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Behind the Beats: STBB#680 & STBB#682 - per.du

Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:56 pm

Interview with STBB Forever Beat Battle #680 & #682 winner, per.du

Can you shortly introduce yourself?

per.du: Hi. I’m a beatmaker from Vienna, Austria. I started making music in my ever-growing home studio more than a decade ago and been doing these battles for quite some time now (110+ beat battles).
I think that If you listen to my music regularly, like most of you do, you’ll know „me“ already anyways.

Since I’m doing this written interview for two wins at once, the answers, if only applicable to one of the battles, will be marked respectively. Also, this Interview will be a long read as it includes some answers to questions I have been getting on Soundcloud recently… (and of course, some nerd talk!)

What was your first STBB entry?

per.du: I believe the first beat I made and also posted (!), was STBB#369 after lurking in the forums for some time (deleted that tune lately because I needed space on my Soundcloud page). I’m still kinda picky about what I upload and what rots on my computer for digital eternity (let´s be honest about that).

Can you tell us about your musical or other inspirations?

per.du: As for musical inspiration, I could list a huge amount of artists here but I’d rather just give you the link to my Spotify playlist per.du appreciates
which includes some of my favorite tunes (all-time-faves as well as more recent discoveries) which decisively inspire(d) me musically. Then there is people with who I had the pleasure of making music with over the years.
Special shouts out to my friends Arjaan (check out his metal band-project here), with who I started making music with back in 2009 or so (and who also created a drum kit/Kontakt instrument used in STBB#682), Miša, with who I started recording more serious stuff and created the first tracks that really were kind of „release-ready“ (Check out his metal band Naplava).
Last but sure not least Xavier. If you are on this forum for some time you have probably heard him play guitar/drums/keyboards/whatever I throw at him already… (He has an astonishingly vast knowledge of Jazz and Blues and is one of the radio hosts for the
Ö1 Jazznacht , a weekly Jazz radio program on Austrian national? radio, the show features classic and new tunes which can be a great inspirational input)(Also, if you’re into indie pop, he’s the drummer in the band Pauls Jets.)

How did you learn to make beats and do you play any instruments?

per.du: On the production side: I learned very DIY-ish and I guess I have more a technical than an artistic approach. Creating, watching other people create music, listening, analyzing, improving (&repeat). This beat battle and the short time window you have from getting rules and samples to the deadline helped me speed up my workflow a lot.

On the playing-an-instrument-side: I learned to play the accordion when I was very young and took keyboard/piano lessons for some years (s/o Georg the best keyboard/piano teacher). Also I always had a „good ear“ for what is sounding right/good (at least to me :D).
However, my music theory knowledge is pretty basic to the day.

What equipment or software (DAW, VST’s etc.) do you use?

per.du: I started with Reason back in 2008, switched to Logic in 2009 and never switched back from Live in 2010 (version 8 at the time).
I use Ableton Live 10 (with Push 2) for everything from recording/tracking to mixing and „mastering“ (its more than slamming a limiter on it but it sure as f*** is no real mastering).
To the day I don’t really use templates or such, so most of the weeks I start with a blank piece of Ableton’s arrangement view (with a few exceptions). Of course I have a go-to drum rack-128 for the drums but instead of using those I keep on creating new „presets“. [argh]
While that’s sure as hell not time efficient it makes capturing different vibes each week easier to achieve for me.
And of course, I am lucky to own some synths (synths are awesome), including a Slim Phatty, a Model D ripoff/clone by Behringer, a Minilogue, an Ultranova, ….

... anything special you want to tell us about production process of each of the tracks?

per.du: In STBB#680 the most important instrument in the beat is probably the bass, accompanied by the drums and keys/harmonic sample layers. Although sounding kind of sophisticated, the bass chain is actually pretty basic. It’s a „Simpler“ (one of the two Ableton stock-samplers) with a one-shot bass-note sample pulled from the sampling material (I believe it was a guitar pluck originally), EQ, RBass, vintage warmer, glue compressor and some saturation on top. The bassline was mostly programmed (in MIDI) and only a few parts were played live.

In STBB#682 I discarded my first try it because it felt like a „dead-end-kinda-cool-but-nothing-fancy“-kind of 32 bar loop on monday. In the second approach, the most important sound sources/effects in the production - aside the samples - were Melodyne (to re-“construct“ and adjust the samples), Kontakt Scarbee MM Bass (details below), the Lounge Lizard, some Kontakt Organ and Wurlitzer (triple stacked) for the reggae piano and waves’ Element synth for the synth part (okay, you were right Joa, there is a synth in this one :P)

Since @ruedenz explicitly asked in the Soundcloud comments about how the bass was created, here are some details on this topic:
It’s a tweaked Scarbee MM bass out of the Kontakt library by Native Instruments. Recorded 3 takes of me jamming to the (at the time 16 bars long) loop and edited all of it together in MIDI, added some ghost notes and strange hits. Throughout the process I experimented with different bass lines, the one you hear on the final track is one of probably 10 versions. Other effects on the bass chain are the JJP Bass VST and then a low-cut, cutting the sub bass, adding it back in with a separate, dedicated sub bass track running operator. Both of them are grouped/bus-ed, followed by this chain:

Kontakt --> EQ --> OTT Compressor (25%) --> EQ --> Sidechain Comp (yeah that shouldn’t be there but whatever) --> everything below ~120 HZ mono --> puigtecEQ --> puigchild 670 --> a lowpass filter which I automated in the mixing stage.

