Circle² x Academy 303 (Barcelona) / Hugh on May 9th

Due to its demystifying interface and instantly accessible workflow, Circle² is renowned within music tech educational circles as being the one of the most effective synthesis teaching tools. We spoke to Jesus Del Cerro - who heads up the Academy 303 music tech school in Barcelona - about how their students use Circle² to become synthesis experts.

Academy 303

Firstly, please can you tell us a bit about yourself and Academy 303.

Academy 303 is the only Ableton Certified Training Center in central Barcelona. We offer a wide range of personalized music tech and production classes in both English and Spanish, catering to all levels of ability. We normally limit our class sizes to 5 students - this enables our students to receive a lot of personal tuition - we’re proud that this means our students tend to learn fast and thoroughly.

In addition to Ableton live, we offer many specialized courses in different techniques tools and musical styles. Our mission is to provide training to a professional standard, so you can develop your creativity and turn your passion for music into a profession.

Academy 303

How do you use Circle² at Academy 303?

We use Circle² to teach synthesis in all of our Ableton Basic / Pro courses. We love the minimal interface and unmatchable visual feedback that Circle² provides - having tried almost everything on the market, whether it’s for beginners or experts, we feel that Circle² is the best synthesizer for teaching and learning. It’s amazing how fast our students become familiar with complex modulation - the possibilities are infinite!

In which ways does Circle² work particularly well as a tool for learning synthesis?

The concepts of modulation are very easy to understand using Circle², due to simple the drag and drop routing options, alongside the visual feedback / single pane user interface. Furthermore, the analog and wavetable oscillator possibilities are massive, meaning many different styles of sound can be achieved.

Academy 303

The world of synthesis can be quite daunting at first, do you have any tips for those just starting out?

Always keep experimenting and don’t stop having fun! Sometimes the best realizations come from happy accidents, so never be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to synthesis.

Thanks for your time, Jesus!

Studio Focus: Kalawila / Hugh on March 25th

Kalawila

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi! My name is Robin, and I’m a third-year student of radio production at the Stockholm University for the dramatic arts. When I ́m not doing that, I make and play techno under the alias Kalawila. Sound takes up a lot of my time.

What is your current studio set up?

I actually produce from home, since I don’t have the privilege of having a studio, and up until recently I didn’t have much of a “setup” at all. I made my first records with an old iMac, the basic Logic 9 software, and four or five external plugins that kept crashing, so I could only work for 10 minutes at a time before the computer went OAIGFJNAOIGNAIOEGABEUGABEFCA. It sounds odd, but I also think limitations is your best friend when doing something creative.

I make most of my music with samples and field recordings since I have access to microphones & recording equipment at my university. For instance, I might go down into the huge university garage and bang on a metal container, record it, then twist & turn it inside out with effects on my computer at home until it sounds like something completely different, like a magnetic frog or something. I have a small array of analogue synths as well, like the Korg Volca series, and a Semblance from Analogue Solutions, but it’s only recently that I’ve been getting into hardware. The most important thing about hardware for me is that it needs to be intuitive and easy to understand when you’re starting out. Otherwise, it’s just going to be intimidating.

When working on a track, what is your process?

It really differs. For my first records, I decided to take real newspaper headlines and make music that I thought described that scenario. For instance, my first record is “Slagsmål utbröt på Mount Everest”, which is Swedish for “A brawl broke out on Mount Everest”. Or my latest record, “Ensam kamphund tog Pendeltåget”, which means “Lonely fighter dog rode the commuter train”. I thought those were funny scenarios to try and paint. I’m really inspired by computer games as well. For instance, the other day I came across a spell called the “Hyper kinetic position reverser.” I have no idea what that means, but I started making a track about it. I don’t have any musical background with playing an instrument, so I try to come at it from a different angle.

Recently, I’ve been adding the drums at the very end because they don’t stimulate my imagination that much, they have a much more apparent function. And I ́d like to keep the track from having a function for as long as possible. The perfect scenario would be if the finished track isn’t “dance music”, but rather music that makes you want to dance. Those are two different things.

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

It’s really fun how easy it is these days to make a tangible recording unrecognisable from the original. Just that part is sometimes enough for me. So you can just go in your bathroom, take a metal object and bang it on the thing that dries your towel. Let it resonate, record it, and then sit for hours and basically mistreat the sound in every possible way imaginable; apply filters, stretch, distort, do everything possible on a computer. Later, when I start applying delays is usually where a song or rhythm starts to take shape. I trust my intuition a lot, I can hear instantly if a sound fits into my musical universe.

