January 1, 2014  |   News, Tutorials

Point Blank LA Sessions Part Two: Skeet Skeet Remix Tutorial – Motivation – Kelly Rowland

In part two of our exclusive video feature in association with our partners Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles, producer and DJ Skeet Skeet opens up his remix of Kelly Rowland’s ‘Motivation’ to show how he works in Ableton Live. Skeet has worked with pop royalty like Katy Perry and has released as an artist on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak. You can watch whole thing below and remember to subscribe to our channel to get the best tutorials first and for free!

If after parts one and two you still want more, follow the link to bonus footage in the YouTube description for some bonus content and quick fire questions.

For more info on Mack Sennett Studios.

Video Transcription:

[music playing]

This is pretty standard for how I do some more of the more, like, electrohal-sounding stuff — the more bangery-sounding stuff. You just kind of go “everything you see up here… I guess I can get rid of that.” I work on Ableton Live, pretty standard. Up top, I have this side chain channel which is just a muted kick drum. The channel is turned off, but I use that to send a side chain signal to the compressor. The D and B is my drums and bass channel. And this one, I program, I think, the kick and the snare in drum rack. I will kind of go through these more clearly later. There’s a little ding that I use in this track somewhere. I have cymbals that may be automated a little bit. And that’s actually the bulk of the drums in this one, the drums are pretty simple.

Then I have the a capella in here where there’s, like, a frequency shifter and auto-filter on it. Then there’s another channel with a capella on it used for a little breakdown thing. This is a sweep, effects thing. This is another bit of the a capella chopped up, for messing around. Another sweep, a little noise hit, another effects thing…

I have Chordsie, which is the breakdown effect, it’s actually a soft sim called Strobe. The Dutch Lead that gets changed throughout it. Then I have the bass, as well, which is the tracks, which is up in the middle. You’ll hear that. That’s being automated a bunch. Some white noise. Another sub-bass layer and some other stuff that I use to write to it. I usually write chords via piano and build a bass line around that.

Generally, the way I make music is kind of funny because I don’t consider myself a very good player. I identify more as a hacker — someone who pokes around at stuff until it sounds cool. And when I was approached to do this Kelly Rolland remix, they sent over the full song, which I used down here. So here’s the original, if you’re not familiar.

[music]

That’s the starting, because I’m the master, but you get the idea. It’s a half-time rap track.

[music]

Then a little way in there, you can hear I have it warped. I went in and warped this whole track in Appleton Live so I could time-stretch it however I wanted: speed it up, slow it down, and figure out at what speed the a capella could work at. Because it’s, originally, at 141 BPM, which you can see down here with my mouse over it. This is how it’s seen on the video. I actually slowed it down to 130 BPM and then double-timed it, so it’s more of a traditional electro-house-club tempo.

Once I had that kind of tempo worked out, the first thing I did was get started on drums. And I generally start with just drums, a drum rack, something like that. And I have a few different kicks that I like to work out of. Electro-house stuff, I usually work out of this Thomas Petten kit. The way my samples are arranged is kind of crazy, due to hard-drive crashes and other things. But I have my skeet shit… if we can say that on the internet… These are all things that I’ve cut up. There’s be more kits that I’ve made, Appleton stuff. So chords and scales… It’s Tony Chords, things like a cool Circle of Fist tool, a capella samples… There’s many fresh drum hits… Things that I use in life all the time, I will jack stuff from remix packages… there’s all kinds of stuff. 808′s, 909′s, disco loops, swaggy stuff (I don’t even know what that is). Oh, and one hits. I think I jacked one of Dillan’s kicks. There’s all kinds of stuff in here.

Benny Boom, my friend Benny Blanco, is a really great pop producer, gave me some drums. These are all great. Yeah, lots of stuff. Lots of goodies.
What I used on this track, I went to sound packs and there’s lots of goodies in here. Stuff you’ve seen before, I’m sure, and I went down to the Thomas Petten. We’ll close some of these, so they’re not all in our way. But Thomas Petten has some really cool stuff. I usually go to volume 3. I’ll grab a kick out of here. They’re all pretty punchy.

