“Copy your favourite tunes” to learn production, advise Disclosure

“The first few songs of our career were just ripping off all of the UK underground.”

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Disclosure DJing at a Spotify event

Credit: Getty / David M. Benett

British dance duo Disclosure have offered advice for new producers, saying they shouldn’t be afraid to copy the sounds and techniques of their favourite artists as a way of learning.

The advice is offered during the pair’s recent Tape Notes podcast episode, in which the Settle creators unveil the production techniques and tools used on their latest album, Alchemy, and provide insights into the meanings behind some of its tracks.

“The best advice you can give someone starting out,” says member Guy Lawrence, “is ‘get in the studio and copy your favourite tunes all day’.

“That’s how you learn,” adds Howard.

“Yeah, then start to seep in some of your own [style] – like what you might do instead,” says Guy. “The first few songs of our career were just ripping off all of the UK underground. We were just like ‘I want to make tunes that will get us on to Boiler Room’.”

Also in the podcast, the brothers discuss their priorities in terms of mixdowns on a project, saying that even if a mixdown isn’t perfect, by modern standards, as long as the song is “unbelievably good”, it’s okay.

“The song’s got to be unbelievably good if the mix is bad. Some of my favourite songs ever, the mixing is ‘bad’. ‘Bad’ is not a thing in mixing, it’s just ‘this way’ or ‘that way’,” says Guy.

At another point in the podcast, Guy reveals a cool technique used on Howard’s vocals in the track Looking For Love, that helps connect the song’s meaning with the production.

He achieves this by modifying the pitch formant of Howard’s vocals to match the emotional nuances in the lyrics by using Soundtoys’ Little Alterboy plugin. When the lyrics convey hope, he raises it, and when the mood turns sombre, he lowers it.

Listen to the full podcast via tapenotes.co.uk.


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