Circle Future Sounds: Dubstep / Hugh on April 25th


* All non percussive elements in this track are generated using Circle² Future Sounds: Dubstep.

As part of our Future Sounds series, we’ve put together a brand new expansion pack. This time we’re focussing on the dark side of dubstep. This pack contains all the elements you need to make a deep, dark dubstep banger.

Circle² Future Sounds: Dubstep

1. Asia Pluck
2. Dynamic Tension Atmos
3. Shaped White Lead
4. Swollen Bass
5. Wobbling Bass 2
6. Wobbling Bass

Download the expansion here

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

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

Studio Focus: Milkplant / Hugh on April 4th

Milkplant

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

I produce and DJ Techno under the Milkplant alias and, co-own and operate From 0-1, the US West Coast based Techno label, and jointly curate the From 0-1 Studio Sessions podcast.

Can you tell us a bit about your studio set up?

I generally use a pretty balanced combination of hardware and software. Some items on the hardware side:  Arp Odyssey, Roland TR8, SH-101, SH-201, DSI Mono Evolver, Korg Volca Sampler, Arturia Beatstep, Yamaha RX-15, Moog MF-101, MXR Carbon Copy, Avalon vt-737, Summit 2BA-221, Allen & Heath System 8. On the software side, some notable plug-ins: Ableton Live, Waves SSL 4000, Chandler Limited TG12413 Limiter, Slate VCC, Madrona Labs Aalto, Arturia Moog Modular V, CS-80V, Minimoog, Spark Drum Machine; Soundtoys Echoboy & Filterfreak, and FAW Circle 2.

When working on a track, what is your process?

I start by first nailing down a solid loop - kick and bass usually come first. I mix iteratively, that is, as I go. I apply EQ and compression on those parts right away so I have a solid base to start from. My kicks are always heavily layered, anywhere from three to five kicks layered at a time. I will often have a boomy kick, thumpy kick, snappy kick, and distorted kick bussed to the same channel. For my bass, I will often cut up loops of a bassline from my Odyssey, SH-101, or Minimoog V and layer a couple parts to create interesting rhythmic combinations. I create my main synth leads by jamming out on a pattern and layer iterations of the same pattern with slightly different varying modulation to create a more full and interesting arrangement. Overdubs of hihats, and other percussion kind of occur as I go. From there I create edits in my arrangement around transitions, and layer in some spacializing effects, while side chained reverbs or ambient noise to create a subtle pumping element. After applying fine tuned mix tweaks, I test the track on as many sound sources as I possibly can, and I also work it into a DJ set during a practice session to see if from a DJ perspective it makes sense. That’s it in a nutshell.

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

I’m predominantly a synth/drum machine guy. I don’t really use samples or sample packs. Not that I have anything against them, it’s just not a part of my work flow right now; I prefer generating my own sound sources. I create patches from scratch, and I do use presets sometimes as a starting point, but by the time I’m done with modulations and modifications a synth sound will never sound like the originally patch. I usually effect my synths and drum patches quite a bit, and layer heavily as I previously pointed out. To me, the kind of Techno I produce would be impossible to make were it not for a lot of layering and effecting.

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

When that happens, sometimes I just feel like it’s time to take a break and step away from the studio. But if I’m determined to get past it, which I usually am, I find that practicing DJing really helps to reset my brain. Hearing a lot of tracks in succession that aren’t my own gives me ideas and usually is good at clearing a block for me. I also find that going out to a show to see a DJ or producer I like helps to inspire me. But if I’m not feeling like doing anything music related I will spend some time in my garden or do some cooking, or get out into nature and take a hike- good activities I engage in on the regular to keep myself well rounded and inspired in general.

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

The mixdown process is generally the most technical aspect of production. I would encourage anyone trying to produce to have a firm understanding of mixing from a technical standpoint. There are countless blogs out there now that can assist, but I recommend picking up a manual and getting as deep as you can into the details. Mixing Audio by Roey Izhaki, and Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior are two books that have served me well over the years. But if you’ve got the fundamentals already figured out, then I recommend testing your mixed track on as many sound sources as possible, DJ it with other tracks, and if you’re fortunate enough, play it out in a club environment to see how it sounds. Also, use a reference track from another producer that you really like as you mix down your track to compare and contrast. And lastly, use a variety of mixing tools, don’t only rely on stock plug-ins in Ableton Live. There’s a myriad of production tools out there worth exploring to help you find your own unique sound.

