Actress / Nail the cross

PLMSTRY

morphologist
Hi everyone!

I saw actress Dj at the the recent no pain in pop event Peckham, I asked him that awkward question of what equipment he uses/d for live and producing and of course he wasn't gonna give the game the away.

I was just wondering if you guys had any ideas? No plugins :rolleyes: obviously and im guessing some analog compressors!

But would love to know if any you guys have any ideas! His post eternal sonics for me is the one of the most unique sounds i've come across.

What were your thoughts of no pain in pops Nail the cross for those of you that went! On the whole I was pretty disappointed! Was looking forward to for ages but the reality was just a bit shambolics! I couldn't enjoy becoming reals set as the soundman couldn't get the levels right. Moscas set was enough to put one to sleep!

anyway any insights much appreciated
 
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connect_icut

Well-known member
That's pretty interesting. I have no idea what Actress uses but - from the sound of it - I'd always assumed he was 100% digital and probably 100% computer based. Interested to find out otherwise. Would like to know more.
 

Aww Nein

Wild Palms
this was a year ago, and i didnt go unfortunatly, but it probably would have answered all of your questions... it was a series at the ica where artists recorded a track in a day, and people could watch everything they did

http://www.ica.org.uk/Recording Studio+22282.twl

there's a link there to a podcast with actress and lukid which might be pretty insightful.

shame i missed nail the cross, but if it wasnt so great then nevermind.
 

connect_icut

Well-known member
I must say that I find this thread slightly perturbing. My whole theory about the greatness of Actress was based on the idea of him making a positive thing of all detritus and artefacts thrown up by the ubiquity of low-quality digital audio of entry-level music software. Now I'm reading phrases like "obviously no plug-ins" and "analogue compressors" and thinking I must have been way off.
 

grizzleb

Well-known member
I must say that I find this thread slightly perturbing. My whole theory about the greatness of Actress was based on the idea of him making a positive thing of all detritus and artefacts thrown up by the ubiquity of low-quality digital audio of entry-level music software. Now I'm reading phrases like "obviously no plug-ins" and "analogue compressors" and thinking I must have been way off.
Nah he's definitely using computers... (IMO) I can't imagine how anyone could think otherwise. Good digital compression and digital distortion etc will give you sounds like this. Doesn't sound all that different from some stuff I know people have made on fruityloops.
 

routes

we can delay.ay.ay...
yeah to my ears it's lowbitrate samples, chilly vsts and lots of skunk. hazyville is brilliant, point and gaze is a total drugthug anthem maaan!
 
“I record on really minimal gear, but at the same time I’m always focused on trying to remove the music from the computer. I don’t want it to have a computer type sound, so people who listen to the album should be a bit bemused as to what it was made on; how it was made. ‘Cause it’s not really sequenced, I don’t sequence in the traditional form. There’s mistakes in there that I didn’t bother to take out."

I always thought it sounded like it was made on hardware.
 

PLMSTRY

morphologist
I must say that I find this thread slightly perturbing. My whole theory about the greatness of Actress was based on the idea of him making a positive thing of all detritus and artefacts thrown up by the ubiquity of low-quality digital audio of entry-level music software. Now I'm reading phrases like "obviously no plug-ins" and "analogue compressors" and thinking I must have been way off.
that obviously no plug ins remark was naive of me, I don't actually know, regardless of what he uses he just takes his music in a different direction. He probably would prefer people to focus applying that method some i'm probably asking the wrong questions. Is interesting to know though. He mentioned ableton and max/msp.
 

daddek

Well-known member
if your process and head is in the right place, there's no reason why using only software will inevitabley sound computer-y. 'Computery' meaning, what, grid-ed, un-textured, stiff, un-saturated. the whole idea that digital = cold/lacking will probably be outmoded eventually.. hopefully. the digital tools are becoming more human every year.

i dont know what actress uses, ive been told its all software, but that was second / third hand info.
 

connect_icut

Well-known member
I should point out that I know a thing or two about making computer music sound non-sterile. I make lots of hopefully non-sterile music on my computer. As someone who started out on Reason and graduated to Max/MSP, I find it interesting that people are guessing everything from Fruityloops to Max for what Actress uses. To me, his stuff is very redolent of creative software abuse. Non-sterile in a distinctly computer-y way. Cyberpunk, almost.
 

grizzleb

Well-known member
I should point out that I know a thing or two about making computer music sound non-sterile. I make lots of hopefully non-sterile music on my computer. As someone who started out on Reason and graduated to Max/MSP, I find it interesting that people are guessing everything from Fruityloops to Max for what Actress uses. To me, his stuff is very redolent of creative software abuse. Non-sterile in a distinctly computer-y way. Cyberpunk, almost.
Yeah exactly. Part of Actress's charm for me is that he to my mind is one of the first person to do the digital thing but really using it to its best. Warm but still clearly cheap (possibley free) vsts (with some nice mixdown software).
 

daddek

Well-known member
amazing how can you so assuredly differentiate between the sound of the vsts and the 'sound' of the mixing software.. :) and be so sure the vsts are cheap/free. to say he was the first to do the digital thing well is quite an extraordinary claim also.. negating burial, fly lo, zomby, etcetc. But ok.
 

