Black Girl/White Girl (Karin and Ty) are among the highest-rated upcoming acts in the global techno and house scene, known for their jackin' tracks and explosive DJ sets full of unexpected twists and turns into acid, disco, and electro.
Perhaps best known for their releases on Green Velvet's legendary Relief records, quite a few scene heavyweights have gone on to give their stamp of approval, including The Black Madonna, Ben Sims, Mark Broom, Jamie Jones, Truncate, Maya Jane Coles, Skream, Eats Everything, DJ Deeon, and many more.
Their latest EP on Eats Everything and Andres Campo's EI8HT imprint is the duo in fine form: Funky, banging, jacking club music. As such, we invited the duo to break down the new EP for us in for this latest installment of our How It Was Made series.
Words and photos by Black Girl/White Girl
NI Maschine Studio MK2
The best and most versatile production system we could ever invest in, it has been the center of our studio for the past five years. We start all our tracks on the Maschine Studio, we’ve actually collected a bunch of sounds we use often and loaded all of them into a project in the Maschine Studio software. We just fire up the project and we’re ready to go. And don’t mind the little screens, they are actually amazing and in full color, and as we have tiny little hands, they work super well for us too!
NI Maschine Studio 2
This has been the most important tool for us to create beats with, used in conjunction with the Maschine Studio MK2. It totally fits with our workflow (we use it as a plug-in inside Ableton) and the interface is really intuitive. All the important and most-used features are in the main view, like filters, pitch and envelope settings, saturation, bit reduction, LFO, and countless more. Plus the swing on this is awesome! What you’re looking at in this shot is the initial drum layout we created for Green Crack, before bouncing the audio to Ableton. We record each sound individually and bring them all together in the arrangement view, so we can do the mixdown later on. Most of the time we end up using only 70% to 80% of the recorded sounds, but the ones we don’t use might end up in another project later on.
The only EQ plug-in we use, period. Fabfilter has many amazing products and the Pro-Q3 has got to be the best and most quality sounding EQ plug-in out there. It does its job wonderfully and we adore the Analyzer function, which can help visually single out frequency masking, overlap, and other issues when used on several tracks. This is the EQ setting we use on most of our kicks, with small adjustments according to the root note and overall sonic makeup of the kick. That dip between 200-500 Mhz helps to make the kick (and toms too, sometimes) sound less clogged up and muddy.
Valhalla is just awesome and we love their stuff. What you see here is the ValhallaPlate, we use it almost exclusively together with Ableton’s stock reverb plug-in. What we love about ValhallaPlate is that you can select a Mode, with each mode sounding different, enabling you to create a totally unique sounding reverb every time. The built-in EQ modules are great too, we use it often to boost the sound in a specific frequency range, kind of as a creative tool to enhance synths and percussion. PS: this was definitely used on those slick open hats in Unfading.
Fabfilter Saturn is our all-time go-to saturation tool. Kinda giving away a secret here but that’s where our raw sound comes from, mostly. We always use it on the drum buss, but also on individual percussion sounds, synths, and even on vocals. It’s super versatile and allows you to push and focus on each frequency band as you define its limits and individual settings. This has been used on every track on the EP.
Now we’re really getting to the good stuff! Diva is one of our favorite synths, purely because of the quality of the sounds (it’s supposed to sound very close to the real deal), all the quality patches floating about for it, and all the different knobs you can tweak and freak with. This was used to create several synths on our track Telepathy. Despite it being kinda CPU heavy, it even works on our 2013 Macbook Pro (AKA our ‘turtle’ or ‘brick’), as you can tone down the Accuracy if the patch you’re using is slowing the project down. To avoid that, we tend to write the pattern and render the audio to make our lives easier.
iZotope Neutron Transient Shaper 3
Neutron’s Transient Shaper is used to make synth sounds pop and cut through the mix, and sometimes we use it on our kicks as well, if needed. Simple and quality! Used on the ‘bleep bloop’ heard in Unfading...
Future Audio Workshop SubLab
SubLab is what we use to create most of our subs. It gives you the freedom to create sounds from scratch, or you can base your patch on hundreds of real sounds like 808s, 909s, and Vermona or Volca sounds. Note that these sounds can also be used to layer the OG patch with! We like to keep it simple with a clean sub, then adding some distortion to dirty it up a bit and sometimes compressing it to make it hit extra hard, like on Green Crack.
AudioRealism Bass Line 3
The only 303 you’ll ever need unless you have the real ting obviously. We love that it’s super lightweight, and we only use it in Note Mode so we can input our MIDI notes, as opposed to the Pattern mode where you use the step sequencer. This was used to create the bass heard in Flexxulator. It does what it does, and it does it pretty well actually!
Valhalla’s Space Modulator is a kind of flanger, it’s trippy af and we use it on vocals and synths, mostly. Come to think of it, we’ve used it on percussion a couple of times too, it’s great to add an extra dimension to sounds during the breaks or just to make your synth pattern stand out in certain parts of the arrangement, which you can hear in some parts of Flexxulator. Use sparingly though, as it can thin sounds out if used on several elements in the same track.
This is a nice emulation of the Roland SH-101, and we mostly use it for basslines, especially if we need it to be more than just a simple sub. We love to spend a lot of time tweaking the VCF and VCO faders to get the sound exactly how we want it. The White Noise function works really well together with the frequency and resonance faders, and even more so when combined with ValhallaSpaceModulator. This was used on Unfading, we filtered most of the high frequencies out and used the result for the wobbly, subby bassline.
Arturia Synthi V
There are a bunch of quality Arturia apps out there, and Synthi V has got to be the one that we use the most. It looks wicked and despite it being kinda CPU heavy (depends on the project of course), we often end up with it for weird, mind-boggling sound effects. It has quite unique analog-sounding characteristics that make it stand out when compared to other emulator synths, and that’s fantastic when you don’t have the cash to invest in real vintage gear.
Grab your copy of Black Girl/White Girl's Elev8 EP here.