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

I have several EPs coming up, dates aren’t set yet. Unfortunately it’s premature of me to make public any additional info. My Milkplant artist page on Facebook will be updated as dates draw closer.

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South-West Open Youth Orchestra to use Circle² in their inaugural Bristol Cathedral performance / Hugh on March 29th

The South-West Open Youth Orchestra is the UK’s only disabled-led regional youth orchestra. When they reached out requesting help in setting-up some of their musicians with Circle² we jumped at the chance to get involved. Specifically, the orchestra will perform a piece during which they will play Circle² via eye tracking technology!

The orchestra will be using Circle² as part of their Bristol Cathedral concert on 16th April 2016, which will also be featured on The One Show (BBC 1). We will be updating the weblog with photos and a more detailed account of how Circle² fitted in to the performance later this month.

Buy concert tickets

Studio Focus: South London Ordnance / Hugh on March 24th

SLO

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

I produce various strains of Techno, some of it’s melodic - other stuff a bit harder, most of it’s quite atmospheric. I run my own label called Aery Metals & I’m currently based in Berlin.

Can you tell us a bit about your studio set up?

I always feel a bit awkward talking about my set up, especially as we’re in the midst of such a hardware renaissance - but I just use an iMac with Logic 9, a UA Apollo Twin soundcard and a small Korg Midi Keyboard. I have a couple of guitars which I can plug into the soundcard or record in my room via a few mics, all of which are a bit knackered but generally have some character of their own. Really, I rely on a lot of analogue modelled plugins - UA EQ’s, some of the Waves stuff, the PSP Vintage Warmer & a lot of the Plugin Alliance bits and pieces. Beyond that Fabfilter EQ’s & a few random free things I found wandering round the net that proved to be miles better than anything you can pay for.

When working on a track, what is your process?

I never just poke about, hoping something will write itself. I sit down with quite a clear idea of what I’m making in my head. Generally, I’ll think about my own sets and when I’d like to play what I’m hoping to make - or whether it’s even something dancefloor, and if it isn’t what kind of energy am I looking for? Once i’ve made that decision - usually over a coffee or in the shower early in the morning, I sit down and try and write it. More and more I return to the same tools, and as a result I’ve got much better at using them. I prefer this method to constantly sourcing new gear - for me, especially this year - it’s become much more about hooks & “tunes” - recognisable licks, so really - it’s not about what you write it on - but rather what you actually write. Just because you’ve used an extremely rare synth, doesn’t automatically elevate this rather dull riff you’ve got going on to something more than it is. It’s still shit.

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

Generally, a single track or mix will lead me on to a particular sound - particular drum hits, ways of using reverb or delays - and I’ll spend a few months listening to records from that period / genre whatever, and think about how I can work these things into my own music. I found recently I like Linn kicks, so I found a mate with a Linn drum & recorded some kicks. But they were really dry and not quite right, I messed around with them for a while - made a few tracks where the samples sat badly in the mix etc, but then one time - I put them through a particular chain and they sounded how I wanted them to. So I just recorded the sample - and that kick has been my kick for a while. With synth sounds - I don’t use any presets or anything, they never save on my copy of Logic anyway. I only use one synth at the moment, the Arturia Modular and I just start from scratch each time - but each time I get a bit better and making the sound I want, so it becomes easier & quicker and more satisfying, or you work out how to finally do something you’ve wanted to for a while. It’s very much just trial & error - I know what the knobs do - but I suppose depending on ones mood you end up putting them this way or that each time & sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But as I said before - I go in with a plan. So if I want soft sounds, I go with a particular process, harsh sounds - the same etc.

