LAYERS: Breaking Down The Sounds Of St. Louis In Remi Sorbet's "End Of Summer"
A few months ago, I got a message from a guy called Loose Screwz. By “called” I don’t mean that that he has sadistic parents, but rather that this man is a producer working under the name Loose Screwz, creating really nasty beats in St. Louis, MO. Now, if you know anything about St. Louis, it’s probably that it’s home to an iconic American structure and is riddled with crime. Having plenty of experience with Philadelphia’s vibrant music scene, these characteristics gave me hope for what might be brewing in St. Louis.
Following Loose Screwz’s LAYERS article, he told me a bit about the burgeoning scene in his town—there’s not much going on there yet in terms of support, but that there are kids there like him making beats and sharing them. His own collective, FarFetched, houses a handful of producers who are in the early stages of forming a sound for the city. One of these producers is Remi Sorbet, a kid who really likes synth stabs.
The really exciting thing to me about the St. Louis FarFetched crew is not just that kids are making beats and posting them online. Plenty of folks do that on a daily basis. It’s that they are finding each other, joining forces, packaging their music, and creating a style and a scene in their city. As time goes on, and the way we attain music continues to evolve, giving us more and more options, I look forward to seeing more such collectives popping up all over the US and the world. Every city is an opportunity for a unique sound, with its own characters and influences—like a miniature fictional superhero universe. Thus far, we know what LA, Montréal, Berlin, and Moscow sound like. Well, for your reference, this is what St. Louis sounds like.
Let’s dive into the composition of Remi Sorbet’s “End of Summer.”
Before I had even started building the track, I was messing around with a bunch of 606 drum samples. I came up with a loop and adjusted the tempo until it felt right.
I was also messing around with a really powerful synth brass preset in Logic, which I used to lay down four chords. I converted the chords into audio, sliced them up, and then loaded them into the ESX24 sampler so I could make a glitchy loop.
BASS DRUM & SNARE
Next, I dug through Battery 3 and came up with a heavy bass drum with a tight snare. I didn’t want anything over the top for the snare because I wanted to keep the listener focused on the brass chords. At some point I decided I was going for a “garage” feel.
I was still in the experimentation stage of using Battery 3, and I had just figured out how a lot of artists were pulling off that cool drum roll sound (Major Lazer, etc.). I decided to throw some in my track to see how it would mesh with the bass drum, and I liked the result.
909 drums complimented the track perfectly. They added a nice old school vibe in the areas where I dropped the main bass drum and snare, but weren’t overbearing enough to drown out the other elements involved.
RISING SYNTH LOOP
After looping up the first half of the track, I felt the need for a switch up. I wanted to avoid using the glitchy brass chord loop for the entire track, so I decided to keep things moving. I pulled out all the kicks, left the snare roll, and added a new synth with a rising sustain ramp.
SYNTH LAYERS & CYMBAL LOOP
Next, I added a couple more synth layers just to bring out some emotion/vibrance before I returned to the loop arrangement from part one. To smooth out the transition at the end, I added a reverse cymbal sample and added an upward pitch ramp for one of the synths.
SITAR SYNTH LOOP
This loop was a lucky addition I made to the latter portion of the track. I had found a free synth that could be made to sound (sort of) like a sitar. I threw down some quick chords on a MIDI keyboard, re-arranged a few notes and sidechained it to the 909 kick drum, which I included in the loop.
Put ‘em all together, and here’s what you get. “End of Summer” by Remi Sorbet.