Philth Tips #14 – Mute the drums

I haven’t blogged for a while, but I have been writing an absolute ton of music over the summer while I have a break from my day job at the college. And more than anything I have been focusing on arrangement, making tracks interesting all the way through and avoiding looping/repeating stuff as much as possible. Here is my top tip for writing interesting arrangements:

mute the drums, and focus on everything else in your track….

There are two main reasons why I do this. First, drums are very tiring for your ears. All those transients, and lots of high frequency. As a tinnitus sufferer, I find it is nice to give my ears a rest to avoid them getting fatigued. But the most important reason you should mute your drums is so you can hear what the instruments are actually doing! In DnB the drums are always going to be right at the front of the mix, and they mask a lot of your other sounds. Yes, you need to put the work in and get your drums rocking. But even really good drums do not hold the attention for 5-6 minutes.

Once you mute the drums you get a better understanding of what your instruments are doing, and how they relate to each other. Here’s the challenge: can you make the track interesting and lively all the way through without relying on the energy of the drums?

Switching the drums off forces you to focus on the journey of your track. It doesn’t matter if you are writing the deepest liquid or the hardest neuro, your track should be evolving and keep the listener guessing from start to finish. When the drums and bass are playing it is too easy to just ‘roll it out’ and copy and paste whole 16 bar sections. But why would you just repeat the same section twice? You end up with what is effectively a really long loop, and if you don’t keep the listener on their toes then their brain will habituate and switch off.

Once your drums are muted, start soloing instruments and looking for pairs – two sounds that compliment each other both musically and in terms of frequency. It could be that the two sounds have textures that work well together, or you have found a nice call and response between the two melodies. I will move tracks up and down in the DAW until the pairs are next to each other. And I colour everything so I can see the arrangement more clearly. I think Ableton does this by default, but in Logic you should take a minute to give each sound it’s own colour and it is so much easier to read the arrange window.

When you have identified some pairs, try swapping them around to see how they interact with other parts. Soon you will have a better idea of all the possible combos within your track. I like to have pairs playing for alternate 16s, so that just as the listener has got used to the musical parts in a section, you make a switch and introduce a different combo. For example, a sampled piano with a complimentary pad for the first 16 after the drop, then answered by a strings and keys combo in the alternate 16. By not playing sounds for too long you leave the listener wanting more and encourage them to listen all the way through.

If you get it right you can then combine your pairs with the special element of a vocal or lead melody to really lift your track. Save a few special parts for the last 4 bars of a section and then every 16 and every 32 feels like it builds to a climax. You can also think about the elements in the way a band would – does the piano play during the verses or just the chorus? Let the keys play a solo in the 16 bars before the breakdown. Save your pad for the sections where you want to calm it down.

I put this technique into practice last night, which inspired me to write this article. I had been sent stems for a collaborative project, and once I had loaded the sounds into the right channels in my mix template, I went through the musical parts and looked for pairs. I then added some new parts of my own, and soon I had all the musical elements needed for a full tune. At this point I sketched out the arrangement in full, thinking about how the energy built up and down, some sections are busier and then drop down into a stripped section so it can build up again. You can’t play all your sounds all the time, so think about how they relate to each other and you can develop an arrangement that is progressive.

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I worked for 2-3 hours with no drums. I focused on the journey and had a track that kept me interested and changed enough to avoid the boredom of familiarity. When I finally switched the drums back on it had the desired effect – suddenly the track was full of energy and I was dancing in my chair! But most importantly it held my attention for 5 minutes, and if you’ve ever listened to one of my mixes you’ll know I have a very short attention span.

Give it a try and tell me what you think. Your ears will thank you, and hopefully you will put more focus on the structure and arrangement of your music and keep the listener locked in for your whole track.


2016 End Of Year Mix

I am very happy to tell you that this year’s End Of Year mix has been featured as this month’s DJ Mag’s podcast! I’m really chuffed that a 4.5 hour long mix of pure DnB rollers will be reaching their audience and will educate some house and tech heads about the variety of styles in our music. There are 174 tracks in the mix, but still about 100 more that I wanted to use but couldn’t fit into the mix. That’s a good year if you ask me…

Read the full article here:



Dawn Wall ‘Spears’ / ‘Longshanks’
Lenzman ‘Cherry Blossom’ / ‘Got My Mind Made Up’
Soul Intent ‘1, 2, 3, 4 (feat. DJ Tango)’ / ‘Go Hustle’
Battery ‘Hornsey Dub’
Mikal feat Xtrah ‘At The Controls’
QBig & Zenith B ‘Heptine’
Ed:it & Pennygiles ‘Set Theory (Ulterior Motive Remix)’
Agressor Bunx ‘Rhodium’ / ‘The Order’
Audio ‘Drop It Human’
Mefjus ‘Suicide Bassline VIP’

