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).