In the last few years, as dance music has increasingly gone more populist with deep house and nu-disco dominating the airwaves, some producers have been pushing to keep things techno-focused. One such act is Fisher, a Glasgow-based producer that’s been on our radar since last year with their dark and ultra raw tracks.
So how do you make tech house? Read on to find out how Fisher got their sound.
Get into the right mindset
For many, techno is the antithesis of so-called “fun” dance music, but Fisher’s Cedric Fabius says he doesn’t see it that way. Having grown up making hip-hop and funk, he’s used to making a lot of fun music himself. When it came time to make a new project, he had enough material already in place to set it apart from his other material: “Instead of trying to find my way into techno, I tried to make techno my own way.”
He uses the word “euphoria” to describe his mind-set, which turned out to be essential for his sound. “I think of euphoria when I’m making music. I’m making that shit as a tool to bring people into this world that we’re trying to build.”
Forget about sounds and frequencies, just focus on space
Fisher says it doesn’t matter what sounds you use or what frequencies are in them; it’s the space between them that’s important.
Here are a few common musical elements found in the tech house genre.
Before you start, ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve?”
Fisher says the first question to ask is what message you want to send through your music. In Fisher’s case, their goal is to take listeners on a journey – one that takes them somewhere new and exciting.
Think of every song as an opportunity to make a story. For FISHER it’s always a story they would like to tell themselves or someone else.”If I could explain my idea in one word or sentence,” says Fabius, “I just try and build the track from that.”
Get started with the kick drum. Then work backwards from there.
Once you know what you want to say, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to say it. For Fisher, the starting point is choosing a kick drum.
“When we start a new track,” says Fabius, “we’ll think about what sound we like in that frequency range and then look for a sample or sound that will fit.” He uses an old Akai S3200 analog sampler/sequencer from ‘96 as his primary production tool. “I love to use it because the old Akai sounds have a very unique character and the internal filter on it is really strong too. It’s good for making bass sounds or even drums sometimes.”
Once you’ve found a kick that works, work backwards from there. “You have to start by programming the kick first because it’s the base of most of my tracks,” says Fabius. “The kick is the foundation and everything else just builds on top of that.”
There’s no substitute for good old-fashioned studio time
Fabius says it’s important to consider the amount of time and effort it takes to make your sound really stand out. Because most people don’t have access to top-end gear, he’s all about creating with what you’ve got, whether that means processing sounds in Logic or using a higher quality sampler like an Akai S3200. The important thing is to be selective with the sounds you use.
“I’ve got a few drum machines and a few synthesizers and I try to find the ones that I like in each session or sound pack because there are so many of them. You could use a lot of different sounds but then it’ll be all over the place, so I just try and find one or two I really like.”
“[People] should definitely not stop producing just because they have no money. All that matters is if you have a good idea or not, rather than how much you spend on production gear.