[drums playing]

On this one, I think I used kick 4. Let me check it out, here. It’s there. Oh, wait, that’s muted. Sorry. And right now there’s an EQ on it, filtering it, that kind of opens up. There’s a high-pass. Or, actually, what do I have? I have it layered. Let me work back how I got this thing going. A kick here, and it’s layered with another kick drum right here. So what I’ve tried to do is to take the punch of this kick, because I liked it, and layer it with a more subbie, fuller-sounding kick here. You can always play with these things and the little samplers in here. For claps, there’s a clap. There’s a snare. It’s a really punchy, in-your-face snare. That way when I’m in EQ it’s got some cool mid- and high-stuff going on. Some hats. That’s more like a pure white noise.

And hi-hats. So what I did, initially, was take those two kicks. For the intro, it was just straight 4-to-the-floor.

[drum beats]

Then, later on…

[drum music]

So that was a nice way to pick up the pace. I felt that the vocal was moving a little slow. If we go back and check out how much that song has slowed down…

[music with vocals]

If I mute these snares, you feel it just drag?

So I added these snares and made them move around quite a bit, so there is a lot of pace.

And if you just want to see the drum part again, it’s pretty straight-ahead. There’s that hi-hat coming on the off-beat and those snares moving around in a samba-style. I don’t know what that is, Dutch Aussie, whatever.

And then, on the 8-bar phrases, I have cymbals coming in with a nice little “pshhh!”

[Cymbal being hit and fading into background]

And then I’m reversing them.

[Cymbal coming from fade]

And there’s a little bit of processing on that, there’s an Echo Boy, which is a cool, delay, vintage plug-in that I have sitting on one of the busses. Yeah, that’s called a bus. [laughs]

On the busses I have Echo Boy and this vintage plate reverb.

Q: Do you have another plug-in that you’re using on this that is your go-to’s that you like to bring in a lot of tracks?

A: Yeah. I guess with some of the drums, I always use this PSP Vintage Warmer. It’s funny, I was hanging out with Melee, this really talented person from the UK, and we were just working on a track. He uses PSP Vintage Warmer, as well, on all of his drums. I generally use this multi-band compressor limiter medium and then I adjust it. I’ll play with the drive, maybe the knee, until it kind of fits right. It gives everything a nice swish. So I just start with the drums and get them playing.

[Drums playing]

{speaking over drum beat] They sound pretty thumpy and nice. I’ll take it off, and even with the volume back up, it just gives it a nice swish and fills the drums up. And it think with bangery, pecow [sp] stuff like this, it’s kind of about being loud and in people’s face. You want those drums to punch people in the face.

[drum beat]

Q; Do you think you might have a signature sound that you fall back on? Or you go to a lot?

A: It depends on what I’m trying to do. In the interview I talk about really trying to make people happy and this track was a pretty good example of that. This was a remix for a half-time track with Kelly Roland who was on David Gutter Records and Little Wayne who is a pretty commercial club rapper, but as the original, it felt kind of slow. So, for me, talking NRY want a remix…

[music]

They wanted something that fit a bit more in the club. So the goal for this was to make something, in my head, that would keep some of that vibe, but at the same time, work in a pecow [sp] or nightclub. In my head, I was thinking Liv, or someplace in Miami where Little Wayne’s a big hit, but also they want to hear the banging-stuff, wavy like that.

Q: Is there anything in here that another producer may look at and say, “Well that’s not how you’re supposed to do it,” that you did it a different way?

A: I mean, I really have no idea. These drums could be over-compressed. A lot of people I’ve talked do don’t like stacking kicks and stuff, because they can get muddy. I think it all depends. These probably aren’t layered as nice as they could be. I just stick stuff on it and then look at the individual one. I have this EQ8 where I’m just rolling out everything below 500 Hz. And then, on this one… I did this a while back, I let that one live, it’s not even EQ’ed. So that one’s just sitting bloomy and this one’s sitting on top of it, so if you listen, it’s just…

[music playing]

So that kick 0-4, down here, is giving it a nice little ring on top. But, if you mute it, it’s more like, “blat, blat, blat”

So this is sitting up in the mid-, kind of punching through in the mid-. And I think that’s pretty straightforward. Some people don’t like to stack kicks and snares. I do it every now-and-then. I love a nice, tight, hi-hat. I think it helps with pace. If you have a really long one, it seems that things drag a bit. So if you listen to it with just the hi-hat…

[drums playing]

There’s not a whole lot to that. That’s pretty straight-ahead. It’s about picking great sounds, I think. And these snares…

[drums playing]

They kind of have a military feel to me. Those snares, they felt like a drum line. It feels like it moves quick. And that’s when you have music. It just feels. It’s just vibe. I’m not really the bad scientist that will be, like, that through the entai [sp] had mid-side process. This feels good, make you want to go like this… which is what I want to do in a nightclub.

