BILLAIN Q&A WRITE UP

Thanks for everyone who took part, some great questions 🙂

To make it easier to read we’ve written it up…

 

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Q1
FROM: CRAZ

What a privilege! Thanks for this sick opportunity to get in touch!

What sort of things are you paying attention to most when creating such powerful builds. the progression of energy is so fluid. am i just not spending enough time on it? It seems no matter how long i spend it’s always lacking. Are there a couple “parameters” you pay attention to while producing the build?

here’s a little clip of something i did recently:

https://soundcloud.com/crazofficial/dojo-bassment-fades-preview
would love to hear your thoughts on this one
thanks!!

geoff

Billain says…

In its core to explaining the approach, I believe when I started young it was a game of trial and error, which naturally lead to improvements so if you constantly fail at one thing you will constantly succeed in another and learn from mistakes. When i approach my builds, i always think “Does it sound futuristic or not / have i heard this somewhere before”. The strategy behind the builds is plenty of high-end which is more free ( ( there is more stuff you can put there ). In terms of multiple cool and exciting uplifters. And there is so much you can put on the build and carve your way. Also listen to the music in movie trailers for example, how the builds are moving toward what picture and use that example to imagine your drop as an important movie frame and try to understand what happened in the trailer, so it gives you one cinematic direction that works very well.

In your Dojo track you have a skilled front of the track, now it is time to play with background subtle sounds small effects that dont interfere with this front and more uplifting power on the start. I still find lots of pitching up synth and short loops rotating faster and faster to be the best thing before the drop. Your audience is still demanding that kind of tease in club standards. But dont let that be the guide, confuse those fu#ers, they are there because they love science drops.

 

Q2

FROM: WILL

Could you give me some ideas about how to fill out a track? I usually finish a tune with about 20 tracks and hear that it needs something but never know what to add.

Billain Says…

For the example on ‘Lightah’ I can give you some particular ideologies that work on other tunes as well. Tracks should always have more dimensions then one layerish streaming summing feel. Add more stereo reverb on this startup sawtooth lead that will widen the track, some of the short fx, some echos always bring justice to the old vibey tracks slam this amenbreak to a brickwall and bring more sub by using Rbass from waves and give some reverb to a bass that opens with a filter so its tail sits in the distance in the track.

For the ideas around the track, percussion and more effects are a must ( especially fx ) since we live in the special effects world, from cinema to game industry the wide mass has accepted the term surprising new sounds of weird zaps!

 

Q3

FROM: MR CYCLOPS
please can you give a few tips on mixing reese bass with foley sound and how to get them to sit together without sounding like two separate sounds stuck together.
in other words: how to make them sound like one sound.

Billain Says…

There are a multiple ways, but you know that they all depend on their own variables, so you need to search for variables in terms of what sits best on each other, and you can do that by first let the reece side-chain this foley, then try vice versa, some sharp fast movements can glue this trough good side-chain. Other approach can is to high pass one channel low pass other and find their good coexisting middle, then try both of these approaches side-chain plus filtering, try a distortion at their meeting (group) channel where you can process them together. A third approach is you time-stretch for a bit just to check if a good moment happens on both of them until you find something interesting. Once you set up this modus operandi save it as a template “reece and foley research” so you open it and try replacing samples and record those sessions until you record hours of these and find the best pieces to cut it.

 

Q4

FROM : ERIC

Hey Adis, long time fan. Glad that you are taking some questions. Just a few for you. Many thanks, from one collection of stardust to another!

  1. Before starting a new track, how do you generally split up designing your sounds for the track? Separate projects each for bass samples, pad samples, drums etc.?

Well i dont tbh, because i find some stuff useful for other tunes as well. After all breeding the breeds give new breeds in terms of layering layers of basslines, effects, or kicks / snares. Its a big mess, but keeping the strict numeric policies in libraries as this helps to have an order with vast amounts of samples. There is a certain moment “i dont have what i want in this track, so i need to make it for that track which is true for example.” most of the cases its pads or intro synths logically.

  1. Do you have any tips for obtaining a tighter groove between bassline and drums?

They all differ, perhaps a hierarchy of layers is the most logical answer, attack should suppress layer two which is mid snare, mid snare should suppress white noise and whitish tails of the snare and then summing to one channel to tighten them up with desired compression / distortion clipping / transient plugin. Same goes towards bass line and then you get to see its the same principle branching out like a fractal, all suppressing hierarchy, but that’s also a style of music, so it might differ to someone else’s books

  1. Would you care to explain in any detail how to setup filters in z-plane for bass? I understand the fundamentals of the procedure but have only obtained morph filtering instead of z-plane

Imagine a cube in 3d space and a dot inside which is a variable traveling to xyz so thats 6 xy pads working together to explaing this movement in a cube and every side is routed to one filter so 6 times 2 is 12 automation’s which can be applied to filters distortions and whole channel-chains. It is more than a filter now. Fl studio is good for even creating some projects that are actually instruments. This is the side chained principle of the z-plane which i upgraded to my needs.

