We just finished up week four of our weekly production challenge!
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 free packs as well!)
For week four, we asked all of our challengers to create a drum and bass buildup and drop inspired by the theme “dark magic” using our free Vital preset pack “Division DnB for Vital”! (free download here)
Our competitors were given two days to create their entries, and the results from everyone were amazing!
Ultimately, it would be Gami who would snag this week’s title and prize!
Following in the footsteps of our previous winners, Gami agreed to share his process with our community so that others can learn from his approach!
Here’s Gami’s winning entry, continue reading below to hear how he went about creating it!
Hi! I’m Gami, hope everyone can find something interesting in this breakdown, I had a load of fun making it!
Huge thanks to Black Lotus Audio for hosting these challenges, every week I learn so much from doing them!
So let’s start with the buildup, this actually came second in the creative process but I feel it makes more sense to explain it first.
The main two elements in this build are the low saw pads and the vocal atmosphere.
The pad is the “I want a CS80” preset from Division DnB for Vital (download here for free), but I added a reverb filter to make it sound less “spacey” and more like an acoustic instrument.
The atmosphere is a combination of an ambience I made myself, mostly consisting of white noise, vinyl cracke and birdsong, and a vocal ambience sample that I crossfaded so it would loop.
The buildup drums are fairly standard, a low-passed break that slowly fades in, fast kicks and a snare that pitches up. I’ll explain the drums more in a second!
The remaining build elements are a pluck with a ton of delay to add a bit of texture, a band passed version of the main drop bass that grows in intensity, and a riser I made myself that is super resonant and distorts more and more as the build goes on.
Finally, before the drop, I have a silent gap and a breath sample that leads you in.
Now onto the good bit, the drop!
I started with the drums in this drop, as I usually do, I wanted to go for “controlled chaos”, If I’m honest what I ended up with was a little less controlled that I would have liked, but I’m still happy with it.
The drums here are nothing special, typical DnB pattern with the “brought forward” snare and a little bit of kick placement variation. The kick is one I made myself by combining a few samples and transients to make something I really liked, the snare is a Fox Stevenson sample that I increased the fundamental of to give it more punch.
The break I layered my drums with was originally very quiet and dull, so something “secret” that I do to my breaks is I multiband saturate them with Izotope Trash 2 and then multiband gate them to keep them snappy, this massively ups the energy of the break in my opinion and seems to work really well! I also high passed it as I wanted it mostly for organic touches to the cymbals.
In the second half of the drop I bring in the breath sound on the off beat. The drums are probably what’s making this the most chaotic, if I did this again I would tone them down quite a bit as they’re very upfront.
Now, the most compicated sounding, but deceptively simple part of the drop is the bass. This is the “Reesed to Death” Vital preset from the pack with a few effects on top.
The first thing I did was saturate the bass add a low pass filter on a dotted rhythm to give it some movement, and cut the sub, as I knew I wanted to add a dedicated sub later, the processing I was going to add would almost certainly mess up the phase of the low end.
Lastly, what gives the bass its character is a very resonant filter that sweeps from about 200Hz to 1500Hz and gives it that “scream” effect. There is also a notch that moves from 10kHz to 1kHz but this is less noticeable
Finally I add the sub in, this is a simple sub on a similar LFO to the main bass, so doesn’t add much apart from solid low end.
In the second half of the drop I add an automation that affects the pitch bend of the initial Vital preset, this gives it a higher tone in some parts and a bit more variation.
The final part to the drop is an arp that appears in the second half, I used A lot of reverb and delay on the “Big Water” preset from the pack and then chopped it up, with the reverb and delay already applied to give a stuttered glitchy effect.
And there we have it!
I’d love it if you got some ideas from this, good ones or not!
I hope to see you in the discord for the next challenge!
Thank you Gami for providing this write up!
We hope that this write up inspires you to experiment with different processing and automation techniques.
If you’re looking to generate new ideas, find inspiration in the studio, and learn alongside other producers, join in our weekly challenges!
The challenges are open to producers of all skill levels and genres and are focused on helping producers hone their craft in a safe and constructive environment!
Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Gami for the write up!
-Team Black Lotus Audio