Lerosa: Studio Talk

First making noise via D1 Recordings 13 years ago, Dublin-based Italian producer Lerosa has been pushing his eclectic sound for some time now, releasing various forms of quality club music via labels like Ostgut Ton, Uzuri, Millions Of Moments, Ferox and Idle Hands.

Preferring to keep out of the limelight throughout his career, Lerosa works to a studio philosophy that resembles the Japanese concept of “kaizen” – a workmanlike, incremental improvement. His new record Bucket Of Eggs marks his first album in 8 years, and certainly sounds like an artist who has mastered their craft.

Gliding through the worlds of of house, dub techno, acid and electro, the album’s hazy rave journey comes perfectly paced, with each sonic component feeling deeply considered and approached with Jedi-like control.

Marking a debut for Acid Test, the full length is out at the end of August and ahead of its release, we were keen to catch the low-key producer in his temple to talk all things studio. Read on below as Lerosa shows us his inventive weapons of choice and just how he uses them.

1. Studio

Functionally this is my interpretation of an old school dub-reggae studio. All the instruments are synced by a Yamaha RS7000, all audio goes right into Ableton in discreet channels for recording, like a multitrack tape recorder, it is then routed back out to an analog desk onto separate strips for monitoring, EQ and outboard effects. I record all instruments simultaneously or some overdubs into Ableton, this allows me to later play this back, riding the faders, jamming mutes, EQ, sends, changing effects parameters and record this dub performance, which becomes the track after some edits. It is basically the dub process which I use on whatever I’m working on. It captures the moment, the human behind the machines, the errors, happy or unhappy, it’s very organic.

2. Tower of Dub

For effects in general I like faders, knobs, buttons, anything fast to edit and distinctive in character. I have settled onto this rag tag of Boss Micro Rack series effects, an Echopet 50 delay and two analog filters; the Vermona Lancet Filter and the Waldorf 2 Pole. Some are sends others are inserts, what I like about these is the ease of editing on the fly, which suit my recording style, and that they definitely impart their sound; they are not clinical or precise, they are idiosyncratic and a bit noisy too. The filters on digital sources add extra resonances and can turn the meekest of drum machines into brutes.

3. Uverbia

To complement these, I use a ScreaminFX Uverbia which is exactly what you’d expect an American metal head making guitar effects would call a spring reverb pedal, and that’s who I bought it from. It’s the real thing with big springs inside, I love it for quick dub sends on snares/rims and for that super retro atmosphere on mono synths patterns. It also has an overdrive built into the final range of the gain which turns into a bit of a scary beast when you feed it pads or sustained sounds.

4. The machines that go PING

I got a bit obsessed with synth drums a couple of years ago after seeing these kids (The Brothers Nylon, check them out) on youtube playing with a Boss PC-2 pedal so I went and tried to build a clone kit, failed, bought a clone called Amdek PCK 100 and in the process also discovered these cheap, unwieldy Yamaha synth drum pads called ED10s which I just velcroed onto a synth rack. Connected together it’s a hacked 3 oscillators poor man’s Syncussion. You fire audio triggers into them, or you can play with mallets if you feel so inclined. These cover anything from weird dub sonar pings to really ballsy kicks and noise bursts hi hats or gritty tom toms. I got custom green knobs on the ED10s because Ireland.

5. iPad Rig

A couple of years ago I was looking for a small sampler to add to an ambient live set and stumbled on an iPad app called Samplr and the whole iPad music apps scene. A few iPads and many Apps later I hacked together this little rig of two iPads hooked into a soundcard which syncs to my studio via midi, receives audio for sampling or processing and routes each iPad separately into an analog mixer (a Tascam 414 MKII 4 track tape recorder here) for a bit of “warmth” and EQ’ing. The apps here are Igor Vasiliev’s Soundscaper, a crazy sonic lab and Moog’s Animoog, a very inspired sort of wavetable synth. The tactile aspect of these apps is what sets them apart from the desktop VSTs, here you can instantly alter parameters with your fingers and because the developers tend to be small one person operations a lot of the apps are unusual and experimental in nature. This rig doubles as my live setup.

6. Dreadbox Abyss

The Abyss is a strange animal, I don’t know if it tries to emulate a specific old synth but it is VERY retro sounding, it has few controls but well laid out and sounds like it’s beamed from the 60’s. My own is a B stock which had been returned and fixed for whatever fault so I got it cheaper but I think it’s still faulty, the built in delay on longer times starts to really hiss and crackle but run that into a high pass filter and chorus and you’re in voodoo dub territory, there’s a good few bits of this in the Acid Test album.

7. You call that acid?

Nobody can afford a 303 as the song goes so I use whatever I can get my hands on also because you can get that sounds a million ways nowadays and I try to have my own. The Bass Station 2 is more into SH territory but the step sequencer and filter envelopes I really like, I use it to sequence a Korg Monotribe, the poor man MS20. I also use the electribe EA1 and the iPad Troublemaker app, both are generally laughed off as “thin” or ignored, both are very expressive instruments, quite a bit of these guys on the album too.

Bucket Of Eggs is out August 23rd on Acid Test.

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