 

Q5

FROM: PERCYDNB

Hi Adis!

Whats your oppinion on this wierdness:

https://soundcloud.com/percy_tc/warboys

Its solid, but arrangement wise its more of a tool for mixing than an actual track due to no intro and no buildup development. production wise it sounds okay and in place.

Question 1: I often found myself to over distort things. I have finally figured out which is works for me, but i would be interested to have some practical tips on distortions?

We live in the distortion century actually, so it is a matter of main artists to go over the edge just like what happened with electronic harness of drum and bass bests discoveries and exploiting our treasures to edm. So what they dont understand yet after all those wobbles and screamers is that over distortion is the new old cool thing, and i think now its all about who has more metal teeth to tear the cones apart on the club systems. So it is truly mad max time for the dnb scene and there is never enough distortions, where some very cool results happen with overdoing sessions.

Question 2: Can you advice a nice sample manipulation tool besides samplers?

Reaktor is El Dorado for that. Not much people understand the potential of vast community making sample manipulation ensembles, but i do and i can tweak some when i get bored since the architecture is open.

Question 3: Do you find Sherman Filterbank useful?

Very, very, useful

 

Q6

FROM: Ruben RUIZ

greetings, love the work also you’re versatility been an FL power user.

how do you battle writers block?

Billain Says…

You fight writers block by going into the nature, We forget how loud the cities are. In other ways, I find drawing a very good practice to keep my synaesthesia strong and alive, and drawing does help in keeping this audiovisual bridge streaming with crossover inspirations. If all of that fails, I strongly recommend becoming an anime enthusiast!

 

Q7

FROM: MOFISCH

Hey thanks for this opportunity and you taking the time!
And a late Happy Birthday!!!

My one question is:
How do you program drums? Especially the ghost hits and percussion?
Are you analysing a loop you like, render audio to midi and use a drum sampler or machine to exchange the sounds or do you build them from scratch? I know there is probably not “one” way, but is there maybe a way you do most often?

Billain Says…

Thank you very much!

I use my ears and use very messy and dense old funk breaks / drums highpassed because they have a lot of potential that can surface and bring the dirt and humanize the dead front. The variations of searching and tweaking those include trying them at different pitches and using transient tools to kill heavy attacks so the main punch remains the front, but if i want is messy on purpose i will keep them louder but kill them with sidechain killing their peak whenever main kick and snare punches, sometimes even main hats kill the ghosts for the sake of interesting developments in their coexistence , all these things are a free ground after all, and as long as you understand that there is no specific rule in searching for an interesting color of the groove, you will find innovative grooves with their coexistence, and ghost play a very important part of it. Slicers are the best tools for everything.

 

Q8

FROM: ANTELOPE

Billain, you’re one of my favorite producers and I’ve read and re-read your Dogs on Acid Q/A multiple times where you hinted at your Z-Plane filtering techniques, but didn’t really explain what it actually is or what makes it different to regular parallel filtering. Could you explain how you created your Z-Plane filter ’emulations’ in detail, and explain how we could set up something similar ourselves? Thank you very much!

Billain Says….

That is true you could call this one a parallel if you take 3 axis and bring them back on the same output. But i think z-plane is and old name for that.

on one explanation earlier here i stated this…
Imagine a cube in 3d space and a dot inside which is a variable traveling to xyz so thats 6 xy pads working together to explaining this movement in a cube and every side is routed to one filter so 6 times 2 is 12 automations which can be applied to filters distortions and whole channel chains. It is more then a filter now. Fl studio is good for even creating some projects that are actually instruments. This is the side chained principle of the z-plane which i upgraded to my needs.

Now you can parallel eq states as well and their movement from one eq to another can be declared as filtering operation, The interesting list goes on when you make parallel z-plane effects chain.

 

Q9

FROM: ALEX

What are the 3 most important eureka moments you have had that turned your productions from amateur to the professional quality tunes you produce today?

Thanks for taking the time to engage with fans/fellow producers.

1
The punch the main drop delivers, as a carefully planned brushstrokes that finally all sit in their proper places.

2
The power of eq and velocity as you start to understand the eq can also be dry/wet and there should never be a constant volume in a carefully planned story line of your vision. The track must become alive.

3
Dat snare. It’s Fu#[email protected] true! That @!#! snare. And the best of all, its your own signature snare, made from scratch.

 

Q10

FROM: JASSERAIN

1. Finding extensive band-pass filtering results in the most evocative and expressive movements when applied to bass noises, but at the cost of thinning and weakening them. What are your favorite methods for maintaining aggression and presence despite substantial filtering on your bass sounds?

2. How do you cope with your Virus TI adding low-level noise when running sounds through its inputs, as you presumably put things through it a few times, and distortion and limiting quickly brings noise into audible territory.

