Mark Bradbury, best known under the stage name Rudosa, makes thunderous techno that's been championed by some of the genre's most notable DJs, popping up in sets from Richie Hawtin, Maceo Plex and Amelie Lens, among others. We sat down with the producer and DJ to discuss synths, Sankeys and studio spaces, and he was kind enough to give us three production power tips.
When did you start making music, and how did you first get started?
"I first started making music from home on Garageband using my Mac laptop and Apple Loops, before getting Logic Pro X soon after. I quickly needed to get a studio sorted, as the sound was annoying my family, who I lived with at the time. I had been clubbing at Sankeys a lot, and knew they had some empty rooms above the club, so enquired with the owner.
"Luckily he gave me a room with some tables and chairs that had been left by a previous tenant. At the time I just had my Mackie monitors, a MacBook Pro and Logic. I was producing all sorts of genres, from electro to tech house and techno. I was inspired by whatever I would hear in the club that weekend, so I would try to recreate the vibe until I went into the club again. The club had everyone in to play, so it was an incredible place to soak up sounds and vibes and learn how to produce.
"The first synth I purchased was a Virus Desktop TI. I loved it, and it was a great tool for learning synthesis on, but I've unfortunately just sold it as I upgraded to a new Mac Pro and it’s no longer working with the new iOS. Sad times, but I've replaced it already [laughs]."
Tell us about your studio/set-up.
"I chose to leave my studio above Sankeys just before the club finally closed. I was worried musical people would be evicted, and was starting to receive noise complaints in the day from offices.
"Around six years ago on my birthday I was driving down Jersey Street and spotted a language school with a lease sign above the door, so I inquired straight away and now have a five-room space which I have transformed into a school for DJs which I moved from Sankeys.
"I have built three studios and two DJ rooms so we can train anyone from beginners through to advanced mixing and mastering upstairs with myself. My own room is a Jan Morel-designed studio which is a “room in a room”, and acoustically treated with Vicoustic treatment. It sounds incredible."
"I have a Mac Pro rack mount which is supercharged and has thousands of plugins for different jobs. Hardware-wise, I'm slowly collecting more and more gear. I recently bought a Moog DFAM and a Plasma Rack from Gamechanger Audio. It’s a beast that I'm running everything through at the moment.
"The room build was expensive so the focus was at first on sound and look, and now I’m slowly growing up my hardware collection. Next purchase will be a main synth. I’m torn between Moog and Dave Smith, so will be taking my time choosing the correct one."
What DAW (or DAWs) do you use, and why did you choose it?
"I started out using a Mac, so Logic was my first choice and I still use it for mixing some records and mastering today, but the majority of my studio work is now done in Ableton Live 11.
"In my opinion it’s so much better for workflow, and they are constantly making improvements. To me it seems like Logic is an afterthought for Apple, and I'd sooner work on a DAW that's a company's main focus."
What one piece of gear in your studio could you not do without, and why?
"Mac Pro Rack edition, It’s the life of my studio. No matter what, however deep the projects go, it doesn’t even blink. I'm sure it could power NASA, and what's great is that it’s fully modular so I can keep on adding more and more to it."
What's the latest addition to your studio?
"My Plasma Rack as I've not stopped using it! It’s a rack-mount distortion unit that I run everything through from kicks, to leads to even vocals. I stumbled across Rebuke using the pedal version then started to do some research into it and saw that Deadmau5 and Richard Devine were heavily using them, so I watched lots of videos and took the plunge.
"It took quite a while to arrive, but boy has it been worth the wait. Sometimes new gear just gets me excited to go in and create, and this has certainly done that."
What dream bit of gear would you love to have in your studio?
"The Moog One Analog Polyphonic Synthesiser is high on my list!"
When approaching a new track or project, where do you start?
"I try to start with an idea in my head, maybe a reference track or a vocal that I’ve found, or a lead sound. From there, I start working on a thunderous low-end, then start the drive from the drums, adding in the leads and the hook elements from my ideas.
"I tend to work in a loop, getting everything perfectly working together and jamming out with EQ, filters, reverbs and delays until I have an idea that I’m happy to arrange."
What are you currently working on?
"I’m working on a lot at the moment, I’ve just finished a VA record from a label called Unlocked from Barcelona. I’m super happy with this one, it’s a real peak time record. I’ve also just received the masters for the next EP release on a label called The Meaning Of Rave. The EP is called On The Loose and has some cool remixes from Blicz and Don Woziek. It’s already gathered good support from Amelie Lens.
"I’m currently just finishing tracks from my Passive Submission EP, which will drop on my label Moments In Time this summer. Finally, today I’m mixing a remix of a huge classic, “Revolution” by BK, which is getting some heat from my Plasma Rack as we speak."
Three music-making tips
Keep your kick in scale
"One thing I always try to do on every record is make sure my kick fits in the scale of the music that I'm writing in. Generally I find that kicks work best around the frequency of F/G, these can be F# or G#, or sometimes E but it’s super low. Once you start tuning your kick drums, writing basslines becomes so much easier."
Always use call and response
"Sometimes this is referred to as “question and answer”. I always try to have elements asking questions in one bar, and an answer in the other. This can be done with drums, lead sounds and even vocals. It stops the music becoming loopy and repeating over and over. Faster music tends to have call and responses over shorter duration, so for example a half bar."
"I'm a big believer in not compressing every sound you add into your tracks, as it can make your music sound pokey and quite tiring on the ear. I tend to compress when it's needed so, for example, if you have a shaker loop and one element is too loud, you can compress to bring out the low elements and bring down the high elements so it sits together.
"Another good idea is to compress groups of sounds, so if I have layered a kick drum or a lead sound, they will sound like one unit. This is especially useful on your drum group. My favourite tool for this is the VSC2 on the UAD."