Recently, DNB duo Hybrid Minds released the shimmering vocal number, "Bad To Me," featuring the vocals of Grace Grundy. Just in time for clubs and festivals starting to make their return, the lush pads and synth work beneath Grace's vocals are something you'll surely be hearing many times in the near future. We invited the duo to break it all down for the latest installment of How It Was Made.
Words and photos by Hybrid Minds
We usually write instrumentals and then work with vocalists once an idea is already down, but it was the complete opposite when we wrote "Bad To Me" featuring Grace Grundy. Grace sent us the vocal and then we built everything around that.
We wanted to capture the mood of the lyrics and set the tone and once we nailed that it all started to fall into place. To us, the track is about not treating yourself well so we really wanted to portray that musically.
Keeping the chords emotional, soft and reverb helped it sound haunting and moody yet delicate. We used a driving gritty bass to give the track some urgency and energy in the chorus and made sure the drums were crunchy to give the track a bit of an aggressive edge. Once all the main parts were in place we spent months going into the fine details.
It’s often far too easy in dance music to be clinical and we find impurities and natural layers help a track sound real and connect on a human level. Finding that balance of feels and dynamics is the biggest battle for us and can be a lengthy process but always pays off in the end. We ended up using lots of sounds from life support machines in this track to represent not feeling well and to create a subtly anxious atmosphere in the intro along with a bunch of verby guitar plucks.
1. Valhalla Reverb
When it comes to reverb 9/10 times we draw for Valhalla Vintage Verb. Such an intuitive and easy-to-use reverb with a high and low cut. It simply does the job and sounds brilliant.
We have separate home studios so the most important tool we have is Dropbox. We have synchronized setups and just work out of a shared dropbox folder. It’s pretty much seamless, one of us closes a track and the other can open it.
We have been using RC-20 a lot recently on some of our musical busses. It’s a great tool to help things sound a bit less midi and gels them together nicely. Super easy to use as well but a bit of a CPU monster.
When it comes to mixing vocals in drum and bass it can be a bit of a battle. With so much going on in the mix there is a lot fighting for frequencies and Wavesfactory Trackspacer 2.5 has really come in handy. We use it to duck the music master bus around the vocal which lets the vocal sit a bit higher in the mix without losing too much from the instruments.