How did you make use of the sample?

per.du: In part 1 of STBB#680, the main chord is from the second sample, a tiny part in the start. Same goes for the Bass, which has a kind of sophisticated effect chain afterwards, but all based on one one-shot sample from the provided material.
The second part was created by chopping and adjusting the samples first, then running it through an effect chain with a lot of beat repeat and similar time-based and stutter effects. Bounced this particular track once I liked it, that’s why I can’t really reconstruct it ex post. It’s layered with the guitar sample which got manipulated with a lot of tuning and pitching as well.

After discarding my first beat I, re-started STBB#682 from scratch and begun by more or less randomly loading parts of the samples into Ableton’s „Simpler“-sampler, chopped by transients, then played around on the midi keyboard and recorded the first „take“ of the flute chops. These were then, step by step, turned into the lead-„line“ by the end of production. At first It wasn’t half as decent sounding as you hear it in the final tune, there were wrong or weird chords and a lot of frequencies. I only used the left channel of the samples (if I remember correctly) to get rid of most of the percussion in the sound. I imported the flute track into Melodyne and tuned the sample, altered some pitches and deleted low notes entirely (not your regular Melodyne use). Then I added the reggae piano and drums which were partly from the provided samples and only then came the shakers, drums and bass later. Even later the synth and piano bridge followed as a late at night jam which fitted in quite nicely.

How did you go about the drumwork?

per.du: As in most of my beats, I try to build the drums to the lead melody, be it constructed from samples or with instruments/synths.

As for STBB#680 I’d call the drum group/drum bus pretty basic, but the snare is very synthetic-sounding, while the hihats are quite acoustic-sounding.
Like in STBB#682 percussive sounds drive the beat. Sampled my sink (which was leaking, at the time), eq’d, added a massive convolution reverb and voilà.
In part two the drums are the same as in part one, but the swing is completely different, went for a super sloppy-dilla-ish vibe. Can’t really say if I’ve achieved that, but I sure like how its sounding.

For STBB#682 I re-used some drum samples from the STBB#675 for kick and main snare layer and layered it with some cuts from the samples. I had a pretty basic drum loop at the start (also a completely different hit pattern), but since it´s mostly MIDI in the beginning in my workflow, I then took an hour or two to alternate the 8 bar loop, adding in variety. Instead of the hihats I recorded 4 layers of different shakers, all 4 accenting different hits. There is a splashy sounding shaker to accent the snare, two panned „basic“ shakers for the main rhythm and a very thin sounding, strongly edited shaker in between the off beats for bounce. Then I added some percussive drums, the mentioned kit by Arjaan is used in intro and bridge. The clap-alike sounding snare is a stack of snares, one super wide, one super narrow and one in the „middle“. None of those are claps, but together they sound like claps ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Are there any interesting aspects about the track you’d like to share?

per.du: STBB#680 is kind of a theme song to the start of the covid-19 quarantine to me (hence the voice-chops & #stayhome) and on the other side (second part) you could call it my creative answer?
I grew up listening to Manu Dibango, so it wasn’t easy to make justice to all the feeling that are connected to his music. I don’t think I ever played live keyboards as fitting (and good sounding) on any of my entries before as I did in STBB#682. Of course, it’s edited a bit in MIDI afterwards, but all lines have been originally played live to the running tune/sketch.

… I think I took enough of your time reading already, so I guess nothing else. Feel free to ask in the comments if any questions arise!

Any recent projects/collabs going on?

per.du: Aside the STBB I don’t do many projects where I regularly release stuff like I do it here. Participated in a local Austrian community beat battle lately , sometimes I try my luck on other platforms, but my main focus is definitely on the battles here, because (in my opinion) there is no comparable community out there which has the talent AND a generally positive vibe.

However there will be a third album coming soon , containing many STBBs (reworked/remixed) along some 100% original tunes by Xavier and me! Still a lot to do, so no release date scheduled yet.

Anything else you'd like to say?

per.du: If you enjoy my music I’d very much appreciate if you followed me on your favorite streaming service. AND HIT THAT LIKE BUTTON (lol). If you want to stay „old“ school and have files or even CDs, I have all my releases on Bandcamp as well!

And, the most Important thing last:
Please keep spreading the word about our growing community and the battles. There many people out there that didn’t yet notice Stones Throw shut down the message board and of course there is an incredible amount of fresh talent out there that might be interested in competing! So if you know somebody who makes beats and could be interested in participating, invite them to join! We can’t offer any sponsored prices like some other battles do, but like mentioned above, I do believe there is no comparable community in the wwweb and I’m sure there is no beat battle out there lasting for 680 consecutive weeks and more! Thanks for reading, keep on beat-batting and one love <3
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Re: Behind the Beats: STBB#680 & STBB#682 - per.du

Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:45 pm

good read p!
thanks for taking the time to do this interview!
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Re: Behind the Beats: STBB#680 & STBB#682 - per.du

Sat Apr 11, 2020 9:22 pm

Great read!! Congrats on the recent wins and props for all the help you've given to the community :)
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Re: Behind the Beats: STBB#680 & STBB#682 - per.du

Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:44 am

Great read. Interesting learning how the tracks were assembled. Keep up the good work!
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