Omnii Feature #9 : Under the lid with…K-MINOR

Photo by Alex Winn.

We catch up with London-based producer K-Minor after meeting at Red Bull’s Normal Not Novelty sessions, to talk about Maschine, making cinematic music and mixing with the perfect sounds.

Can you talk us through your choices for the tracks?

I’ve chosen these three tracks because they individually and collectively inspire me. These songs resonate with me on some kind of cinematic level and, when listening to them, I can immediately imagine a whole host of visuals to go along with them.

I’m a big fan of drum programming so I always like tracks with interesting grooves, although I prefer them to not be so hard that they take away from any delicate melodies. Maya Jane Coles has a wonderful way of using automation to make evolving grooves and movement within a track based on constant sounds. There’s something so captivating and gripping about her sound, and it’s so layered and textured. Somehow, she creates songs that are beautifully dark yet warm. “Comfort” is the title track from her album of the same name and is up there with my top songs of all time.

Synkro is sick and has always been a massive influence of mine. I absolutely love how he takes the vibe of UKG and DnB and merges that with ethereal soundscapes and progressive melodies. “Look At Yourself” was a track he recently released officially on his album Memories (2008–2011) with a whole load of his best work.

I’ve included Bearcub’s track because I love the vibe and although Secaina’s a featured singer on it, she’s also a dope producer in her own right. The overall vibe of this is wicked, from the sounds chosen to the arrangement and that hook sound is dope! Kind of reminds me of the lead sound used in Jamie XX ‘Gosh’.

Can you describe your working method/ process?

My working method and process differs depending on the project. Typically with a remix, I focus entirely on the vocals or hook. I usually take out the parts I like most and then work on building my own version of the track around that.

When it comes to working on my own material I like to start off with some kind of concept, whether it be a subject matter, a lyric, melody or chord progression. My creativity often comes and goes in short bursts so I find that I need to get the bare bones of an idea down really quickly. I usually start working on an 8 or 16 bar loop and flesh this out until I can hear three distinct sections. These usually go on to form the basic structure of intro/outro, verse and chorus/hook.

My main studio tools are Native Instruments Maschine Mk2 and Logic Pro X on a Macbook Pro. Audio is routed via a UAD Apollo Twin and I have a Novation Impulse 49 keyboard for midi.

K Minor’s home studio

How did you get into production? What have been your influences?

I’ve always been very involved in music and it definitely helped coming from a family of music lovers. At an early age I started off playing piano, guitar and violin, which gave me a really good grounding and then by the time I was 13, my dad got me a second-hand computer and one of the earliest versions of Cubase. That allowed me to start understanding how to use software, to make recordings of my guitar and vocals and taught me about midi. It was also invaluable for me to get to grips with the basics of arrangement. At this stage I was most influenced by Alicia Keys and Missy Elliot, so the ideas I made were more neo-soul and hip hop orientated. I’ve since moved on a lot and dabbled with quite a few other genres before arriving at my current sound which I’d say is a mixture of cinematic chill and electronica. I’d like to think it now encompasses all of my past influences and represents a distinctly UK flavour.

What is your favourite bit of gear and why?

My favourite bit of gear has to be Native Instruments Maschine MK 2 and iMaschine, the sister app on the iPhone. It’s liberating to be able to make music when I’m on the move and not necessarily in the studio. I swear people on the Tube must thing I’m mad sometimes — everyone’s reading newspapers and I’m there head-bopping like the Winston Churchill dog to a beat I’m making on my phone! I would definitely say that the combination of iMaschine and Maschine has been a real game changer for me. I love being able to take an idea that I’ve started on my phone and import it into the hardware of Maschine in a click of a button when I get into the studio. There I can really get into more sound design using a much larger range of tools and turn it into a fully-fledged song. I have the Komplete package for the Maschine and this turns it into an absolute beast! It’s the most incredible library of sounds, synths and fx packages which has really elevated the development of my own sound.

Photo by Alex Winn.

What is your personal ‘top tip’ for producing/ mixing?

My best tip for producing and mixing would probably be: pick your sounds carefully and try to be aware of how they fit together sonically. As a producer, one of the things that makes you unique is the sounds you use and how you use them, so it’s really important that you find your own way to glue things together. I didn’t appreciate this for a long while and would spend a lot of time frustrated that I’d made an idea that I liked but my mix sounded muddy. If you start off selecting sounds that don’t overlap each other, your building blocks are more solid and your rough ideas will already sound clearer. I would also suggest that you EQ sounds as you add them, taking out some of the unused frequencies to leave more space. This also saves you a lot of time when it comes to the final mix down.

I am currently working on my debut EP that will feature various singer/songwriters who have inspired me on my journey so far. It’s a work in progress at the moment but I expect it to be a deep, moody and cinematic ensemble!