Welcome back to our ever-growing series How It Was Made, where your favorite artists from around the globe break down the tools, habits, and processes they used to create the music we dance to. This time, we are joined by local hero Luke Mandala, who's been consistently releasing music on labels like Selador, Traum, and Booka Shade Music since 2007. His latest EP, Fire Eyes, available now on Desert Hearts, is dark, gritty, and most importantly, groovy. Below, he breaks down the EP, highlighting his simple but effective tool kit he used in the process.
Words and photos by Luke Mandala
I had very little money the first few years I was making music so I was only using virtual plugins. I use some hardware synths nowadays although I sometimes still really enjoy the nice quick flow that working with only virtual gear can sometimes provide, which was the case with these two tracks! Great music doesn't require flashy gear, it requires passion :)
The soaring pad in 'Fire Eyes' is Diva from U-HE, which many consider being one of the best hardware analog replicating virtual synths, it's also the most CPU intensive virtual synth I've ever experienced (and I've tried pretty much all the popular ones). I had way fewer sounds in this song than usual.
The driving bass-line in 'Fire Eyes' and bouncy one in 'You Know' is Massive from Native Instruments with a really small amount of distortion from Kazrog's Synth Warmer. There were a few voices of all the oscillators that were slightly detuned to give it that growly shake your ass attitude :P
The bass-build sound during the break of 'You Know' is also Massive from N.I. - with a modulated LFO on the cutoff, which is basically just affecting the volume. There is also a pitch-bending modulation on that sound as well as a dub delay send at the end with resulted in some psychedelic brain bursts for the drop :) I like to duplicate the channel strip once the sound is done and then use the different modulations with the duplicate for different sections of the song. One of the many reasons I do this is to experiment with dynamics easily and to organize my project further in regards to being able to wrap my brain around all current parameter/modulation settings in a particular channel. This also helps me avoid having a cluttered amount of recorded automation with one sound, and another reason I don't always like messing with my analog synths that can't keep a workflow anywhere's near this convenient and powerful.
Grab Luke Mandala's Fire Eyes EP here.