In The Studio With Noisia: The Special Edition
Producers may have their preferences when it comes to genres, but the producer’s producer generally has a surefooted grasp of each one.
For the Dutch production collective Noisia (stylized as NOISIΛ), the default for the past decade has been drum-n-bass, but those in the know—most notably Skrillex, who referred to the trio’s recently reissued debut full-length, Split The Atom: Special Edition [mau5trap], as his “go-to LP”—can recognize the group’s abilities in breakbeat, ambient, dubstep, house and whatever else interests them at the time. (On the mau5trap release, winning cuts like mega-wobbler “Diplodocus” have been re-rubbed by bass-kings like Kill the Noise.) Finally, heads in the U.S.—well, those outside the group’s hardcore fanbase—are taking notice.
Asked about the group’s Coachella debut, Martijn van Sonderen poses, “[It’s] certainly different when you compare it to a couple of years ago,” he recalls, “when we used to play in bars in the States and just play for 50 people, and most [of them are] DJs themselves who appreciate your production, and some breakdancers on an empty dancefloor.”
While all three members of the group can produce, DJ and touring duties fall on van Sonderen and Thijs de Vlieger, leaving Nik Roos to oversee the Noisia studio in Groningen, which at the time of this writing was undergoing a major overhaul. The group contracted Northward Acoustics in Brussels to redesign three separate, completely soundproofed studio workstations. “The whole front wall of each studio is gonna be fully glass and it’s gonna have suspended ATC SCM-110A monitor speakers in the glass,” he elaborates.
Each producer works with Cubase on PC workstations, although individual preferences mean that they use different synths. Van Soneren particularly favors [LennarDigital’s] Sylenth for its layering capabilities and [Native Instruments’] Massive, interestingly enough, for pad sounds. “Unless we write more poppy stuff, if we do actually [write a bassline] for drum-n-bass, [we] usually make a sort of basic sound in whatever synth,” he says. “It could be Synth ONE, the presynth that you can just download from the internet, and then just use plug-ins and just pre-sample it and use plug-ins and automation and re-sample it until it’s good.”
For Noisia’s DJ sets, van Sonderen and de Vlieger have been learning the ins and outs of Ableton Live since New Year’s Eve, and van Sonderen admits they’re still getting the hang of it. They use it alongside an iPad with basic effects, one of which allows a conversion from drum-n-bass to drumstep.