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How It Was Made: Tasha Baxter & Vacant Future - No Release

Tasha Baxter and Vacant Future breakdown their collab from her latest album.
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Tasha Baxter is back with a new artist project that she created in lockdown with her Discord community on Twitch. Slated for release on the aptly timed full moon (November 19th), Tasha has been releasing collabs from the album each week (DjangoZa, Shadow Wanderer, GXG, Vacant Future, and Imaginate) which boast a collection of genres/styles.

"What came from feedback streams and sample flip challenges turned into something none of us anticipated, we didn't make any of this music for the purpose of release or validation. We just needed to survive the new normal lockdown.

So we gathered under the full moon once a month to go on a sonic journey, embracing the chaos with hearts on our sleeve. I realized how ephemeral life is, knowing that we could cease to exist in an instant and this was why we felt the urge to create a photosonic time-capsule, a legacy, we made it, we survived, and here is our story. 

Everyone involved shared a common desire to create songs of adventure, triumph, and struggle. We channeled our experience into one common language for us all - music. And this became Full Moon Flex.”

Tasha Baxter exploded into the scene back in 2002 with the release of the UK Top 40 single, In The Beginning with Ferry Corsten. Since then, she’s collabed with Noisia on EMI, Au5 on Monstercat, and written songs for Lil Wayne, Moore Kismet's debut album, and more. Yet despite her accolades being endless, Tasha’s spiritual values are what she is most proud of following an around-the-moon hiatus imposed by life itself. 

SEE PAST HOW IT WAS MADE FEATURES

Tasha Baxter

Tasha in the studio

Tasha in the studio

Gear/Hardware

1. Focusrite Clarett 4 pre

Focusrite Clarett 4 pre

Focusrite Clarett 4 pre

This was the audio interface I was using at the time of the full moon flex live stream. I was still on a mac then, discord didnt love focusrite and I used it a lot for our sessions. Now using UAD-x4 gifted for my 40th from “Pockets” in my server, so much love for my community! BMO cameo.

2. Lewitt 640 Condenser Mic:

Lewitt 640 Condenser Mic:

Lewitt 640 Condenser Mic:

This was also the mic I used on stream and for recording all my sessions. It tends to reveal the perfect imperfections in my voice, it’s an amazing mic and brings out all the textured breathy ASMR vibes for maximum presence. Also really great for recording guitar and vocal live sessions. My Cobain journal is always on my desk for instant inspiration and nostalgia.

3. Logitech C922

This little guy has served me well and when I switched from iMac to PC (I used the onboard cam on mac) it was a solid move and helped the streams significantly. It was also pretty cheap on TakeAlot. One day when I’m a big boy I’ll get a DSLR.

Logitech C922

Logitech C922

4. Ogami repap Notebook

These books have been a firm favorite since they landed in South Africa. I can’t explain how incredible it feels to write on the paper, which is 100% tree free. They are also water resistant which is GREAT because I’m always spilling water or coffee on my journals. I’m pretty much obsessed with them and have collected as many as I can. They make me want to write for days.

Lyric Pad Tasha Baxter

Ogami repap Notebook

5. Lyrics for No Release: 

How the lyrics started, I generally have a clear view when the concept clicks. The narrative here was actually inspired by some members in my server as well as myself, when dealing with sobriety, being accountable, breaking promises and being stonewalled under stress/depression/anxiety. Zach had named the tune No Release and I went from there.

Lyric Pad Tasha Baxter

Lyric Pad Tasha Baxter

6. Mac Ruby Woo

A guilty pleasure, but a go to when I have been stuck in the studio for 2 years. Sometimes I just wanna get in the zone and “bring the vibe” like I was performing on stage and I find that slapping on some of this tends to do the trick. Not even joking, it just makes me perform with more sass when needed.

Mac Ruby Woo

Mac Ruby Woo

7. Sennheiser HD25

Industry standard DJing headphones that I love to use when DJing to bring out the low frequencies and amazing noise cancellation, but after many many hours working on tunes, my head feels like it’s in a clamp, but they have done the job for some time. They are on my “pet monster” which I’ve had since 86.

Sennheiser HD25

Sennheiser HD25

Software & Plugins

1. CLA - Spaceman

CLA - Spaceman

CLA - Spaceman

This has been a solid piece of software in my arsenal for many years now. It’s the plugin I use for all my live performances on Twitch and is on every vocal chain in one way or another. I absolutely LOVE to have this saus on my vocals.

