In an Australian dance fan fever dream, Golden Features and The Presets came together to create a new EP RAKA. The EP finds a nice middle ground in the dark basslines, eclectic drums and melodies sprinkled into the project. With the EP still simmering a week later, we had producers take us into the studio to show us how it was made. The Presets stepped up and now are showing off the 12 pieces of gear that were used – in exquisite detail. Get your copy of the EP here and listen along now as you read about what went into the project.
We started most of the sessions for the EP with this Modular. It’s such a fun way to get into a zone. Because there is so much playfulness to it you can find yourself with endless randomness and surprises. We’d get the modular stuff going and tweak and squelch until it sunk into a pattern or groove we liked, or we would record long takes just riffing on this (or the Korg MS20). The rule was “record drunk/ edit sober” - which meant - go crazy while jamming and let anything happen, then later painstakingly go through the jams to find the bits that really cook (we didn’t literally get drunk whilst recording :) You might find one bar of goodness out of a half hour take, but it’s always worth it.
2. Korg MS-20:
This MS20 has possibly been the most important synth in the The Presets world. It has featured prominently on every album we have made. From Are You the One and My People, through to Downtown Shutdown and Beethoven - it is an incredibly versatile instrument. The bass-line from “Raka” was taken from loose jams on this instrument. It is great for growly basslines and big fuzzy blasts.
Almost all the bass parts on the EP were either made with this classic or at least supplemented by it in someway. Julian has had one of these for as long as we have been working together and it’s an absolute go to for almost anything techno related.
4. Dewanatron Swarmatron:
This machine looks and sounds bonkers. It’s basically an 8-oscillator drone generator that is capable of creating the most tense and dramatic detuned note clusters. It helped with the squealing drops on RAKA. It’s made by a couple of brothers; one is an electronic wiz and the other a furniture designer.
Prophet synths always bring the dreamy 1980’s goodness to tracks. The arpeggio sequences you hear in RAKA are made with a Prophet.
We have to use this on almost every project at least once, even if it’s just for the chunky de tuned and filtered hat sound on “The End.” An absolute staple.
7. FX Rack - Eventide H3000 & Lexicon PCM96:
The Eventide H3000 was relatively new to us during the making of RAKA, but we were able to get it on a couple of things regardless. If we are ever at a studio with one of these we have to use it. It is hands down the best FX processor of all time.
The Lexicon PCM96 is also great for reverbs and strange FX. We will generally print stem fx through. Add any of these guys in the rack for extra width, depth and mojo.
8. Field Recordings:
A lot of the background or foley layers in the songs are real sounds. There is a crackle sound in the background of “Paradise,” which is from a campfire. We all had a bunch of field recordings from Sydney trains which were useful for the “ramping up” or “slow down” sounds (a lot more interesting than the run of the mill sample library “build and whoosh” sounds you hear on a lot of EDM tracks). You can hear some train recordings in the background of RAKA.
Love this one so much. It has so much historical clout to it. We used it for a suspended string part in the last chorus of “Paradise,” which just added to the elation and gave the track that final little payoff.
10. Tape Echo:
We have always used one of these to process vocals. It’s great to trash the input and distort the signal. Works great on a lot of things and the chorus + echo combined is very smooth and dreamy as well.
This was used specifically on the “roaring synth” in “Raka.” It gives it that extra snarl in the final build up. We probably could have done it with a plug-in but it was way more fun to do it this way and that’s the most important thing when making music.
This guy has been in storage for a long time but we pulled it out cause we were looking for something else for “The End.” I randomly fell on a set of sounds that were not exactly drum kit sounds but more like ethereal bells. It’s responsible for those eerie kind of X-Files sounds that fill out the gaps between lyrical phrases.