As Swayzak, U.K. tech-house dons James Taylor and David Brown have been honing their revelry-inducing craft for more than a decade. With several albums under their belt, year-round DJ duties, and a knack for exciting artistic reinvention, Swayzak has achieved master status in the dance-music community. Their latest disc, a 10th anniversary offering entitled Some Other Country (!K7), is all the proof the world needs to confirm these peak-hour blasters' penchant for creating hedonistic bangers full of heady atmospherics. Here, David "Brun" Brown provides the secrets behind their sweet, 5 a.m.-dancefloor sound, and how they incorporate rich, dubby, unearthly textures into their minimal tech-house rhythms.
1. True Grit
You've got to keep the sound dirty! Focusrite Liquid Mix's analog-sounding software offers vintage compressors and EQs from the likes of Joe Meek. Super-warm! I was using George Neumann EQs and compressors from an old German mastering console, but these are far more suitable for computer music. Portable, and great sound for the money!
2. Synthetic Pleasures
For overall production, we use Ableton Live with an Apple G5. It's the best software for making music. An analog-collector friend asked me what I had used to produce this beautiful sound and I said Ableton–he didn't believe me! The basslines should be fat and heavy, so we use the Roland SH09 for most sounds, but we've recently been using soft synths too: from Korg, Moog, and Arturia's Prophet V. Killer!
3. Analog Arsenal
Feeding sounds through analog effects certainly gives them a different feel. TC Electronic Powercore processors have super-powerful effects with a built-in DSP chip. Great-sounding reverbs, delays, filters, and Urei compressors–it's as good as the real thing. We like to use pedals, too. We have used Boss delays for 10 years. More recently we've been using the Alesis Metavox–it's designed for vocoder-style voices, but we use it for processing whole tracks. Sounds sick! Distorted madness.
4. Night Vibes
Electronics always sound better at night. I don't know why, but they do. I like to work at night!
5. Loop-O Guru
See Loop-O (a.k.a. Andres Lubich) from Dubplates & Mastering in Berlin–truly a master. It's amazing what he brings out of a track! You think something sounds good, but then he multiplies that goodness by 10! His mastering techniques are vital to any budding music-maker. Home-mastering can be fine, but go to a session and see what these guys do! Loop-O is the finest I have heard–a true scientist.