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

I walk round Templehof Feld on my own speaking to myself out loud. I live about 20 metres from the main entrance so I spend a lot of time in there. I think the speaking out loud to myself makes people think I’m nuts, but it’s extremely cathartic & as a result no one ever starts a conversation with you which suits me perfectly. Otherwise, I just listen to music or read, or research art I like. It’s very simple in my opinion, the more you know - the better your art. Of course, naïveté can bring forth happy accidents - moments of total genius even, but I genuinely think they’re short lived. If you make a point to consume art that excites you, I really feel like you’ll always be finding inspiration - whatever the format, and it feeds into the music.

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

Yeah, I’ve only recently got the hang of this. When I first started out, I thought you just needed lots of bass - because that’s what I liked in a club. But it’s not true - and actually it’s the top end that really drives people nuts. It’s actually fascinating amending mixdowns between gigs and seeing how people react differently when you change the focal point of the track - i.e. it was this subby kick drum, with subdued highs - and then you pulled in the kick and gave the highs a bit more clarity. In the former instance - people were very heads down, in the latter - much more energetic. So yeah, take out bass! Loads more than you think you should - aim for balance. I was reading about a cartoonist recently - I can’t remember his or her name, but they said they could only really draw these distorted figures once they’d learnt how to draw from life, figuratively. And I think there’s a lot to be said there about mixing. Learn to create balanced, clear mixes - and then when you’ve got that, you can focus on pulling out the bits that are you, give them you’re own character - really mould them into something that’s your own. That’s really just my opinion, but it’s something that’s worked a lot for me recently. And mids - avoid too many mids, but don’t get rid of them completely… Just avoid the noise, round 250 - 350Hz (somewhere round there), it always muffles the mix in my experience. I use about 6 Fabfilter EQ’s on every chanel, each with a dip here or there on it - it’s incredibly CPU intensive & probably completely wrong, but it allows me to really carve into the sounds. On the master I’ve got a 30Hz hi pass filter, and then after a few other plugs - another Fabfilter for final tweaks. But it’s all about balance - thinking about the sonic spectrum and how to fill it, making sure things that are not contributing to one frequency band are not filling it - hi hats should have no low end etc. Unless of course that’s what you want - in which case return to the earlier point about making stuff your own.

Or alternatively, just pay someone to do it like so many people seem to be doing these days.

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

Yeah loads. Just finished a bunch of records for my own label so just focusing on getting those out this year.

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Studio Focus: Thelem / Hugh on February 18th

Thelem

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

My names Matt, I produce and DJ under my artist alias Thelem. I like to produce different styles and genres of electronic music and try not be set in specific boundaries, I like to try and do this yet keep my own style and sound.

Can you tell us a bit about your studio set up?

At the moment I’m really happy with my set up, I’m feeling really comfortable with the equipment I’m using. I currently produce using Logic, Adam A8X Monitors, UAD Satellite, Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Pro 2, Eventide Space and multiple plugins and FX.

When working on a track, what is your process?

Most of the time I will start by laying down some drums and try to catch a groove. Once I’ve got a small drum loop I will usually play around on some synths, jamming and making some sounds that might fit with the initial idea. from there I usually add some some bass and start to develop the loop further. Once I’ve got that going I start to make / find samples of small incidental sounds and FX that will fit will the tune. From there it’s just a case of spending a long time developing the tune, for example edits, automation more fx etc. I tend to mix down as I go along so when the tune is finished it’s usually more or less sounding how I want, so I rest up my ears and then spend a day or so adjusting and tweaking. My work flow however isn’t set in stone, I may have a day playing and making sounds on synths which will spark an idea for a tune, or even a day / evening sample hunting which again might spark the inspiration for a entire track.

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

I tend to spend alot of time making sounds and doing sound design, sometimes I will just make some patches on synths and save them for another day. I also like to use granular synthesis alot for making some cool unique fx sounds, I will usually play around with this and bounce out some audio I can use at a later date. As for samples I like to try and find more abstract stuff, not your go to sample pack bits, stuff that might not sound like you can use it but then somehow it fits in the tune. To me it’s those quirky little incidental sounds that can really make a tune stand out and be unique.

