Come Undone and the bass struggle
It was the day when I decided to make something different.
Producing progressive psytrance never bored me and as far as I’m concerned, I will stick to this genre, but I wanted to expand my horizons.
Because I used to play Tech-House when I was a professional DJ and had a big sentiment to this genre, I thought I’d give it a go.
I started to search for a suitable vocal. I didn’t want to have a cheesy song, nothing too commercial but at the same time it needed the story.
After spending few hours browsing for royalty free vocals, I came across a few vocal samples and ended up choosing a few separate takes into one song. Then it was a matter of writing a groovy bassline and some chords, after that the melody should come up easy.
My Push 2 came very handy when it came to writing the bassline.
I spend some time searching for relevant reference track and for inspiration.
After a few weeks of experimenting and listening to it thousands of times, it was the time to send it to my go-to mastering engineer and a good friend, Filip Pietrzykowski. By that time my ears were so used to the track, I was no longer able to make any executive decision.
Filip is the person behind Red Mastering
The amount of experience and knowledge he has, is very impressive.
This is where the challenging work with the bass started!
Thanks to professional acoustics, with amazingly transparent monitors and years of experience, Filip could identify the problems with kick and bass, which for some reason I missed. I blamed the ear fatigue on this but there was more to it.
After listening to his feedback and trying to fix the issue, it seemed that there was not much progress and the bass still didn’t fit in the track. At that time, Filip decided to try stem mastering.
It proved to be a very hard work. Filip spent a few solid hours trying to make that terrible sounding bassline to sound good. It sounded better but we agreed that it didn’t sound good enough yet.
Thanks to his persistence and my ambitions, I didn’t give up and I have decided to work on that bassline for another few hours. The breakthrough came when I decided to use different bass instrument.
All my psytrance basslines were made with Trillian. Somehow, Trillian wasn’t really cutting it with “Come Undone”. Suddenly I remembered, that I recently purchased a VST Called Substance, from Output. I wasn’t too familiar with it at that time as I didn’t really have much time to play with it, but I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be much more sophisticated than I thought!
After browsing through its library, I came across a few potential candidates for my groovy bassline!
There was however, still not enough juice and power in the new bassline. I recently changed my soundcard from Mytek, to Universal Audio Apollo and because I had two weeks trial remained on all their plugins, I decided to use one of their bass amps. That proved to be the right move!
The bass suddenly came into life! It was the time again to send it back to Filip to test in his studio.
I couldn’t wait to hear from him. That one hour waiting for his call turned into eternity!
Finally, that was it! The bassline was done.
Music producers today, have the tendency to do everything themselves. I used to be the same.
This approach can be sometimes misleading. It can be very helpful to have a professional mastering engineer to listen to your track and give you a feedback.
Not all monitors sound the same and no studio sounds the same as yours. The more references and more people you can have to provide you with constructive feedback, the better for your mix.
It's very challenging for one person to have objective opinion on the track that, on which that person has been working on for days or weeks. The more times you listen to your track, the more your brain gets used to it and convinces you that it sounds great! I fell for this trap while working on “Come Undone” and I am very happy that I decided to use Red Mastering.
The track has been mastered by Filip and released in March 2019.
Since then, it has been picked up by Spotify curation team and placed on their playlist with over 40k listeners! I am sure that this wouldn’t happen if I decided to release it without Filip’s help.
He truly opened my ears and helped me to shake off that veil of mushiness I had over my ears after endless hours of listening to the bassline and trying to fix it, not really knowing where the problem was.