DJ Fresh might be a new name to many, but he’s actually been in the game for a very long time. Cutting his teeth on the ‘90s drum ’n’ bass scene, Fresh (real name Dan Stein) gained notoriety as part of the ground-breaking Bad Company.
After setting up the highly regarded Breakbeat Kaoss label with Adam F, and embarking on a string of solo projects that saw him working with artists ranging from the Pet Shop Boys to Pendulum, it was pretty much only a matter of time before he found his own chart success. That day came in August 2010, when he made his first impact on the UK charts with the sprightly, electro-infused DnB track Gold Dust.
One luxurious vocal dubstep track later, DJ Fresh got a richly deserved number one with Louder - a track set to be ringing out right through the summer and beyond.
In this tutorial, he explains how he created the song’s kick-ass drums.
Step 1: “There are several elements to Louder’s drums, starting with a kick and snare I had already made from a combination of drum kit sounds and white noise. I also had a great cymbal sound, which I looped, compressed and EQed so that it had a rocky sizzle.”
Step 2: “I sidechained the cymbal from the kick and snare to give the impression of the kit being ‘recorded’ or coming from the same room/place. So, the kick and snare dominate, while the cymbal ducks in time, tying it in with them more than if it was just a sample.”
Step 3: “You should tune the kick drum depending on the key of the track and the type of mix. For example, I’m working on a track in B minor at the moment, where the bass is higher pitched, so I’ve tuned the kick drum to sit fairly low with a peak around 70-100Hz, effectively making the kick the bass in the track as well.”
More kick tweaking
Step 4: “Louder has a heavy sub in a relatively low key (F minor), so I tuned the kick drum higher so it sits over the bass. It peaks at about 120Hz with some lower energy, and has a gentle slope in frequency presence from 110Hz to about 4kHz, where I boosted it to give it some click.”
Step 5: “Usually I take out anything below about 70 or possibly 100Hz. This is to help the bass breathe and stop any muddiness due to compression/limiting, especially when the low end of the kick obscures the sub. Sidechaining the bass against the kick will usually be enough.”
Step 6: “Finally, the snares. I tuned their pitch until there was a peak at about 180Hz and they produced a white noise-ish curve in an analyser from about 700Hz up to 12kHz, above which I cut everything. I used a bit of transient modulation with Oxford Transient Modulator to add some punch and raise the level of the transient compared to the rest of the signal.”