Having a chat with Harry Romero, celebrating 20 years of Bambossa Records
Having a chat with Harry Romero, celebrating 20 years of Bambossa Records.
Harry Romero’s legend precedes him; the renowned DJ and producer is a figurehead of the New York underground, known for heading his 20-year-strong Bambossa imprint and work on other powerhouses like Defected, Hot Creations, and Toolroom. Most recently, Romero forayed into DIRTYBIRD territory, where he was tapped to re-work Brazilian talent Scavazza’s single, “Shake Your Hearts.” The result is distinctly Harry Romero, in which he twists the original into a driving club cut with reinvigorated bass and synth lines. This all is merely a tiny dent on his near-30 years of experience over the years, of course.
After seeing plenty of tastes into his studio life over the years, we’ve had a hankering to take an in-depth look ourselves of the space that breeds so many top quality productions—and thankfully, he’s given us the honor below.
What equipment do you have in your studio?
My current setup is below:
• Akai S3000XL Sampler
I used to use 3 of these in my studio, now I’m down to one, for a total of 30 outputs. Every sound in my tracks would come out of these. It has a very specific, raw sound that cannot be duplicated.
• Studio Electronics ATC-X
This has been one of my go-to pure analogue synths for almost 20 years. This thing has so much attitude and inspires me every time I turn it on. It can sound like everything from a Roland TB-303 to an Oberheim OB8.
• Studio Electronics SE-1
Thunderous bass is the best way to describe this pure analogue synth. You can dial this in to sound like pretty much anything you want. I use it for my bass lines on a daily basis.
• Roland Alpha Juno-1 and Alpha Juno-2
Great for them Depeche Mode style synth of the 1980’s we love so much. I used the Juno-2 to create the bass sound for my track ‘I Go Back’ with Robert Owens.
• Roland Juno 106
This was the first Synth I ever purchased. I learned the basics of synthesis on this bad boy and use it quite often still. Great for bass and pads.
• Casio CZ-101
I bought this for the organ sound it comes stock with. Pretty much no frills but you can achieve some serious bass with this is well.
• Korg Micro Korg
The stock bass sounds are spot-on as they reach some pretty low frequencies that sound thick and fat. But what I really love is the Vocoder function. I’ve run some drum loops thru this thing and all I can say is WOW!
• Roland TB-03
Acid, Acid and more Acid. I tend to keep the acid bass lines filtered down as I don’t really like it to ‘tweaky’ and this little machine is really inspiring. If ever I have any sort of creative block I turn the little guy on and it always turns out dope.
• Roland TR-8
The authentic Roland drum machines at the flick of a switch. Sometimes programming inside the DAW can get boring so I like to have fun and program old school style as we did with the original 909. So much fun and the approach is so different than on the computer.
• Pioneer Toraiz AS-1
The sound and simplicity of this synth are what grabbed me. It sounds rich and warm and you can really get in there and dial in some super unique sounding leads and bass. very intuitive and lots of fun to play with.
• Elektron Sid Station
The processor inside this little box is a chip from the Commodore 64, I’ve never heard anything quite like it. Its lo-fi sound is what makes this synth unique and packs a serious punch.
• Yamaha NS-10M
These have been the standard near field speakers for over 30 years. If your track bumps on these speakers then the chances are your track will sound dope just about everywhere.
• Genelec 1030 APM
I’ve been using these for about 20 years and what you hear is what you get. Silky highs and thunderous bass are pretty much how it goes. These are my everyday speakers to make beats.
Other Studio bits:
• Roland JV2080
• Korg Motif ES Rack
• Emu MoPhatt
• Roland MX-1
• Pioneer Toraiz Squid
• Mackie 24×8 Sub Mixer
• Genelec 1031A-PM NearField Speakers
• Genelec 7070a Subwoofer
• Avalon 737sp Mic Pre-amp
• DAW Logic x 10.5
What is your favourite piece of equipment to use in the studio & why?
Besides my computer, which is a pure necessity, my favourite piece of gear would have to be the Roland TB-3. For those that don’t know it’s a reissue of the famous acid box TB-303. I don’t really use it in the traditional squelchy, tweaky way but more in a vibey subtle bass line creator. It really sets the mood and I always come up with something I can use.
Give us some insight into your production process. How do you typically begin constructing a track?
For me, every production starts with a developed idea before I even step foot in the studio. It may be a music loop that I heard and want to expand on or it may be an idea for a techno track. I will then begin with the drums and build from there, it always begins with the drums. I like to sketch out the basic track real quick. I will then go back and smooth out all the arrangement transitions. After all that is done, I give my ears a break for a day or so to do all my final tweaks.
What piece of studio equipment or production process defines your sound?
They tell me my drums define my sound, I suppose they are right.
What piece of hardware/software elevated your production to a higher level & how?
I would have to say when I switched to using Logic Pro in 2006 it really changed my workflow for the better. I began to work in a way more productive way and I was able to get from point A to point B much faster with fewer strokes of the mouse. I really mastered the mixing in Logic so my confidence is really good when I’m working. Long gone are the days of spending hours and hours second-guessing my mixing.
What fresh equipment have you recently added to the lab?
I recently added the Pioneer Squid. It’s a really cool sequencer that helps you come up with some off the wall melodies and grooves that simply can’t be written the traditional way. The possibilities really are endless.
What list of artists has influenced your sound?
Masters at Work, Todd Terry, Lil Louis, Tony Butler, Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Robert Owens, Latin Rascals, Derrick Carter, Clivilles and Cole, Larry Levan, Danny Tenaglia, Murk, DJ Premiere, Mr. G, Daft Punk, DJ Sneak, Larry Heard, Chip E, DJ Pierre, Carl Craig, Laurent Garnier, Kerri Chandler, Tony Humphries.
What are your 3 favourite productions?
Of my tunes, I would personally choose ‘Tania’, ‘Night @ The Black’ and ‘I Go Back’
What handy studio tip would you pass onto producers out there?
Always, and I mean always have fun in the studio. It shows in the end. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
What new production should your fans be on the lookout for at Traxsource soon?
Out now on Dirtybird is my remix of ‘Scavazza – Shake Your Hearts’, then coming up in September I have a new original release ‘Control’ on my label Bambossa Records with a Josh Wink remix and after that, I have another original release with vocals from my wife Jessica Eve on Crosstown Rebels. But I will still have a few more bits before the end of the year too, so keep your eyes and ears out for them…
Harry’s latest release, a remix of Scavazza’s “Shake Your Hearts” via DIRTYBIRD, is available now on Traxsource: HERE