

Or bounce them and listen somewhere other than the studio. The pitfall is to only listen while looking at your DAW, which is a bit counterproductive. You can see the sounds coming, so you anticipate them more. You also mix with your eyes and miss the experience other people will have while listening to your stuff. I tend to bounce often, walk out and check my mixes while looking at some trees, or while walking around. Another bonus of this practice is hearing your track on different sound systems which will tell you a lot about your mix.

3. Make percussion from textures

A nice way to make some less straightforward percussion is to find rich and long textures that fit the track. Take a triggerable envelope (LFO tool, any tremolo plugin, or you could just draw your envelope with the gain lines), set it pretty short, and have that working the volume. Depending on the texture, and the envelope, you can get anything from noisy chops to hi-hats, to some other ear candy. Not sure if I have done this one, but I could, for instance, get a 40-second loop of me grinding pepper. Have the volume controlled by a really short and snappy envelope, and play around with the decay time. As the hits are always from a different point in the audio file, it has some nice life and variation to them.

4. Loops of different lengths

Even if your track is really repetitive and based on a loop of one or two bars. It is always nice to take a couple of basic rhythmic elements (shakers, snares, rides, whatever) and loop them in patterns of 5, 7, 9, or 13 beats. Something that does not share an easy factor with your main loops. It’ll give each pattern a slightly different feel. Not really talking about melodies or track-defining features here, more the less obvious stuff, that you would by default put in patterns of 4 beats to make everything look nice and tidy.

5. Variation sample pack

If I find or record a sound I like, whether it is a melodic element, something rhythmic, or something textural, I will often take a minute, make a new track, put said sound on a loop (with a lot of silence in between) and build a signal chain out of random elements. I do this in modular, but a collection of random plugins works just as well. While the DAW is running and recording, I play around with various parameters, flip through some presets, or change the plugins (or modules) while recording. After a minute or two, you will have one long audio track with all kinds of weird versions of your original sound. At that point, I usually just cut the file at every loop point, or at the transients if it was a more rhythmic thing, and turn the collection of cut-up audio into a sampler instrument. Now you have an instrument for your track that has different versions of the main sound on every midi note. Perfect for fills, breaks, intros, or just weird stuff. Changing the sound is as simple as moving the midi note. Lots of options there.

Melawati’s ‘Artimia’ LP is now available via Ellum Audio. Purchase your copy here.

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