Shawn Rudiman’s Post-Industrial Punch
Circuit sample pack brings techno-tinged grit to the Novation groovebox
When techno producer Shawn Rudiman reached out to the Novation team to see how he could share his Circuit Pack with the Circuit community, there was a humble sense of accomplishment at Novation HQ.
Circuit was designed with community in mind, and its development has been shaped to a large extent by the feedback of a loyal online community. From the growth of the Circuit Owners Facebook Group to the advancements to Components, Circuit’s utility portal, the user-base has always been at the heart of the product.
Shawn is a total producer’s producer, and his decades in America’s underground dance music scene, paired with a strong community spirit and 100-percent-decent work ethic, has earned him enormous respect from coast to coast.
Grandmaster Of Machines
Anyone’s who’s tried to put together a live techno set with multiple different machines knows that it’s a challenge. On top of needing to know each piece of gear inside and out, you need the skills to make good music from scratch in the heat of the moment, and be able to switch up the pace to keep the crowd engaged. Shawn Rudiman is a grandmaster of this, mainly because he’s been working with musical machines since late ’80s and early ’90s. (Check out this in-depth bio of Shawn from iheartsynths.com.)
Over the years, Shawn has got his hands on practically every music-making machine, and his Pittsburgh, USA studio is crammed to the ceiling — literally — with equipment racks, keyboards, synths and audio-processing curios. Shawn takes a fairly democratic approach to gear, acknowledging that no matter how inexpensive or hard to use, almost every piece of equipment has at least one or two features that are attractive to him; attractive enough for him to keep hold of basically everything he buys.
“I use the Circuit for its all-roundness” — Shawn Rudiman
Circuit, on the other hand, is one of Shawn’s all-rounders, and he selected it for his touring rig, alongside a carefully selected few. “It’s earned a spot on the live team mainly due to the synths,” Shawn explains. “Having another poly and mono synth with sequencers and wavetable engines in that size and portability is super nice to me. Then you add in some drum parts? Yeah… it’s an invaluable tool.”
But sounds aren’t the only consideration. “I use the Circuit for its all-roundness. It has a completely different visual interface to program bass/lead lines and poly lines. Once you understand the key layout in relevance to a 12-tone setup, it is super fast to multi-octave stuff. I also use it for its drum parts and its odd abilities with samples. I load it with a good array of riff building blocks that can be combined for a lot of stuff. So ‘overallness’ is key.”
Post-Industrial Punch: Samples For Circuit
Shawn’s Circuit sample pack gives him everything he needs to build grooves. “It’s a collection of things that simply work live, with which I can generate a groove quickly and with texture. There’s an assortment of kick drums. A couple are home-grown by me, and there are a few of my favourite ‘infamous drum sounds’ — sounds I’ve heard on so many records over the years that seem to just hang with me for some reason. A lot of the sounds are quite a bit tougher than you’d expect from a ‘techno guy’, and that’s because I prefer more industrial-sounding drums. Some are even resampled at lower frequencies or on classic samplers to add aliasing and shimmer. Hats, congas, chord hits, snares, pings, pongs and kicks. I like having a good array of things on hand when playing live.”
“A lot of the sounds are quite a bit tougher than you’d expect from a techno guy.”
What’s missing in his sample set, admits Shawn, is bass sounds. “There’s a lack of bass samples, but since Circuit has a very capable monosynth on board, I chose to use the sample slots for other things.”
Shawn’s strong community spirit runs through this pack. “It’s always nice to see how a performer does things and organises their machines for their performance. This is like being able to get a glimpse inside, to maybe help somebody who will shine in the future on this machine. To offer a view as to how to maybe help set up an efficiently used sample set. Also: it just seems fun and I like sharing and helping people.”
We asked Shawn for his tips and advice to fellow Circuiteers. “Spend the time to learn the feel of it,” he suggests. “Learning the velocity is especially useful.” Circuit is a really customisable tool, and a few hours spent working out a layout that works for you will pay off in the long run. Shawn also recommends that you “learn to build your own patches and devise your own system of laying things out with the macros, especially if you’re using it live. The less thinking you can do, the faster you’ll be on it. Game that system to your advantage.” Finally, Shawn suggests that you choose your samples carefully, and keep them short. “Load your own samples. Short ones. Rely on the sequencer and your small sounds to build. Not on loops that lock you in. Loops are training wheels; the goal is to ride free.”
In its debut form, Novation Components was an online, browser-based portal. As of 11th April 2017, a standalone version of Components is available. You can access Shawn’s soundpack through this, or the original Components site. Check out components.novationmusic.com.