Zombie Cats ‘Shakaree’
Konichi ‘Contraband’
Nymfo ‘Marching Machines’ / ‘Pitchfork’
Goldie presents Rufige Kru ‘Dark Rider (SCAR remix)’
Malaky & Satl ‘Her’
Olski & Blaztiks ‘The Promise’
Facing Jinx feat. Formik ‘Drifting’
Ivy Lab & Alix Perez ‘Maiden’
Calibre feat. DJ Marky ‘Amen Tune’
Facing Jinx feat. Peta Oneir ‘Meet You There’
Need For Mirrors ‘Tanlines’

Random Movement ‘Sleazy Bitch (Ivy Lab Remix)’
Random Movement feat. Collette Warren ‘Same Old Feelings’
Zero T ‘Withstand’ / ‘To Close To See (feat. Steo)’
Philth feat. Collette Warren ‘Water’
Quadrant & NC-17 ‘Dub Central’ / ‘Living A Lie’
Drumsound & Bassline Smith ‘Cobra’
Ulterior Motive ‘Radian’
Current Value ‘Biocellulose’
Dub Head ‘Original Massive’
Break ‘Winter Rain’
Total Science ‘Soul For Sale’
Northern Zone ‘Soul Is Still The Same’
Bad Company UK ‘Equilibrium’

Signal ‘No Control’ / ‘Ennair’ / ‘Blindfolded’
Aperio ‘Falling Down’
Facing Jinx ‘All My Love’
Bungle ‘Enclosure’
HLZ ‘Corals’
Seba ‘Hide The Tears’
Nymfo ‘Everyday Emotions’
The Vanguard Project ‘Driftwood’ / ‘Rhode House’
John B ‘Lie To Me’ / ‘Colossus’
Dexta ‘SE4 (The Ends)’
Serum ‘Species’
Mindscape ‘Buzzkill’
Machine Code ‘Planet 9’
Philth ‘Your Love (SCAR remix)’ / ‘Yeti’
HLZ ‘No Peace’

Current Value ‘Pelham 123’
Machine Code ‘Test Run’
Emperor ‘Sidestep’
Mayhem and Logam ‘Centuria (Amoss Remix)’
Amoss ‘Rollpipe 2016’
Dabs ‘Thematic’
Voltage & Nicky Blackmarket ‘Dub Tickles’
Artificial Intelligence ‘Ghost Raccoon’ / ‘Shrine’
Calibre ‘Under Bars’
FD ‘More Than Ever’
Response and Pilskin ‘Code 98’
The Upbeats & Ivy Lab ‘Pharaoh’
Spirit ‘Consciousness’

Changing Faces feat. Ero Drummer
‘All That You Got’
Satl ‘Girl’ / ‘You and I’
Phil Tangent ‘Drawing You’ / ‘Mea Culpa’
Handra ‘Far Away (Ed:it Remix)’
Arkaik ‘Chu Kou’ / ‘Shapes (feat. Signal)’
Hydro & War ‘Film Noir’
Audio ‘Ambush’
Murdock ‘Original’
Audio ‘Overdose’
Volatile Cycle ‘Subcurrent’
L 33 ‘Clublife’ / ‘Grime All The Time’

Jam Thieves ‘Genesis’ / ‘Lustig’
Bredren feat. MC Swift ‘The Legion’
Alix Perez & Skeptical ‘Elephant Dreams’
Alix Perez ‘Had I Known’
Data 3 feat. Blake ‘Caught In The Moment’
Soligen & Type 2 ‘Chasing Clouds’
PFM ‘Drifting On By’
Technimatic feat. Jono McCleery ‘Hold On a While’
SCAR ‘Fractions’
SCAR feat. Naomi Pryor ‘If You Knew’
Conduct ‘Meraki’
GLXY ‘Make Me Feel (Phil Tangent Remix)’

MC Fats Collective feat. Squarewave & DRS ‘Rolling Day (Philth Remix)’
Need For Mirrors ‘Rough Trade’
Noisia ‘Anomaly’ / ‘Tentacles’
The Upbeats ‘Joyrider’
Optiv & BTK ‘Inception (Gydra remix)’
Maztek ‘Grinder’
Bass Brothers feat. Jam Thieves ‘Pusher’
dBridge & Alix Perez ‘Through My Eyes’
Pola & Bryson ‘A Good Thing’ / ‘Run From You (feat. Sammie Bella)’
Gerra & Stone feat. Lucy Kitchen & Stephen McCleery ‘Unbreakable (Zero T Remix)’
A-Sides feat. Aletta ‘Voices’

Lenzman ‘African Dream’
Mutated Forms ‘Affectionate’
DLR ‘Thinking About Tomorrow’ / ‘PYOYB’
Dawn Wall ‘Ember’ / ‘I See U’
Chromatic ‘Smile’
GLXY ‘Expressions and Impressions (feat. Peta Oneir)’ / ‘Seductress’
Philth feat. Daniela Rhodes ‘Perpetual Motion’
Ed:it ‘Babylon Step’ / ‘Isolution’
Philth & Collette Warren ‘Don’t Let Go VIP’
Narxy One ‘Hydrogen’
Disprove ‘Damage’

