Up 'n' coming bass music producer Lemay's profile has been growing steadily over the last 7 months. His music palette takes you on a bass heavy journey that includes deep subs, wonky lead lines, and hard hitting drums. This unique musical flavor has caught the ears of Skrillex's Nest HQ, the ever popular Elysian Records, and the famous Trap City You Tube channel. We caught up with Lemay to discover just how he makes his speaker destroying tracks.
SoundShock: Well, let’s start from the beginning before we get into an technical questions. Who is Lemay and how did the musical journey begin for you?
First off I wanna say thanks to SoundShock for reaching out and setting this interview up. My real name is Dryden Brown and I’m from Las Vegas Nevada. To me, Lemay is a creative outlet. I look at Lemay like I would if I were ghost producing for someone else. Its just a lot easier for me to write that way. I started making music when I was just about to graduate high school. Me and a couple friends would ditch class and go to the choir room where they had a little side room with a piano in it. Kinda just messed around for a bit and never really looked back.
When arranging you song it can be difficult to keep listeners interested from start to finish. What are some ways you can keep the listener engaged in the arrangement and have it flow smoothly throughout the entire track?
Something I like to do is not have an obvious intro. Maybe just have some early melodic elements going then bring the rest of the record in after 8 bars. Another thing that I like to do is establish an atmosphere. Create a solid vibe with just textual elements and one shots from the chorus (drop). Also, adding something new every 8 bars helps. Wether its just a hi hat loop or a background vocal element, it’ll keep the listener interested.
Your drops contain a lot of interesting cuts, textured sounds, drum fills, and bass fills. It can be easy to just throw in sounds without having the song sound cohesive. How do you go about choosing and arranging these complementary sounds so they come together and make sense to the listener?
One thing I tend to do a lot is resample my lead in a ton of weird ways. So when it comes time for a fill or something, I have a bunch of weird one shots and loops that came from the same source material as my lead and nothing will sound like its too out of left field. Something else you can do is throw the same processing chain on whatever you want to sound similar to your lead.
What do you feel separates you from other producers?
I’m not really sure, haha. I’m just making music! I think being a good producer is all about the amount of time you put in. Just like anything in life, if you spend a lot of time doing it, you’ll eventually get good.
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. Your drops make great use of the stereo field. How do you decide which elements go where and make sure they are giving enough interest to the listener without being distracting?
I tend to always keep my main sounds pretty centered (Kick, Snare, Lead) but spread or haas effect certain layers. I use a plugin called Akustix which I like a lot to spread out supporting sounds. Panning is very important too. I like to pan all my drums how they would be realistically if a drummer were actually playing the drums. Hi hats panned a little left, crash a little less left, ride a little right and so on. I like to pan my drums from the drummers perspective, it just sounds a little more pleasing to me.
When starting a new track, at what part of the arrangement do you start at? Also, how much of each section in the arrangement do you complete before you move onto the next section?
I always try to start with what I’ve been struggling with. Recently I’ve been struggling to making drop leads so I’ve been starting a lot with the chorus (drop) then kinda building off that. I’ll move onto the next section after I feel like the chorus has its core foundation. Sometimes I’ll start with chords, it really all depends on the way I’m feeling.
"Panning is very important too. I like to pan all my drums how they would be realistically if a drummer were actually playing the drums. Hi hats panned a little left, crash a little less left, ride a little right and so on."
What are your go-to processing chains?
Ahhh I don’t really have a “go-to” chain, but I’ll tell you a couple effects/plugins I’ve been using a lot lately. I’ve been using UpStereo Pro a ton and that always seems to be at the end of my chains. I don’t really use it for its stereo imaging though, I use it for its “drive” knob at the bottom right corner. Adds a nice subtle clean distortion similar to “British Clean” on CamelCrusher. I use Ableton's vocoder a lot along with erosion and a frequency shifter a lot as well.
Electronic producers have a hard time with music theory. Either they don’t know what to learn or how exactly to apply the theory. If you use theory when writing your tracks, what specific parts do you use and what would you topics do you feel producers should know?
I defiantly think everyone needs to learn at least the basics of music theory. Going to Icon Collective helped a ton with that and it defiantly upped my game. Shout out the Collective. With that being said, I don’t think its absolutely vital to always be in key. I believe if it sounds good, it sounds good. It’s just nice to understand what you’re doing and why it sounds the way it does.
The mixing in your tracks is clean, powerful, and crisp. How do you mix your Kick, 808, Snare, & main bass so they create these larger than life drops?
I always have a mix down session. I’ll bounce out like 10-15 grouped stems and then mix those. For some strange reason, just bouncing out stems makes my mix sound cleaner as it is. I group my kick and sub together and then add the UpStereo plugin to fuse the 2 together. For my snare, I just make sure everything is side chain compressed to it so it punches through the mix.
Where do you find inspiration? Also if you are working in the studio and get stuck. How do you get past that point?
I find a lot of my inspiration from just sitting in my room all day long. I’d say 80% of the time I make something it started from me just being insanely bored and experimenting with weird sounds and plugins. If I ever get writers block, I like to take a break from music. Play some video games, hang out with my family, or maybe play some more video games, haha. Anything that doesn’t involve going outside.