The title of this song, to me, represents verily the whole of electronic musicians. Sure, there are notable exceptions – serial collaborators like Swedish House Mafia, Daft Punk, The Prodigy, etc. but it seems to be a genre dominated largely by lone introverts spending most of their time among towers of synths and tangles of wires, both physical and digital.
Celldweller is no exception to this, and in this really cool video of his song “Lost In My Own Little World”, we get a sneak peak into his little cellar world, and a unique view on how his music is made.
In this song, he makes great use of the Moog Vocoder, a very rare analog vocoder that is pretty darn expensive (here’s one on eBay for almost $8,000). Thanks to a couple cameras (including a GoPro strapped to himself) we get an up-close and personal look at his insane modular synth collection as well as his digital workstation where he brings it all together.
I realize that this is mainly a metal website, and electronic music might not be your bag. But as a music theory dork, I generally know pretty much what’s going on with most conventional music I hear, and electronic music is fascinating to me because I have no idea what it is that I’m hearing.
Also fascinating to read is the video description, in which he lists all the gear he uses on the track:
This whole track started because I needed a good excuse to spend some quality time with my newly acquired Moog Vocoder. It evolved into a live performance, combining the Moog Vocoder, MU & Eurorack format modular synths and a Keith McMillen QuNexus to perform the live note changes of the bassline, lead & arps.
I ran everything in and out of Steinberg Cubase 8, relying heavily on Expert Sleepers hardware and software to keep it all clocked and in sync.
The bassline / lead was a single Synthesizers.Com Q106 module. The arpeggiator was 2 more Synthesizers.Com Q106 modules (panned hard right and left) being sequenced by the Synthesizers.Com Q119 (voltages were quantized with the Quantizer Aid module.) I ran these into 2 discreet Q107 State Variable Filters, whose frequencies I was gradually sweeping using the LFO from a Cwejman S1 mkII. I manually opened the filters in the beginning of the track and manually closed them at the end to make myself feel like I was being useful.
I multed out CV from the Keith McMillen QuNexus to the Q106, Q119 and the Macbeth Micromac-R (which supported the bassline occasionally with a hard sync sound I dialed up.) All chord changes were played live with the QuNexus.
I used the TipTop Z3000 mkII oscillator as the carrier for the Moog Vocoder, using slight FM from a Pittsburgh Oscillator to give it some vibrato. The modulator was my voice through a cheapass M57 mic, mainly because I didn’t want to spend all day looking for a 58. The notes of the vocoder were all played live via the M-Audio Axiom Pro, using a Silent Way Voice Controller plugin to control the pitch of the Z3000. I needed some words to sing so I quickly smashed lyrics from 2 of my songs together – “Lost in Time” (from my new album End of an Empire) and “Own Little World” from the debut Celldweller album. It was as profound as I could get on such short notice, I guess.
Drums were all triggered live from the TipTop Trigger Riot, routed into Dead Cactus Labs Gatekeeper Prototype Gate-to-MIDI converter. I used a Doepfer a-166 Logic module to make sure the kick wasn’t landing under the snare, because… reasons. (Thanks to Adam from Dead Cactus Labs and the fine & helpful people on the Muffwiggler forums for helping me wrap my brain around logic functions.) The MIDI notes converted from the Trigger Riot were sent into an instance of NI Battery, loaded with a Roland TR-727 sample bank. I blew them out with Soundtoys Decapitator because it’s a great plugin and lots of things should just simply be Decapitated.
That’s pretty much it. Some effects, eq’s and automation were done in the box along with some drum fills to fight the 80’s metal drummer in me who wants drum fills all the time to keep things interesting. (Touche, 80’s metal drummer – you win again.) I mastered the track with Izotope Ozone because it’s Izotope Ozone and that’s what you do with it. Oh, and it sounds awesome too.