In The Studio w/ The Rhythm Masters
The No.1 Remix and Production maestros of the 90’s (Music Week) are back in 2015 to much applause.
Having remixed and co-produced literally hundreds of international best selling singles from artists including Michael Jackson, INXS, Todd Terry, Carl Cox, Roger Sanchez, and David Morales to name just a few, the Rhythm Masters (aka Steve Mac & Robert Chetcuti) first broke out with their classic featuring the incredible vocals of Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown. Their unique ability to conquer both mainstream and underground arenas is testament to their skills and unique production sound. Later being initiated into a clique of producers referred to as ‘Da Mongaloids’, whose members included Armand Van Heldon, Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Junior Sanchez, DJ Sneak, further cemented their place in dance music history.
With the re-launch of and their first release in over 10 years entitled out now on Traxsource, We decided to catch up with Steve Mac from the Rhythm Masters for a tour around his amazing studio and an Exclusive Interview.
1) What equipment do you have in your studio? (full studio kit list).
• Genelec 1034B Main Monitor System
• Pmc Aml 2 Monitors
• Yamaha Ns10 With Bryston 4Bst Amp
• Auratone Original
• Crookwood C1 Mastering Controller
• Antelope Orion 32 Ad/Da Converter
• Phoenix Audio Nicerizer Summing Mixer
• Apogee Ad /Ad 16 Converters
• Studer A80 1/2 Inch Mastering Tape Recorder
• Roger Mayer 456 Tape Emulator
• Apple Mac 12 Core 3.07 24 Gig Ram Running
• Pro Tools 11
• Logic Pro X
• Abelton Suite 9
• Uad 8 Octo Card Running 80% Of The Plug Ins
• SSL Duende
• Slate Digital
• Too Many To Mention All Of Them
• Fairman Tmc Mastering tube compressor
• GML 8900 mk3 gain controller
• Urei 1178
• Urei 1176 blue
• Bloo LA2A with original UTC transformers
• SSL 384 Original Stereo buss compressor G Series
• 2 X Neve 1085 original mic pre EQ’s
• 2 X Amtec PEIA EQ’S
• Brain electronics Stereo Buss compressor
• API 550A eq
• Ridge Farm Boiler Compressor
• AMS 15-80 Delay Harmonizer
• Eventide H-8000 Fw Effects Harmoniser
• Lexicon 224Xl Reverb
• Mutronics Mutator
• Culture Vulture Distortion
• Fucifier Distortion
• SPL Transiet Designer Stereo Version
• Boss Chorus
• Moog Murf
• Lexicon 300
• Sherman Filter Bank
• Lots Of Pedals Other Delay Chorus Boxes
• ARP 2600
• Roland System 100 With Expander
• Roland Jupiter 6
• Roland JP8000
• Roland VP550 Vocoder
• Roland JD800
• Yamaha CS15
• Moog MiniMoog
• Moog Voyager Rack
• Access Virus Desktop
• DOP Modular Rack With Various Modules
• EMU Proteus 1 and 2
• Emu SP1200 Drum Machine
• EMU Emulator 4 Sampler Fully Expanded
• Akai S950
• Akai S3000
• Dave Smith Poly Evolver
• AKAI MPC Renaissance Drum Machine
• Roland MC202
• Roland TB 303
• Roland 808
• Roland 909
• Roland TR 8
• Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
• Octave Cat
• Tons of Little Synths and Drum Boxes.. Too Many To Mention
• Neumann U87
• Joveson C700 Stereo Mic
• 2 X SM57
• 1 X SM58
NOTE: Click the images for large versions
2) What is your favourite piece of equipment to use in the studio and why?
My favorite is the Emu SP1200 drum machine. I just love it, really solid grooves and good vibes.
3) Give us some insight into your production process. How do you typically begin constructing a track?
Well, usually I will have an idea. I like to know what I’m about to do before I start, could be a vocal idea, a keys hook, a sample, loop or a beat. So after I have the idea, I will work on the drums first and get a solid groove going. I usually loop the arrangement around 8 bars and start adding to the drums, and then the a bass line, key hooks, vocal snippets and get everything working together. When I feel I have enough, then I start arranging the track. If you have the right elements from the start, it won’t take long to arrange, it just comes naturally.
4) What piece of studio equipment or production process defines your sound?
Tough question. It really depends on what I’m working on. Earlier this year I worked on an Acid House project and used for the majority of it the 606, 101, 808 and 909 synced together. I just used the computer as a tape recorder and editor, was great fun. When I’m working on the Rhythm Masters tracks, I go straight to the SP1200 as that was our sound big ‘n’ dirty.
5) What piece of hardware/software elevated your production to a higher level & how?
Logic and a Mac computer. Back in the day when we (Myself & Robert Chetcuti aka The Rhythm Masters) were using the Atari and a ton of samplers, it was really hard work. Logic and the Mac have made life easy and now with software and plugins getting better all the time, it’s just endless with what you can do. Every week I learn something new. I love what I do for this reason. It never gets boring.
6) What fresh equipment have you recently added to the lab?
The main thing I added was the Roger Mayer 456 Tape Emulator. I have a Studer A80 Tape Machine, but it was hard work to keep it running, so now this little box does the trick for me. Mostly on the master channel to get great sounding tape saturation without the tape.
7) What are your essential studio supplies (food, drink, cigs, etc.)?
Coffee in the morning is a must and lots of water. On a normal day, I will bring food in with me from home and try n stay healthy. If I’m working with people, then we usually go to one of the good local pubs and eat there. Cig’s hmm… I still smoke. I gave up but started again. That’s my very bad habit, it does give my ears a rest when I go outside and have one though.
8) What list of artists have influenced your sound?
There’s so many to mention here, but from back in the day I loved Masters At Work, Todd Terry, Murk, MK, Kerri Chandler, Carl Craig, DJ Duke and Armand Van Helden. The list goes on and on.
9) What are your 3 favourite productions?
Another tough question. I get really bored of my own records, probably because I hear them a million times when I’m making them. At the moment, I love the Acid House album I have just done. A couple of the new Rhythm Master tracks are quite special. Hmm maybe the Jamiroquai remix I did back in the day, enjoyed doing that.
10) What handy studio tip would you pass onto producers out there?
Master your gear inside out. For instance if you use Ableton, really go to town and learn it from top to bottom. Don’t buy loads of gear then only half use it, master one thing then move on to the next.
11) What new production should your fans be on the lookout for at Traxsource soon?
The first Rhythm Masters record in over a decade 20 Year cycle on disfunktional recordings and it’s out right now.
Along with celebrating their return and this studio feature, The Rhythm Masters kindly got on the decks and dropped this Exclusive DJ Mix for us. Enjoy!