11 Dec. 17
Rawtek's Music: Listen Genres: EDM & Jungle Terror
SoundShock: What drew you guys into making music? Were there any specific musicians or non musicians that influenced you in the beginning?
Well for starters we’re both very much obsessed with music. We both grew up listening to various different genres throughout our lives. Around 2008-2009 we started going to a lot of raves and festivals in SoCal which is primarily responsibly for us gravitating heavily towards Dance music. Before music production, we were both really into art so when we began making music it felt only natural as another creative outlet to fall in love with.
Mixing & Mastering
Your drops are very full sounding a leave an impact on the listener. Do you have any specific tips for creating these large drops? (Tips on sound selection, mixing in certain elements to make them sound larger than life? Certain automation tips?)
I suppose a good tip would be to try to keep things fairly simple. If a sound doesn’t fit then you’re better off not forcing it. Big kicks, heavy drums, and weird aggressive sounds have become our best friends.
The drum programming and sample selection for your jungle terror like tracks is on point! What sample packs do you guys like to use for your drums and how do you process and arrange out these drums, to create this rhythmic based tracks?
We love using Latin percussion, Caribbean style sounds, and any other weird drums. We generally use a lot of Splice samples and then just modify them however we can. Usually while writing a song out we just arrange the drums depending on whatever style we’re going for. Whether it’s trap, house, baile funk, salsa, dembow, weird 287bpm tropical country music, or you know whatever.
Your tracks make great use of the stereo field to create a wide mix. How do you decide what elements go where in the stereo field (What elements get stereo spread and where they are panned/ auto panned)
We would say it all depends on the track that we’re mixing at the time but our kick and the bass all always sit in the middle. Also, for some tracks, we’ll have the drums sitting in the middle as well and we'll use a stereo imager for the lead drop so that it gets spread and leaves space in the middle for the drums. Hi hats can be panned to the right and some background drums to the left so that they each have their own space in the mix.
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?
It’s a lot of trial and error. You could have a really cool percussive loop and want to add a distorted pigeon noise or Thomas the tank engine vocal sample but if it doesn’t fit it doesn’t fit. You can add effects and mess with sounds for hours but you also have to remember that less is more when it comes to adding on sounds. Most of the time the best way to make something strong and cohesive is to make sure the few sounds you’re using in each section really work well with each other and nothing sounds like it doesn’t belong in the track. It also helps not to lie to yourself. For example, if you like one specific sound but it really doesn’t fit the song then maybe it’s best to save that sound for another project… Or maybe make an entire separate song with just that sound looping for ten minutes straight. Then after you get to know the sound you can start dating and eventually get married. But since you can’t biologically mate with the sound you end up growing old with a silly .wav file that you can’t even remember because you lost your hearing 7 years back. I’m not apologizing for this rant, you chose to read this.
The mastering in your tracks is very clean, upfront, and powerful. Are there any tips for getting this type of modern dance music mastered sound, assuming that your mix down is already well balanced.
We generally try to get the mixdown as balanced as possible so that when it comes to mastering we'll just use very little EQ, some minor compression, and a limiter to finalize it. One important thing is getting the attack time and release time correct on the limiter so that you don't get any distortion or a pumping effect when pushing the song louder.
Marketing & Branding
Labels and curators are getting sent hundreds of tracks everyday. How do you get your demos heard when they are receiving such a huge quantity of music?
This was always very tough in the beginning. When we started out we just sent out our music to everyone and anyone. Nothing was exclusive or had a proper release. When we finished a song we either uploaded it a few days later for free or sent it around to other producers to get a feel for how they liked it. Now we have a really solid team and we’ve personally networked with a good amount of people to be able to send our music to where we want to send it. Sometimes it still takes a while to get a solid response or plan but that’s just how a lot of labels can be.
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?
