Meet our newest team member: Hugh! / BronFAW on November 28th

We’d like to introduce you to newest member of our Future Audio Workshop team, Hugh. Joining us in Berlin from Bristol, UK, Hugh is currently helping with the final stages of getting Circle² ready for the wider world. We got to know more about Hugh below.

How long have you been in Berlin? What brought you here?
I’ve been in Berlin for a few weeks now, I came out here to work with the guys at FAW.

What did you study? What got you interested in studying computers?
I graduated from Bristol UWE earlier this year, where I studied Audio & Music Technology. My initial interest in audio software came from making electronic music. From listening, then DJing, then producing, audio software development was the next logical step.

What will you be doing at Future Audio Workshop?
I’ll be working on plugin development for the moment. Right now we’re working towards the Circle² release. It’s looking and sounding amazing.

We’d love to learn about your taste in music. What have you been listening to lately?
I tend to listen to a wide range of styles, and my musical interests are constantly changing. I can get down with cheesy music as much as deep music, and old music as much as new music. However, in a club environment I’d rather hear techno or UK house at the moment.

What can we find you doing in your spare time?
In most of my spare time I’m in the studio making music, I don’t think there’s a better form of escapism. I work under a couple of aliases, one of them is Hugo Massien. I also run a label, Top Shelf Material. I established the label as a platform to push a strain of house that’s been growing in the UK underground over the last couple of years.

Welcome Hugh!

Artist Focus: Sinden / BronFAW on November 7th

With the release of Circle² just around the corner, we’ll be featuring a number of artists who work with Circle on our Future Audio Workshop blog. This week we spoke with UK-bred, LA-based producer Sinden.

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

Hi, I’m a music producer / DJ. I’m from the UK, originally, but have since moved out to Los Angeles a few years ago. Most people associate me with the house / techno / club world, however I do a lot of productions for rappers and singers.

What inspired you to get into making electronic music? Is it something you’ve always known you wanted to do?

Well I had aspirations to be a DJ first actually. When I was a young teen I would buy vinyl but I didn’t have turntables until I could afford some cheap belt drives. I would rock University parties for my friends. To become a producer you still needed to have some cash and I couldn’t afford Logic (when Emagic used to own it). I was inspired after a chance meeting with Switch and he mentored me in the early days, he really taught me the ropes. I got made redundant from my job and then I decided this was like a calling for me to do the music thing full time.

You moved from London to Los Angeles in 2012. How does living in LA influence your work?

Well it’s had a huge impact on me. It changed my whole approach to the music I wanted to make and it opened me up to a lot of sounds that I don’t think I would explore in London. I’ve always soaked up the sounds from the West Coast as a record buyer / music listener but they weren’t at the forefront. In London I was making a heavier UK sound and I still am to an extent - that’s never going to fade - but for the rap music I’m making it’s in the spirit of sunshine and g funk, classic 90s rap updated for the clubs today. Even the dance music I make is filtered through my LA experience. Drum and synth sounds that are pleasurable to me are constantly being reconfigured.

When writing a track, what is your process? (Do you program drums first? Do you sit down at a set time and say “Now I’m making a track” or spontaneously rush to your studio…)

I’m a big believer in writing music when the time is right. Being frustrated in front of a screen is the worst. If the magic isn’t happening I play a video game, walk my dogs outside or watch some TV. I like to come back to the studio when I have a vision of what I want to make. I like to explore different mediums to making music too. Before it was only ever Logic for me and I needed a laptop. I was quite linear in my approach but I fully embraced the iPad and iPhone music apps for making beats on the go, even portable synthesizers, field recording found sounds. There’s so much you can do outside the studio to fuel your imagination for when you make the commitment to sit down in front of a project. I like to get in and get out, haha, but if you can make music in a park isn’t that so much better? Most times than not I’ll program the drums first unless I have a melody that will dictate the rest of the track. Basslines can happen at the beginning too. I like to get a solid 8-16 bars that will become the backbone of the track and once I’m happy with that, I’ll program some variations. Also really important, I like to map out the track early so that I have a loose goal of what I want to happen where. I find that I’m more likely to finish a track.

Can you tell us about your studio setup?

I’m running Logic X, which has always been more DAW of choice. Soundcard wise I’m running everything through the UAD Apollo Quad, which sounds amazing. I’ve been using Universal Audio’s plug ins for a good few years now. As someone who produces and mixes in the box, this suits me down to the ground. I’ve got a few toys like Maschine, Roland R8, SH09, Juno 2, Ensoniq ESQ-1, Moog Minitaur, Access Virus, Dave Smith Tetra, Microkorg XL, some old FM keyboards like the Yamaha SY77 etc but my workflow is mostly really VSTs and sampling vinyl and manipulating those audio samples / sound designing in the box. I just love the ease that you can work on the road this way. I feel l could easily scale down most of what is in my studio.

