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Talking Shop – Selective Response: “Sometimes I listen back and think, ‘where did I even come up with that?'”

(Image credit: Selective Response)

Since his 2019 debut, Californian producer Selective Response has caught the ears of modern techno luminaries like Perc and I Hate Models with his hardware-driven takes on techno and EBM. Having launched his own Crisis Of Man label last year, we found out more about the creative process behind his latest releases.

When did you start making music?

“I’ve been writing and making music in some form since I was about 12, having come from being in hardcore and punk bands growing up, as where I’m from has a very rich musical history in that. As an actual producer though, it will be a decade this coming October since I officially started my journey at a music school in LA called Icon Collective.

“For the longest time, all I had was a small speaker setup, a laptop, and a MIDI keyboard because I couldn’t afford studio monitors. Eventually, I got some decent monitors, and a couple of years later I bought my old teacher’s Access Virus TI. It sounded great but only worked half the time, so I eventually ended up selling it.

“When I first started making music, I was fully invested in uplifting trance music and didn’t care about anything else. Eventually, I started exploring other genres and started making progressive house and drum & bass, then psytrance, from which a friend of mine introduced me to techno. Techno then started to take over, which led to me creating Selective Response in 2018. And here we are. It’s pretty amazing to think about all that has happened in about two and a half years.”

Tell us about your studio/setup

“My studio is in my new apartment that I moved into about six months ago. The location is excellent. I’ve yet to have someone tell me they ever heard me making music. My current setup is pretty solid, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be truly satisfied until I move into a proper studio.

“As for my actual setup, I use predominately all hardware with a handful of plugins. I’m involved in some other parts of the industry and have new hardware coming in and out of my studio all the time. As for what is actually mine, I have Ableton Push 2, Arturia KeyStep, Behringer MS-1, TD-3, Pro-1 and K2, Elektron RYTM Mk2, Digitakt, Digitone, Octatrack, ESP LTD TED-600, Fractal Audio Axe-Fx 2 XL, Korg Minilogue XD and PreSonus StudioLive 16R.

“I control everything via MIDI out of Ableton via the KeyStep, and surprisingly haven’t had any latency issues, although I’d like to get a MIDI hub eventually. I run all my synths into the StudioLive 16R and mostly use effect plugins, but I do run my TD-3 through a Source Audio Ventris reverb pedal that I love. 

“For plugins, I use mostly Ableton-native plugins, but I also use FabFilter Pro Q 3, Sonalksis EQ MK2, Output’s Portal, and a few others.”

(Image credit: Selective Response)

What DAW do you use, and why?

“Ableton Live 10. I’ve been using Ableton since day one, but originally learned it and Logic at school. My mentor used it, and I saw how fast it was, paired with how frequently Logic 9 used to crash. Fast-forward ten years and it’s now one of those things where there’s no need to switch. Back then, Logic 9 had such a nice smooth and polished sound to it. I’d maybe switch to Bitwig. It’s such a cool DAW.”

What's the latest addition to your studio?

“I was just sent the Hydra desktop synth from Ashun Sound Machines. I just started using FabFilter Pro Q 3 and I’m loving it.”

What’s your dream bit of gear?

“Big question. The Erica Synths Techno System is insane. I’m also super keen on the UDO Super 6. Seriously next level. It sounds so lush and full even without any effects. Of course, I’d love all the big classics, Jupiter 8 and 6, 909, etc, but I’m rather content with my setup. Maybe a sick pair of big boy Genelecs or the like would be cool though.”

Where do you start a new track?

“Here’s something funny for you: I have no idea how I make the music I do. Like, I can tell you how I made it, but sometimes I listen back and think, ‘where did I even come up with that sound or idea?’ I enjoy pressing play and making things happen as I go.

“I have a rule that is I must record a rough draft when jamming. Even if I don’t do anything with it, if I have a rough draft, I can either chuck it or have a foundation to work at.”

What are you currently working on?

“I’ve got a few different aliases but for Selective, I’ve done a few edits of tracks I like from Justice and Nero. 

“I have a new EP out now: it’s the next step in the evolution of my sound and label.”

Andres' essential production tips

Less is more (part 1)

“The more you have, the harder it is to make everything work. One great tip I read about ages ago was that if you have a sound playing, but can’t hear it, get rid of it. If you’re layering sounds, make sure you’re getting the most out of each layer. A simple way to test this is to save a version of the mix, silence the sound, and come back to it later and see if you even notice it’s gone. If you don’t, there’s your answer.”

Less is more (part 2)

“To go even bigger with this concept, listen to your music less. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, especially if you’re super excited about your current project. How many times have you listened to something over and over, and by the time you’re done with the project, you’re sick of it? Don’t kill the energy.

“Have you ever had a track that just came together like magic? This is a skill you can develop. I’m still guilty of replaying my track billions of times, but I’ve also learned to step back, and it’s made a massive difference in the quality of my work. Spread your session out a week…”

Always press record

“I’ve lost countless great tracks because I either simply forgot to press record or didn’t think that what I was doing was worth recording. Plus, happy accidents happen all the time, and can be extremely hard to recreate. So save yourself the head and heartache and press record!”

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