2. Discord

Could not have lived without it, met everyone on the album and created friendships, music and a wonderful community that got us through COVID.

Discord

Discord

3. Streamlabs

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I ran my streams through Streamlabs and it’s helped to get my streams out to the world.

Streamlabs

Streamlabs

4. Soundtoys - EchoBoy

A go to for all those delays, verbs and textures that I love to drench my voice, my guitar and any other instrument in. This was what I used on the “I think I’ve reached my limit” adlibs.

Soundtoys - EchoBoy

Soundtoys - EchoBoy

5. Kilohearts - Formant Filter

For that telephone vocal vibe on the ad libs.

6. Melodyne

Melodyne.pdf

If it don’t make dollars, then it don’’t make cents ;)

7. Valhalla - Shimmer - Blackhole

I love reverb, a lot. This brings out so many layers of textures and tones to my voice and was on the reverb send channel to almost everything. Just a smidge and you're good.

8. Ozone 9 Dynamic EQ

Ozone 9 Dynamic EQ

Ozone 9 Dynamic EQ

I used this on my lead vocal chain, to tame harsh frequencies on the high end. Also standard on the chain is RX 7 De-ess, CLA 76, ableton stock EQ.

Vacant Future

Vacant Future

Vacant Future

1. Ableton - Clip View

Ableton - Clip View

Ableton - Clip View

It’s not very sexy but it’s integral to the vibe of the song. Two warping modes in the Clip View, “Texture” and “Tone,” create a granular quality as pitch changes. To achieve the glitchy sound of the arps used throughout the track, I would pitch the arp up about two octaves in Texture mode and flatten the audio so all the artifacts were embedded in the clip. I then took that higher octave audio and used Texture again, then I brought it back down to its original pitch.

Ultimately it leaves the arps at the same pitch you start with but introduces granular glitches and artifacts not possible with other processes. I also leaned on that technique to give the vocal chops in the 2nd drop an interesting timbre. It’s a trick I use all the time to achieve granular noise without using plugins.

2. Kilohearts - Phaseplant

Kilohearts - Phaseplant

Kilohearts - Phaseplant

This powerful synth allows you to process your sound within the synth with an infinite amount of FX modules. All the synth sounds start from Phaseplant in this track, the ability to create the whole sound within Phaseplant allows you to LFO parameters within the synth on FX that typically would lie outside of the synth, which makes it easy for me to create complex sounds without complex automation within my DAW.

3. Eventide – Blackhole

Eventide – Blackhole

Eventide – Blackhole

When I wrote this song I was in love with this reverb, it serves to create the sonic space the song lives in and is used on about 40 tracks in the song in some capacity. The reverb is great at creating spaces that feel anxious and eerie, and therefore it was the perfect musical tool for the song.

4. Melda – MWaveShaper/MWaveShaperMB

Melda – MWaveShaper/MWaveShaperMB

Melda – MWaveShaper/MWaveShaperMB

A simple plugin but integral to everything I do in the DAW. Obviously, I use it for any kind of distortion I need, but it’s actually an essential mixing tool. It allows me to get rich harmonics out of any sound but also pushes things to higher perceived volumes.

This means I can get elements in the mix to be loud and punchy, without the typical tradeoff where sounds become overcompressed with compression to achieve the same perceived loudness. The MB (multiband) version is additionally useful for shaping a sound as you might with an EQ, just through saturation. In fact, if I need a boost of high-end, I’ll try this first before I go for EQ.

5. Sonic Acadamy – Kick 2

Sonic Acadamy – Kick 2

Sonic Acadamy – Kick 2

Kick 2 allows me to create satisfying drums which I can tweak to fit the mix later in production. Whereas sample kicks make processing a lot more rigid (e.g. equalizing and the like), in Kick 2 I can really dial in frequencies I want to hit without penalty. It’s also handy at creating fundamentals for snares. This is essential for all my projects.

6. Ableton - Operator

Ableton - Operator

Ableton - Operator

Operator is a very simple softsynth; usually, I do a lot of sound design with this plugin, although with this project I kept it strictly to sub-bass. There’s a simple UI that makes it easy to dial in and automate harmonics on my sub-bass to make sure it’s heard, even in low registers. Simple but integral for making the bass hit throughout the track.

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