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

I find the creative block kind of difficult to deal with to be honest, I can end up going round in circles for ages. When this happens I will try and just make sounds / sample hunt until something clicks and I get a solid idea in my head, otherwise I will end up stuck on a loop / idea for way to long.

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

For me personally mixing down as I go along seems to work best, I find it much easier than doing it all at the end. When working on tunes I also like to bounce out the initial Ideas and test them on different speakers. I even play them on laptops, phones in the car etc and try to figure out what might need tweaking to get it sounding ok across the board. My advice would be spend a little time listening to other tunes on your monitors / headphones, tunes that you know well and have heard in the club environment. Learn how the mix sounds on those tracks and reference with your own material. Also importantly don’t worry about getting the mix / home master super loud at home, as in my opinion this can ruin a perfectly good mixdown. Get your tune to a level thats decent enough then you can always boost the gains on the mixer.

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

Yeah! Currently working on loads of new material which I’m gonna be preparing for some new EP’s and singles next year, more info soon!

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Circle² Featured on Dubspot Top Picks / Hugh on February 4th

dubspot

Circle² has been featured in Dubspot’s latest synthesizer chart: “10 Choice Synthesizer Plugins”

“The unique interface reveals every parameter in a single window that is very accessible and easy to operate without having to click around to find hidden controls and submenus. The complex sounds crafted from the simplistic operations of this modern looking synth allows the user to focus on creativity rather than technicalities, which makes it a must have tool for your arsenal.”

Read the article here

Studio Focus: Funkystepz / Hugh on January 28th

Funkystepz

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

We are collective / brand containing 2 producers, myself (Ren Phillips), Stimpy & a DJ, Maxsin. We are known for producing UK Funky, Bass & Garage music. We have had successful releases with Hyperdub and were residents on Rinse FM.

Can you tell us a bit about your studio set up?

We use FL Studio 12 to sequence, and mix & master in Pro Tools. In studio we have a Yamaha DX7 which is really only used as controller, an Alesis SR-16 Drum machine, Fostex PM1 MII and KRK RP6 studio monitors and a Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 interface. Nothing fancy and it all needs upgrading but it does the job!

When working on a track, what is your process?

Me and Stimpy are quite opposite. I like to start with a drum beat and get a groove going, I feel it’s the most important part in Dance music period. If you can bounce to the drums alone you’re halfway there already. I also find it easy to get a bassline and a melody from a drum pattern. Stimpy is alot more musical than I am, so he would come up with some melodies and I’d arrange a structure around them.

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

We usually start with the init patch in any plugin and try to create something that’s never been heard before but I’d say me and Stimpy like the weird sounds and we actually reference a lot of old Hip Hop & Dancehall tracks. “Dirty Dutch” “Fuller” “Bounce” are tracks of ours that really stood out because of this. Other than that we tend to tweak the hell out of presets, we are totally against them on the main sounds. There is nothing worse than hearing a great track on radio or in a rave but you can’t get past the fact you know the exactly where it came from. Not only that but alot of producers are using the same presets.

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

We would definitely listen back to old records for a day or so, or line up some acapellas and build tracks around them. Sometimes i would send over Stimpy a bag of tracks I know he would like, or vice versa. I dont think creativity can be forced though, it’s something that just happens. I find when I produce when I first wake up and have a coffee, I can get in the vibe easily. Stimpy on the other hand likes to produce at graveyard hours like 3AM, and i would wake up to a email of all these crazy ideas that work!

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

I agree, I think the understanding of the EQ is essential. Alot of new producers tend to boost heavy on the low end (20hz-100hz) and add boosts all over the spectrum. Less is more! if anything you should be cutting frequencies. Reference your favourite mixes and aim to get it sounding how you want. Bearing in mind these tracks have been professionally mastered, you want to get it as close as possible. Listen to your final mixes from various sources like your car, cd player, console etc and stand outside your studio/room and analyze. I even listen to them on my phone now seeing as nowadays that is where alot of people will hear your music.

