Keeping It Simple with Scarr.
Scarr. is the brainchild of Yash Salvi. Pune based electronic music producer and one half of Feeling Sunsets, with friend & partner Sachin Menon (aka HAEN). Together they both also co-founded Soule Studios - a production house & mastering agency.
Yash was doing his undergrad in Media & Communications when he realised music was his way and dropped out to pursue a career in music. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Ford, Kina, Kasbo, Eden, Tourist and the likes, Yash’s music can be described as easy going, emotive-ambient electronica.
2020 was a milestone year for Yash, with a slew of independent releases as 'Scarr.' and his & Sachin’s debut EP - Moved as Feeling Sunsets got picked up by Silk Music (now known as Monstercat Silk), receiving high praise from listeners the world over.
Currently, Yash is working on an EP and live set for his solo project, a second album for Feeling Sunsets and a second EP on Monstercat Silk, that just released a day ago. We caught up with him in the middle of all this to get an insight on his production workflow and process.
“My production process is very simple. It’s all about using the right sounds & samples to make everything fit than over-processing any of it later on. I’m always on the lookout for sounds that I like and then experiment using them..”
He shows us one of the tricks that he does on most of his tracks using the stock Ableton reverb and its freeze function to create big sustaining atmospheres that fill up space and sets the ambience to his tracks.
Here’s how you can do the same:
- Add Ableton’s stock reverb on to your channel
- Set the Dry/Wet signal to a value between 20-30% based on your taste
- Enable automation for the Freeze function and draw your automations on to the clip channel as shown in the video
- Enable the Reverb unit’s Device On/Off automation and draw automations where the reverb turns off just before the end of each clip and starts again with the next clip
This works best on shorter samples to give a bit of hang time for the sustained reverb.
Yash’s favourite plugin since 2015 is Lennar Digital’s Sylenth. He uses it to make his main lead sounds but the LFO in Sylenth is one that he wishes could have been better. So instead of automating or using the LFO directly, he re-samples his sounds from Sylenth into an audio track and manipulates it in the audio clip to create an LFO effect.
You can do the following technique with any audio sample. Check it out -
- Double click on your audio sample to open clip view
- Under the clips Warp settings, go to Preserve & select 1/16th duration to start with
- Enable No-Looping ( -> ) for the preserve setting
- Adjust the envelope box amount to your liking as shown in the video. This acts like a gate
- You can further play around with the same 3 settings to get different variations from the same sample
“Another thing that I do is reversing samples. Whenever I like a melody or a hook, I like to reverse it which is so simple to do on Ableton, you just hit CMD + R, and the reversed sample creates a very interesting pattern and other textures along with it. I like to use this as a counter to the original melody so it seems like they’re talking to each other.”
- Duplicate the audio sample you want to another channel
- Hit Ctrl/Cmd + R to reverse the clip
- Layer it with the original sample clip to get more harmonic textures
“I love this technique a lot. It’s simple and gives you a lot of interesting output. Back in 2015 I even wrote a song completely with reversed samples that I loved so much. Unfortunately, I lost the hard disk that had all my projects and files from back then.”
Another trick Yash likes to use at pre-drops and at the end of the song is transposing down (or up) at the end of audio samples to create a tape stop effect.
This is a very common technique used by hip-hop and other electronic producers -
- Go to the clip automation section on your audio clip
- Under Envelopes select Clips & Transposition to enable automation on your clip
- Mark your automation points for the clip to pitch up or down as per your liking
We then got a little more insight into his production workflow and how he approaches his new projects.
"I’m trying to do different things right now, experiment more with drums and sounds I’ve not used. As said before, I like to keep things simple and not overdo them.”
“I always start my projects by writing chords and pianos. That’s my go to. I use Labs (Spitfire Audio) a lot because that’s the only synth I have apart from Sylenth on my laptop.
I’m big on writing chords in Ableton rather than playing them. There was a phase where I was very dependent on my midi keyboard but I had to move to Delhi and couldn’t carry any of my gear along with me, and had to keep my setup portable so I could write music anywhere I went.
I randomly start with a note. See how it sounds. Then I’ll go make a chord out of it and then build the progression around it. Once I have a good chord pattern going on, I add filler notes. Once this is done, I start writing the other melodic elements like pads & synths..”
“One of my most favourite pad sounds to make is a sine wave with noise. It’s very simple, just open up any synth. Get a sine wave in stereo on 1 osc and noise on the 2nd osc, add some attack. I’ve used this sound so many times on my tracks & I never get bored of it.”
“Once I have all of this, I go and make a bassline. Drums are usually the last thing I do because I need to get the feel of how the melodics sound and then start programming my drums according to that.”
“The first thing that I add when I make my drums is a snare to keep track of time because I rarely use the metronome. Then I add the hats, and finally the kick drum. Recently I’ve started doing more complicated hi hat patterns. If there’s a hi hat sample that I like, I chop that up to a rhythm pattern that I like while listening to the other parts.”
“Another thing that I like doing with my hats is to use Ableton’s groove pool to add swing. I also use this on other drum parts and even melodies that I want a swing on. This is very helpful to make grooves rather than the usual 1, 2, 3, 4 pattern..”
Yash, like a lot of producers, currently approaches his production with the “less is more” concept which works very well for him.
If you liked his process and found some useful tips you can use in your own production, do drop a comment below.
You can listen to Yash’s music and follow him through the following links -