Recently, London/Berlin duo Athlete Whippet joined the Toy Tonics family with their four-track Vesta EP. The combination of the Berlin dancefloor sound and the UK jazz fusion soul is changing the scene and creating new moods. Neo-soul and house, broken beats and disco all in one neat groovy package. We asked the duo for a peek inside their studio to take a look at the tools they used in its creation process for the latest installment of My Toolbox.
Words by Athlete Whippet with photos by Barbora Mrazkova
Since we’re both from a live performance background and played in bands since our early teenage years, we put a lot of ‘playing’ into our productions. Of course, that includes synthesizers, drum machines, loops, and samples, but it also includes "traditional" instruments like bass, piano, guitar, and trumpet. For us, it’s the hybrid between dance music and other styles that inspires us and where we see ourselves exploring new directions.
Drawing bits from different parts of the past and forming something that lives in the present and future. We think all music does that in some way, but of course, sampling and mixing virtual and analog, "new" and "traditional" instruments open so many doors. We started off making tracks together as bedroom producers and we still do that a lot up to this day.
We used to mostly work independently and always send stuff back and forth. Then we moved in together and turned our living room upside down to make a studio together. A couple of years back we’ve taken the step to rent a studio in Deptford together with a few like-minded artists. The community out here is really vivid so it’s a wonderful set-up.
1. Juno 60
I guess this one is a classic. It’s warm, it’s rich and that chorus just makes things come to life. I think what really makes this one everybody’s favorite is how instant it is. All parameters are right in front of you, there’s no fiddling around. It’s just fun the second you touch it.
2. Moog Sub 37 and Korg MS-20
When it comes to monophonic synths, these two are not to beat for us. Again, really fun to play, a great console to work with. Giving you that beefy bass, that lays the carpet that’s needed for everything else to work on top of it.
3. Fender Rhodes
Another absolute classic piece of gear. When we want something to sound a bit less electronic, a bit more acoustic then this always has something to contribute. It’s really one of the most gentle instruments out there in our opinion. Since we’re both from a live performance background and Avi is a pianist in the first place, it’d be ludicrous not to have this one in the studio.
4. Kemble Piano
It’s important for us to mix things up so they don’t get too sterile and rigid. This is a nice old, slightly beat-up piano. Not perfectly in tune, which is just how we like it. Good to add a bit of character when things feel a little cold. It’s always perfect to get a break from it all once in a while. Whenever you leave the room Avi will just be sitting there and play it and then he’ll never stop.
5. Bass and Guitar
The same goes for bass and guitar although this is more of Robin’s area than Avi’s. It’s really where some of our roots lay so it’s important for us to incorporate those elements into our music and it gives us the freedom that loops and digital instruments can’t.
6. Korg SV-1
This is so versatile - we use it for all the e-piano, clavs, organs, and even strings. It’s got a nice little tube in it which makes it sound warm and organic.
7. Arturia Drumbrute
We tend to use a lot of chops from live drums to keep things organic and jumpy, but whenever we’re looking for something a little bit more stripped down then we try this one first.
8. Space Echo
Such a classic! It has a really characterful and recognisable sound and works super well on vocals. We used this a lot on the EP with Olugbenga and it really gave so much personality to the sound.
Grab a copy of their latest release here.