Minimal maestro Rich NxT is one of the founders of legendary tech-house club night and label Fuse London, and over the last decade, he’s released a slew of chugging dancefloor rollers on labels such as Be Chosen, Pleasure Zone and Avotre.
We caught up with Rich to find out how he created Natural featuring Shyam P from his recent album Know The Score.
Natural has a few acid lines bounced as audio in the track. What synths and techniques do you use to create your acid lines?
“One of the things I use is the AudioRealism Bass Line for clean acid stuff. Also I like to use Thesis by Sugar Bytes – that’s a MIDI step-sequencer VST, and with that, you can get some great patterns. Then you pair that with your Rob Papen Sub Boom Bass or your Sugar Bytes Cyclop and get really interesting patterns.
"You can’t just play a pattern on the ivory and have notes that are different lengths, it’s impossible! So you need to come out with things that you can’t play, that’s why I like to use a lot of step sequences with VSTs to come up with these lines.
“I also like the Roland MC-303 and the Yamaha RM1x, and I use some of their patterns. I’ll often chop things up, sometimes I might find parts of sampled audio and use that, like some of the Devil Fish sample packs out there, and that can be interesting.”
Grooveboxes like the MC-303 and RM1x haven’t traditionally been the most fashionable instruments, but they seem to have come into style recently.
“I think it goes back to the early ’90s kind of sound that you’d hear in hardcore and early jungle kind of music. A lot of the sounds I like to use are from that era, and that matches up perfectly with the vintage grooveboxes.
“When I was starting out with some of the newer analogue gear, I was finding it quite hard to get my head around. I knew friends who had Korg Electribe grooveboxes, and I thought I’d see what else is out there from a little bit longer ago. I just started looking, and it’s all on eBay!
"So that’s how I decided to build up the studio in the past few years, I kind of went more digital in a way, rather than too analogue.
“I’ve never had a massive studio; I don’t really have space for a desk and stuff yet, so it kind of works for me as I can just send a digital straight into the DAW, rather than having to run everything through a mixing desk.
"I’ve really enjoyed it because you can use the MIDI sequences from these machines, or do it the other way around and trigger them with a MIDI step-sequencer from your computer.”
Apple MacBook Pro
RME Fireface 400
BlueSky Media Desk
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61
Korg Volca Kick
There’s a section in the video where you use Live’s audio clip transposition capability to change the pitch of an acid line. Is that something you’ll do often?
“Tuning the sounds is important to me because when I write I don’t really go to bed with a song idea for my next club track in my head and come up with it like that! It’s more an organic process that just builds and develops, usually from a kick drum upwards.
“But by the time you get to the arranging stage, you start to hear little things, especially with vocals on the track. Like, ‘I need to tune that bassline’, ‘I need to tune that synth’. That kind of acid line adjustment is something I do quite a lot, all over the arrangement, just to make things sit properly.
"I’m not often writing with a key in mind, it’s more just what sounds good. So yeah, I do use that kind of transposition automation quite a lot in arrangements, definitely.”
In the video, you say that you use Live’s Session View a lot when arranging tracks.
“Oh yeah, Session View is just so important to me. I use it to basically lay out the track. I find it so much more empowering; there’s so much more detail you can get in the tracks by using Session.
"I like to use the follow actions to trigger stuff, because you don’t have enough hands to do everything! So I’ll have some of the follow actions set to variations of the bassline, variations of the percussion and stuff.
“This helps build in a lot more detail to the track, and it’s a bit stale just to record seven minutes of a few loops and then go to the Arrange View and start cutting them up.
"I will use the Arrange View to reduce stuff, but when it comes to creating that first draft of the arrangement, I definitely always will have a lot of variation coming in from using it in the Session View first.”