Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling are German house duo Session Victim. Friends of over two decades from their home of Hamburg, they quickly built a reputation in dance music circles, which really took off with their bedroom-produced debut full-length back in 2012 (following a string of other well-received EPs). Their sound is one that dips in between a tapestry of everything from funk to hip hop, with their energetic signature stamped on all their produce.
Much of this work is done with the aid of sampling. Paying tribute to the artists from whom they take inspiration, the duo manage to extract the soul of an original work, and give it new life. It’s something that takes great skill, as sampling in dance music can be a bit of a double-edged sword—use it appropriately and you can create new and interesting tunes, but used unwisely it runs the risk of feeling like a rip-off.
With this in mind, we took the time to get some guidance from two experts in the area, who lead us through their tips on how to get the most out of samples.
Treat the music you are sampling with respect
First and foremost, treat the music you are sampling with respect. Now that’s a very relative thing to say, but think it through nonetheless. Do you really need to make the 11th house version of "Heather?" Does your Sade edit really bring something new to the table? Do you really feel good sampling eight bars in a row from Buena Vista Social Club?
It’s not a bad thing at all to produce a track with a strong loop as it’s backbone, but working with an array of short samples and sounds gives you more possibilities to actually play the things you’ve sampled rather than editing or complimenting something that is already there.
Stay in control of your tuning
If you record a sample from your record player, make sure to sample with the pitch set to "0." Otherwise your sample will be slightly detuned, which means that in most cases, you will find yourself spending a lot of time detuning your synths and other samples to make things work together. In a lot of these cases, you might end up with a cacophony that you will not be able to get right.
Once we have settled on a main idea/loop and we start looking for more samples to add, we make sure that we either record them in tune or adjust them right away to avoid that melodic clash. On the other hand, if you only want to sample one big loop or just percussion without any melodies in it, sample it at the speed you want to work with because you can avoid time stretching this way.
Use Different Instruments
Try different sampling instruments, because different samplers are good and bad for different jobs. Especially when it comes to melodic samples and how they sound when you pitch them. We use some Akai’s, an Ensoniq ASR and our Ableton DAW. For some reason, an old Akai, (e.g an S950) still beats Ableton when it comes to pitch shifting by a long shot. Avoid time stretching everything by default in your DAW. Often a little looseness is better than collecting too many artifacts on the way. But using different hardware samplers with their respective filters and pitch algorithms can help enormously changing the face and character of your sample.
Quality is key
Do not sample low quality mp3s or something like that. Just don’t do it. It will be hard on the ears at high volume. Forget about using EQs or efx to make a sound right. Using good sounds straight away is the key to a good mix later, all sound processing degrades the original sound, so it might be smarter to use less.
Session Victim can be found at this year's Found Festival.
Their latest release, RTR18 is now out on vinyl-only label Retreat (the Berlin-based label that Hauke from Session Victim and Quarion own) featuring a Nebraska remix of one of the biggest tracks on the label, Session Victim’s "Good Intentions" plus Session Victim and Quarion remix other big tracks from the label.
Photo: Thalke Thyen