How I Did It

by Martin Cee (softmartin)
Recommends (16)
Sun, Apr 18, 2021 @ 3:06 AM

Uses samples from:


Tools I Used

IR courtesy of Fokke van Saane

Samples I Used

cdk(Analog by Nature)

Original Samples



Oftentimes with secret mixer events, I don‘t pay enough attention to the theme; as soon as I have my assignment, I just start looking for stems and see where they take me. I resolved that this time it would be different. I had hesitated about signing up for a yinyang event, at first glance and not knowing anything about yinyang except the famous symbol, it struck me as a dualistic approach, but I signed up anyway.
I was assigned cdk/Analog by Nature and was first of all quite simply awed, listening to the remixes on his first page and visiting his YT site. Then I was miffed – lots of great tracks but hardly any stems ! Having already started to read up about yinyang and how opposites are connected and even complement one another, I put that aside and thought, well this may be an advantage, it could lead me somewhere where I wouldn‘ t otherwise go.
My first idea, given I only had complete tracks, was to simply add a vocal /voice-over --just talking about what a track meant to me, what it made me think of or feel. Progressing through cdk‘s catalogue though I did find a small number of tracks with stems.

The next two or three nights were spent tinkering with these and reading up about yinyang, listening to podcasts about yinyang and medicine, YY and basketball, YY and plant-based nutrition, reading various wikipedia articles. And somewhere towards the end of week 1 I decided „cuckoo“ was the track I would use, and I also had a rough idea of the vocal.

What I tried to do with the stems
I found the sound too rich, so I tried to skim the cream off—partly because I don‘t like too lush a sound and partly to have room for the voice.

I split the piano into 5 frequency bands and after some experiments, ended up keeping only one with just small snippets from two others. The piano still had a sort of knitting wheel vibe, which didn‘t seem to fit this piece, so I modulated the EQ at around 1000 using an LFO.

As to the strings, I liked the sound, just added some reverb
( IR : Church Schellingwood courtesy Fokke van Saane )
and thought I was good, but then hit a problem with the content of the vocal. I had recorded the vocal on the first weekend, then rewrote it and re-recorded it on Tuesday of the second week. It was then that I realised I couldn‘t keep the beautiful, harmonious feel of the strings whilst the vocal was talking about the terrible situation of the Uighurs in China. By now the end part only had the strings, the piano had already been faded out. I ended up adding a lot of distortion, coupled with a gate positioned just about at the volume level of the strings, so that it eats bits away like a moth making holes in a sweater. Tricky to do, but I think it goes some way to solving the problem.

The vocal itself has a low gate on it, and I added a couple of pauses but otherwise straight out of the box. As is my wont, the instruments are compressed with a side chain from the vox

And the words themselves ? Reading about yinyang led me directly to thinking about China, its industrial, political and military might, which in turn meant thinking about the CP and the Uighurs. I know that the assignment was a call for more positive contributions, but mine didn‘t go that road.

So, that was „How I did it,“ and I hope the track finds favor.

Information about the Uighur situation came
from this podcast

and from buzzfeed.