Our fan base has been growing very nicely and organically over the past couple of years due to most of our releases. I️ think new listeners tend to gravitate towards an artist that has a specific sound and doesn’t sound like they’re genre hopping to stay trendy. When you have a sound that’s true to you as an artist then people will find a genuine interest in that. Releasing on labels helps because it puts the labels fans in your area where they might not have been before. And if you’re a new guy and release on a big label some people may start to associate you with the other artists on that label. But if you don’t have a label to release with I️ wouldn’t let that stop you from consistently putting out music for older and new fans to hear. Building a fan base isn’t easy but it’s always so amazing to hear someone loves your work.
What are your go-to effects and processing chains at the moment and how do you use them in your tracks?
We love using Ableton’s frequency shifter to really get weird with samples and synths. It can definitely add a unique texture to a sound. With some automation, you can turn a bass growl into a gritty laser bird sound. But when frequency shifter doesn’t work out we’ll turn to distortion and other effects.
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 guys to keep learning and improving through the beginning stages of your music career and what advice would you give to impatient producers.
I’d say having a little impatience is ok when you’re learning because it can fuel you to be more ambitious. It can even encourage you to want to learn more and to strive to be one of the best. We used to think our songs were the shit when they were actually garbage. We knew that they weren’t the best songs ever but we did believed in ourselves. If we got turned down by a label we used the rejection to grow and to learn. We still don’t have it all figured out but we’ve learned that you have to adopt thick skin in the music industry and if you don’t enjoy the little victories of your overall progression as they come, then you might not be in this for the long run. Definitely don’t expect to make a logo for your DJ name and go out thinking a big label is going to sign the first 3 songs you’ve ever shat out of your bedroom. Be realistic with yourself. Produce as much as you possibly can. Then one day a year will pass, then 3 and so on and you’ll look back and literally laugh at the songs from year 1 but be amazed at how far you’ve come.
When you are at the finishing stages of your track, it always seems like you can take the track further and further. This often just leads to overproducing. How do you know when your track is done and what sorts of processing, arranging, and mixing do you do in these final stages?
There comes a point for every artist to learn how to surrender their project. To say you’re done and that any other bells and whistles are being added without reason. Last minute micro-detailing and cleaning up sounds may take a few hours or so but if the track is dope, cohesive and conveys the vibe we were going for, then it’s time to wrap it up. When we finish the rough draft of a song we export the stems to another computer and begin the actual mixdown from there.
"Most of the time the best way to make something strong and cohesive is to make sure the few sounds you’re using in each section really work well with each other and nothing sounds like it doesn’t belong in the track."Rawtek
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? (Until you the main theme across, until you are inspired enough? Do you bounce from section to section just building small parts of it?)
Starting a track is the easiest part. Most of the time it starts with the intro drums or some kind of a solid sample we want to build around. A lot of times you think you have a clear idea of what direction you’re going but a few days later the track could be completely different once the drop gets written. Sometimes we’ll have a certain intro & build and then the drop is this insane piece that doesn’t even fit with the build anymore. Then, you aim to make the build stronger or strip it down to something bare so the drop has greater impact. Then we’ll be writing the drop and some weird arrangement happens accidentally but it sounds awesome so you copy the old drop over somewhere else and try this new one. Then later, things may get convoluted so you go through the 5 other different drops you created only to realize that the first one was probably best and you should probably stick to your instinctual feeling of the song from when it first started and before you got a little carried away… Then after most of the song is written, we’ll erase 76 unneeded stems and begin to narrow down what’s good and what’s most likely a useless sound no one will notice until boom. You have Version 17.4 rough draft written and ready to go.
A big sticking point for producers is not being able to finish tracks. Do you have any specific techniques that help you get past this?
This is definitely the toughest part of producing; getting to the end of a song and feeling like you’re wrapping a nice bow around it. All we can say is if you get stuck, have writers block, or just hate that the song isn’t turning out the way you’d hoped, then take a break. Listen to other genres or live sets, walk your dog, draw a geographical map of the Hawaiian archipelago, eat a carrot. Then, when your ears feel refreshed and you feel re-inspired come back to your audio baby and push yourself to progress the song with each sitting. When you finish a new track, the feeling is much more rewarding than starting something else entirely or giving up.