What were your initial thoughts on Circle? Are there any certain features you like in particular?

I love circle. It’s really accessible (and really slick looking!!) to get into but you can also explore it a lot further too. My initial thoughts were that the interface is really pleasing to use, its really visual and the fact that you can see LFO’s and envelopes moving, breaks things down in a way that is easy to grasp. It’s just fun to pick up circles and experiment a bit with it. The way you manipulate the synth will show an instant visual display of what you’re doing. It’s color-coded so that you don’t get muddled up when you’re assigning modulations. The layout also makes a lot of sense, its not confusing or intimidating and for my workflow’s sake it’s so important. That first 30mins – 1 hour in the initial stages of production are so crucial so I’ll use presets to get roughly the sound I want and then tweak them later. Circle allows this with their easy to use menu, which folds out at the bottom. Also being able to search sounds by characteristics is cool too. Small things like that and being able to randomize particular areas of your sound and to what degree is a really cool feature and I do like the unpredictable.

We’d love to know how Circle has been used in your productions. Are you able to describe an example?

If I’m on the road travelling I like to, rather than starting a new track, just open up Circle and mess around to create a few starting points for productions and save the patches for later when I get to my studio. I usually start with the stock sounds and then go from there and often I end up completely going off on a tangent but that’s really the beauty of getting lost in the program. I just used Circle as the lead bass sound in a forthcoming production for a project I’m doing called The Crystal System. Actually Circle is usually the first point of call for basslines and also pad sounds and weird one shot FX sounds.

I also used Circle for this one:

Since there’s over a hundred wavetables you can get some really interesting variations and movements in your sound. I like to open up various channels of Circle, detune one instance slightly from the other and stack them on top of each, with some panning you can get some interesting sound possibilities.

Do you follow the latest developments in music technology?

Yeah all the time, I’m constantly looking for new workflow ideas and ways I can integrate new technology into my setup. I love, for example, linking up the Lemur to Circle so I can control the parameters wirelessly.

What do you have coming up next?

I’m working on my next wave of solo productions, I’m launching a new project called The Crystal System which is more song based disco and house stuff, it’s channeling the spirit of the boogie and good vibes. I’m also collaborating more with rappers, like my work with Mykki Blanco. I’m also touring in North America in the first 2 weeks of December with Fake Blood so you can catch me out and about (at these clubs).

To keep up to date on Sinden’s latest news follow him on Facebook, SoundCloud and Twitter.

Circle & OSX Yosemite / Gavin Burke on October 20th

Earlier this week, those who updated to OS X Yosemite may have found themselves unable to authorise Circle following re-installation. Fortunately our development team were able to make a quick fix and a beta version of Circle 1.2.0 is now available.The full version will be made available next week (week starting Monday 27th October). To all users who were affected - thanks for sending feedback our way and for your patience!

Circle 1.2.0 Download link:
http://www.futureaudioworkshop.com/downloads/Circle-1.2.0-Beta1-setup.dmg

For development updates, please follow us on our social media channels:
http://www.facebook.com/futureaudioworkshop
http://www.twitter.com/_FAW

Gavin.

Artist Focus: David Johnston (Echoic Audio) / BronFAW on October 17th

Following our interview with Fabrizio Sestito earlier this month, we learn more about working in sound design this week with David Johnston of Bristol-based studio, Echoic Audio.

To get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name’s David Johnston, I’m one of two co-founders of Echoic Audio alongside Tom Gilbert. We compose original music and sound design for adverts, animation, games, TV and film. We started the studio four years ago and have built a steady client base of international agencies and brands. Echoic is based in Bristol, UK. We enjoy working from this city. It’s a vibrant, youthful and culturally diverse place with strong musical roots.

We’d love to know more about Echoic Audio. Can you share how your studio came about?

Tom and I met over ten years ago through a mutual friend and had shared love of electronic music. We started DJing and writing tracks together. Plus I had taken an MA in creative music technology at Bath Spa University. It was here I first had a taste of sound design working on various multimedia projects. Tom was working at the BBC in a variety of roles and subsequently as an freelance editor. It was during a freelance position he was asked to apply his musical skills to an edit, adding sound design to a 3D animation. This sparked an enthusiastic interest and we both went away and looked into the area some more. At the same time, a studio space became available in a local creative hub and we jumped at the chance to take it on and start our new venture.

What inspired you to get into sound design? Is it something you’ve always known you wanted to do?

I’ve always had a keen interest in sound effects and enjoyed syncing sounds to video during my MA course. I also did some work experience at Films at 59 in Bristol. They are a popular post production house working on a number of high profile TV series. It was here I first saw Foley work being recorded live to picture. It was a nature documentary and I was mesmerised. It gave me such a big insight into how much audio is added in this post production phase.

