“Go where you excel”: BIIANCO urges producers to utilise their strengths
The producer talks about the industry’s gender disparity before outlining their hardware setup, vocal processing technique and top production advice
BIIANCO is an LA/London-based multifaceted artist known for seamlessly blending the roles of producer, DJ, performer, and social media innovator, owning a distinct sound influenced by US-leaning house music and UK electronic culture. They hop between two studios in each city, with each offering their own unique inspiration.
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MusicTech speaks to BIIANCO around the release of their new track La Discoteca with Mary Droppinz, featuring My Name Is Alex. BIIANCO highlights the ongoing gender disparity in the music industry and goes into the depths of their hardware setup, which includes the Roland TR-8S, Arturia KeyLab, Aston Origin vocal microphone and more. BIIANCO also touches upon their vocal layering techniques and future studio plans, including investing in an Ableton Push 3.
Hey BIIANCO, how’s life?
Touring internationally has really taken off in the past four months. I seem to be constantly going back and forth between the UK and LA and writing nonstop in my off days in between.
In a recent cover story, MusicTech highlighted a disparity in gender representation in the music industry. Do you think there is still work to be done?
Absolutely. CIS men still make up the highest-paid music producers on the royalty front and also on the live fee front. The gap is especially true for dance music. Yes, we are seeing more women and non-binary artists on lineups, but they’re absolutely getting paid less and tend to have worse placements within festival bills.
Tell us a bit about the hardware setup.
I have a unique setup because I live back and forth between LA and London. So, I’ve had to create two studios and narrow down the essentials that I travel with.
I tend to travel with my Roland TR-8S. I use this both when producing and when I play live. I also have an Arturia KeyLab in both my LA and London studios because it’s just the best controller workflow when in the studio.
I also travel with my Aston Origin vocal mic because it’s best on my voice. And if I have hybrid or live sets, I’ll bring my Focusrite Scarlett interface rackmount, my Roland SPDSX, and my Sequential Prophet 6.
Tell us about your live setup. How do you use it?
For both my live and hybrid DJ sets, I lean very heavily into Ableton Live. I use drum racks in Ableton to trigger my breakbeat sounds on my Roland SPDSX drum pads. I also use drum racks for any sampling I am doing live during my sets. All of the Ableton sounds run out of my Focusrite Scarlett interface.
I tend to sing live as well and use a TC Helicon VoiceTouch Live for vocal effects.
What is your favourite piece of gear and why?
The Roland TR-8S is my favourite piece of live gear because I bounce out all my original stems and can literally mix drum beat elements and basslines live with it. It’s incredible.
My Prophet 6 has really shaped all my synth sounds though.
Tell us about how you work with vocals in your music.
I am a diehard stacker. Some of the songs I’ve released have 50+ vocal tracks going. I usually do a centre, hard left pan, and hard right pan for every vocal. I tend to layer a low octave and high octave and then a harmony layer. Then I can formant shift some of the layers and make it sound like a gang vocal.
What is next on your shopping list studio-wise and why?
Ableton Push 3 because it’s standalone, meaning I will no longer need to bring my computer and interface when I am playing a live or hybrid DJ set. I will be able to bring just that piece and control my Ableton session from it.
What is your dream piece of gear and why?
I’m going to start investing in the synths that I usually use plugins to emulate—like a Juno, Korg M1, and Korg Arp Odyssey. I rely heavily on my Prophet 6 and Korg minilogue, so I’d like to start collecting hardware for the synths I use plugins for. It’s a bit challenging when you have two studios you go back and forth between.
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
I would probably take my Roland TR-8s because I could make an entire song using its sequencer.
What is your top piece of production advice?
Invest in your skills! Learn to play instruments. If you’re making dance music, get a subwoofer, or you’ll never be able to produce the low end.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
All you really need at first is a good laptop, a controller, an interface, monitors, and a subwoofer. From there, invest where your skills lie. If you’re a strong keys player, invest in synths and controllers. If you’re a good singer, invest in mics and soundproofing. If you’re a guitarist, get a good guitar and pedalboard. Go where you excel.
Listen to the rest of BIIANCO’s music via Soundcloud.com.
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