Studiotalk with The Cutler about their album The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things

Steve Cobby writes on the production-side of three tracks from the September 2012 album from The Cutler, ‘The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things’: 1/ P-A-Y-R This one was seeded by the electric piano sample.  A nice 4 chord progression that was begging to be looped. Opened Ableton Live to do just that, then put a scratch rhythm loop down as a glorified metronome. Next I played a b-line in on a Cort bass, going direct into the Mackie firewire mixer, with flat eq and no compression. I recorded a couple of passes, found the best section and looped those four bars. Then went back and built the beats up, by plumbing in Reason 4 via rewire and loading a vintage disco kit into Redrum. Proceeded to program separate kick, snare and hats to fatten the basic drum loop already running..An extra snare for width and depth was inserted in Ableton. Vocals hunted for and found. They're dropped in next ,with a ride break added alongside to give it some extra energy. The electric guitar top line came after that. I played it on an Epiphone Les Paul and recorded it through the Amplitube Fender amp plug in. A conga percussion loop culled from a 'Roots Of South America' - a sample cd I’ve had for years - was inserted around 3 minutes in to offer a change in mood. A couple of guitar samples and an alternate vocal laid over it and the middle 24 bar change was complete. A few drum fills a crescendo here and there and some string flourishes were all that remained to be done. Mixed it down, made individual stems of everything and took it to my good friend Mark Brydon’s studio to run it through his Shadow Hills Industries summing mixer. Mastered the finished mix in Izotope Ozone. 2 / Revolution The initial tune was culled from some jamming over a GURU drum pattern I'd set up. Live bass and guitar through Amplitube 3. A secondary guitar routing through Rob Papen Predator fx. The second bass line was played on the Predator synth plug in itself. To flesh out the GURU part, three different breaks were added underneath. A drop break as well as a ride break are brought in but used sparingly. The vocal samples are from a bootleg tape of an 80's  dancehall gig in Wolverhampton by local legends Skippy and Lippy. Some icing on the cake with delays and reverb and it was finished. Or so we thought. We were introduced to a singer called Russell Morgan through the early days of MySpace. We intended to work together for some time and so decided to send him the finished mix to see if he could get anything for it. He did, and sent back those great vocal takes which I went on to edit into an arrangement. Mastered in Ozone. 3/ Black Sheep I was playing around with FXPansions Cypher soft synth running through an arpeggiator and c scale in Ableton. I recorded some random progressions in terms of bar lengths, but melodically in the same family. I then pulled up the Bass FM Argor preset in Ableton’s Operator synth and put in the b-line. Kit Trax deeptrax was the Ableton sampler preset I utilised for the kik and snare. I programmed these to follow the arps syncopated turnarounds. The Nepheton plug in I used for hats and 808 percussion, but this was looping a constant 2 bar pattern creating some nice alternate rhythms. Some atmos courtesy of Raymond Scott and 2 ambient samples went in. Finally, a smattering of Orson Welles spoken word. Ces't fini. Ozone for mastering. Alongside me in all of this is my co-producer Porky. His considered opinion helps guide us to completion. Genelec monitoring and an iMac are my weapons of choice situated in a shed (shedio) at the bottom of my garden. I use a Novation remote 61 SL for midi input and have also just bought an Alesis DM8 midi drum kit for the same task. 4 guitars and 2 basses. I use Logic Pro mainly [although you wouldn't think so by the above list], with Reason and Ableton for all programming requirements.

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