Echoic Audio caught our attention with recent project Symphonic. Can you tell us about the process involved in creating the music and sound for this composition?

We started with a piano composition in Logic 9. We use the Imperfect Samples suite of pianos because we love the real and organic sound of the recordings. They tend to leave in pedal moves and fingers on keys which gives it a human sound. But even so, we decided this wasn’t enough and asked pianist Helen Stanley to perform the piece on her grand piano. This sounded amazing and was the first building block in the soundtrack. Next we recorded live cello and violin parts and then a female vocalist. The musical elements were carefully thought through to leave space for sound design at key moments.

There were a lot of recordings made for the sound design. These include punching a fabric sheet, and flapping round the sheet, tennis balls in a box, ping pong balls, an indian cymbal against a chain and LFO modulations from an Octave Cat synthesiser. These were edited and layered with atmospheres to create an organic and engaging backdrop to each exhibit.


Tell us about the studio setup at Echoic?

We use an iMac with Logic and Ableton. We have plenty of plugins but we try to record a lot of audio through real FX chains as well. We use kit such as Boss Compressor/Sustainer, Boss Overdrive, Ensoniq DP/4, Zvex Lo-fi Junky, Electro Harmonix Memory Man, English Muff’n and a Sherman Filterbank. We don’t have much outboard in terms of mastering so that’s all done in the box. Our main audio interface is a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56. There’s a number of old synths kicking about too including Roland Juno 106, Roland Juno 6, Roland Jupiter 6, Roland JX-3P, Yamaha DX7, Octave Cat, EDP Wasp plus drum machines such as Roland 606, Roland 707 and Boss DR-660. Also we use a Genelec 8040B monitors.

How long did it take you before you got to the point of being able to hear or imagine a sound and then design it?

It didn’t take too long but there was a lot of experimentation. It’s all about knowing your tools and knowing what actions to take to manipulate a sound in a certain way.

What other artists sound design work excites you? (Do you see any other artists in particular or studios as a whole as influencers on your work?)

There’s a huge amount of film and games sound designers that influence us, people like Richard Devine, who is a total genius at coming up with otherworldly sounds and textures plus other studios such as Echolab based in Dublin and Box of Toys Audio. Both these studios excel at creating cutting edge soundtracks. But Echolab was also an inspiration as he wasn’t based in London. He proved to us that it’s possible to work on great projects without being in the capital. I’ve also always enjoyed David Kamp as he brings a different more playful tone to his work.

Do you have any advice for our readers who want to get into sound design?

Practice as much as possible. Get involved in communities of visual artists and offer your skills for free. If you don’t have artists to collaborate with then practice on other people’s work. Rescore the latest hollywood trailer or a set of TV idents. Just get involved in any way you can and hone your own skills as much as possible. Then once you have the skills, read a few books on starting a business or freelancing successfully. There’s a lot to be learnt here too and so it’s the combination of creativity, enthusiasm and basic business skills that work together to make a successful studio.

Read more about Echoic Audio on their website, or contact David at david@echoicaudio.com

Artist Focus: Fabrizio Sestito / BronFAW on October 3rd

In the lead-up to the release of Circle², we’ll be featuring a number of artists who work with Circle on our Future Audio Workshop blog. We kick off our series this week with sound designer, Fabrizio Sestito.

To get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a sound designer for companies such as Sample Magic and Native Instruments. I work in tandem with Nicolò Papini and we are both based in Berlin. In our spare time we work together on our music, exploring Techno and Ambient sonorities. I design and produce mainly for NI Maschine and Reaktor, from drum shots & kits to complete tracks. I also enjoy coding and craft beers.

What inspired you to get into sound design? Is it something you’ve always known you wanted to do?

I’ve been always attracted to electronic music and sound design in general. As a kid I used to play violin and my teacher helped me install a sequencer to practice with a midi orchestra at home. I got into computer programming at the age of 10 through my father, who is also an audio and electronics geek.

I studied Computer Science/Mathematics and, as I was never really good at playing a real instrument, electronic music was the fastest and “laziest” way to be creative, and also it fitted well with my techie attitude. I had a good friend in high school who introduced me to Ableton 4 and the first soft synths, so I started experimenting with music technology.

In 2008 I met Vitalic during a gig in Rome, he was always one of my favourite artists, and we became friends. Lately I have released on his label and from time to time I work with him as a mixing/mastering engineer. He has taught me a lot, especially to be less mathematical and schematic in my creative process.

When designing a sound, what is your process? (Do you follow a set method? Does this vary by project?)

