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 Martiln who would claim this week’s co-title and prize alongside Gami.
Following in the footsteps of our previous winners, Martiln agreed to share his process with our community so that others can learn from his approach!
Here’s Martiln’s winning entry, continue reading below to hear how he went about creating it!
Hey! My name’s Matt and I make music under the name of Martiln. Hopefully you find something interesting in this little track breakdown, I had a load of fun making this so hopefully you like it too!
First I started by flicking through some of the presets inside of Division trying to find some inspiration and stumbled across a simple preset LD Saccharine Chanteuse and played around on my keyboard until I came up with a simple and cool riff, then processed the sound by adding some basic EQ to boost the high end, distortion, grain delay (which I use a LOT of to add some subtle textures to my sounds), filtering and then ran into my favourite clipper plugin, JST Clip. I automated a low-pass filter to open up over the course of a few bars and used this riff as the basis for the build up and also the motif for the track.
I added some really basic FX like impacts and risers, then a kick drum that I filtered in and used as the only build drums for the build up. Underneath the main riff I also layered an atmospheric sound using one of the pack presets that started out like this:
And through using again some subtle, untimed grain delay. Basic a low pass filter and stacks of reverb (with Ableton Live 11’s new Hybrid Reverb device), ended up like this:
Before we get to the drop, I added in a little bass sound (again from the preset pack) that plays the same riff that I processed using Polyverse Wider, some OTT and JST Clip. Then I also wanted to blatantly lean into the theme of “dark magic”, so I ended up recording myself saying the words and processed them to get them to sit nicely in the track. I pitched down the original vocal, layered it with a version an octave lower than that and processed both individually using some EQ and iZotope VocalSynth 2, then together with some short ambience (reverb), slap-back delay, OTT and JST Clip.
Going from this:
For the drop I knew I wanted some really clean and pokey drums, so for my kick and snare I chose some samples that really complimented this sound then shortened them and added some transient shaping. The kick is made out of two layers to give that more click-y transient.
I then layered a pretty processed break, a hi-hat loop, a click-y foley loop and a ride cymbal as well as a crash to build up the rest of the drums. I used a bunch of transient-shaping to really emphasise the transients, as well as some high-shelving to brighten things up amongst the percussion.
All together, the drums turned out sounding like this:
For the bass in the drop, I ended up starting with the reese sound that you hear immediately, which started with one of the presets that I really only applied some simple effects such as erosion, Wider and JST Clip, but I automated some of the macros of the preset to give it a bit of rhythmic movement.
I wanted to have some interesting phrasing and contrast in the drop, so I decided to add a more plucky bass sound to contrast the long reese. Again some erosion, EQ, OTT, some subtle reverb and JST Clip.
For some fills I ended up creating a phase-y bass sound by processing one of the presets with a notch filter (moving from high to low), a band pass filter in parallel (again high to low), a phaser (high to low) and a resonant low-pass filter that opens up over time.
For the second part of the drop I wanted to make use of the more plucky bass sound, but I wanted to make it sound a bit more interesting, so I duplicated it, added some erosion, phaser and then a bunch of EQ Three’s in parallel to create an effect similar to Kilohearts Disperser plugin. I layered this sound with another more basic sound, automated some reverb for a transition and this was the result:
Underneath all of the basses I layered a dedicated sub using a heavily filtered version of one of the presets and also filled out some of the gaps in between the notes using some edited version of the reese, pluck and phasey bass sounds I used previously. Aside from that, it was really all a matter of arranging then slamming a limiter on it and calling it a day!
Here’s what it all sounds like put back together:
Hopefully you enjoyed this and got a little bit of an insight into my process whilst learning a few things along the way!
Much love <3
Matt AKA Martiln
Huge thanks to Martiln for doing this write up, we hope that it gives you some creative ideas to use in the studio!
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 Martiln for the write up.
-Team Black Lotus Audio