Dubstep the hottest new form of electronic dance music is catching up fast. Why is it so? What is it that makes Dubstep so unique and interesting? These are just a few of the questions I pose to myself as I journey through this very interesting electronic dance music genre. Here are some of my top tips for mixing electronic dance music.
Don’t be afraid of bass. Bass is the foundation of Dubstep and it’s definitely one of the main components you need to stand out in the sea of sound. Just don’t overdo it though, as one over-powering bass beat can ruin an otherwise good song.
Don’t be afraid of complex drum programming. If you’re not a professional drummer then this might be a bit confusing. Just understand that a typical Dubstep track has between three to four rhythmic layers. Usually these layers are percussion (drum rolls) with a variety of lead tones layered over them. So the more complex the drum programming, the better!
Experiment with new sounds. A common Dubstep knob is the “tone knob,” which can be controlled by clicking on a pad. You’ll need to learn how to use this properly though, as messing up the sound will not make it any fun to dance to. One way I’ve been able to really kill the sound is by using the pad at the far left of the mixer. Then I just move my mouse to anywhere on the screen and I’ve generated a new sound.
Experiment with the FX. This goes back to learning how to use the sound faders. Sometimes the sound fader will let you adjust the levels of the various effects in one go. This can be great when recording, as you can mix your audio in one take and save that as a new track. Just try to be patient with this one, as you’ll need to experiment.
Watch out for unwanted noises. Most people think they’ll be OK with a compressor and a limiting midi envelope. But if something isn’t sounding right to you, then chances are it’s going to be heard by other people. Try turning these unnecessary elements off.
Experiment with playing with the tempo. It can be very easy to lose control of this in the heat of the moment. So when starting out, slow down a bit and work your way up. The tempo of a song is extremely important, especially when working with a DJ. Don’t let someone beat you to the drum beat.
If you want to get really creative with your productions, then why not try using “layers.” Layers in electronic dance music can be thought of as another layer that you add on top of one track. So for example, let’s say you have a rough demo of an intro that you want to use as the base for the rest of the song. You can put the rough mix into another track, and add some extra bass lines and reverb onto that one track. That’s one of the simplest ways to create layers, and you’ll find once you get more comfortable with the process that it helps with the creation of loops too.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment. Why not try using different samples or sounds to create something new? Using samples from other songs can be a great way to take what you have already created and make something new out of it. The same goes for using sounds from other sources. This is one way you can use existing material to improve on it.
Finding good Dubstep sample packs is very important if you want to make it as a pro. Finding the right one though can be a bit of a challenge. There are so many out there that it can be hard to know where to even start. Some people will go straight to buying their favorites and forget about the ones they don’t like. Keep in mind that your final mix will be the one everyone will be listening too, so you need to make sure you’re happy with what you end up with.
Finding electronic dance music has never been easier. Thanks to the Internet, you’ll soon be able to explore the largest DJ music community online. The only thing you have to do now is get out there and start exploring. Good luck and have fun!