Down the Production Hole with Round Table Knights

Words by: Lisa Loco
Posted: 11/5/11 11:14

Down the Production Hole with Round Table KnightsStraight outta Switzerland, Round Table Knights present a pretty unique melting pot. They love the open-minded vibe of house. Which totally makes sense as they've sprung up from turntablist roots with passions ranging from soul to scat and from jazz to disco. Propelled to prominence through their 'Calypso' EP, a remix of Tensnake's 'Coma Cat', and the power of personality, these party peeps embrace music holistically, with a sensibility that screams self-rule.

Their debut artist album, Say What?!, came out earlier this year on  Jesse Rose's Made to Play imprint and demonstrates how they are stitching together disparate influences under the umbrella of house to rock dancefloors from Panorama Bar to Creamfields.

Now to many folks the Knights are known as the duo of Marc Hofweber and Biru Bee, and that's about right when they're DJing. However, when it comes to the production and engineering process, there's also a third knight involved and that dude is Benjamin Fay.

Now Benjamin usually prefers to keep a low profile, which is why we don't hear so much about him. But for this interview the tables are turned - and we've been told that this could be the first interview that he's done as a Round Table Knight. So why not find out what Benjamin has to say about their sound, as we invite him Down the Production Hole...

First can you tell us something about your frames of reference/what you think makes for a high quality electronic sound recording?
The idea behind a track is very important. I need to know in what direction the track goes and therefore I program the sounds accordingly. High quality sounds mean that each sound fits, before I even start to mix it. It's not so much the fidelity, even though that can be an important part.

For example, if I create the bass drum I use the MBase by Jomox and tune it to the fundamental of the track. There are fundamentals that work perfectly and others that are too high or to deep to make the track sound good. My only rule in the studio is: what sounds good is good! Therefore it can be that I use a sampled bass drum. But normally I create them myself by gluing an attack of a sampled kick and the sub from the Jomox MBase together.

What's your current music production set-up like?
My studio combines a rather simple set-up of synthesisers, drum machines and MPC with my DAW and a summing mixer for the mixdowns. I use RME converters for D/A and an Apogee Mini-Me for A/D. I use DSI Evolver, DSI Prophet 8, Roland Juno-60, a Moog Little Phatty, a Doepfer A-100, Elektron Machinedrum, Korg Electribe, Access Virus TI2, Kraftzwerg, Waldorf Blofeld, Sherman Filterbank and a Roland Chorus Echo RE-501. I also use two Universal Audio Tube Mic Pres. On the DAW side I use Cubase as a main sequencer and Live or Reason for special occasions. I love the plug-ins from SSL Duende, UAD, SPL and Soundtoys.

Within that set-up what is/are your most essential tool/s of the trade?
I like tubes. I use a TL Audio Fat Track for mixing down. It's an exceptional good tool by TL Audio. Another essential part of my setup is my RME Hammerfall. It was my first serious piece of equipment and is still the heart of my system. The accompanying software DIGICheck is so important to me and the routing capabilities of TotalMix are just amazing. On the other hand VST sound generators and samplers like Reaktor, SubBoomBass by Rob Papen or Kontakt are essential too in my set-up.

Can you reveal a secret about your production technique/s?
One secret is to never let go of an idea. I am quite stubborn if it comes down to finding the right sound. For example, when we did 'Calypso', we were looking for a sound and found this steel drum sample. (I personally don't really like the sound of steel drums, but oh well!) I decided to feed my MPC with it and ended up recording the pitched up and down sequence by hand in real time using the faders of the MPC. So I think a real secret is to have fun in the studio together and be able to transform the feelings and ideas into the music. Therefore it's very important to know your equipment inside out and find the right balance between 'ideas' coming from the machines and the ones you want to hear.

Do you have a general top tip for budding producers?
I learnt how to mix by using the levelling system by Bob Katz (Level Practices - Part 2 - Includes the K-System). I can highly recommend this to anyone. The relation of peaks and RMS (root mean square) of a sound is extremely essential for the mix. I never cut transients through limiting. Even though I learnt it like this from Sebastian Hackert (Deichkind). I often use saturation to do this. I really believe that it's not what tools you use, but how you use them. You need to know what to do and therefore you need to understand the physics! That's the whole problem with mixing in a DAW, there are no 'real' physics and that makes it hard to understand what is really going on. If possible, try to work on a hardware mixer and you will easily understand what it is all about.

Finally, what's your take on the future of electronic music production?
It's to find a way into the music, rather than experimenting with new tools or new techniques. That might sound a bit backward orientated and I must say I love the idea of creating an album on an iPad, like the Gorillaz did. As long as the idea behind the music is stronger than the actual technique used to make it then the idea shines. I listen to classical music a lot. This puts many things in perspective for me, and I find that the real goal of new electronic music is to free itself out of its cage.

Round Table Knights
Say What?! Album (Made To Play)
Say What?! Album Sampler (Made To Play)
Round Table Knights & Zombie Disco Squad: Endless (Made To Play)
Cut To The Top EP (Made To Play)
Calypso/Drop The Dow (Made To Play)
Belly Dance (Deadfish)
Hold Me Back 12 (Murda Boy)
Freak From Desire (Arcade Mode)
Remix 12 (Murda Boy)
Pitbull Licks A Chicken 7 (Murda Boy)

Jesse Rose: "Nonstop" Round Table Knights Remix (Made To Play)
Beni: "It's A Bubble Feat. Sean Delear" Round Table Knights Remix
(Modular Recordings)
Art Bleek: "Nine To Five" Round Table Knights Remix (Loungin Recordings)
Round Table Knights: "Say What?! Remix EP" (Made To Play)

Get  Say What?! Album @ Made To Play

Round Table Knights Online
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