Our weekly production challenges are a great way to exercise your creativity and find inspiration in the studio!
We host weekly production challenges on our Discord server to help producers break out of creative ruts and find inspiration in the studio! (Oh, and you can win production packs as well!)
For week one, we asked all of our challengers to create a buildup and drop using the Junkies preset from our free Vital preset pack called Apostle! (Free Download)
Here’s the preset that our competitors started with, though they were free to modify the patch as needed as well as use other samples and presets in their entries as well.
We gave our competitors two days to create their entries, and we were very pleased with the results!
Ultimately, it would be Andy the Jay, an up and coming producer from the UK who would snag this week’s title and prize!
Since Andy did such a stellar job, we asked him to break down his entry so that others might learn a bit about his approach! (And how he built and submitted his entire entry in less than four hours!)
Here’s Andy’s winning entry, continue reading below to hear how he went about creating it!
Enter Andy The Jay
Hi, thanks for having me!
One of the first things I did to the preset was add a small amount of chorus in the Vital effects menu, just to give it a bit more space, because I felt as though the original preset – as amazing as it is – was slightly dry for the spacious intro I was trying to put together.
I also removed the drums in the preset because I wanted a calmer start. Presets like these are honestly brilliant because you can tweak things like that way easier than you can with loops and samples.
In the second half of the intro, a couple of synth layers (some FM keys and a cute little bell) come in to strengthen the main preset (I had to write a MIDI with the same melody as the preset but it only took a couple of minutes, totally worth it for the end result in my opinion).
At the same time as the layers come in, I also added a reese bass to make the whole thing feel a bit grounded. There’s a short reverse into the bass itself which is made from a little clip of the bass with some fade in, and a frequency shifter. (Along with an EQ to get rid of the disgusting side low-end!)
Throughout the build-up to the drop, you’ll hear a low cut eq slowly cut out more and more of the spectrum, I wanted it to feel very airy just before the drop, to create a bit of contrast.
The drums are fairly basic, I used one of Gami’s (a very talented member of the discord server!) kick drums, a free snare from a pack Chameleon (another very talented member of the discord server!) posted, and a cheeky BLA closed hi-hat from Horizon which is being panned left and right slightly to make it stand out a bit more amongst the high end of the drop.
The main drop lead is actually the original preset, but with a few small tweaks (stuff like LFO shapes etc.) and loads of distortion added inside of Vital.
The drop pads are a few supersaws at different octaves and with slightly different processing, with frequency shifter automation, and an Ableton utility (to cut the volume so you don’t hear any gross release sounds) on their group.
In the second half of the drop, I added a cute square wave lead that pokes in sometimes to say hi. There’s some pitch bend on some of the notes to make them seem more “dramatic”.
Again in the second half of the drop, there’s a little synth stab I added to fill out the back of the mix a bit more. (This is a slightly altered version of the main lead from one of my other work in progresses!)
The bass throughout the entire drop is a unisoned saw wave, with white noise, distortion, and a sine wave sub underneath.
There’s a few bits of FX throughout, just to keep the vibe moving along, I don’t like having sections that sound “static” so I like to always be automating something or dropping little impacts and risers around.
My master channel consists of Ozone 8 Elements, and even then, I’m only using the limiter (which is set to –1.0db on the ceiling, and –5.0db on the threshold).
Here’s the end result!
I hope this was helpful in some way to someone! I massively recommend coming along to challenges like these, they’re a lot of fun!
-Andy The Jay
Huge thanks to Andy The Jay for providing this write up!
We hope that it helps you in your productions and encourages you to join in our weekly challenges!
The challenges are open to producers of all skill levels and genres and can help you generate new ideas, find inspiration in the studio, and learn right alongside other producers!
Thanks for reading!
-Team Black Lotus Audio