Over the past couple of years, Clash Lion has become one of the hottest labels in techno, crafting a signature sound that sits somewhere between techno, punk, and electro. Releases from the likes of founders Terr, Daniel Watts, and Shall Ocin have helped attract and bring forth talent, such as our guest for today, Fairmont. Hailing from Canada, his career began in the early 2000s, and his abilities have seen massive success over the years. Fresh off his release on Clash Lion's new Clash Culture VA, we asked him to break down the process and tools used in the creation of 'Dotted Eye'. Grab the release here.
Words and photos by Fairmont
I often start songs with a melodic idea and keep my focus just as much on the notes as I do on the timbre of each element. I tried to avoid that on "Dotted Eye" and focus only on the sounds themselves rather than the notes. In fact, each synth is actually just a single note held down, getting its variations in pitch and volume from playing with the front panel rather than playing with the keyboard.
A warning before further reading: After over 20 years in the analog-synth-collecting-game, I recently sold all my hardware (except for my live-show rig) when I moved back to Canada. Although I couldn't be happier with my decision (I'm having more fun and getting better sounds) I realize some readers might have an aversion to making music "in the box" and I would hate to trigger their delicate, analog sensibilities.
I guess the bass synth is clearly the stand-out element of the song and was made with Sylenth. My buddy Raxon turned me on to this VST when I made my switch from hardware synths. I had never really used software synths before, so I had pretty good luck to have such a great recommendation right off the bat. I love how wide you can get the sound thanks to all the stereo options within the oscillators. The filter is lovely too. The LFO does the heavy lifting in this case though. I just kind of wank on the LFO speed all of the ways through the song.
Another soft synth I used was the SH-02 from Roland. It's the staccato one that starts right from the beginning. I love the filter on the 02. When you have a good filter, you don't really need to play around too much to get something cool. If I can't get something cool out of a synth within 30 seconds of first trying it, I usually never will. All my favourite hardware machines were like that and it's been the same since I went software. I like going deep when a synth has tons of modulation/modular options, but sometimes you get better results from a simple, but good-sounding synth like this.
The last element I'll discuss is the short, squelchy sound that comes in at the refrain. This was made with the Arturia 2600 plugin. I set a bunch of different modulators going into the filter and just goofed around with all the settings in one live take. Although the patch is much more complex than the SH-02 one, I think the effectiveness comes down to the filter once again. It's simply a great sounding synth.