Over the past few years, Berlin-based techno artist BEC has become a staple in the scene, with releases on top labels like Second State, Intec, and Drumcode. Just recently, however, she embarked on a new journey with her out imprint BEC, a home for all her productions and artists she loves. To celebrate the launch of her new label, we asked her to break down the EP for another installment of our on-going How It Was Made series.
Words and photos by BEC
Downwards Spiral and Some Feelings are tracks I created when I was at Riverside Studios in Berlin last winter. I remember I was so excited to be in a new space and surrounded by such an inspiring community of music makers, that I made so much music in the space of the first few weeks. Maximal Minimal and Time Illusion I made when I moved back to England last October. I set up a studio in the middle of the countryside, in an outbuilding next to a lake. I find it so inspiring to be in nature, my creativity flows even more.
The dubby, distorted sound FX in "Some Feelings" and "Downwards Spiral" are made with my little beast, the Elektron Digitone. Small but really powerful. It’s an 8 voice, polyphonic FM synthesizer. Which I use to make weird, FX type sounds. Basically I use this when I want to make a sound that people ask “What the hell is that sound, I wonder how it was made”
“Downwards Spiral” doesn’t have many elements at all, so in order to ensure it’s still sonically interesting, I processed each sound individually quite substantially. For example, the snares have a chain of FX including Driver (by Native Instruments Reaktor) and One Knob.
I know I can never go wrong when using Ableton's Operator. It’s very simple and easy to adapt. I usually start with a sine wave because it’s nice and soft, and has such a pure tone. Then I use subtractive and additive synthesis to combine different waveforms with the Sine until I get it unique and nice sounding. In “Downwards Spiral”, I have used a delay on the sine note. Then to create tension, I increase the delay, distortion and amount of reverb on the sine.
I created the main synth in “Time Illusion” with the Roland Cloud TB303. Even though I have the Roland TB3 hardware version, I sometimes find it easier and quicker to use VSTs, especially when automating parameters as it means I can be really specific, and change the automation!.
I was messing around playing some keys then I found a catchy melody. It’s so simple, but I find that simplicity is always usually best, and actually harder to achieve than something complex sometimes! I wrote the melody in as MIDI so I could change the parameters. The tom rhythm and kick are both made with my TR8-S. I love using toms in the low end, to add more rhythm and also a nice tone to the bass.
In all the tracks, I’ve recorded my own vocals using a trusty Shure SM58 mic. I then have a very long chain of FX which I add, and EQ intricately. In a lot of my music with vocals, I duplicate my voice and then pitch it down so that there is a male, more robotic sounding tone underneath.
Most percussive elements I make with my TR8-S. I used to just use the Drum Rack in Ableton but I find that it’s much more organic to use the TR8. Drums are one thing I find fiddly in the box. If I don’t use my TR8-S, I use my Elektron Analog Rytm.
BEC 001 is available now. Grab it here.