Blue Hour : Studio TalkTweet
Luke Standing’s Blue Hour project has been going from strength to strength. Since 2013, Standing has been releasing futuristic techno driven by the energy of the ’90s on his self-titled imprint. His consistent offering and mature sound have caught the attention of some of techno’s most well-respected names, including Dave Sumner, aka Function.
His relationship with Sumner and Ostgut Ton has seen Standing remix Tobias and contribute to the Facticity compilation on Infrastructure New York. However, it’s on his own label that Blue Hour presents his best work.
In 2015, Standing started the ‘Remixed’ series to invite his favourite artists to reinterpret his productions. Previous editions have seen remixes from artists such as Steffi, Answer Code Request and Mark Broom. ‘Remixed 3’ will drop this August, with new versions of Blue Hour tunes from Ben Sims, Operator, Ctrls and Truncate.
We caught up to Luke to discuss his production process, and find out his favourite pieces of kit and software. Have a read.
I share the studio with my friend Simon (A-JX) who I produce the Tracing Xircles project with. We combined our gear and bought some things together such as the Midas desk. This is where I have been working on solo music recently as Blue Hour, as well as my project with Simon. Before I had my studio at home but decided to move so I could enjoy a better mixing environment and listen at louder volumes. It’s a windowless room within a basement of a carpenters workshop in Berlin. It feels pretty disconnected from the outside world so you can get lost down there for hours without distractions.
Quite often things start off with refreshing my sample library or rediscovering audio files that are hidden away in endless sub folders. I’ll sit at home and listen through my libraries, research into rare sample packs or splice sounds from music, films or just about anything I come across that I like and fits sonically. Just recently I played a jungle set at Fusion Festival in Germany and spent a couple of days cutting away at the music I gathered for that set. Sampling has always played a strong part of my production process. It tells a unique story of what you’ve come across and your experiences, giving something new purpose and your connection with it. It might be a pad, vocal, stab or chord of some kind. Most of the time I change it beyond recognition but its still there in some form or another.
Pretty much every single track I’ve made has at least one instance of Ultrabeat on it. I use it for sequencing and re-shaping samples, be it drum sounds or audio I’ve edited in Audacity. I like programming with a Roland style step sequencer, experimenting with patterns and re-pitching sounds until happy accidents occur. GoldBaby and D16’s Drumazon are my go to 909 drum sounds. This combination has really satisfied me in the past. However, recently I bought the TR-8S to try consolidating my workflow using a hardware drum machine/sampling groovebox. Recording this through the Midas console delivers great results and the sequencing possibilities of the TR-8S are extremely flexible when creating dynamic patterns with subtle variation.
Roland JD-800/Strings Ensemble
This was my first hardware synth, I drove to London with my Dad to collect it from DJ Zinc. Theres still a lot to learn from this unit but what I really like about it, is that it has several sliders to change parameters like a classic analog synth. It has some great patches onboard you can easily edit. You can also insert expansion cards (although pretty hard to find) like the ‘Strings Ensemble’ card. I scoured the net for this until PhilSynth connected me with someone based in Japan that could place a bid for me on a local auction site. Turned out to be worth the hassle, the waveforms hold the key to some of lushest sounding pad and string sounds in existence. It’s helped me learn a lot about synthesis and is still my first ‘go-to’ synth in the studio.
Universal Audio Apollo 16 and Satellite Octo
Most of the processing is done within Logic using plugins. Last year I upgraded my sound-card/plugins so that I could multitrack record and access UAD’S platform. It’s really been a game changer and given me new motivation when spending hours looking at the screen and tweaking settings. It was a pretty big investment to make but has been totally worth it. I’m using the Culture Vulture, VOG, Distressor, AMS reverb and Neve 1081 quite a lot at the moment. UAD’s plugins have helped me to achieve the desired results more easily and really get to know certain compressors, eq’s or choose the right reverb or type of saturation.
Elysia Nvelope (AU)
In addition to the UAD plugins something I couldn’t live without now would be Elysia’s Nvelope transient designer. When drum and percussive sounds need that little lift, this is a great tool for shaping sounds and getting things sitting nicely in the mix.
Other Synthesisers/Sound Sources/Sequencers
For me it’s not about using only analog/digital or hardware I like having various options from different synthesis techniques and sound sources. Everything has its own unique character and does something specific which help to create a wide palette of sound and give variation with my music. Nowadays I start collecting more but my studio is still rather limited compared to other gear heads. I really like the Matrix 1000 for example and recently I added the synth controller from Stereoping which opens up many more possibilities. Theres the Yamaha SY22 which is a vector based synthesiser with the joystick which you can move around to morph the sounds into one another and create subtle or dramatic changes to your patch. There’s also a other bits of kit like, Juno 60, Acidlab Miami, TX81Z and Modular available to use too. One of the newest additions is Arturia’s Minibrute2S which I mainly got as a interim hardware sequencer while I wait for my turn on the Cirklon waiting list. Having the addition of this sequencer to play the synths brings a different approach to my workflow and the creation of complex and experimental melodies.
Remixed  is out on August 27th on Blue Hour.
Pre-order it here.
Featured Image: Anna Tea