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COVID-19 was not quick enough to shut sayseamake out of the Artist Sessions!

We had only finished the session with sayseamake as the COVID-19 lockdown measures were announced! We live in unprecedented times but music is one of the weapons we can use to get out of this stronger, together!

sayseamake is a trio based here, in Manchester, UK, but oddly… they all come from Italy! Giorgio being the synth geek of the band and behind the vocals, Luca dominating these guitar strings and Giuseppe smashing any kind of drums/percussion he finds in his way, and why not, put in some more synths!

So you can imagine the form the Meditteranean spirit within that room with 3 Italians and a Greek. Εccezionale! (I put this in Google translate so hopefully it makes sense!)

sayseamake – No One Is Safe

All music rights are reserved by their respectful owners
Recording, editing, mixing, mastering by Nikos Pavlou
Filming and Post Production by Nikos Pavlou

And now, the technical bit!

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I think this one was one of the most interesting sessions we had in The Apartment.
Not only because of the number of channels we did use, but also the extent of how seamlessly I used the Steinberg AXR4 with my MOTU 8pre from a technical perspective, and on top of that, musically with the heavily effected vocals, synth-heavy ambience and electric guitar.
A very interesting combination which you will not find out there easily!

What equipment did we use for this session?

As you can tell, definitely loads of DI Boxes to start with! 4 of them to be more specific. We used them to the instruments we wanted to route through the AXR4 Preamps so we could take advantage of the Rupert Neve Designs Silk Processing on them.

To start with, these would be the mono percussion output from the Roland SPD-SX and the mono bass synth output from the KORG Volca Keys module which was controlled with the Arturia KeyStep. I decided to use the Blue SILK texture on these two as it would enhance the low-frequency harmonics of these signals, making them sound richer! So that takes care of inputs 1-2 on AXR4.

Then I decided I wanted to use the Red SILK texture on the vocal outputs from the Roland VT-3 to enhance their high-frequency harmonics instead! I also decided to record both the clean and wet versions just in case we wanted to reroute them via other effects, and I am so glad I did take this decision as when I was mixing, I ended up using the wet vocals in the centre of the mix and 2 versions of the clean vocals hard-panned left and right, but both were heavily processed with iZotope’s VocalSynth 2 (which I love) and put very subtly in the mix, creating a very mysterious atmosphere in the background that sounds like an ambient pad. This also allowed the vocals to glue with the music in a much more creative way. Pair that with the pristine quality the Aston Spirit provides, and you’ve got a winner!

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Finally, the Yamaha Reface DX that was playing the lead synth melody and the guitar output from the pedalboard were plugged straight into the first two combo inputs on the front panel I made for the MOTU 8pre. The MOTU 8pre was hooked onto the AXR4 via a double optical ADAT bus, which allows up to 8 ADAT channels (we only used 2) to be recorded via the AXR4 at 96Khz! I have to admit I cheated with the guitar a bit, as I re-amped it via the Kemper Profiler when I was mixing, and then the Kemper Profiler output went via the Red SILK texture transformers too! You can never get enough of them in the mix!

If you are wondering if we should not plug the unbalanced jack plugs straight into the MOTU 8pre, without using DI Boxes, remind yourself why by reading the article I wrote about the basics of audio cables! Click here!

Oh, in case you are wondering about the Novation LaunchKey61, that was triggering a piano sound from a VST instrument loaded onto Steinberg’s Cubase 10.5 which was “drown” in reverb from Steven Slate’s VerbSuite Classics. No latency!

Input List:

  1. Roland SPD-SXDI Box
  2. KORG Volca Keys (controlled via Arturia KeyStep – DI Box
  3. Roland VT-3 (Clean Vocals) – DI Box and Aston Spirit
  4. Roland VT-3 (Wet Vocals) – DI Box and Aston Spirit
  5. Yamaha Reface DX – Jack output straight in MOTU 8pre, then to AXR4 via ADAT
  6. Guitar Pedalboard Out – Jack output straight in MOTU 8pre, then to AXR4 via ADAT
  7. Novation LaunchKey61 – MIDI In via USB
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Once again, everything was recorded on Steinberg’s Cubase 10.5
and by using AXR4‘s powerful panel for monitoring, recording this session was latency-free!

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Hope you enjoyed another Artist Showcase! See you soon!

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