Wojtek Taranczuk and Grzegorz Demianczuk – better known as Catz N Dogz – first emerged into Berlin’s burgeoning techno fraternity in 2005 with their Superficial EP on Trenton Records. Since then they’ve released on pretty much every envelope-pushing label worth their salt, from Poker Flat and Trapez to Get Physical and Crosstown Rebels. 2008 saw the release of their debut album on Claude Von Stroke’s Mothership imprint, with the hotly anticipated second instalment ready to land later this year. In between a world tour, curating their own PETS label and remixing dOP and Luna City Express the Polish producers found time to chat exclusively to Sounds To Sample.
Loops or programming your beats from single hits?
It depends on our mood. If we have a strong musical idea in our head it can be good to use loops to build a structure quickly, keeping the momentum going and letting ideas flow into the computer. Once the idea is in there you can always go back and tweak beat elements later.
At other times we enjoy programming our own beats from scratch: it gives you complete freedom, but there is no denying it is a longer process.
Both methods work for us at different times, although using loops these days is almost as creative as programming single hits with the speed and accuracy with which you can cut and edit in Ableton.
Who’s currently rocking your world as a producer and why?
There is so much cool music around right now that it is sometimes hard to keep up! At the moment we’re listening to Mount Kimbie almost every day; what they do is so interesting. On the more 4/4 side of things, we’re still big fans of Modselektor.
What one piece of kit or plugin can you not live without?
There are a few plugs that we use in all of our productions. It’s impossible to pick just one.
Our friends from Pol_on showed us the Voxengo range of plugins that sound awesome when used on vocals or live instruments. We use them so much now that I don’t know how we managed without them before.
NightShine is our secret weapon: we strap the compressor over the master bus, using it to push the track around 2dB louder without affecting sound quality.
We’re also big fans of the FabFilter plugins. They sound amazing and are guaranteed to inject freshness into any track. Our particular favourite is the Timeless 2 delay filter.
We’re always on the lookout for new plugins; it’s addictive because a new must-have toy seems to come onto the market every week. It’s impossible to keep up!
When building a track how do you normally work? Do you start with the drums and build from that?
We use one of two different approaches. Sometimes we sit and play with sounds until a track starts to develop. With this approach it can feel like you’re not going anywhere, then all of a sudden a nice idea comes out of the air.
The second approach is more focused. We find a sample we love and then build the track around the sample. This method tends to produce our best results.
These days our studio is entirely software based, but for many years we recorded our own instruments and vocals, which means we have a rich supply of samples to build our tracks around.
Any advice on monitoring? Quiet? Loud? Do you prefer flat and boring speakers, headphones or big, phat and chunky monitors?
The secret of our sound is our 20-year-old Aiwa speakers. If you can make a track sound good on really flat, nasty speakers then it will sound good on any system. At the mixdown stage we use headphones to monitor subtle details – like delays, reverbs and air in the mix.
What are the biggest barriers new producers face?
The main barrier is that there is so much music being released now that even if you make a dancefloor bomb there is no guarantee it will get noticed. Back in the day one big track could make a career; these days the legendary ‘big break’ is much harder to come by.
What three pieces of production kit could you not live without?
We used to have professional monitors but we were never happy with our sound when we used them so we switched back to our trusted 20-year-old Aiwas. They aren’t professional monitors but we know them so well that they just work for us. We would never consider using other speakers now.
Because we’re always traveling to gigs we have started using Ableton more and more. It’s cool that we can work on something on the plane and then when get home we can finish it in the studio. The other piece of kit we couldn’t do without is Cubase. When a track is nearly complete we export it from Ableton into Cubase for final mixdown. I don’t know why but I always think finishing tracks in Cubase makes them sound better.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you started out in music, what would it be?
Be confident in what you do, and don’t let people take advantage of you.
What do you find hardest to get right when making a track?
We always have the same problem: we’re perennially guilty of over-complicating the arrangement. We like to create intricate arrangements but sometimes over-complex tracks just don’t translate onto the dancefloor. On the one hand a busy arrangement is good because it means your tracks are never boring but on the other hand it’s important to understand that more boring tracks work well in a club as people respond to rhythm rather than musicality.
Mastering: do you go to a professional mastering house or do you do it yourself?
We try not to overdo things on the master channel. We don’t over-compress or over-limit our tracks. If you do then you risk ruining their sound quality, which will become all too obvious when the track’s played on a good soundsystem.
More from Catz N Dogz at: http://www.myspace.com/3channels