Dancing the line between Electronic, Soul, and R&B is no easy task, but Aussie producer, ANH, shows us just how effortlessly he can blend these genres. Soulful progressions, groovy leads, and the ear candy filled drum beats that ANH combine in his tracks will leave you in a state of pure bliss. We had a chance to ask ANH everything from the biggest challenges he faces when producing to how he creates his dynamic arrangements. Take note as this incredibly talented producer takes us through his production process.
SoundShock: How did your musical journey begin and what were some of your biggest inspirations back then and now?
I started making music January 2017, so its been around about a year or so. Prior to making music I had no musical background or instrumentation, so the beginning took some time. My main inspirations at the time were a lot of soulection artists such as Esta, Sam G, and Mr Carmack. Now I look up to artists such as Stwo, Galimatias, Daniel Caeser, and Ahbi//Dijon.
What is the hardest part of producing and how do you work around it?
Personally, I find melodies are the most tedious elements to write as there are so many possible directions to go in. For me, drums are the most enjoyable to create.
Aspiring producers these days lack patience. They want to produce the next big hit after they’ve only been producing for a short period of time and they get discouraged when the results aren’t immediately there. What motivated you to keep learning and improving through the beginning stages of your music career and what advice would you give to impatient producers?
Producing is all about trial and error. I always keep this in mind when producing because if I find an obstacle I can't get past, I know that it is only a matter of trying and failing until I can overcome it.
It is common for many producers to start a track, get part of it finished and then lose interest in it and never complete it. How do you keep the creative flow going throughout the whole track so you don’t get bored and uninterested in the track and ultimately throw the project in the trash?
Some say that you make your best music when it happens quickly. For me this is true as most of the songs that I am satisfied with were made in a short period of time. However, if I find an idea worth keeping but can't seem to work on it, I will hold onto the demo until I’m in a different state of mind. Most of the time my headspace isn’t purely into making music due to work, study, family etc., so I will wait it out until I have complete focus on music without obligations before working on the song.
Your drum sample selection and programming add a unique flare to your tracks with all the sweet little ear candy that they provide. How do you go about choosing complementary samples and programming in the drums so they flow together with the rest of your track and don’t sound out of place?
I have a staple selection of drum samples I mainly use. However, I do still use a variety of samples from other drum kits and create my own samples by recording out claps, clicks, and pops with a microphone. Using programmed drums with natural and organic sounds helps to make drum patterns a bit more special. Another secret to my drums is I use ASMR samples (3d sound).
"Producing is all about trial and error. I always keep this in mind when producing because if I find an obstacle I cant get past, I know that it is only a matter of trying and failing until I can overcome it."
Producers seem to struggle a lot with the stereo imaging of their tracks. Often times, their track will be too wide, not be wide enough, or have elements all over the place which make it hard for the listener to understand. How do you decide which elements go where and make sure they are giving enough interest to the listener without being distracting?
Stereo positioning is something that’s judged subjectively. What I have found to work on my tracks is to have the sub/low frequencies <200 Hz in mono to make your song compatible in a club setting. Also, I tend to make my pads and ethereal elements wide, lead melodies such as guitars or synths slightly panned, and keep my drums in the center of the mix.
The different sections in your arrangement contrast each other very well. What are some of your tips for writing these contrasting sections after you have already laid out your main idea
I think its very crucial to have a bridge in the song which not only keeps the listener interested, but also develops the song further. A couple of techniques that you can use to create contrasting sections are:
1. Try different chord progressions in the same key of your song
2. Use the rule of fifths to write chord progressions in the complementary scale
3. Actually make a key change
"I think its very crucial to have a bridge in the song which not only keeps the listener interested, but also develops the song further." ANH
In today’s music industry, building a dedicated fan base is important to the success of your career as an artist. Many artists starting out or even artist that have been releasing music for awhile struggle to grow an audience and reach a large number of people with their music. How did you grow your audience when you were first starting out and what advice you give artists looking to build a following?
I'm still starting out myself, but what I found helpful is to make friends with peers that are going down the same path as you. Personally, I found that reaching out to the artists in the same scene as me has helped establish genuine relationships. After establishing these relationships, my peer's audience soon became my own and vice versa. Sharing music is vital.
Is there a technique or two that you consistently use when producing tracks? If so, what are they?
My main technique is drum compression and a tasteful mastering chain. I love to heavily compress my drums and saturate them. This gives them a hard hitting sound, but also a well rounded sound that is easy on the ears. My mastering chain normally consists of an EQ, multi-band compressor, glue compressor, exciter, stereo imager, saturator, soft clipper, and a limiter. However, every song is different and I treat each one accordingly.
What is next for ANH? EP, Album, shows?
At the moment, I am focusing on the ‘Preach EP’ with quickly, quickly, followed by a single. Im hoping to go on a small tour off this EP release as well!