Sunlightsquare Takes Us "Inside The Studio"
Sunlightsquare’s first single of 2017, Oyelo fuses Jazz, Cuban and House music for a blissful Latin experience, recruiting Ronnie Scott’s resident Cuban singer Rene Alvarez to deliver the passionate vocal elements. We went inside the studio with Sunlightsquare to delve into the many facets of this complex production.
What equipment do you have in your studio?
Keyboards & Synths:
- Yamaha YUX Upright Piano
- Fender Rhodes MKII 73 with suitcase amp
- Yamaha Montage, MoxF6, Reface CS, YC, DX & CP
- Arp Odissey
- Prophet 08
- Moog Theremin
- Nord Electro
- Crumar Stratus
- Guerrini Accordion
- Roland TR-8
- Maschine MKII
- Akai APC40 MKII
- Akai APC mini
- Novation SL MkII
- Nektar Panorama P4
- iCon Qcon Pro
- Fender Jazz Bass, Japan ’92
- Yamaha Pacifica Stratocaster
- Meinl Gonga set
- Latin Percussion Bongo Set
- Collection of cowbells
- Assorted Hand percussions
- Thermionic Culture Fat Bustard 14ch Valve summing mixer
- Mackie 1604 VLZ-PRO, LM3204, 1212VLZ3
- Pioneer DJM-400
- No.2 Mackie Big Knob
- Universal Audio Solo 610
- Manley Core
- Api The Channel Strip
- No. 2 Tube-Tech PM 1A
- Thermionic Culture Phoenix Mastering +
- SSL XLogic G Series
- Neve 33609 JD
- No. 2 Empirical Labs Distressor
- Valley People 610
- No. 2 Tube-Tech CM 1A
- Chandler Zener Limiter
- API 5500
- Tube-Tech HLT 2A
- Tube-Tech EM 1A
- Thermionic Culture The Swift
- Chandler Limited Curve Bender
- RME Fireface UFX and ARC remote
- Lynx Hilo
- Steinberg UR 824
- Steinberg UR 22
- No.2 Novation Audiohub 2×4
- Arturia Audiofuse
- PMC TB2S AII
- EVE Audio SC 305
- Yamaha NS10 Studio
- Adam A7 X
- KRK Rokit RP6 G2
- Studer A80 1/4 Tape Master Recorder
- Tascam 122 MKIII Three Head Stereo Cassette Deck
- Fostex D5 Dat Machine
- No.2 Technics SL-1210MK2 Turntables
What is your favourite piece of equipment to use in the studio & why?
My favourite piece is obviously the piano :-) Shortly followed by the Rhodes and my collection of compressors.
Give us some insight into your production process. How do you typically begin constructing a track?
I have 2 different methods of creating tracks.
1. When I come up with melodies in my head (which can happen at random moments) I record my notes with my iPhone, singing the melody, beatboxing, describing the chords and the mood. Then I go to the studio and stretch the audio notes on a Cubase session and play all the parts with momentary instruments. Then I write manuscript paper for the musicians (sometimes just a few, sometimes a whole live band) and proceed with the recording. Once I tracked everything I edit the material, mix the track and master it.
2. I just sit in front of the computer and experiment with my toys, come up with different ideas, cut, copy, paste, chop, change, sometimes for months! On these tracks I tend to record everything myself and I usually edit and mix as I go.
What piece of studio equipment or production process defines your sound?
The single most important piece of equipment that I use to give the final character to my music is the Thermionic Culture Fat Bustard Summing mixer, which has a knob called “attitude”. That is the most valuable knob in the studio!! Can I say one more? My Studer Master Tape Recorder.
What piece of hardware/software elevated your production to a higher level & how?
I’ve been producing music professionally for my entire adult life and I had just a few a-ha moments with gear. The last one I had is when I went to an audio technology trade show in London and tried the Thermionic Culture Phoenix Mastering Compressor for the first time: I instantly knew that it was the last piece of my mastering puzzle. I bought it one month after and now it’s mine forever.
What fresh equipment have you recently added to the lab?
My latest love is the Yamaha Montage. It’s in my view the best synthesizer that’s ever been made. Once I figured out the internal architecture I realized that there was no limit to sounds I could design for myself, with gigantic scope, microscopic detail, and incredible quality. Basses, pads, drum kits, effects: I keep on building palettes of sounds that nobody else has, I can keep on improving them over time and they are always at my disposal at a touch of a button.
What are your essential studio supplies (food, drink, cigs etc)?
I have a team of 6 working in the studio and I tend to keep them sweet :-) Our regular variety of treats includes: Italian coffee, 85% chocolate, roasted peanuts, pistachios, and for Friday afternoons… Prosecco.
What list of artists have influenced your sound?
Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Kraftwerk, Gilles Peterson, Louie Vega, Pat Metheny, Steve Gadd.
What are your 3 favourite productions?
What handy studio tip would you pass onto producers out there?
Release more music, don’t overthink it, don’t get paralysis from analysis, just put it out. Make videos about you and your music and post them on social media regularly. Keep humble and don’t stop searching.
What new production should your fans be on the lookout for at Traxsource soon?
My latest track is called “Oyelo”, it’s a latin-afro-jazz-house number with lots of piano, odd vocal hooks and juicy remixes form the amazing Kay Suzuki ;-)