Kalawila

If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

I actually had my most serious one recently, where everything just sounded like absolute garbage, and I felt pathetic every time I tried making a track. That’s not good. However, during those kind of times I’m fortunate that music isn’t my full time job. If it was, I would have felt super stressed, but now I just focused on other creative stuff, one which ended up being a radio theatre piece. Focusing on other things, in turn lead me back to fiddling with music in a naive way. Feeling naive is big part of the fun for me, and if I’m not having fun, whatever I’m doing at the moment just ends up being really shitty, so whenever I get bored or frustrated I do something else. I guess what I lack in work ethic, I make up for in versatility.

Mixing down can often be frustrating when starting out in production, what advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

Master the EQ. I’ve noticed when mixing tracks with more experienced studio friends, that a lot of work just goes into “cleaning up” the track and making sure each element has it’s place and isn’t disturbed by other elements. Also, I don’t use any reverb at all on the elements that are typically the loudest in the song (like drums). When you play the song at a club, you can really take advantage of the fact that the room gives you a natural reverb, rather than adding another reverb to the fictional one you added in the song.

What’s up next for you, any releases in the pipeline?

I’ve almost finished my next record “Lönnmördare fick betalt i frimärken EP” (Assassin got paid in stamps), and I’ve decided to start releasing friend’s music on my label as well, which I think is really exciting! The two next ones will be by my good friends Birds ov Paradise and Dorisburg! Tracks that I’ve been playing out for a while now, that really just need to be heard by more people.

Follow Kalawila

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Image Line Remote App For Circle² / Hugh on March 2nd

Image Line Remote For Circle2

FL Studio users! Deftivity International have kindly released a free Image Line Remote template, so you can control Circle² from your phone or tablet.

Head over to their website to download the template.

Studio Focus: Hugo Massien / Hugh on February 13th

Hugo Massien

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m a music producer and audio software developer from the UK. Labels I’m currently associated with are XL Recordings and 17 Steps.

What is your current studio set up?

I work on an iMac alongside Maschine Studio, using Logic X and a load of 3rd party synth and effect plugins (including Circle²). For monitoring, I’m using Adam A7X, KRK Rokit 6 and Beyerdynamic DT770.

When working on a track, what is your process?

I definitely go through phases. At the moment a lot of my tracks are born out of synthesis. I’ll program a lead or bass patch from scratch until I’m happy with the result, then build the percussion around that from the kick drum upwards. In other circumstances, I might begin a track with the percussion, or a vocal sample. For me, the most exciting part of music production is the realisation of an idea that no one else has had yet, so in general, that’s a good place to start.

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

Percussive one shots normally come from drum machine packs. Vocal elements come from movies, tv and the obscure corners of YouTube. Everything else is synthesised using predominantly subtractive, wavetable and FM techniques, occasionally resampled for further mangling.

If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

Often If I hit a bit of a block I’ll just open up a synthesiser and program some patches from scratch, normally that leads to inspiration. Also, at the moment my material is fairly club focused so visiting a decent event can be inspiring as a contextual reminder. If all else fails I’ll just take a break.

Mixing down can often be frustrating when starting out in production, what advice in this field would you give for beginners?

Talking from experience, don’t get bogged down with tutorials and reading forums. There’s too much information to take in at once and the merit of a lot it is questionable. Try not to spend too long on a mix, realise that you’ll probably never be truly satisfied with it. Just get your levels right and EQ out any piercing or conflicting frequencies, your ears will just train themselves over time.

What’s up next for you, any releases in the pipeline?

A few of my new tracks have been on rotation in the clubs for a while, so they should be dropping on 12″ and digital over 2017. All will be announced in due course!

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Circle² Future Sounds Collection / Hugh on February 7th

Preset Art

Since the release of Circle², as part of our Future Sounds series we’ve been periodically releasing free genre focussed preset expansions for you to use in conjunction with the factory library.

We’ve decided it’s now time to round up the first 8 expansions into one collection…

Download the collection

These expansions have featured on our Weblog alongside context on the scene they emanate from, stylistic pointers for each genre and a sample track that demonstrates how they can be used. Make sure to check out the direct links below if you don’t want to miss out on this extra information!

