Cover photo by Sean Walker

For this month’s Tips and Tricks video, we’ve enlisted studio wizard Jonti to take us through some of the layering techniques he uses to give a rich, full character to his sounds. In the tutorial, he takes us through the recording and layering processes behind his single Scrood feat. Steve Lacy, put out by Future Classic / Stones Throw a couple of months back.

Tutorial Walkthrough

Jonti’s drum recipe

Jonti’s drum sound for Scrood is a layered mix of recorded and sampled material. Each of the parts works to give the full drum mix its particular sound. The recorded drum take can be broken into 4 channels:

  • Kick and Snare microphones provide clean and clear signals for the backbone of the beat.
  • 2 overhead microphones, panned left and right, give the overall sound of the drum kit, and the natural reverb of the room.

Samples are added to these recorded drums to change the overall sound of the rhythm track:

  • A sampled kick is layered over the original kick, adding strength and character to the recorded drums.
  • A clap and noise sample are added to the 2nd and 4th beats of the bar, supporting the snare rhythm.
Jonti - Scrood Feat. Steve Lacy

Jonti – Scrood Feat. Steve Lacy

Layering Instruments

Jonti’s approach to recording instruments builds off a similar philosophy. Rather than using one direct, powerful sound to achieve a sense of presence and scale, a spacious sound is created from adding many thin, small sounding recordings together.

The String Section

The string arrangement in Scrood sounds orchestral in size, yet are the sum of many solo instrument takes from violinist Jo Ling.

  • A simple recording chain captures the takes:  A Shure SM57 microphone into a hardware reverb effects unit, into Ableton Live.
  • Jo and Jonti record many takes of each melodic line. Rather than trying to get one perfect take, they keep everything.
  • The takes are layered across audio channels
  • Once arranged and played back together, the natural fluctuations of pitch, dynamics, and rhythm create a rich, chorus-like effect.

Layer up some vocals and synths, and here’s the final released track:

Keep up with Jonti

With plenty of new music on the horizon, it’s worth keeping tabs on Jonti over on Facebook.

You can also catch him touring around Australia on support duties for D.D. Dumbo this June & July.

More Tips + Tricks tutorials

If you want to check out more tutorials like this, we have covered a range of techniques over the last few months to help your creative flow. Just recently Liveschool trainer George Nicholas showed us how to sample a kickdrum from any track, and Swindail introduced us to his Traktor & Ableton setup.

If you want to step up your production, check out our comprehensive Produce Music course. Upcoming course intakes are found here.