Sound exist all around us. Find it. Capture it. Make something new.

  • Novation
  • August - November 2019
The Team
  • Simon Peacock – Creative Director
  • Mike Wilcox – Director & Videographer
  • Harry Coade – Composer
  • Tom Smeeton – Composer

The project

Sound exists all around us, everyday objects colliding with each other, but do we ever take the time to listen to it? In reality, no, we are busy and live in a fast paced world. But each of those sounds is distinct, not all of them are audibly interesting but they have character. In our modern world of easy access to information and anything we want being a few clicks away, our inner desire to search out new things has dwindled. For music makers, getting a sample of an 808 kick drum or a string section is just an easy search on an online sample library that you probably pay £9.99 a month to subscribe to. But what if you stopped, you thought about all those sounds around you that could have so much more natural texture and timbre. A stroll in the woods could create an entirely new palette of sounds for your next composition.

The challenge for this project was to show any music maker at any level of their musical journey that you don’t need to spend excessively on sample libraries and plugins. Sound exists all around us and if you approach that with a creative mindset you can build tracks that have more life and a wholly more satisfying end result.

Making techno in Germany, obviously.

If I say techno, you’d say Berlin, right? Well, maybe Detroit or Rotterdam too. The heart of the modern techno scene sits neatly between Rotterdam and Berlin, plus getting flights over to Detroit was just going to add too much budget to this project! So we set out with an empty Ableton session and a plethora of recording equipment, a variety of sticks and beaters, numerous unusual microphones and a heathy amount of apprehension.

Authenticity was vital for this project, there was no point setting off to create sample packs for these genres of music if we weren’t going to take advice on the way from those who know the scene well. Animistic Beliefs have been long time friends of Novation so I put a call in to Linh and Marvin. It was a perfect reminder of how important collaboration is and learning from those around you.

From the wind farms of Rotterdam to the abandoned Teufelsberg spy base our journey was full off heavy hitting and hefty sounds.

Techno performance

Having spent a few days in Rotterdam we moved on to Berlin to conclude our sample sourcing. Scouting for locations to film the performance was proving difficult, all the spaces that seemed suitable were either restricted or had heavy footfall so we were going to struggle to get the shots we needed. I had already planned the next phase of the trip and we were flying out to Milan the next day, we still hadn’t filmed the performance. Then, a location I happened across in Switzerland looked exactly what we needed. A derelict factory within a national park. It turned out to be perfect for what we wanted, although the 4.30am call time and overnight stay in The Shinning esq hotel live long in the memory.

"Sound is so delicate, you have to respect it when you record it."

Refreshing electronica on the shores of Lake Como

To cleanse ourselves from the industrial thumping sounds of techno I planned to tackle a genre of music that was at the other end of the spectrum, the gentler side of electronica, on the shores of Lake Como and the surrounding beauty of Switzerland. The perfect tonic to the raw driving techno sampling we had been immersed in for the past 5 days.

Lapping water, the rustling of leaves and a medley of unusual instruments we found at a local market all came together to produce a track and sample pack that delivered a calming and original feel.

"The perfect tonic to the raw driving techno sampling we had been immersed in for the past 5 days."

Electronica performance

The shores of Lake Como provided the perfect backdrop for the performance but that seemed too easy, why not hire a boat and set the drone off to capture some beautiful aerial scenes. Sounds simple. Not if you lose contact with the hired drone with a low battery warning somewhere over Lake Como on a speedboat that’s meandering the waters. The good news, it was recovered, expertly plucked out of the air from the moving boat in true action movie style, that footage didn’t make the final edit though which on reflection is probably a shame.

Hip Hop adventures in Los Angeles

Not only was the goal of this campaign to show how the sounds all around us can be as useful as the ones you pay an expensive subscriptions for each month but that the Novation Launchpad was the perfect midi controller to work with these sounds.

Hip Hop has been a genre dominated by Akai and their MPC range but with this latest iteration of the Launchpad we had something to challenge Akai’s USPs. The pads were now bigger, more sensitive and velocity responsive, essentially everything a beat maker is looking for when building beats.

Authenticity was paramount here, we were taking on a genre of music that has such strong cultural ties that if we didn’t collaborate with artists in the scene we were going to have more than an over-easy egg on our faces. We were lucky to secure time with Illa J, AshTreJinkins and meet Amoeba Records Monalisa, a fountain of vinyl knowledge. This journey was all about the people we met and the time they offered us, without which we wouldn’t have been able to learn and understand a genre of music that is culturally important to so many.

Hip Hop performance

We met so many people who were willing to let us sample them that it became clear we were going to have more samples that one track could handle. So, we tackled a traditional 90’s hip hop groove sat under the Manhattan Beach pier with the Pacific Ocean in the background and transitioned in to a more current Trap beat on a rooftop in downtown LA to conclude the performance.

When you have sunsets that vibrant it would have been criminal not to have caught in on camera, plus it felt like we were constantly in a backdrop from GTA V.

"This journey was all about the people we met and the time they offered us…"