Studio Tips: Sidechain kick & bass without losing the punch of the bass

We all love sidechaining, don’t we? Who doesn’t sidechain their bass lines by putting a compressor on it and have it triggered by the kick drum? It’s a very effective way to separate these parts and it cleans up your mix.

But what we sometimes don’t want is losing the punch and attack of a bass line. What happens is that if you need to sidechain quite heavy, that it can affect the transients, most notably in the mid- and higher range of the bass sound.

Here’s a really simple method we use a lot, to separate the kick & bass parts by sidechaining, without losing the punch of the bass. Continue Reading →

Chocolate Puma On A Geek Safari

For our upcoming compilation Pssst Music Assorti 1 we went up to our studio’s attic in search for some old master tapes. Doing so, we stumbled upon some old studio equipment we have been using over the years.

Track playing: Chocolate Puma – The Wall Between Us
Continue Reading →

Studio Tips: Sampling

How we sample these days

Back in the days we would go through our extensive record collection, look for interesting breaks or drum sounds, press sample on our Roland W30 sampler, chop it up by hand and make beats. Nowadays things have slightly changed for us. Soft samplers became very complicated with millions of possibilities. We’re not limited to our own old records anymore, and we don’t have to go crate digging to find real gems. We sample stuff we find on the internet. Now, finding samples and searching the internet is really fun, but for us, dealing with complicated soft samplers that look like spaceship controls isn’t. Continue Reading →

Interview With FXpansion

Music software developers FXpansion are known for their excellent drum plug-in GURU. We love GURU, and we just started using its rather excellent successor GEIST. So FXpansion thought it was the right moment to sit down with us and ask us some questions.

FX – How did the collaboration of DJ Zki & Dobre aka Chocolate Puma first come about and what’s kept you together all these years?

Z&D – We met around 1991 at a radio station where Zki was doing his show. He played me a demo of a track he was working on, and I instantly had some ideas about it. So we hooked up and we soon discovered that putting us in a room with equipment and crazy ideas worked very well indeed. Around the same period we also made a new jingle for his radio show which soon became one of our biggest hits, Give It Up by The Good Men. What kept us together is the mutual respect we have for each other. We both have our strange little things, and we are quite different people, but despite these differences we have always gone in the same direction in how we look at music, fashion or art.

FX – As producers you’ve worked under a number of different guises, why all the different guises?

Z&D – It was just a different time back then. For us it just made sense to use all these aliases, partly because, despite the huge success, we liked it to be underground and let the music speak for itself. But also because musically we were all over the place and we needed all these different projects. Now times have changed and we narrowed it down to just one, Chocolate Puma.

FX – Typically what roles do you play when creating a DJ Zki & Dobre production?

Z&D – Basically it’s me behind the controls and Zki giving input. And after all this time making music together we don’t have to use many words anymore to express how we feel about a sound or a drum. It became such a natural process. Continue Reading →

Studio Tips: Bus Mixing

We use a lot of tracks for our productions. And with a lot of tracks things can get very busy. Sonically but also visually. A great way of fine-tuning your mix, but also of enhancing your workflow is to introduce an extra stage into your mix-down. So instead of routing our tracks directly into our main output, we always route them to a bus channel. This way we can group all different elements into sub-groups. Continue Reading →

Future Music

Future Music is a magazine for producer geeks like us. We’ve been reading it for years now, so it was quite cool when the FM guys came by to our studio to find out how we do things.
Now, producing music is one thing, explaining how to do it is another!
Anyway, this edition of Future Music Magazine, including a shiny DVD, is on sale now. Hope you like!

Studio Tips: Parallel Compression

We all love our daily dose of compression, and we know some amongst you can’t resist smacking the hell out of a signal. That’s cool, but the downside might be that you lose a lot of the dynamics and transients, and that your drumloops, synths, or even your whole track ends up sounding squashed and lifeless.

So, imagine you’ve got this really cool drumloop with hard hitting snare drums and really punchy attacks on the kick drum, but there’s also al kinds of cool noises and ghost notes in the background that you want to bring forward in the mix. But you don’t want to lose the punch!
Or you want to glue sounds together without messing with the peaks.
Or add that nice character that comes with this emulation of a vintage tube compressor without flattening the loud parts.
Sometimes we record some live percussion, which might have both great attacks from hands hitting a piece of drum skin, and nice soft undertones and noise at the same time that you really want to make more audible. Continue Reading →

Studio Tips: Separating two sounds with Logic’s Match EQ

Say you got a fat kick drum and on top of that a fat bass line. They both sound great if you solo them, but tend to clash when you play them both at the same time.

There are a few tricks to separate them. Most of the time you decide which one of the two is covering the sub frequencies, and which one is covering the higher bass frequencies. So say your kick has the most energy at 60hz and your bass line the most energy at 100hz, then you can be sure that you’re quite safe.

But what if you have trouble separating the two with just using your regular EQ? And what if you want to have a really low subby kick AND a really low subby bass line? Of course you could sidechain the bass line with a compressor. Or program your bass line, so that it doesn’t play at the same time as your kick drum.

But there’s another way: For example in our remix for ‘Mike Dunn’s Gitcho House On‘ we wanted to have both a low kick AND a sub bass line, the bass line played at the same time as the kick, and sidechaining wasn’t sufficient.

Bring on Logic’s Match EQ:

1. Put Match EQ on your bass line channel.

2. Go to the upper right hand side and choose your kick drum channel at the Side Chain dropdown menu.

3. Click ‘Template Learn’, press play and let Match EQ learn the characteristics of your kick.

4. Press stop, set your Side Chain to ‘None’.

5. Click ‘Current Learn’, press play and let Match EQ learn the characteristics of your bass line.

6. Click ‘Material Match’.

7. Set ‘Phase’ to ‘Minimal’ (especially with low frequencies this is important, if you use it to separate higher sounds, use ‘Linear’)

8. Slide ‘Apply’ to a minimal value (say -20% or something).

9. Use ‘Smoothing’ to fine tune.

10. Use Fade Extremes to cancel out frequencies you don’t want to be affected (click the triangle in the lower left hand corner to unfold).

Presto, you just separated your bass line from your kick drum!

Now you can also use this method to separate strings from a vocal. Or if you use a positive value at step 8, to match one sound to another sound.