He’s a firm favourite of DJs as varied as Sven Vath, Sasha and James Zabiela, he’s released records on Bedrock, Systematic and Treibstoff Recordings and has designed sounds for Native Instrument presets. Having been at the top of the electronic music scene for nearly 20 years Robert Babicz’s star shows no sign of fading so we caught up with the main man to see how he works his magic.
Tell us about your studio and set up…
My studio is based around a Macbook Pro with Logic Pro as my DAW as I love all of the integrated synths and EFX, like the ES1 and ESX24 or the default delays. I also have a lot of outboard gear because I believe when it comes to compressors or EQs the real thing is always better than a software emulation. I have a Klein & Hummel Ue100tube EQ from the late 1950s, a HCL VARIS tube compressor, a Chandler Curve Bender and reverbs like my AKG BX20E and the Eventide Orville (for me the best efx reverb on this planet), amongst other things. All the signals go though a patchbay to the analogue and I mix down the signals through an analogue summing box which my friend built for me. From there the stereo signal goes to my Struder a80 tape machine and back into the computer.
What is the prognosis for the music industry: terminal decline or steady recovery?
I have really no clue, I work solely on bringing quality music to our scene, as I think and hope that music that is timeless. I think there is a lot of audio pollution going on these days and I think artists and labels should ask themselves if they really need to release all their music. Music becomes worthless if you flood the market, how can a music fan keep up?
As an international touring artist who can regularly find themselves on different continents in the same week, how do you strike a balance between your touring schedule and time in the studio?
If you are really into what you are doing, pushing yourself to the limit is normal, but I like to go swimming and taking photographs to recharge my batteries. A sauna after the gig helps too!
Does the industry these days dictate that artists need to be both creative artists and businessmen in equal measure?
I don’t like dealing with the business side of things, that’s why I’m really happy to have management. It’s good to know I have someone that is taking care of those things and stopping those sharks from eating you up!
Who’s currently rocking your world as a producer and why?
I like a lot of the stuff that’s happening in the dubstep scene and anything that Boys Noize produces is dirty and sexy.
What one piece of kit or plug-in can you not live without (other than computer and monitors)?
I really can’t live without the NI Battery sampler. I use it for the main drum sections in all my tracks because I like to sample and make various kits, that way I have so many different sounds at my fingertips.
I also couldn’t go without my Studer a80 tape machine. For me it plays a huge part on the overall sound of my productions. I’ve tried lots of different tape machine emulations but nothing comes even close to my Studer.
When building a track how do you normally work? Do you start with the drums and build from that?
That’s not easy to answer, but often I’ll put a bass drum down as a metronome and then play around with basslines or chords. As soon I find a theme I take care of the rhythm section and then do the rest. I am very fast, usually a track is ready in 5-10 hours. Most of the time it’s the massive amount of automation that goes on in my tracks that is so time consuming. I take care over the automation because I love details those subtle details that you might not hear the first time you listen to a track but which come out after numerous plays.
Any advice on monitoring? Quiet? Loud? Do you prefer flat and boring speakers, headphones or big, phat and chunky monitors?
When you have good aucoustics in your room you don’t need to make it loud. I love my KRK Expose E8B because they are flat and honest, so if anything is wrong the speaker will slap this into you face and if it sounds great they’ll give you goosebumps!
What are the biggest barriers new producers face?
It’s the massive amount of competition, as the market is really flooded, to get any attention these days is extremely hard.
What three pieces of kit / software could you not mix without?
A hard question, because when you take a look at my studio you can see that it’s built like a spaceship! I also see my studio like a living organism, all parts are just as important as each other, so say arm is better than this leg is difficult. All I can say is that I love Logic Pro , I love my Struder and I love my UAD and NI plug-ins!
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you started out in music, what would it be?
Belive in yourself but also be your worst critic and most importantly practice, practice, practice. After your first 1000 tracks you will know were you want to go as an artist.
More from Robert Babicz on his website