At home with the Layabouts

News.Traxsource caught up with The Layabouts to talk about their studio, in the next instalment of ‘In The Studio’

What equipment do you have in your studio? (full studio kit list).

*Apple Mac Pro 8 core
*M-Audio 88 semi weighted controller
*Monitors – Yamaha NS-10s , Hafler TRM8s
*Mic Preamps / Compressor – Neve 1073 dpd, API 3214, TLA C1
*Interface – TC Electronic Studio Konnect 48 with remote monitor control
*Machine Micro
*Mics – AKG 414s x 2, Neuman TLM 103, SM 57s / 58s
Software – Native Instruments Komplete 8 Ultimate Bundle / Sylenth / Stylus / Trilogy / Waves Platinum Bundle / Ableton / Traktor.

What is your favourite piece of equipment to use in the studio & why?

At the moment it’s the Neve 1073 dpd, we bought this at the start of the year. It’s the Rolls Royce of microphone pre amps. Over the years of recording we have begun to understand the importance of a good amplifier and the way this piece of equipment amplifies the signal of a microphone is truly amazing compared to almost all preamps you find in a standard firewire interface. It also has Neve analog to digital conversion built in, so we run it directly into logic bypassing the interface. For vocal / bass / guitar, you name it everything sounds rich and creamy

Give us some insight into your production process. How do you typically begin constructing a track?

A track always begins with the drums; I (Leigh) am forever laying down drum ideas and patterns along with sounds that I have worked on. This will always begin as a template for us to work with. Alex comes in on the chord sequences; we work together on chord and riff ideas. Generally these ideas will then sit on the computer until we are ready to start a project. The same goes for remixes. We tend to load up a lot of these ideas when we have a vocal to work with. We place the vocal over the top, if the music is wrong we change the key of the idea to fit the vocal. Many a successful remix has come about in this way, so we tend to always work away from vocals rather than construct a remix around a vocal; this system has worked well for us. Alex – When it comes to working on musical parts for remixes we try and steer away from the original music where we can and come up with something that is in line with our style. Using fuller chord extensions and inversions can paint the picture you want to express. It’s good to broaden your harmony knowledge – whether you’re a musician or not. This gives our tracks the ‘mood’ we are looking for. As a guitarist I come up with chords on guitar and Leigh and I will together decide which way to take the track.

What piece of studio equipment or production process defines the The Layabouts sound?

We work almost exclusively within the box and have done now for nearly 10 years, so the computer is the most important part of our production process.

What piece of hardware/software elevated your production to a higher level & how?

It has to be the Yamaha NS 10’s. It wasn’t until we really started to understand the speakers that our productions started to sound right. Maybe not the first choice for dance music producers but we have become very accustomed to the 10s and feel they have really helped to elevate the sound of our productions. Understanding your monitors is so important and the 10s show up so much more detail than most monitors we have tried out.

Alex –When writing our recent album ‘Future Retro’ we experimented and wrote some chord progressions and riffs on a Roland GR 55 midi guitar controller. It’s useful to get the initial ideas down. We then used session keyboard players to replay the parts, as a keyboard player would naturally play them. We used this technique for ‘Do Better’ feat Portia Monique that is featured on ‘Future Retro’

What fresh equipment have you recently added to the lab?

We recently had a complete refurb of equipment. This time last year we were running a TLAudio VTC Valve console, we swapped this in for the Neve 1073 and the AP1 3124, also we were running a pro-tools HD system. The pro-tools HD system was almost becoming slightly redundant for us. The Mac Pro’s were getting so fast that running a full native system became the sensible choice for us. It also enabled us to reinvest in a lot of new software and plug-ins than run natively rather than on a TDM platform where plug-ins tend to be much more expensive.

What are your essential studio supplies (food, drink, cigs etc)?

Our coffee machine is very important to us. It used to be a can of Red Stripe and a cigarette ;) now things are much more sensible. Coffee is something that is very important to all of us at Reel People Music! Also lets not forget our local sandwich shops, which we use on rotor to fuel our days in the studio.

What list of artists have influenced your sound?

Pretty diverse in some ways but these guys really have influenced us a lot over the last 10 years of making music. Bob James / LTJ Bukem / MJ Cole / MAW / Herbie Hancock / Dennis Ferrer / Jimpster / Black Coffee / Reel People / Joey Negro / Lovebirds / Spen & Karizma / Incognito / Roy Ayers / George Benson / Curtis Mayfield / Gil Scot-Heron

What are your 3 favourite productions?

We have loads of favorites, more recently: The Layabouts ft Portia Monique‘Do Better’, this track had such a great vibe from the top and Portia really delivered.

The Layabouts ft Shea Soul‘Perfectly’ seems to be the track most people ask us about or talk about. Again we were blessed by with Shea on an amazing song that she wrote.

Reel People ft Dyanna Fearon‘Butterflies’ out this week!! ;)

What handy Layabouts studio tip would you pass onto producers out there?

Getting your drum sounds right, if the track isn’t sounding how you hear it, try changing the kick drum, this has changed the sound of our mixes so many times. Also if something doesn’t feel just right, move on. Don’t waste too much time going over the same ground. Also when working as a team it’s important to take a step back and listen to each other’s ideas. It’s important to play to each others strengths so work out what they are and build your working relationship around them.

What new production should your fans be on the lookout for at Traxsource soon?

Mainly remixes of tracks from the new album Future Retro on Reel People Music, loads of great remixers on board over the coming months, inc Jullian Gomes / BB Boogie / Andreas Saag / Directors Cut all remixes will be released with our full length club mixes which didn’t appear on the album

The Layabouts ft Omar ‘As Long As You Believe’ (Incl. Jullian Gomes & BB Boogie Remixes) is out now on Reel People Music.