It depends by the context of the project I’m going to work on. In general, if I’m not really familiar with the sounds I have to make, I start analysing carefully the references with my beloved Sonus Faber. I try to guess how these sounds are made and absorb the mood of what I’m listening to. Then I start playing around in my studio, I tend to be really personal and forget about the references for a moment. Eventually something good comes out and then I start thinking how to make it functional, going back to the goal of the project.

How long did it take you before you got to the point of being able to hear or imagine a sound and then design it?

I guess you’ll never reach this point, but it’s continuously improving somehow. Also, the design process is never so deterministic. A lot of sounds come from random and unrepeatable interactions of several factors, the important part is being able to recognise which one could be functional in another context.

You moved to Berlin from Rome in 2011. How does living in Berlin influence your work?

I always felt a bit isolated while living in Rome. I didn’t know a lot of people producing electronic music or sound designing, except some friends that owned a studio and they were mainly recording rock bands. When I moved to Berlin I met a lot of interesting engineers and artists, and it was really easy to collaborate with many of them and also to have direct feedback and criticism about my work. I think this made me grow a lot.

Tell us about your studio setup?

I work in a home studio environment with Adam A7X, MOTU interface, Mac pro running Ableton 9, APC40, Maschine and a bunch of hardware synths/drum machines. I’m a big fan of Elektron, I own an Analog Four and Rytm. On the vintage side I’m in love with my SH101 and my Korg DSS1, it’s a 12bit sampler-synth with analog filters and it’s great for pad and textures.

Some of my favourite plugins are Omnisphere, FAW Circle, NI Massive and FM8, Soundtoys and Cromaphone. We are always renovating the studio and searching out new solutions: today I’m really excited to try Nico’s new DSI Tetra and we’re planning to get a Strymon Bigsky reverb soon.

What other artists’ sound design work excites you? (Do you see any artists in particular as influencers on your work?)

My biggest influence is the Italian progressive rock scene of the 70s, bands such as Balletto di Bronzo, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Goblin, PFM. At the time there were a lot of good pianists with a classical education who started messing around with synthesisers. Right now I really like the work of Alessandro Cortini and Abdulla Rashim.

Do you have any advice for our readers who want to go from using presets to starting to design their own sounds?

I really enjoyed the reading of Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook.

Meet the newest member of the FAW team: Thomas! / BronFAW on September 19th


Welcome Thomas
We’d like to introduce you to our newest team member at FAW, Thomas, who recently moved from Munich to Berlin. Thomas helped us with the recent of upgrade of our Future Audio Store and we look forward to working with him on upcoming FAW projects. Welcome Thomas!

Call for a Circle² Sound Designer and Beta Testers - closing soon! / BronFAW on September 12th

Did you catch our Circle² Sound Design competition and our call for Circle² beta testers?

We’re currently looking for a member of the Circle community to create 10 presets (fully credited to their name!) for the new software. The competition winner will receive a limited edition FAW fan pack.

With Circle² due for release soon, we’re also looking for beta testers to help prepare Circle² for the wider world.

Both offers close within the next few days - head to the original links below for more information!

►► Sound Design Competition - closes end of today (September 12th)
►► Call for Beta Testers - closes end of Monday (September 15th)

Calling All Circle² Beta Testers! / GavinFAW on August 29th

We are looking for beta testers for Circle².

Follow the link below and fill in the form with your name and email address. When beta testing is ready to commence, you will receive in your inbox a short questionnaire. Once completed you will then receive the download link to Circle².

Looking forward to having you on board and helping us prepare Circle for the wider electronic music world!

Follow the link below to the beta tester signup page:
►► http://bit.ly/circle2betatester

Circle² Sound Design Competition / BronFAW on August 22nd

Future Audio Workshop are looking for a Sound Designer for Circle² - and we would love you to get involved.

Your challenge:

Create a sound or mix of sounds using Circle, record it and submit it to the Circle Synth User Group on SoundCloud.

Our challenge:

Picking a winner! We will listen to all entries and choose one creator as our Circle² Sound Designer.

The winner’s prize:

The chosen Circle² Sound Designer will be invited to make 10 presets for Circle². The presets will be fully credited with the Sound Designer’s name and they will also receive a prize of a free copy of Circle² and a Future Audio Workshop fan pack (as shown above).

The competition is open immediately and will run until Friday 5th September.
We will then announce the winner five days later (keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter). We wish everyone good luck and look forward to hearing your sounds!

Free Circle presets from Dog tails / BronFAW on August 15th

Japanese music creator, producer and Circle user Dog tails recently reached out to Future Audio Workshop with a portfolio of presets he created for Circle.

We were really impressed with Dog tails’ work, and he has kindly allowed us to share these with other Circle users. His collection is available for download here. Dog tails has also created a short audio sample to showcase his new presets - check it out in the Soundcloud player above!

Thank you Dog tails - we’re looking forward to hearing what you can create for Circle²!

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