Aww Nein

Wild Palms
surely with these producers the only thing you can be sure of is what it DOESNT sound like, ie with a lot of producers they stick to the presets and as such you can recognise certain sounds cropping up again, but as soon as someones using samples then they really could be using anything.

i also think a lot of people immediatly equate good/weird/noisy/deep=analogue, digital can be just as lofi.

also actress was around before burial, flying lotus and zomby... just saying.
 

PLMSTRY

morphologist
i also think a lot of people immediatly equate good/weird/noisy/deep=analogue, digital can be just as lofi.
haha love that, very true.

I find with digital pitching, warping , stretching has that annoying glitchy scrape and therefore I imagine doing the same in analogue to be without this side effects and warmer somewhat naively perhaps.

Id still like to discover analogue techniques all the same as years of working in purely ableton and logic is getting a bit dull.
 

connect_icut

Well-known member
From experience I'd say that analogue lo-fi tends to sound warm and pleasing, whereas digital lo-fi tends to be abrasive and purely unpleasant. The thing that I think is genius about Actress is that he's built and compelling aesthetic around digital lo-fi. It's not the same as glitch, where digital errors form the building blocks of the music. Actress deals more in artefacts than errors and he seems to leave them as they are, yet he sets them in a context which gives them some kind of musical logic, if that makes any sense.
 

hopper

Well-known member
I think in the right hands though digital can sound just as satisfying as analogue - if you look at what flying lotus, burial, shackleton, levon vincent actress all manage to do. it's all about channelling the right frequencies until things sound right really. obviously there are issues of colouration and so forth with software but I really think it's just a matter of having a sensitive understanding about eqing and influences of certain frequencies/getting the right samples and so forth. It's quite nice to bring in some analogue textures into a digital framework as well to kind of get this properly.
 

Aww Nein

Wild Palms
i guess with low fidelidy digital audio, youve got low bitrate (bit crushing, chip tune) which can be used creatively quite satisfyingly, or you have low samplerate, which is more like youtube quality audio or poor mp3s. glitch i think is different as its more of a fault in the performing technology and draws attention to that, akin perhaps to a tape being chewed up and pitch warping, or record scratching. then theres the sort of lofi aesthetic that comes from the way in which the DAW software kinda encourages the artist to work, like ableton smoothing everything out into perfect quantised loops or fruity loops having this rough sequenced sample thing (maybe thats just my approach to these objects).

with the digital scrape of timestretching, its not really somthing analogue equipment can do, its more a form of synthesis in itself (granular), but you can do crazy things with melodyne or somthing that dont sound at all harsh.

<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/brekOtE03Ic?fs=1&hl=en_GB"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/brekOtE03Ic?fs=1&hl=en_GB" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

i think this sounds pretty satisfying ^

<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/vRvbg62zX3w?fs=1&hl=en_GB"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/vRvbg62zX3w?fs=1&hl=en_GB" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

this also
 

skull kid

Well-known member
"whereas digital lo-fi tends to be abrasive and purely unpleasant."

this isn't always true though, people love to talk about the "warmth" of classic 90s ny rap for instance and attribute it to the low sample rate of old samplers, even going further to celebrate certain DACs and dithering rates and so on. why do you think sp-12s and mpc 60s and the like still command decent rates on the used market?

this whole analogue = warm, superior, digital = cold, inferior thing is a dichotomy that began in the used synth market to promote an agenda, and has unfortunately become second-hand knowledge in the critical realm. i doubt very much that anyone on this thread could blindfold identify an analogue synth from its software counterpart, or a digital recording from 1/4 inch tape, especially if you consider the great lengths software designers have gone to emulate analog recording techniques (this isn't a sleight on anybody, not many can!)

whatever actress uses, i reckon the perceived warmth of his recordings comes as much from his use of classic deep house tropes, soulful 7th and 9th chords and suspensions, and more "human" feeling unquantized drum patterns, than any particular gear. i did read somewhere that he samples youtube a lot, which may explain the low bitrate people are hearing
 
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