We caught up with Skapes for an in depth look at his studio techniques and advice for new producers…

How would you describe your sound for those that hadn’t heard before?

SKAPES: My current stuff I guess you could describe as bass driven, groovy Tech House.

What was the concept and inspiration for Skapes?

SKAPES: The Skapes thing was a move away from my previous incarnation as Calvertron, which was quite noisy, robotic dubstep and drumstep. I kinda felt I’d exhausted that sound and got a bit bored.
My good Mate Dickie Drysdale came up with the name, I still have no idea what it means.

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How long have you been producing?

SKAPES: I first starting using Cubase on an Atari ST about 20 years ago.

How did you first get in to music production?

SKAPES: I played in thrash metal bands from a young age, the last band I was in we had a Dude with a sampler and keyboards triggering samples n shit live, he left the band so I got a sampler and did the backing stuff myself. I got more into that than playing guitar and “singing” (screaming like a goat).
I got really into stuff like The Prodigy, Goldie, Metalheads & Drum n Bass etc, and ditched the band and cut my hair.

Talk us through your set up?

SKAPES: Just mainly Cubase on an iMac, Some Native Instruments stuff, I love the Slate Digital plugins, I have a Dave Smith OB-6 synth and a Bass Station 2. Adam monitors and a sub. I used to have loads of analogue and outboard gear and a Mackie 32 channel desk back in the day, which was great fun but not really needed anymore (for me personally).

What one piece of gear would you love to own?

SKAPES: Nothing really, I have what I need. The most important thing is that creative urge you feel before making a new track, just need that to keep happening. Nothing worse than writers block.

What are your top 5 plugins current?

SKAPES: Probably all found in the Slate Bundle, the EQ’s, compressors, reverb, delay etc are all spot on. NI Battery is fab for drums

Where do you find inspiration?

SKAPES: Playing gigs and seeing people’s reactions helps to figure out what does and doesn’t work. Nothing better than seeing people go nuts to your own productions.
Makes things hard when you have a gig dry patch!

What do you listen to in your free time?

SKAPES: Coldplay, Cypress Hill, MF Doom, Gorillaz, Foo Fighters, Megadeth, Pantera, The Police, Karl Pilkington, Louis CK …

What advice would you give to new producers?

SKAPES: Enjoy it, if you don’t, do something else! Too many people in this for the attention instead of the love of music IMO.
Like I said further up, i think sampling and gathering material (sampling vocals, making synths patches etc) as a totally separate exercise to composing and producing a track can be really useful. It’s something you can do when you don’t feel creative, and there’s nothing better to make you feel creative than having a shit load of cool stuff ready to make a new track with!

What are your favourite techniques and plugins for processing drums?

SKAPES: I do most of it in midi, a lot of layering, grouping, compressing, reverbing, panning, eqing etc.
Could be here all day explaining. Slate Digital stuff is great on drums!

If you could choose a dream collaboration, who would it be with and why?

SKAPES: Would love to work with Goldie and Liam Howlett, Timeless really inspired me musically and The Prodigy Experience/Jilted Generation albums blew my mind as a young Heavy Metalist learning how to use a sampler. We’d have to top that off with MF Doom dropping some bars.

How do you usually start tracks and where do you turn to for sound sources?

SKAPES: I always start with a kick drum! Hopefully I’ll have a load of samples pre-made, I find vocals anywhere and everywhere, TV shows, YouTube, movies, acapellas, sometimes fun to make your own (obviously you have to pitch em down)

Also if you are working in the studio and get stuck; how do you get past that point?

SKAPES: If the inspiration isn’t there, I either do something else or do some sampling. Then when I go back to it I’ll have a load of new stuff to mess about with.

How many hours does it typically take to complete a track from start to finish?

SKAPES: Some of my favourite tracks took about 3 hours (plus a bit of tidying up later). Some can take months of revisiting.

What projects are you working on currently and where would you like to progress to in 12 months time?

SKAPES: Just finished off a collaboration EP with the legend Huxley that’s been signed to Green Velvet’s ‘Relief’ label. That will be released in November.
Had a bit of a slow year in 2017 but things seem to be picking up so hopefully the gig dry patch will get a bit more moist.

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