Down The Production Hole with Inland Knights

Words by: Lisa Loco
Posted: 30/6/11 11:44

Down The Production Hole with Inland Knights Groove Armada's Tom Findlay calls them 'part of the fabric of the British house scene', and we've certainly seen them weave their way through a few club nights in our time. Yes, I Voice catches up with long-time UK housers Inland Knights (Andrew Riley and Laurence Ritchie) to reveal what's going down their 'production hole' in 2011.

Andy and Laurence hooked up in the early 90s and by the late 90s they were creating their own tunes. Since then, the duo has seen their profile (and aliases) grow together with productions and remixes for labels like 20:20 Vision, NRK, Siesta Music and Om. In the late 90s they also started their own label, Drop Music, which is still going strong with a new album called House Bound (by various different artists) due out this August. Plus the guys have recently released a bunch of samples, entitled Deep Dub Tech House (which does what it says on the tin) via Loopmasters.

Of course, for many their music speaks for itself. But naturally we wanted to know more about how it's made. So find out what the guys had to say when we asked them to join us 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 important things are you ears, then the room your in and then the monitors. Expensive monitors are a waste of time if your studio room isn't acoustically treated and your ears are tired. It's always good to reference other music you like and know well, for referencing. Strangely that's something we never used to do as our old studio had such a bad sound we couldn't hear records properly. But over time we actually got used to the room acoustics and could produce an OK sound in it. I always leave my masters at -6b with plenty of headroom for professional mastering. It's standard... But these days I find no one seems to know or bother and they just ram their music through tracks and similar. Which is OK on a budget but not great for your music.

Andy: Well I think the best way to get a good production sound is to start with high quality sounds in the first place. For instance using a synth sound from source instead of trying to lift it off an old record is going to make your life easier when it comes to production. We spent years trying to make pretty dirty samples sound good because all we had was an Akai S-3000 and a record collection. Now it's getting a bit easier with ready to go sample packs, etc. Having the samples is one thing, being creative with them is something else! We also tend to reference another recording in the studio, something we know sounds good when we've played it out.

What's your current music production set-up like?

  • Mac powering Logic Pro
  • Focusrite Saffire sound card
  • TL Audio Fat Track tube desk
  • Prophet 08
  • Juno-106
  • Moog Little Fatty Stage II
  • Focal Twin 6 monitors
  • Original Yamaha NBS10s
  • Focusrite Liquid Mix
  • TL Audio valve compressor
  • Alesis Micron
  • Akai S-3000 x 2
  • Yamaha 02R desk
  • Waldorf Pulse
  • Korg MS2000
  • Some outboard equipment (Valve EQ+Compression)
  • TC Finalizer
  • JBL monitoring with Mackie sub

Deep Dub Tech House

                Inland Knights 'Loopmaster' Podcast by Inland Knights
What is/are your most essential tool/s of the trade within that set-up?
Laurence:  I love the Focal monitors and Prophet 08 synth. Logic is a pain in the ass but it's what I know and, well, I guess it makes you work harder to get certain grooves by hand. I think other platforms kind of do it more for you and they sound more generic. The Prophet 08 is a really great synth! - lots of versatile sounds.

Andy: I would say I've got pretty used to the TC Finalizer; it's basically used for mastering and multiband compression. It's a very nice piece of kit. Ours is the 48K version. Also, I'm using Spectrasonics Stylus RMX a lot because it's really quick and easy to import REX files into and before you know it you've got your loops instantly in time and easily editable - great for time saving.

Can you reveal a secret about your production technique/s?
Laurence:  I start with a bunch of loops and get about 12 tracks going over 8 bars, then I manually start to chop them all down until you start to get your own groove going while doing a bunch of EQing and effecting.

Do you have a general top tip for budding producers?
Laurence:  Get the room treated for acoustics, bass traps and so on. There are tonnes of videos on YouTube to help. Also, try and re-sit your mix at a really low level on the monitors and you will notice any levels that are out of place.

Andy: I would say buy a good quality pair of monitors, and make sure your room is how you would like it acoustically. That is the solid foundation from which all other things can come! We struggled with a room that wasn't ideal and with mediocre monitors for a long time. It was a constant exercise in learning which part of the room to stand in to hear a certain frequency! All the plug-ins in the world won't make up for the fact that you can't hear stuff correctly in the first place. 

Finally, what's your take on the future of electronic music production?
Laurence: The playing field will just get bigger and fairer and worse and better for everyone. If the last four years is anything to go by, it's going to be all about easily and quickly consuming samples - and cheaply making music that's very disposable and drowned out by large amounts of content on the download sites. It will become much harder to sell your music and have success, while it becomes easier and cheaper to produce the music in the first place. I personally don't like plug-ins; I like to plug things in. But that's because I come from desks and wires and such from when I started out in the mid-90s. I try to embrace both things equally. I feel the future is more about music being done in the one box and on your smart phone.

Andy: I'm guessing that there will be ever more powerful tools available at ever-cheaper prices. Making it ever easier for the bedroom producer to create something that has a 'big studio' sheen to it.

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