Show Off Your Studio: Sleep D’s not-so-sleepy setup
Hardware-led tech-y trance hypnosis by Melbourne’s dance duo
Melbourne underground dance heroes Sleep D, despite their namesake, don’t sleep on a good beat. In fact, they exude energy both in their music production work rate and in their tracks – gliding, buoyant, trance-esque flavours with hot, hardware-induced intensity. If hypnosis is a way of putting people into a state of sleep, then the Butter Sessions label heads will have you drifting off to a place of dreams in no time.
As part of our Show Off Your Studio series, the duo, real names Corey and Maryos, show off the space and the tools used to produce the duo’s Freaks Of Nature Vol.2 release, the second in a series of EPs that aim to showcase both club-ready, deep sounds and more ethereal outdoor-venue-focused tracks.
Sleep D – hey! What’s the concept behind the Freak Of Nature releases?
Hey! FON 1 started with a bassline we made for Freak Of. We then remixed it for a live set, removing some of the bass hits and taking out all the acid sounds whilst adding a chord loop from the Korg Polysix. This then became “Nature”, leading to the two tracker, Freak Of Nature Vol 1. One side was a bit of a freaky club track while the other took more inspiration from nature.
FON 2 took a similar form with Border Control and Post Pump being more club-ready tracks and Bass’d In Berlin being designed for outdoor use.
There’s a real trance-y vibe to your music. What instruments and effects do you use to create this hypnotic, euphoric feeling?
The “trance-y” sound is thanks to the Jupiter 6 and Reaktor synths more often than not. We also use the Elektron Analog Heat filter with a high Q-factor and slow sine LFO over the top of already modulating sounds. Plenty of LFOs and delays.
How do you both work as a duo?
When we play live we usually have different roles which leads to those roles carrying over into the studio. I’m (Corey) generally on the bass, drums and mixdowns while Maryos adds more textural/atmospheric sounds, samples, percussion and character with his setup on the DX100 and Elektron Octatrack. However, this system can be flipped on its head too.
Tell us a bit about the studio.
We’re based in Carlton, Naarm (Melbourne) in an old 1870s pub/hotel building and have been here for almost six years. There are seven other studios/record labels here. Corey does mixing and mastering out of the studio on the same speakers we create music on, which contributes to our overall sound. Our record label, Butter Sessions, is run out of the room next door where I (Maryos) have an art studio in the basement underneath it. We’re fortunate to be in a building with a bunch of our friends also working in the music world.
How do you use your studio?
The majority of the work is done here with the occasional track being worked on at Corey’s house. The layout is usually configured in our live setup style with a few extra keyboard synths. The exact setup is constantly changing with different bits of hardware being swapped. This all feeds into the UAD Apollo where we add effects and record straight into Ableton Live.
What atmosphere do you try and create in the studio?
A lot of the time (especially when preparing for live shows) we create a fantasy setting that we are creating music for – an outdoor rave, a seated meditative chillout vibe or a dark club. We try to escape to that place and make music we’d like to hear there. So, the atmosphere changes but usually starts with a short discussion between us, and then we start making noise.
Which DAW do you use and why?
Ableton 11. We’ve been using Ableton since version 6 and we know it back to front. The ability to play live with it suits us well.
What is your favourite piece of gear and why?
Corey: Moog Matriach. It fits the vibe on most occasions. There’s a beautiful soft quality to it, even when pushed hard. The added patch points also give it massive potential for sound design and the bass tone cuts through a mix like a knife through butter. Its dual filter setup is fun to tweak and send multiple LFOs to. It’s a super inspiring synth.
Maryos: Elektron Octatrack. It can do anything and everything (pretty much). I love working with samples and reworking sounds we’ve previously used into something totally different. It’s a top MIDI sequencer and perfect for live performance, too.
What synth or effect can be heard the most on Freak Of Nature Vol.2?
Native Instruments Reaktor (various plugins) and Roland Jupiter 6. Quite a few percussion sample loops too.
Post Pump is full of little metallic sound effects that create a soundscape. Where did you source these sounds?
Those were mostly from Reaktor. We like to spend time recording tons of different sounds into Ableton, and then re-sample it and mess with it more.
What’s been the biggest investment in your studio?
The speaker setup is one of the most important elements. It helps to make quick decisions on a sound when you can hear it well. We have Adam S1X monitors with an Adam Sub 10. Next would be our Herman Miller Aeron chairs. Both are worth it!
What is next on your shopping list studio-wise and why?
We’ve been eyeing a desktop Sequential Prophet 6 for a while. It’ll be a handy piece to have in our live setup, so many possibilities in a (kind of) small box.
What is your dream piece of gear and why?
Probably a Buchla system. We love the wonky alien tones and tough bass that comes out of it – sounds like nothing else.
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
Teenage Engineering OP-Z. It can do everything and is so fun to play with and sketch out initial ideas. The battery also lasts ages and it has a built-in speaker.
How did you go about getting the acoustics right in the studio?
A mixture of acoustic panelling and foam, proper placement of the speakers and some help from Sonaworks software.
Do you have any frustrations with your current setup and why?
Not having more time to use it all!
What is your top piece of production advice?
Start tracks with the intention of just learning a new technique and style, dont worry too much about it having to be released or finished. If you do this enough you’ll create and learn techniques that can be applied to tracks further down the line.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Get one piece of gear at a time and learn it back to front. Watching youtube tutorials is always a good way to learn “secrets” on how to get the most out of the equipment. You need to know the rules to break them.
Stream or buy Freaks Of Nature Vol. 2 by Sleep D onBandcamp.
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