Magnetic brings you an exclusive premiere from NY-based artist Moon Boots. Following up from his successful Pure Moons Vol. 1, Moon Boots returns with three fresh cuts of pure ecstasy. Reach The Stars is high energy right from the get-go, with a classic jacking vibe, catchy vocal sample, and hands in the air chord stabs. It's safe to say that Moon Boots hasn't let the global shutdown stop him from being creative. We also did an exclusive How It Was Made feature with him on the creation behind this new release, which you can find below.
I’d like to start with the rhythm since it’s such an important part of this track. I picked up this TR-8 around 2 years ago when I started working on what became my 2nd album, Bimini Road. I’d been so used to working with drums “in the box” that it took me a while to get used to the workflow of using a hardware drum machine. Now I’m using it all the time and I’m so glad I have it. I’ve always used a mix of hardware and software in my tracks but the balance has shifted decisively to hardware in the past few years.
Roland makes an Expansion Pack for the TR-8 that gives you a lot more percussion sounds in particular and I really recommend that if you have a TR-8. I used the TR-8 for most of the drum sounds on this track (shakers, toms, claps, hats, rides, claves).
I absolutely love this synthesizer and use it all the time. I’ve written 100s of patches on it and have a very nerdy system of organizing them since it can be tricky to keep track of them. It really excels at getting expressive, gorgeous sounds, and the on-board FX is great. But for this tune, I knew I didn’t want it to sound too “glossy” so I forgot about all the fancy patches and used the default sound — literally the sound you get when you delete a patch. So that’s where the “morse code” synths come from that are going throughout the track. And I used the OB for a couple of the more slick-sounding pads and swells.
UAD Korg SDD-3000
This is what I used on the OB-6 sound above to give it really crazy textures and long feedback. Ditto for the vocals at the end of the breakdowns. I’ve been very accustomed to using Soundtoys Echoboy and thought it was basically the only echo plugin I needed until I heard about the Korg Echo. I didn’t even know Korg made echo units back in the day but this plugin sounds amazing. It’s a bit finicky — as I’m sure the hardware is in real life — and doesn’t sync exactly to the tempo, it always runs a bit faster. But it’s easy to work around that once you know.
Alpha Juno // Alpha Juno Editor
I picked up this Alpha Juno a while back on Craigslist for super cheap and I’m sure they’re still a bargain. It’s best known for the “Hoover" sound but it’s capable of a lot more subtle sounds. I love the chorus effect on it, it’s got a very wide and plastic-y sound that’s very different from the Juno 106 chorus. Aside from the OB-6, I used the Alpha Juno for all the other synth layers.
The biggest downfall of the Alpha Juno is that it’s completely impractical to program since they got rid of all of the knobs. But the nice thing is if you get the Rekon Alpha Juno Editor you can edit your patches and do automation much like you would on a soft-synth. I like to take advantage of that. Rekon also makes a VST editor for the Juno-106 which I use sometimes but not on this track.
// Roland SH-101 //
Not much that I can say about this synth that hasn’t been saying before, but it’s an absolute beast for bass. 9 times out of 10 all I need is the sub-oscillator and I’m good to go. I have a Kenton Midi / CV converter I use to feed it MIDI so the timing is nice and tight. Also, I wrote the pattern so that the turnarounds have a “walking bass” feel like an upright bass in jazz to make the changes bounce a little more.
// Logic 10.5 Sampler //
I doubt a corporation worth $2 trillion like Apple needs my help, but I really appreciated the last update they did on Logic Pro (10.5). I’d been debating switching to Ableton for years because I was so tired of the EXS sampler, which had all kinds of glitches and was really out of date. Every DAW has issues but this was a really glaring one, and I’m glad they finally fixed it.
// Roland D-550 //
I like this synth for little layers. It’s got nice pads, choirs, and bells. And that’s where I got the bells for this track. They don’t happen very often but you’ll know them when you hear them.
Overall I see this track as an homage to Chicago House, especially Paul Johnson, Cajmere / Green Velvet, and Derrick Carter. It’s a sound I’ve loved for many years now — I also lived in Chicago for 7 good years, including at the start of my career — and I hope that people who enjoy this track are just as willing to go to the source and check out great Chicago music. Last but not least, I won't name the source of the vocal sample but it should be familiar to fans of Jazz-R&B crossover music!
Grab your copy of Pure Moons Vol. 2 here.