OK So the title may sound like I produced a top ten worldwide pop chart hit. Well I did actually do that over 20 years ago, but that is another story in my musical history. However here I am referring to a single that I produced back in the Spring of 2019 which was a disco version of the classic Derrick May Strings of Life anthem from 1987 which peaked at number 14 in the Traxsource Nu-Disco sales chart and reached by late August of the same year. So you can consider that a hit to some degree in the Disco House quarters.
Getting this high up in the Traxsource charts is not an easy thing to achieve and it is one thing I am proud of, as the track was played and supported by many DJ's and was well received on the dance floor.
So if you produce Disco tracks no matter what the style, be that Edits or Jackin House etc, you must always try and add something in there that is different to the way you normally do things. It is easy to get stuck in a rut with laying out tracks and sticking to the same formula.
Here are some ideas for you to try on your next track.
TRY USING A REAL LIVE DRUM LOOP
By this I mean grab a real drum loop that sounds organic and combine it with your 909 kick for example. Use Congo loops or patterns that you program in and layer them with say an 808 open hi hat to give off a contrast rather than using digitally produced drum hits.
ADD A SYNTH BASS
Using a live bass is pretty much a fundamental in Disco House. If you make loop based Disco then its highly likely the sample will have a live bass in anyway. However if you are creating Nu-Disco without a live bass sound, then you should think about selecting a bass sound that has good resonance within its sound. This way you can get that high end squelchy sound and make the track sound more bouncy than static.
ADD AN ORCHESTRA
This might sound obvious for this track as it is based on strings, but Disco was always a string based sound. So get some cool short staccato strings and add some into your track. Give it as much organic feel as possible and blend it with the synth sounds. It gives a wonderful contrast.
DOUBLE UP THE SYNTH BASS AS A LEAD
If you use a synth bass, it is highly likely that the sound will act as a lead synth if you climb the higher octaves. This is always a good thing if it sounds good so you can modulate it and this then makes mixing down the track a bit easier as the sound is the same for bass and synth which makes it easier than combining and trying to blend two separate plug ins etc.
If you need a good midi controller keyboard for your music then check out the Novation Launch-key range. i use the Launch 25 key and it works a treat with all of the modulations and cut offs I apply in my tracks it is a perfect straight out of the box controller. Just click the image below.
What I did here in this video is show you how simple my production technique is and how you can apply these traits to your own sound in order to take some influence from.
So for this tutorial I decided to show you how I made the track and the different elements I used in order to bring this all together. The techniques used are quite simple and it was all about selecting the correct set of sounds in order to layer them perfectly.
As I discussed above earlier regarding live sounds, I felt like I wanted the texture of the track to have a live feeling, rather than a digital studio sound. I wanted it to be as organic as possible and as retro sounding as possible too. So I selected as many live percussive sounds as I could find and try to keep the synth sounds at a minimum.
This also applied to the string patches that I used from the East West Sounds Online sampler, where the pre sets are all taken from rich high quality orchestral instruments, again keeping the sound and feel of the track live. However you can use the Labs strings which is a free VST plug in from Spitfire Audio. Link available HERE
So please check out the full tutorial in the video below and then also at the very bottom is the actual official track that was released on my Waxadisc record label across all digital platforms. Enjoy.