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Umami shares 5 studio tips to widen your creative potential

Robert, a beat producer and composer in electronic projects, and Sam, a guitarist, singer, and songwriter in rock and jazz bands, have joined forces to form the musical project Umami. With a shared passion for creating mind-altering melodies that push boundaries, Umami has embarked on a transformative musical journey.

Photo Credit: Umami – Facebook

Finding their true sound has been a long and experimental process for Umami. Through detours and countless experiments, they have honed their craft and discovered a mature and honest artistic expression.

Umami recently released ‘Never Wanted To Be’  in collaboration with Atsou and Djupa Hav via Human By Default. To celebrate the release, Umami invited EG into the studio for five studio tips to widen your creative potential.

1. Finding vocal ideas with Voloco

This is more of a tip for the creative process than for the studio work. If you have written some cool chords in your track and want to find an interesting vocal line, but aren’t inspired when you sit in your studio, try this: download the app Voloco and import the mp3 of the draft of your track with the chord progression looping a couple of times. Go for a walk or a hike where there aren’t many people around so you can sing out loud without having to worry that somebody hears you. Put your headphones on and listen to the track inside the app. You can now record any vocal idea with your phone without interference of the backup track and it will automatically put autotune, compression, and reverb on your voice. This is neat because it totally changes the feeling of recording ideas when out in the sun, seeing the horizon, and hearing the music on your headphones at the same time.

2. Use AI to widen your creative potential

One thing we did for the last track of our new EP – Serial Offender (DUB Version) was using AI to brainstorm melody lines. Take the Plug-In Orb Chord by Hexachords at first and put in your harmonies. Create a new midi track and open the Orb Melody plug-in, also by hexachords. Let the software create a couple of examples with the melody generator.

When you have a melody that resembles something interesting drag it into a midi track with a synth plug-in you like. Then go in and change the midi notes that sound “wrong” to either the one you hear in your head or just by trying out all other notes. If you can’t find a fitting note for the position, just try to delete it and make the last one longer. With this method, you can work your way to a new melody like finding a light switch in a dark room. With trial and error and lots of searching. The upside is, that this is widening your creative space, and you may find lines you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.

3. Big vocals with clarity

If you want your vocals to have a big reverb feel but still be clean and not washed out, you can use this method: create two return/bus tracks – one with a reverb and one with a delay. Then put a compressor on both tracks and select a side chain with the input from your vocal track. Send the delay track into the reverb bus as well to make it less dry. Now the vocals will be clean and the reverb/delay is suppressed while the vocals are playing, but the reverb/vocal ramps up immediately when the volume of the vocal goes down, to create that nice tail end and big room feeling.

4. Glue compressor for kick and bass

Mixing kick and bass together can be a critical aspect of achieving a solid low-end in your music production. Create a group with your kick and bass in it and put a glue compressor on the group. It’s important to start by setting your compressor’s attack time relatively slow, around 10-30 milliseconds. This allows the initial transients of both the kick and bass to pass through without being overly compressed, preserving their punch and clarity. For the release time, a medium setting – for example, 6 on the Ableton glue compressor – generally works well, as it lets the compressor recover smoothly between hits. Adjust the threshold and ratio so that it just gently modifies the signal and doesn’t over-compress, as this can suck the life out of your low-end. Follow the Mixing Engineer Alice Yalcin Efe on YouTube for more in-depth advice on this topic. She has awesome tips and tricks for producers.

5. Try pre-made mastering chains

If you, like us, aren’t an expert in mastering, try out pre-made mastering chains by professional mastering engineers. We use one from Florian Meindl from Riemann Mastering and it consists of only Ableton stock plug-ins, so every Ableton user can use it without additional purchases. You can of course tweak the settings of the plug-ins in the chain to fit your specific track.

Umami’s ‘Never Wanted To Be’ is out now. Download your copy here.

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