Rhythm courses through the veins of Callum Lee. Long before establishing a global reputation for his dynamic, authoritative performances as Paleman, Lee thrashed at snares and cymbals whilst training as a jazz drummer. First releasing on Fulcrum in 2012, the Mancunian percussionist had to balance his career as a DJ and producer alongside his studies at Chethams School of Music and Trinity College of Music.
Lee soon demanded the attention of the UK bass-centric techno scene, masterfully demonstrating his theoretical grounding via undulating, wonky basslines and raw percussive workouts. Releasing on Loefah’s esteemed Swamp 81 imprint the following year, Paleman’s sound has continued to evolve across EPs on School Records, and more recently Zehnin, Nonplus and his own PLMN label.
From when his songs were first doing the rounds, Lee’s sound has morphed into a dark and dingy beast, reflecting the sinister child-eating monster from which he borrows his name. How does the Mancunian conjure up such ominous soundscapes, or sequence his vigorous rhythms? This inside look at his studio shows off a few of the key bits of equipment used to create mayhem.
Over the past 2 years i’ve made the switch to writing my music entirely with hardware, which I have found liberating and challenging. I still do a lot of processing on the computer but I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with the infinite options available in writing music purely in the box. I love the unpredictable nature of modular synthesis and the sound quality is just so inspiring – I fell in love with production all over again and have felt a huge creative spark since switching up how I write. I try to still set myself boundaries in terms of the amount of hardware I use because I think restriction is so important (at least for me) in the creative process. Here’s a few bits of kit that, at the moment, I couldn’t live without.
ENDORPHINES – FURTHRRR GENERATOR
This thing is the analogue hub of my modular system. I’ve been writing entire tracks on the modular and a few guitar pedals for the past few months and I usually begin with the Furthrrr when I sit down to patch because its just so inspiring and always throws something back at me… Ultimately it’s a dual oscillator module with advanced waveshaping and modulation capabilities but I use it for tons of stuff including drums, hats, basslines and drones… its super versatile and sounds incredible. The multiple outputs end up going all over my rig to FM filters and add spice to other parts of my patches too.
MAKE NOISE QPAS
Got this super recently, beautiful analogue filter with 4 multi-mode filter cores with tons of resonance options. It sounds amazing, and again it seems to always inspire me. One day this thing will pump out classic analogue filter sounds, the next it sounds like a marimba or gets all throaty and formant sounding. Fun to use, creative and a lovely sound. If you’re a modular fanatic this is a must have…
I wanted to avoid focusing fully on modular with this feature and focus on gear that I find truly essential in the studio and use every time I work. This thing features on everything I record. It’s just a digital delay unit at its heart, but has a lovely stereo image should you want that and is also versatile and weird when you push the settings to extremes, furthermore it’s tight, controlled and intuitive when you’re dialling in more standard delays. Just a super useful unit all round to be honest… I’ve had this thing about 4 years and don’t plan on getting rid of it soon.
This thing sounds fantastic, has a ton of options (including soloing bands, which is a lifesaver) and is just my go to all round EQ for transparent and practical EQing. I use the fab filter PRO-C2 and PRO-L2 loads swell as their reverb and de-esser too and a whole load more of their plugins. You can’t go wrong with Fab Filter!
ARTURIA BEATSTEP PRO
I get asked a lot about sequencing and the modular, and there are seemingly infinite ways to do it. Currently I use the Beatstep Pro to write pretty much all my music on the modular and I also use it to control Logic X and midi instruments in the box too. It has a ton of gate outputs, lovely swing, polyrhythmic capability and a nice touch of randomness if you want it. Quick to use but also has the potential for deep and quite complicated programming too. I love it and its the heart of my live and studio writing process.
PLMN003 is out June 10th.
Keep an eye on his Twitter for more info.