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

We’ve been working on our releases for next year, no set dates yet but we are putting on Funkystepz UK Funky / Garage / Urban nights across the country. We will be bringing some vibes that have been missed in the clubs: whistles, horns, girls, everything! In the camp we have solo releases in the mould of “Stimpy & Scrufizzer - Tropical Level EP” coming out the start of 2016 and also “Ren Phillips - Blue Ruin feat. Namuli”

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Studio Focus: Compa / Hugh on January 18th

Compa

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

I’m a music producer from Manchester, England. I also DJ. I’ve been writing music now for five years and have played DJ sets around the world, and I’m signed to Mala’s Deep Medi Musik label, along with having released records on other labels such as Boka Records, Kokeshi and Lion Charge Records.

Can you tell us a bit about your studio set up?

My studio setup is modest, I’ve tried to keep it this way because to limit the equipment I have to interact with aids in my creative process. I use a Mac, Yamaha HS8 monitors through a Focusrite Saffire Pro and an Alesis MiDi keyboard and work soley ‘in the box’.

When working on a track, what is your process?

I have a few ways of working. I’ll either start with a synth like Circle for example, in which case I’ll dig in and experiment until I can write a synth line and then build up a track around that, usually by adding drums and then bass and pads and an atmosphere and so on, or I’ll start with a vocal if I’m building a vocal track or a remix and build the track around the vocal, or I’ll start with a sample, be that a sample taken from another track, off a record I own, or from a synth I’ve sampled from online, or… Well, a sample can come from anywhere, and then I’ll build up a track around that sample. Basically, I try to find a source of inspiration that sets off ideas in my head which I then translate into a piece of music.

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

I have a few ways of sourcing sounds, I’ll either sample existing records or scour YouTube for a sound that sets off ideas in my head as two ways of working, or I’ll simply open a synth, Circle for example, and just dig through it twisting knobs and playing in different notations until something clicks and, again, sets ideas running in my head.

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

Sampling, without a doubt. I start by listening to records whether that is those in my physical collection here at home or online until I hear something that inspires me. At that point, I’ll either sample that sound that inspires me and begin playing with it in Logic, manipulating it and just making it my own sound and then writing with it, or I’ll try to create my own version of it using a synth and go from there.

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

This, in my experience at least, is a game of trial and error. Mixing down is an art, a very personal art. A mix is different for every track depending on where it’s going to be played and where an artist wants that music to be heard. For the club, at least for me, the focus is on the low-end, the bass. I always make sure my low-end packs a big punch on a sound system, but then again it’s important to make sure the rest of the mix is balanced. I learned by playing my music in clubs, as well as hearing my music being played in clubs, and just listening, thinking; Does this sound right? Does it stand up to the following track in terms of weight and clarity? If not, I try to listen to what is lacking, fix the mistakes and most importantly learn from the mistakes going forward. It’s all a case of trying, failing and learning. I’m still learning as I think everyone is. There’s no definitive answers when it comes to mixing a piece of music.

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

Next up I’m releasing my second record on Mala’s Deep Medi Musik label which will be a four-track 12″ and my biggest body of work so far which is coming out early next year, followed by a 7″ single on the well-respected Dub music label Zam Zam Sounds based out of Portland, Oregon in North America. I’m also launching my own label next year, along with making a big effort to carry on touring all over the world, so a lot is happening. I’m increasingly busy!

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Best Synth Plugins Released in 2015: Circle² / Hugh on January 5th

Circle2

The awards keep rolling in!

Circle² has been featured in Producer Spot’s run down of the “Best Synth Plugins Released in 2015″

Read the article here

We’re also featured in ATTACK magazine’s list of “10 Best New Synths Of 2015″.

Read the article here

Roll on 2016!

Happy Holidays From Berlin! Now check these free presets… / Gavin Burke on December 24th

We had a great 2015. Having worked very hard getting Circle² ready for prime time, we were delighted with the positive praise and appreciation we got back. To close off 2015, we’ve prepared a bank of presets for you to use, designed by Circle² sound designers WorldBroSounds. Bring on 2016!

Download presets here, then drop into your preset folder and you’re good to go!
http://www.futureaudioworkshop.com/downloads/extras/free-holiday-sounds.zip

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