Signal ‘Parallax’
Melinki x Verva ‘Jumanji’
Alix Perez & Zero T ‘Enemy Of Reason’ / ‘The Ladders’
Dom and Roland ‘Outcast’
Fierce & Zero T ‘Axis’ / ‘Always Something’
Break ‘The Rush’
Dom and Roland feat. Hive ‘DMT’
Digital ‘Crater Face’
Dom and Roland ‘A New Renegade’
Mohican Sun ‘Where Did You Go’
Utah Jazz ‘Growth Comes’
Satl ‘Rescue Me’

LSB ‘Missing You (feat. Tyler Daly and DRS)’ / ‘Sketch For My Sweetheart’
Artificial Intelligence ‘Dreams Of Freedom’
Wyman ‘Call Sign’
Zero T feat. Steo ‘Ever Need’
Kimyan Law feat Phentix ‘Mondegreen’
Alix Perez ‘The Raven’
DLR ‘When Tribes Collide’ / ‘Trip Up’ / ‘Science Funktion’ / ‘Journey To Mars’
Survival ‘Trespass’
OneMind feat. Ulterior Motive ‘Early Evolution’
Mefjus and Emperor ‘Sanity Check’

M-Zine, Bredren & Sceptikz ‘Then Suddenly’
DLR & Ant TC1 ‘The Grip (DLR’s Tripping VIP)’
Nymfo ‘Coming Through (Quadrant, Ant TC1 & Iris remix)’
Philth & Agman Gora ‘Death From Below’
GLXY ‘Overwatch’
HLZ feat. Awaken ‘From The Past’
Survival & Script ‘Sahara’
Total Science vs. Digital & Spirit ‘Jigsaw’
Riya feat. Total Science & Frank H Carter III ‘Confessions (Break Remix)’
GLXY ‘Astoria’
Riya feat. Philth ‘Silhouette’
Blu Mar Ten ‘Last Life In The Universe’

Sense MC feat. Philth ‘Sinatra’



Philth Tips #2 – take some time off!

This might sound even more counter-productive than my last blog post – because of course you need to work hard and be consistent in order to keep improving. Yes you need to hone your skills, and that comes with repetition. And this tip is actually the thing I struggle with the most, feeling like I should be in the studio every single day to keep up with all the other producers. But sometimes it just feels like you’re banging your head against a wall and nothing is working. No ideas, no inspiration, everything you record sounds rubbish, Break’s tunes sound much better than yours….

Time to step away. When you’re stuck in a rut the worst thing to do is force it. You end up getting frustrated, then disheartened, disillusioned with the music, then you convince yourself you need the next bit of equipment or magic plugin in order to break through the wall. The reality is just that you need a break. And coming back to my previous post, that means a complete break from DnB, so your brain can soak up some inspiration from other sources. Go and do something else. Watch films, read books, listen to Stevie Wonder, take photos, paint, spend some time cooking nice food, whatever your hobbies are…. maybe even go outside occasionally.

I find that all my best tunes come when I have had some time away to clear my head. Sometimes this is down to work, being a teacher and a DJ can take over and I don’t have any studio time for a few weeks. But that just makes me more excited to go back in when the time comes.

I use a lot of my travelling time to think about music, to gather my ideas and prepare myself to create. I fill my phone up with notes, some of them can be quite technical (beat patterns for example) but more often it is more related to a concept or feeling. I have lists of track names, lists of samples, I have themes that I want to write about (sharks, space, rain), and when I finally come back to the studio I am raring to go and the music seems to pour out. Don’t get me wrong, in these happy periods I will binge and stay in the studio for 12 hours a day – and then the night shift. But this is because I have had some time to think about what I want to say.

Try it. When you aren’t feeling inspired take a break, get some distance, and go back into the studio when you actually have a strong idea of what you want to write. The music will flow naturally when it is ready….

Tune Of The Week #1

I’ve started a new feature on my radio show – my Tune Of The Week, chosen from the new music released each week. A chance to highlight some amazing new music. The first tune I have chosen is……..
*drum roll*

Frederic Robinson – Theme Park

A spectacular piece of music from a very exciting producer. Available to purchase now on Blu Mar Ten Music. Here’s the links:

Buy Theme Park on iTunes

Buy Theme Park on Beatport

My Top Ten tunes for June: Deep Edition

Here’s a chart I put together for Juno. Deep vibes all the way!

1) Amparo – Between You & I [LIQUID TONES]
2) Philth – Heart Song [SOUL DEEP]
3) Bayou – Careless [FLEXOUT AUDIO]
4) Phil Tangent – Giving Up The Ghost [RUBIK]
5) Calibre – Cully Bridge [SIGNATURE]
6) Philth – Catharsis (ft Sinai) [SOUL DEEP]
7) Alix Perez – Playing Games (ft D’Ablo) [SHOGUN AUDIO]
8) Philth – Submarine [AUTOMATE]
9) Philth + Wreckless ft Formik – Now Or Never [PEER PRESSURE]
10) Alix Perez – Brokem Heart (ft Two Inch Punch) [SHOGUN AUDIO]

My Top Ten tunes for June