Take an inside look at VNTM’s studio where the magic happens. The Amsterdam-based Dutchman VNTM is a musician and live act that has been playing his take on techno at numerous big festivals around the globe. He appears with his machines and only plays out his own material in the melodic field.
Hi VNTM thanks for catching up with us…. You recently made your debut on the Afterlife label, can you tell us a bit about that track?
Good to talk to you guys, hope all is well? Yes, “Impersonation” is a track that started out as a live set tool. I used the melody as an intro at my show during Afterlife @ Tomorrowland in 2019. It was on a different scale. I decided to record the theme and turn it into a full six-minute track, made a few edits to finalize it, and actually took out a few things too to make it more minimalistic.
Most of the track was made “in the box”. For the lead synth I used the Lush-101 from D16 Group, and I used my MAM-MB33 Acid clone for the acid line in there. The pads are coming from Spitfire Audio Labs (a free plugin, very much recommended) and I created one of the lead synths with the Moog Subharmonicon. I got that Moog during the lockdown and I’m still getting used to it, I have used bits and pieces in a lot of productions already but there is still a long way to fully master the semi-modular part. I might even buy a few modules to expand the synth into a more complete modular rack!
Can you tell us more about your upcoming EP on Apparition?
For this year’s first EP on my label Apparition, I wanted to touch upon a rougher more techno-oriented vibe, suits the darker days of the year I suppose. “Mystic” has been in my sets for the past two years or even more, and it’s always a big moment because of the swelling synth in the breakdown. Never really found a moment to release it until now and I’m very happy to share it because it takes me back to those wonderful moments in the club that I shared with the crowd!
The second track of the EP, “Fractual” is a relatively new track which I created last fall, based on a repetitive rhythm that I created from a choir sample with an LFO, and a reversed synth line that gives it that dark and haunted mood. This track was completely created “in the box”, and for the mastering part I went to Conor Dalton at Calyx mastering. During this lockdown I decided I wanted to work on some skills and tried to refine them as much as I could. So I took a class with Conor who showed me the in’s and out’s of his mastering techniques and that helped me a big deal! I consider mastering to be a true art-form, and it’s very interesting to tune into that more and discover the secrets behind it.
Did you practice anything else besides music skills during the lockdown?
Well, I started cooking more often and mostly more interesting dishes other than the usual suspects, haha. Not sure if I already have a signature dish but since my last trip to India in 2019, I have been trying to create a good Butter Chicken and I’m getting better at it every time! Besides that I recently made some Korean Sticky Pork Bao-buns which were very nice and I’m always looking for more nice recipes to try out (especially Asian food).
What are your future plans regarding music?
I have an EP coming up on Joris Voorn’s label Spectrum this spring, and I’m very excited about these records. One of them has been requested very often after the last sets I did before the lockdown so I’m happy Joris saw the potential of that one and wanted to sign it. And the B-side is a more introspective one that has a repetitive and more dubby vibe.
Could you give us a sneak peek into the process of the creation?
For both tracks I didn’t use much hardware, my process behind records changes quite often to freshen things up and both of these were made after I got the VST called Repro-5 from a friend! Every once in a while I try to upgrade my arsenal with a new piece of (digital) gear, and this is a perfect remake of the legendary Prophet 5 by Dave Smith. Very powerful VST and one of my essential tools to create cool lead sound these days!
Besides that I have also spent some time with some cool effect plugins rather than synths alone, the Replika-XT and Output Sounds Portal are the best in my opinion. These delay units are capable of much more than just ordinary delays and they really have the ability to change and shape a sound into something more unexpected. Sometimes people ask me how I come up with sound design and to be honest, a lot of it doesn’t come straight out of my mind. It’s mostly trial and error and twisting knobs until I find something that sparks my interest, I know a lot about synthesis and the ways to control it but it’s the unexpected happy accidents that really give me the most joy!
Do you have any tips for the people at home trying to make music during the lockdown?
Make sure to have as much fun as possible. Especially in these days, music can be such a relief and it shouldn’t be anything frustrating. Everyone has writer’s block every now and then, so try not to let your head down because of that! The thing that helps me overcome this is creating music in different genres and other BPMs to really change the mood in the studio. Also, a lot of artists are sitting at home now too, and some are offering private courses in music production, teaching, coaching etc. so there are endless ways to gather new perspectives on production and learn a lot of cool techniques from them!