Gqom
Chicago House
Dubstep Vol. 1
Holiday Presets
Grime Vol. 1
Trap Vol. 1
Future Deep House Vol. 1
Future Pop Vol. 1

The Circle² preset folders can be found here:

OSX - Application Support > FAW > Circle-2 > Presets
Windows - Program Files > FAW > Circle2 > Presets

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our social media pages and Weblog to keep up to date with all our free expansions and updates.

Circle² Future Sounds: Gqom / Hugh on January 12th

* All non percussive elements in this track were generated using presets contained in Circle² Future Sounds: Gqom.

As part of our Future Sounds series and following on from our recent Gqom and Music Tech with Emo-Kid SA feature, we’ve put together a new pack of Gqom inspired presets.

Gqom is a heavily percussive musical style so it’s important to familiarise yourself with the rhythmic style of the genre if you’re going to have a go at producing it. Bass synths are typically, deep, repetitive drone style sounds that surround the kick drum to provide low end tonal body. Sharp synth stabs and more dissonant synthesized FX are then used to add further decoration in the higher frequency bands.

Download the pack below, it contains all the elements you need to make a Gqom banger!

Circle² Future Sounds: Gqom

1. Deep G Power Bass
2. Drone Depth Filler
3. Sea Bed Chord
4. Mystery Chord
5. Flute Robot Lead
6. Vibrato Pluck Lead

Download the preset expansion

To install the presets, just unzip and paste the folder “Future Sounds - UK Gqom″ in here:

OSX - Application Support > FAW > Circle-2 > Presets
Windows - Program Files > FAW > Circle2 > Presets

Gqom and Music Tech with Emo-Kid SA [Gqom Oh!] / Hugh on December 29th

Gqom1

Over the last few years an innovative dance music scene has emerged from the townships of Durban and South Africa’s other major cities, garnering the interest of the music community worldwide. A combination of skeletal polyrhythmic swing, fractured hip hop percussion, and stripped back tribal house influences, South Africa’s clubs are alight to the sound of Gqom. Gqom, a Zulu word meaning “hit” or “drum” seems an apt descriptor for this incisive, percussive music.

As audacious as it is razor sharp, the gqom production aesthetic has a compellingly stripped back feel, invoking comparison to the raw instrumental dubplates that were produced during the burgeoning stages of the grime scene in London, circa 2003 to 2005 - think producers such as Jon E Cash, Ruff Sqwad and Dread D.

To find out about how this genre shaking, signature sound is being crafted, we spoke to renowned Gqom producer and Gqom Oh! signee, Emo-Kid SA, to get an insight into the music technology that’s driving the scene, and to find out about life as a Gqom producer.

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what lead you to producing Gqom?

I go by the name Emo-Kid SA, I’m 22 years old and was born in Durban, South Africa. I’m currently working with a London (South Africa) based record label called Gqom Oh! Owned by Francesco Nan Kolè. I started doing music in 2013 when I had my first ever computer which I was supposed to be using it for my I.T. classes, but I ended up falling in love with creating music (Gqom). I was also into producing some little bit of hip-hop but Gqom music really had me going crazy - I couldn’t stop myself from creating it.

What is your current studio set up? Are most gqom producers working in a similar way?

Believe it or not but most if not all of my production was created in my bedroom with just me, FL Studio, my computer and some little speakers, nothing fancy at all. Most of us Gqom creators don’t have much studio equipment since most of us like myself, we come from disadvantaged homes and so we have no other option but to work with what we have.

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

Most of the sounds and percussion I use are the wave samples that I usually get from my fellow gqom producers. We always share sounds with each other if one has downloaded some new free sounds online. For designing my music I normally use FL Studio, assisted by some nice plugins. It is a perfect tool for me to use when creating Gqom. It’s user friendly and very nice for most Gqom producers out there.

When working on a track, what is your creative process?

I wouldn’t say I have a consistent creative process I use to produce every track, but it has to do with the mood you’re in at the time - since Gqom music is a very “up beat” type of music it’s always great to produce the next morning after a good party. Gqom music is all about good vibes. You can’t create Gqom if you’re not in a great mood.

It’s hard to find gqom tracks for sale or download online at the major retailers such as Beatport. How does do DJs and fans access your music?

Yes, it’s not easy to get it on Beatport or other music selling sites, but I have a Soundcloud page where you can get most of the music I have released there. Also on my Facebook page there’s a lot of my music which I have available for free download.

