Studio Focus: Simo Cell / Hugh on June 22nd

Simo Cell

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 Simon, I make music as Simo Cell. I have been DJing for 10 years and producing music for 6; I have released EPs on Livity Sound, Brothers From Different Mothers, Wisdom Teeth and Fragil Musique. My style is a mix of bass music, experimental techno, and electro.

What is your current studio set up

I share a studio with Tite (half of Society of Silence). He has tons of gear that I can use whenever I want. The list is so long that I won’t be able to name all the synths. I mainly work on my computer via Ableton. I would say 90% of my work is done with a computer.

Then I plug my computer into analog effects to have a more organic sound. Aside from that, I use the Universal Audio Apollo 8 Soundcard, a Monome as a midi sequencer, a Pocket Operator PO-12, a Roland Space Echo, a Dynachord delay, a PCM reverb and a saturator called Culture Vulture to give the sound more warmth.

When working on the track, what is your process?

I don’t have a premise when I start a new tune. I just choose a BPM between 80 and 150, depending on my mood. Then I start by writing drum patterns. I select a kit drum on Ableton or a kit I made myself, and I create a rhythm with sequencers. I let the sequencer do the main job, and select the best ideas. The goal is to write a lot of different patterns. Then I plug synths or audio plugins, and I jam with arpeggiators and sequencers. I try to build delicate ambiences and play a lot with effects to sound design. When I have 2 or 3 solid loops with melodies, synths, and drum patterns, I try to write a full track. I always work on 2 or 3 projects at the same time to keep a fresh mind.

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

I use synths and audio plugins, then I use a lot of FX, nearly always in the same way (grain delay, delay, tape echo, frequency shifter….). Sometimes I try new FX and see what happens. The goal is to tweak the sound, to make mistakes and to select the right ideas. Sound design helped me a lot to develop my signature.

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

When I experience a creative block in the studio, I just stop making music during one week or so. It’s essential to let it go sometimes. It’s not a big deal if I can’t finish a track.
Otherwise, as I said, there is a lot of gear at the studio. It’s a real luxury to be able to try new machines at your convenience. If I’m stuck with a sound, I can switch a computer on and toy with it. Even though I use my computer most of the time, it’s a real security for me to know that I have other options just in case. Everything is about confidence.

Simo cell artwork

What advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

Being a DJ helped me a lot to understand how to build a track. The structure of the track is very important; you need to build tension.

Another essential feature is the mix-down. A good mix-down makes a huge difference in the club. Using Eq is the key. Drums are very important, kick drums need attack. And you must avoid conflict in the low-frequency area by side-chaining the sub. A bit of spacialization is important in the high-frequency area, but not too much. I don’t have so much advice to give because it is mainly instinctive.

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

I just released an EP on Brothers From Different Mothers last week, and I’m currently working on a new EP for Livity Sound.

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