Bird of Prey (Torin Goodnight): Hey! So the week of Burning Man I decided to offer a Q&A session to anyone that had production questions they wanted to ask me. I then spent a good hour or so responding to them as honestly and thorough as possible. Since many people were away, I wanted to repost my responses so that anyone who may be interested but missed it can have them. So, with love, gratitude and humility…here you go. May it be a light on your path to self discovery and expression ♥
WORK FLOW: One of my best buds and mentors (Chromatone/Morphonix) taught me a method which eventually led to me finally finishing tracks after years of not being able to do so. Make your beat (kick, snare, perc, even your bass line(s), make it as strong as possible, don’t just throw in random sounds, this will be the foundation and back bone of your track. If it sounds squishy nothing will ever click. Loop it and start to make sounds, and don’t worry about where they are going to go in the song as long as they’re in key, you are going to need many sounds and if you try to think “what specifically does it need next?” you’ll have a hard time making the “perfect” sound.
Just make a sound, mute it, make another, mute it. Doesn’t matter if it’s the coolest sound you’ve ever made…mute it and go on. You can check to see if they’re matching up if you like to create grooves, etc. But! If you listen to the stuff over and over anything will eventually sound like complete shit. So move forward, and just keep making sounds.
Then when you have a big pool of samples (your own samples!), you can fill your beat out and start to arrange. Instead of moving along one sound at a time, you now have a bunch of sounds to throw in and let your imagination go and piece the song together as it sounds best while keeping flow. You can either start with your intro, or sometimes I like to start with the peak of the song and build it out. There’s no rule, just remember to have fun and make it sound fucking awesome, hehe! Hope this helps..
SOFTWARE: I do most everything in Logic; I’ve just started beginning the first phases of a track in Ableton as it’s great for sound design, but I eventually transfer the bounces as I think I will always prefer Logic as a mixing and arranging environment.
SYNTHS: (Sylenth)! Shit is awesome, I actually sold my Virus TI after getting this. So easy to program, sounds amazing, the filters are awesome and great built in effects. (Alchemy) great for manipulating samples with granular synthesis. Great for psychedelic, mechanical atmospheres. A bit of Absynth, FM8, Massive, Gladiator, and the built in Logic synths are all great.
PROCESSING/FX: Almost all the built in Logic plugins are amazing…seriously, I also have a UAD card with all the plugs…but the Neve EQ’s, Fairchild Compressor are fabulous for making phat and clear sounds. Livecut (free!), Effectrix, Gateboy, etc. Experiment with stuff!
The dreaded MIXDOWN!: First and foremost I recommend a great sound card/audio interface and Monitors. I personally use an Apogee Duet and Dynaudio BM5A speakers. The Dyn’s alone COMPLETELY transformed my mixdowns. I know you may not have or want to spend the money but I swear it’s probably more important then anything else to accurately hear what you’re dealing with.
#2. USE GOOD SOUNDS. Seriously, it’s that simple. Just using sounds that sound good will save you so much time and anguish.
#3. MIX AS YOU GO. I do not have a separate mixdown phase. In fact, every sound I make I process using compression and saturation plugs (VERY IMPORTANT, stuff like Nxtasy, VariSaturator, Inflator, the Neve plugs) I previously mentioned all help to make sounds pop out at you.
Do not hide sounds behind others, each one should sound good on its own. I then bounce each sound into AUDIO as I go, you may not feel comfortable about this at first, but I rarely ever leave anything in Midi for several reasons. In order to keep your mix clean, you need to be able to control your sounds by cutting reverb tails, delay feedback etc. I would never want to do this in automation. This is how you can make very abrupt silent stops which add awesomeness!
Also, in audio you can REVERSE SOUNDS, seriously…reverse every sound you make. You never know when it’s gonna be the sickest shit you’ve ever heard. Plus reversing stuff into itself or using them as ends of measures is almost always killer.
EQ: Almost every sound (Except for Kicks and Bass’s) can use at least a little low cut. Filter out what is fundamentally not needed in each sound’s lows and highs, try to carve out just the part that says what you want, and even emphasize the parts you like a bit to make them pop out. Don’t rely on Mastering to make your shit pop, make it sound out of your speakers what you would like it to sound like.
#4. I like to set my kick drum at -11db and reference everything else from there. This gives you enough headroom to have a complete track and not clip your master output. I know, it won’t sound all overly loud like everything else, but distortion is not a good thing and thats what mastering is actually for! =) You can make good sounding mixes fairly simply, I think these tips can lead you in the right direction. Good luck!
SOUND DESIGN/ETC: I actually don’t use too many effects, I like things to sound controlled, clean and present. However, I do use certain fx (some mentioned above) to create the movements I want. I don’t believe just playing things in by hand or playing sounds by themselves will get all the results that are wanted for psychedelic music. I try and create a midi part and run it through stuff to push, pull, and in all other ways mangle the shit out of stuff, then I end up using some small fragment of what I had to begin with.
It takes a lot of time but this is necessary to get all the lil tid bits that make up the really twitchy stuff. Then you can piece together the stuff like a rhythmic puzzle to make very complex sounding grooves fairly simply (in AUDIO of course)
BACKGROUND STUFF: Like I mentioned before I like to use ALCHEMY for sample manipulation. You can apply lfo’s to the granular synthesis and get really crazy stuff (i.e. the mechanical build sound in “Xenomorphic”), ABSYNTH is also great for atmospheres, which you can also mangle samples as well as it’s synthesis (The vocal in “Atrium” I did this way). I believe the wobble in The First Step was a sound I whipped around in Logic‘s EXS.
PERFORMANCE TIPS: The top considerations on my pre-show list:
#1. Make sure you bring all your gear. I am a freak about checking stuff a million times on the way to a gig.
#2. Be sure to poop before you play, c’mon, we all know performance anxiety makes ya gotta, so just do it before you’re on stage and you’ll be a lot more comfortable and look a lot happier hahaha.
#3. Play from your heart, blast people with tropical rainbow streamers coming out of every direction, and remember to have fun. Remember it should be a reciprocal energy transaction between the crowd and performer, you are not taking something from them, and they are not taking something from you, you are sharing the experience and blessed to be doing so!
Torin just debuted his new Birds of Paradise collab with Tyler Gibson at Earthdance.. It felt like a direct transmission from God, music that zoomed my mind through the cosmos, activating new sectors of the brain. Inspiring and cerebral, yet danceable and rooted in ancient rhythms, the new material explores the depths of the universe and shines light on the darkest corners of the soul. The soundtrack for dire space missions, it is futuristic and new, infused with dub elements, tribal flutes and conga drums that ground us and take us to more organic, tropical places.
His wife KiT performs dynamic hoop acts to the epic score, tearing it up with passion and precision, adding a touch of feminine badass to the show.
Here are the vids:
Visit the Birds of Paradise Soundcloud and Facebook Page and support these visionaries, this is one of the most interesting electronica projects I’ve come across in a long time!
Birds of Paradise by Bird of Prey
And check out Torin’s Basstream Radio Mix for Glitch.fm, solid from front to back..