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Take a listen to Hip Hop, Trap, Pop, EDM, or just about any other genre these days and you'll hear the distinct tones of the "808 Bass" - a term used to describe tuned and pitched sub-bass lines whose origins come from a classic drum machine, not a bass synth. But as standard as the 808 Bass is, the way everyone makes them these days is not quite as standard. That's one reason why 808 Bass sounds and bass lines are something of a mystery for aspiring producers and beat makers.
In part one of a two part series, we take a look at the origins of the 808 Bass and the philosophy that goes into creating custom patches and writing 808 bass lines.
The way they both got into making music, by embracing mistakes and deviations in their piano lesson homework, is just the beginning of a highly compatible and equally unique take on songwriting and production for Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf. As the two producers in Niki & The Dove, they work together as a set of checks and balances - as much musical collaborators as editors, carefully crafting their sound. In this artist feature we sat down with Gustaf and Malin and had them both take us through a couple songs on their latest album, "Everybody's Heart is Broken Now."
Jordi Moonen and Laurens Van Steenbergen, also known as Aerotronic, met each other at the age of seven and discovered at this very young age to share the same taste of music. A couple of years later, they decided to start experimenting with dj-ing and producing, leading to developing a passion that has been growing ever since.
Aerotronic has released their music on labels such as Teenage Riot Records, Sex Cult and Boxon Records, and gained support from many artists including Mr Oizo, Zombie Nation, Fake Blood and Mixhell.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Jordi and Laurens about their relation to Reason and their thoughts on our latest release, Reason 9. Be sure to download and check out their top 5 custom Combinator patches below!
What's your favorite new Reason 9 feature?
The Dual Arpeggio is definitely a game changer. It’s so easy to program polyphonic sequences now. I like it that you can make it as simple or complex as you want. It feels like a fusion of the Matrix Pattern Sequencer and the RPG-8, but even bigger. And you can perfect your loops with the ease of clicking the send to track button, which transfers the arpeggio sequence into midi data. Super useful. I also found myself to be using the ‘Bounce in place’ function quite a lot. It allows for quick loop creations. Overall, R9 is a superb update, from the players to the pitch edit. It’s all really solid.
How do you get started with a new song? What usually sparks your creativity?
We just listen to a lot of different music. It does help a lot that we have a very similar taste in music, that makes it easy for us to agree on production decisions. Then, when we start to make music, it all really depends on what new sound design we come up with. Sometimes it’s a melody hook. Sometimes it’s some percussion loops we’ve made. Then we try to build a theme around it. Sound design is a big part of what we do. Mostly we come up with some new sounds in seperate sessions, later we record the results and manipulate them. Building the full track happens later. Once we’ve established a couple of decent loops, we try building them up and down into a structure that makes the most sense to us.
What do you do if writer's block hits? Any tips to break out of it?
When we don’t have any ideas with the material we made, we just let it sit in our computer folder for a couple of weeks. So you fully forget about the progress you made. When you come back later with a fresh mind, you can easily spot what you like or dislike. We recently finished a project that was over 3 years old (see the song ZYX below!). So anything can happen really. I also noticed that once you run out of ideas, the best thing is to go do something completely different. Otherwise you’re wasting time. It also helps to take risks, do things to your track that you wouldn’t normally do, if you’re lucky, that kind of experimentation can pay off.
Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
It’s standard for us to cut the frequency of our kick drums below 60hz with the Main Mixer EQ. The spectrum analyzer has a highpass filter which you can move to cut some of that useless low end. Another one, is to use Thor’s low pass filer on other audio sources. It’s simply a great filter, and our songs have a lot of filter automations going on. The new bounce in place feature from Reason 9 is also a clever trick to save some DSP on your overall project.
The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Tough question. Malström is definitely among the most imporatant three. It has been a vital part of the Aerotronic sound. Especially the very glitchy synths. The RV7000 is also very important to us. Amazing sounding reverb/delay unit. It’s so easy to make it sound good too, adding a bit of wetness to the overall mix. Our last choice would be a tie between Redrum and Kong. We both used these so much. Redrum handles our sample-based drum sections and with Kong you can create some stellar drums from scratch with the built in drum synths.
This is the arpeggio you can hear throughout the song ‘ZYX’. It sounds best when you layer it with other analog sounding synths. Gives drive to the track.
The lead stab to our song ‘Revelation’. It’s so simple it works. The song has one of our favorite buildups from the entire Aerotronic discography.
There are numerous acid style synths you can spot in our songs. This is one of them. Build with a Malström, and it sounds so dope.
By automating the pitch and the free rate of the RPG-8, you get that glitchy type of sound that we made in the song “Gearshift”. Also build with a Malström.
Night Tales Bass
In one of the darker cuts of our album, we have this huge bassline going on that drives the track from beginning to end. The more you chop your notes the better it sounds. Listen here!
Update December 15, 2016!
Aerotronic made 50 patches for Parsec 2 that they want to share with the Reason community! All free! :)
People have been requesting we show a method for creating currently trending version of a classic sound: the Reese Bass - namely, the "Dirty" Reese Bass, which is characterized by heavy distortion, compression, and filtration. When it comes to dirt, grit, and nasty sounds, Malström is a fantastic tool for the job. So in this tutorial I'll show you one of the many ways you can approach this type of sound, while thinking out loud along the way so you can gain some insight into custom patch creation in the Reason Rack.