What is the standard technical set up for a gqom DJ? Do clubs in SA cater for vinyl DJs?

It’s very hard to find a vinyl set up these days it’s very unfamiliar here in SA. Most clubs just use CDJs but I would love to learn vinyl one day.

What is up next for you? Any releases in the pipeline?

I have been creating quite a lot of music recently which I hope to release on the next Gqom oh! compilation, which would be released some time next year. I also want to drop an EP of my own soon. Theres so much music here and I wish for it to reach your ears soon.

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Studio Focus: Eduardo de la Calle / Hugh on October 15th

EDLC

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I have been a DJ / producer since 1992. I opened my first record shop in the early 90s and since have been really happy with how my path progressed! After more than 100 vinyl releases I am still here - motivated and inspired. Being a professional DJ has given me the opportunity to travel worldwide on stop, and I always appreciate that life has given me this challenge.

What is your current studio set up?

My studio is really simple. I have 3 MPC 500 AKAI units and some synths - Yamaha, Alesis, Nord and Korg to name a few. I sample all around, then send everything through a Mackie desk into ProTools.

When working on a track, what is your process?

I don’t necessarily have the same system for every track. It all depends on many factors, mainly my current state of consciousness. The main part of my daily studio session is creating a main loop, which I then decorate slowly until the track is finished.

I follow the same system as Miles David and Coltrane did with “Kind of Blue”, so recording a main loop followed by improvisation… I love jazz.

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

I get sounds from everywhere: rhythm machines, synths, funk records, jazz records, microphones - everything works!

If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

I meditate by chanting Indian mantras for 2 hours in the early morning every day. After this I always feel harmonised and ready to go!

Mixing down can often be frustrating when starting out in production, what advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

I record everything on DAT tapes and send them to my engineer, who then mixes down and creates the analog premaster. He has a Shadow Hill Equinox among other stuff. After this we send for master processing ready for vinyl cutting.

What’s up next for you, any releases in the pipeline?

I have some new records coming on Boddika’s UK label NON PLUS, and 4 forthcoming releases on SHIFT FUNCTION.

Follow Eduardo de la Calle

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Circle² ready for macOS Sierra! / Hugh on October 3rd

The Latest version for Circle² is hot out of the compiler and ready for action on Apple’s newly released macOS Sierra (10.12).

Start the download now


Don’t forget you can always get in contact with us via our Facebook page or by sending an email through to support.

Studio Focus: Yaleesa Hall / Hugh on August 1st

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Yaleesa Hall and I work and live in Amsterdam. I started doing music a while ago, but only releasing it on vinyl over the last 3 years. The label I work closely together with is Will & Ink, also based in Amsterdam.

What is your current studio set up?

Most of my work is done in the box, but I do use a lot of hardware as well. I have done a few records together with Malin Genie on Will & Ink. For that we mainly used Eurorack modules in combination with an Ebbe & Flut filter. And then editing and adjustments are done in Ableton.

When working on a track, what is your process?

Most of the time I start to look for sounds that are interesting to listen to. Sounds that have a character on their own. When I find something I like I then start to play with parameters and try to record many different sides to the sound without degrading its core characteristics. I have a folder of recordings, over 500 now, with only synths, drones or just hihats that I think are worth developing into a track. After this proces I start with the rhythm section. When this is all in a stage I’m comfortable with I then spend way too much time on mixing levels and eq’s.

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

I use synths. Some in the box and some out, like a Juno and Eurorack modules. Its a long proces of adjusting LFO’s, envelopes etc till I have something that I like.

I’m not afraid to sample either, but I sample mainly my own recordings - this way I limit myself. So instead of staying in the midi phase and keeping adjusting little things, by sampling I have less parameters. That is perfect to get an idea finished. I have to admit I also sample from my vinyl collection. But, I don’t use it one on one in my music of course.

If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

Redo all the cables haha. No really, that keeps me busy for at least an hour. And cleaning. It resets my mind. Another trick is to remix myself. I just open an old project, re-save it, and start deleting and replacing tracks. This way I don’t have to push myself to start from scratch in times of a creative block, and I can still work towards something new.

Mixing down can often be frustrating when starting out in production, what advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

Tough question. So much things that I picked up along my years of doing this. From talking to other producers or trying your own renders out in clubs. If there is one thing it would be practice. Finding frequency spots by ear is something I was taught maybe 8 years ago. But it still took me 8 years to finally understand what was meant by it.

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