Really chuffed to find out today that BBC Radio 1 have made my track 'Chasing Sunrise' Elisabeth Troy their track of the day today. That means it gets played on every day time show throughout the day. Drum & bass being played at 6.30am on a Thursday morning, not bad going :)
I chatted to DJ Mag about the challenges of writing a second album, some of the influences behind LIFE/THRILLS and working with Hospital. Here's an excerpt...
I know a lot of people say they struggle with a second album but I didn’t struggle with it. It just seemed to come together really quickly, because I knew what I wanted to do, I knew what I wanted to write, and I had a lot of fun in the process.
The first stop of my album tour took me to Hospitality at UEA LCR Norwich. Shouts out to Carasel, Krakota, SPY and Nu:Tone for an awesome night.
I chatted to the good people of UKF about all things album, family and things that inspire me. Was a great opportunity to shed a bit of light on some of the thought processes behind some of the tracks and I had a lot of fun recounting some experiences that helped shape it. Here's an excerpt from the interview piece.
Take that ‘difficult second album’ cliché and burn it with fire… Exactly two years after his agenda-setting debut Universal Language, Hospital headliner Metrik has returned with an overwhelming follow-up ‘LIFE/THRILLS’.
The 80’s has always been a very prominent theme in my music. Electric Echo is my homage to Synthwave, a nostalgic vintage synth music that really resonates with my love for that era. I got in touch with Gunship who are legends of that scene. They were really up for the idea of working together and excited to bring the two worlds of synthwave and d&b together. The end result sounded like it could have been out of Stranger Things with that retro 80’s feel. Might do an in-depth article on the making of this tune at some point. Watch this space!
Listen to the full track courtesy of UKF Drum & bass.
So after a year and a half of hard work, late nights and excessive coffee consumption, I'm very proud to say my new album LIFE/THRILLS is out now on Hospital Records. Thank you so much to everybody who has supported me and I hope you enjoy this album as much as I enjoyed making it.
My new album LIFE/THRILLS comes out October 7th. In the meantime, I'm putting out a few singles. The first of which is the title track which features vocals from NAMGAWD. Really pleased with the support it's been getting so far. 😎🔥👑🙏
I've been working a fair bit with TC over the past year or so and happy to announce a new collab to appear on his album. 'The Light' came about through a period of throwing various ideas back and forth over the internet, we then finished the track in his studio in Bristol before EDC Las Vegas. The result I think is a nice blend of our styles. His album 'Unleash The Wolves' will be dropping in May, it's sounding amazing so keep an eye out for it!
It's been great to see all the positive reactions to my new track Terminus. It's a track I really enjoyed making as it was really refreshing to strip things back a bit. Sometimes all you need is a kick, a clap and a distorted saw wave! The name originated after a period of watching an unhealthy amount of The Walking Dead, one of my favourite shows to unwind to after studio session - mass zombie genocide seems to do just the trick. It features on the epic 60-track compilation 'Hospitality 2016' which is available now from all good stores. 😎
What makes the perfect snare?
I’ve often been asked about my snares over the years so it’s nice to get the opportunity to shed a bit of light on how I think about them (I tend to think about them a lot!)
At 174bpm the snare occurs every 0.35 seconds so, by a large degree, dictates much of the character and dynamic of the track. For this reason, it’s important to address the frequency balance to avoid offending our sensitive eardrums (particularly on a powerful club sound system) and to provide the right amount of punch to convey the impact of the music. Conversely, it’s important to consider the snare’s aesthetic to ensure it complements the style of the music as well as the drum track as a whole. I like to think of my snares as three main components:
Transient: The moment the stick hits the skin of the drum, the initial attack. I generally don’t have too much low content here and is fairly flat from the mids to the highs. You’d be surprised at how much sonic information in relation to the character is delivered in these first few milliseconds. It’s important to consider the length of this layer, too short and your snare will sound synthetic, too long and you will lose the perceived “punch”.
Body: The body of a snare sits at 200hz above the kick at 100hz. I tend to mix the low frequencies of the snare and kick equally to -10db. Be careful not to isolate 200hz too much as the lower mids are crucial for providing warmth and realism. I often boost around 500hz which can help distract from that classic “too much 200hz” vibe. Sometimes adding a very subtle low-passed acoustic live snare layer here can add a nice aggressive feel and help glue things together.
Tail: This is where your high frequency content sits from the upper mids to the top end (1000hz – 10khz). The release of this can be extremely crucial to the “roll” of the drums. It’s important to keep your top end nice and controlled – too much top in this region can make your overall drum mix irritating. Lately, I’ve been making this decay very tight whereas in the past I’ve gone for a very splashy top, layering with white noise and cymbals. It’s popular at the moment to add a peak at 1.5khz to emphasise the character of the upper mids (check out Wilkinson & Culture Shock). This can really help pull the snare out of the mix in an area otherwise dominated by musical parts.
The perceived “punch” of the snare is achieved by the dynamic relationship between these elements. For example, a slight fade on the tail can give the transient more emphasis. It’s a very careful balance. Sidechain compressing the body and / or the tail to the transient with a very fast release can also give nice results. I prefer to use volume envelopes to sculpt the dynamics as this gives you more control. Ultimately, your snare needs to sound convincing – if you are finding things are sounding too artificial, try adding some live drum layers to give a more “humanised” feel.
Here is a screengrab of a snare I’m working on in a current project where you can see the three individual layers. It can be tempting to solo the snare and work on it without any context so including the rest of the drums in the mix can help a lot. It’s also useful to include the bass and synths as musical elements can be highly suggestive to the character of the snare.
Finally, experiment. Sometimes seemingly unorthodox and extreme techniques can lead to great results. Once you’ve established your layers, liberally apply plugins (compressors, saturators, distortions, reverbs, phasers etc.) and see what comes out on the other side. Hopefully you will arrive at something which characterises your productions.
Who makes the perfect snare?
I’ve always been impressed with Rob Swire’s snares and his drum engineering in general. He achieves a pleasing level of punch without sounding offensive yet maintaining a realistic organic feel. I’ve often tried to emulate this aesthetic with my own drums; heavy hitting with soft transients and glossy tops. Writing an article on snare drums wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Sub Focus and Culture Shock who also have some of the best snares in the game IMO!
Had the pleasure of ringing in the New Year in the States at Insomniac's massive Countdown indoor festival. I played a special back-to-back set with TC on the Bassrush stage. I must take my hat off to these guys, they keep raising the bar with each production and the setup is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I toured a lot in the USA in 2015 and this was the perfect conclusion to the year.
I've been wanting to start a website with a proper blog for a long time now. Purely for the fact that I have a lot of stuff to share other than music, whether it be production techniques, travelling experiences or just general thoughts going on in my head. I'm looking forward to growing this site over time and hopefully it will become a fairly interesting resource of information of all things Metrik-related :)