Thank you Adis, love your art.

Billain Says…

1. Different distortion plugins flattens some profound band pass problems most of the time in my case, so i kinda believe this rule can easily be adopted by other producers as well. Ohmicide, Subvert, Reaktor user community distortion plugins. In other cases slamming a signal to spl vitalizer mk2-t outboard hardware unit.

2. Depends, I rarely remember about that low level noise since I’m a Balkan nomad maxing every input XD. I dont have problems with that, if i go into micro sound design, I clean up afterwards if i need to. But in my books noise is kinda natural thing of its own. So 50/50.
I like dirty samples. Juno 106 is my favorite dirtsaw. For those who don’t like it you can always clean it by capturing the noise profile and killing it, well I keep it as simple as that.

 

Q11

FROM: DOMONIC

Greetings Adis I’m a long term listener/lover of the music/sound design you create, I think its very important for sound/music that art like this is created so we progress more as a species in to the unexplored.
I am still new to this world but am determined to go deeper and darker, more science fiction more layers more weird.. maybe you have some directions?
This is a version of just a track I have done recently, mixdown is clean but I think too clean, sterile and not enough layers. I have been analyzing your releases, just figured main bass sounds are near fully mono, this seems important. I guess I am taking this opportunity to thank you already for how you have altered my imagination and opened my eyes to the next levels of production/sound design and what is possible and also what is possible but not made yet.
Track is Butterfly, to me butterfly is a huge crystalline being who is worshiped like a god figure by those who fear it because they don’t understand it. There aren’t enough sounds in the production to tell the story, intro also ended up representing jungle/anime to me, thank you for your time and much love,

Billain Says…

Directions totally depend on your idea and imagination so I can’t really give you an advice, but I can give you this: Don’t be afraid to try everything. Idea-wise and technical-wise. The best ideas come from weirdest sources, from recording sounds around to making automated fx chains to mangle one sound for 30 times over and over and recording and cutting the sessions…

The track sounds great, I can see that you have noticed the things you need to add and you’re not wrong about it, I recommend ghostly background heavy wet reverberated fx that are tonal and vary in lengths. good track overall.

 

Q12

FROM: KEVIN
 i think it is very cool that you do this, thank you.

Stephen King would write at least 3000 words per day and then recover and read books as an exercise to improve as an author.
What do you think would be good exercises to improve as a sound designer/music producer?

What would you have been glad to know about if somebody had told it to you earlier in your life ? (does not necessarily need to be something about production, i would be happy about life tips from billain too  )

Billain Says..

Well it seems that the drill is actually the same. I was actually in that kind of a process where I would create loads of samples per day, and then read about every vst news known to man. This seems to be stuck with me forever. The thing is, you may never need anyone’s samples ever.

1
That i should have put out the tunes out even the ones that i felt they were shitty ( because when i listen to them now, i still kinda like them ).
2
That you should be even more eccentric about everything, because rules are just things invented by humans.
3
That there would be no half life episode 3.

 

Q13

FROM : Kromik

I love your filters and distortion sounds.
Do you always use only the Sherman in your mixes for distortion, or I need any vst for help me to sound great?
I use Live and I´m thinking to create a channel strip with any compressor like Glue (Cytomic) after Sherman. Is a good idea?
Thank you so much for all.

Billain Says…

Not always, it depends on what I’m making, but varies on everything from melodies bass lines to drums. in any other cases that are more controllable i use subvert from glitchmachines and ohmicide.

Sherman does overdo things if you push it hard enough so yeah I put a limiter after it to keep things safe. so putting a compressor is a must.

 

Q14 

FROM : Eric

Thank you for the replies! Very useful information. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you generally separate/organize your sample library?

Billain Says…

lots of folders like these of dnb for example

DNB1

DNB1-SNARES
DNB1-ATMO
DNB1-BASS
DNB1-PERCS
DNB1-FX
DNB1-LIFTERS
DNB1-PADS
DNB1-SYNTH
DNB1-LOOPS
DNB1-KICKS
DNB1-VOCALS
DNB1-FOLEY
DNB1-STRETCH
DNB1-STRINGS
DNB1-HIHATS
DNB1-CUTS
DNB1-REECE

the samples are in the folders as follows
DNB1-SNARE1

etc etc.
now theres tons of these and it is easy to keep a track of them.

 

Q15 

FROM: DANIEL

Billain please come to Ayia Napa id love it if came here big fan or Quaba beach bar that would be the tits…please can you tell what effects you use on your voice samples cheers

Billain Says…

Hehehe. On vocals would be literally everything and I can’t even name you a generally known plugin that I haven’t used it for. If you mean normal vocals i would say guitar rig is pretty nice for coloring mc’s. For alien voices, well glitches and fx chains of different mentality will be a case of proper hit and miss strategies with long recorded sessions. As long as you try lots of effects, you can’t really go wrong with them.

 

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