October 22 2015
Toneshifterz is an undisputed hardstyle legend. With multiple releases on Fusion Records, Central Station Records, Q-Dance and WE R, as well as a massive festival sets at the likes of Defqon.1, we were pumped to enlist his talents again to mix Disc 3 of Maximum Bass Unleashed. Before he got down to business mixing, we asked for his top 5 hardstyle production tips, and boy did he deliver.
This is the hardest part of all hardstyle production! Making the kick and getting it right is the most essential part of the process. If the kick is not right then the whole track will be out of whack. How to make it?? Well there's no real one way to do it, but the general idea is to first of all, make the overall character of the kick using a stock 909 and layering EQ and distortion (which you should be sitting in the mid range 200hz – 1000khz), but only little by little - not too much distortion straight away. The idea is to be progressive with distorting and aggressive with EQing.
That's the general idea, until you get a nice character and movement in the sound. Next you want to split your kick into layers; top fuzzy and buzzy layer, then your character layer and then your sub layer. Now these layers of course can be broken down into further layers, and you can use other things to make those layers such as go back to the original 909 and create further layers by changing the parameters of your current strip, then you can slowly see the process of the kick taking place. It shouldn't be taken lightly! I mean, you can go and sample the latest Noisecontrollers kick if you want, but you may get slammed for it and no one will really take you seriously if you want to make headlines. But, if you really want to stand from the rest then put in the hard yards with your own kicks and then you will develop your own sound!
This is something that comes in time; your ears need to adjust! Every time you make a breakthrough in your mixdowns your ears will learn from the process. It's through practice and learning about what to listen out for which will help you. Referencing is key, getting some really well produced tracks and comparing your mix, making sure you know how loud vocals, kicks, claps, snares, etc. should be in the mix.
With leads there are no rules! You can make it out of anything. Now of course it's much easier to get a particular traditional hardstyle sound from Hardware synthesisers such as the Access Virus Collections, or the JP8080. But these days where technology is progressing fast, there are new synths, which can allow you to make sounds, which are just as thick! The trick to the big traditional hardstyle lead is the Hypersaw in the Virus TI and taking advantage of using all the voices and detuning to come up with a thick sound. You can also use simple saw or Square waves distort them and EQ before distortion with resonant peaks, which I do, and also Corey (CODE BLACK) does quite abit. Sometimes you can get a really nice character to the sound. Offcourse Reverb and Delays bring the sound to life. Muck around, you never know what you might come up with!
With percussion in hardstyle, for the typical hardstyle sounds, you can use some 909 snares claps, rides crashes. I like to make a lot of stuff from scratch, for example using some distortion on 909 claps with a really short reverb pre distortion and cutting the lows. Otherwise you alternatively make your own samples by recording percussion or downloading sample packs which I'm sure everyone already does!!
Persistence is so key it's not funny! You really need to keep it up and keep putting those hard yards into writing and producing if you want to get somewhere! In order to get noticed you need to get exposure, and you need to persist to get exposure! You will get better in the studio as long as you keep doing it and learning more about production! Keep it up and hope there are some new hardstyle talents who will be rising up to the global stage.