Q: What are some of the parts that were the most complex for you that, when you listened to it, you wouldn’t even really notice? Like what are the hidden parts that you’re like, “Damn, that took forever,” and I listen to it and I’m like, “Yeah, that sounds good.”

A: For me, one thing I always do, is when I finish this track, I’ll show you. I start it on a completely different way and I just listen to it for the first time and It’s been a year-and-a-half, 2 years, and I was like, “What was I thinking?” But I try to remove as much as possible when I’m working on tracks and, especially, when I’m done. If it’s not needed, if it’s not necessary: get rid of it. And I think that, for me, was drawn from… lay back, look at him, I remember him tweeting, once. He finished this track in 4 hours and I was like, “Damn, how do you finish a track in 4 hours? That’s crazy!”

I listened to Luke’s stuff and it was cause and effect. What are the most important parts of this track? Let’s get them banged-out. Let’s get that break done. Nice. Let’s get the drop super-epic and big and full and get people moving. Then fill in the details because no one really cares about the intro and no one really cares about the entro [sp]. Get the bulk of it there and then fill in the rest.

This track kind of stemmed from that. The first thing I do is get the drums right. Get an idea of what the drums are going to be doing. Then I worked over here where this drop is…

[drum playing]

This is actually the build-up right here. And I worked from here…

[music playing]

Another thing I always do is I make notes. I’m not a great music guy, so I made a note here. This is A Minor. These are actually used for the live stuff. You add a locator and assign it so when you hit, “1,” it triggers and you can keyboard-map them. I use them to keep track of what I’m doing and where I’m at. So I know…

[talking over music]

Here’s the drop coming in, right here.

[music ends]

So I started there. There’s a sonic maximize that’s not on that lead line.
When I started there, I wanted something that was simple, but, at the same time, could work sonicly with the key to the song if I wanted to bring it back to the more “singy” parts of the track.

[Music starts]

So I got this figured out. I got the basic drum pattern and this white noise is still going hard. I’ll turn off that noise for right now so we don’t have to deal with that.

[white noise stops]

And then, I wanted to get a lead line that was in your face. I have an albino, which is a Rob Papen plug-in. And I got this basic saw tooth sign blend and I started messing with it until it sounded right. I’m not an evil genius, I just turned off the rest of the oscillators, left the one on…

[music starts]

Tried it… And a pure saw? You have a pure saw sometimes? So I created a little bit of a sign in there, just because it sounded cool. From there, it’s all about EQ-ing. I put EQ on it. Without it, it’s a little more… I wanted it to sit on top and be in people’s faces with the mids- and highs-, so I rolled off some of that bottom stuff. Got that jacked up…

Oh, one kind of secret tool that I use a lot is this SPL transient designer. So, after that in the chain, there’s EQ. Then there’s a vintage warmer — the exact same one as my drums, Multi-mega-partial Limited. I can drive it and turn it way up. Now it’s over-compressing and making that reverb go crazy, so I brought it down somewhere in here where the reverb isn’t super-present.

And this thing is awesome: the transient designer allows you to shape the attack and sustain. So, for example, on my Mattie Safer remix I did, that one is just 808′s and percussive plunks. I used the transient designer and the attack to make sure that it’s really snapping in your face. Without it, it just feels a little flat. With it on, you can hear it’s more staccato. You can find a sweet spot with the transient designer to make it really snappy.

That’s also being pumped with a side chain. The sonic maximize was given to me as she was pulling it out, which was a while ago, so I turned it off. That’s a sonic maximize that was making it a bit wider and more interesting. The side chain, you’re probably familiar with. I don’t usually slam too much. There was a time I thought that was kind of cool. I don’t do it too much. I like to just duck it, so that it makes room for the kick.

There’s 2 filters here, a high-pass and a low-pass that I use. Automated, to introduce other sounds. That was the first part: how do I make this “lead-drop” thing awesome and these drums feel awesome. From there, you fill in the details.

[music starts]

So that was close, then I have this bass here that’s actually deactivated right here. I bring it back in towards the end and it becomes another little lead line. So I got that part, then I move backwards. So what I want to have, that breakdown, How am I going to keep the mood of that song because It has got a really cool vibe originally, where it feels sexy.

[music]

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About Declan McGlynn

Declan is Point Blank's social media manager and editor of PB+