LAYERS: Spirit Guide And Every Break Down The Tenets Of Their "Union"
This week’s LAYERS is a double header from a local outfit called Ounce. They’ve got a veritable “crap ton” of releases on their bandcamp page, and if you’re into hearing a whole lot of sick beats in once place, you should totally check them out. As a little introduction to the label, we’ve got the track “Union,” a collab between Every and Spirit Guide, who shared duties over an expanse of physical space. The guys have presented each of their contributions to the track, giving this particular LAYERS a little extra depth than previous ones.
If you like what you hear below, you’ll like to know that Ounce. is releasing Spirit Guide’s EP Holo C on November 14th. Every most recently released an EP called PP/OMO over the summer which you can check out here. The guys have plenty to say about the track and its creations, so let’s jump right in.
Spirit Guide: Every and I live several states apart, so working collaboratively was a bit of a challenge. This was the first thing we’ve ever worked on together and the production of it came together quite quickly. I started off with this sort of sketch, and I sent it over to him and he messed around with it and sent back what turned out to be the final cut. Since then we’ve been working on a few other things and I’ve really started to enjoy this way of working—sending sketches back and forth instead of sitting down and trying to make something solid on the first go. It’s kind of showed me that if you think of everything as just a sketch or an idea, then there’s a lot less pressure. I don’t think it’s really realistic to just sit down and put on your stern face and write your opus. It’s so much more pleasant when you say, “I’m just gonna mess around for a while.”
Every: As a first collaboration between two artists with slightly different sonic aesthetics, it was really great to see the result of their merging. To start the process, Spirit Guide sent me a sketch of some ideas. I loved the track immediately and was hyped to chop it up and create something. I wanted to retain the kernel of its character while also introducing some new elements that are more a part of my vernacular—pronounced low-end, heavy sidechain compression, and a more hip-hop inspired beat. I began by isolating, rearranging, and emphasizing certain components of the sketch while building a drum beat around it. I really liked the vibe of the second half of the track Spirit Guide sent me so I wanted to preserve it as the ending while adding some of my own touches, like the integration of another sample at the track’s termination. I finished up by using iZotope Ozone to make the track really bang! really enjoyed seeing the transformation of the track from one thing to another. It would be great even to push the track through more back-and-forth iterations via email to see what emerges.
This is a sample from Siavash’s “Mohtaj.” Siavash is this Iranian pop star that all of my family overseas adores. I don’t know much about him, just that his music videos are really entertaining. That aside though, I couldn’t resist using this sample—it’s definitely the backbone of the song for me.
I use Ableton for pretty much all of my instruments. I’m not really sure how people feel about that, but I just love some of the sounds that you can make. I use the Absynth plug-in by Native Instruments for most of my sounds on this track, this flute being one of them. It’s super breathy and when I threw it in I just felt like it rounded everything out in a great way. It’s got that floating vibe that I always want real flutes to have.
So these drums are also from Absynth. This and the Siavash sample are what I really started with, and built off of.
I actually made this piano melody for a different song, but when I threw it into “Union” and I liked it so much more. There’s not too much to say about this one, except maybe that it’s probably my favorite piano sound.
I threw these drums together using a couple different drum machine samples, because I thought that the water drums needed something more sturdy behind them. I don’t really like talking about where I get my drum sounds from, but I will say that there is a guy somewhere in Europe who has an amazing website that has samples from almost every drum machine ever and all it costs to get access is like seven euro.
In my mind there are two distinct parts to this track, and so I didn’t really feel right carrying the exact same drums into the second half. This is a pretty glitchy sample, but that bouncy kick takes it. It also kind of sounds really Kylie Minogue or something. So then I sent it to Every.
Pretty straightforward drums, nothing complex or particularly unique about them or the samples used. The intent was simply to make the track bang a little more. I really liked the descending bass riff going from high to low. To me it gives a real hard-hitting feel as does the clap. What makes the track really bang is the side-chaining of the drums to the sample. This has an effect more pronounced than compression, and ducks the sample away when the kick and clap hit. I use side-chaining extensively as it is a powerful and precise way of making room for elements within a track. The second half of the track is barely altered other than to add a subtle boost in the kick’s low end, and to add a delayed clap.
I really liked the delayed synth line before the drop in the sketch Spirit Guide sent me and it’s also a nice singular instrument in the mix to sample. I isolated it and made it made more prevalent in the mix by replacing two bars of Spirit Guide’s beat with that synth riff, making it a repeated element. After its initial drop I resampled it an octave higher and layered this with the original to give a bit more fullness. I took a little low end out of Spirit Guide’s mix to make room for the new sub and kick, added a bit of delayed reverb, and messed around with the synth sample again at the end of the track. The track transitions to a slowed-down sample from a Hearts of Space radio show from the 80s, paired with the originally sampled sketch, and the synth ‘hook’ slowed as well.
A synth riff I constructed in Ableton with Operator and then obliterated with grain delay, reverb, overdrive, chorus, and bit reduction. Adds a nice atmospheric wash to the track, fills in some holes that may have been created through side chaining, and adds an overall depth to that portion of the track
Put it all together and here’s what you get. “Union” by Spirit Guide and Every.