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JL & Afterman Interview

Meet JL & Afterman! Currently rocking the Beatport charts with their 2016 remake of the classical “Ram Jam – Black Betty” hit record. Find out about their favorite plugins, production techniques and much more!

Tell us more about yourself. When & how did you started to produce your music.

We are differently aged, but we have almost the same musical taste about dance music from 70s, 80s, 90s and onward.

Afterman: Started back in the 90s, I was playing classic and soulful house records back then. I won the Italian TDK DJ championship twice, but still – loved playing piano and guitar over other records, interpolating and remixing classics.
JL: I began as a DJ in 1985 and my career exploded during the 90s. My first productions started in 1991 across various projects such as Techno G., Back to Basics just to name a few. Founded my own record label White Cat Recordings back in 2011, besides that – I’m an A&R at Samui Recordings as well.
JL & Afterman: Afterman moved to Milan and has been introduced to JL in 2000, we became a friends and since 2010 we decided to do things seriously! We reached global and Nu Disco #1 positions on Beatport with several records and we are #1 right now with our “Black Betty 2016 Remix”.

 

Let’s talk about your equipment. What’s your studio set-up? What is your preferred gear of choice or are you primarily working in the box?

Both of our studios are based on Logic Pro X.
Our prime go-to synth plugins are Sylenth1, NI Massive, Arturia & Nexus 2.
For the mixing and mastering stage, JL uses – UAD plugins, Oxford Inflator, Eiosis, Keilwerth Audio.

Afterman: My studio set-up are Apogee One USB interface, Yamaha HS8 studio monitors, an electric bass and a couple of guitars, congas and latin percussions.
JL: My hardware includes – RME Fireface 800 audio interface, as well as Focal Solo6 Be and Yamaha HS5 speakers.
We both use headphones Audio Technica ATH-M50 and Sony MDR 7506.

How do you normally start your new project?

Typically, we have an idea from our past, or perhaps we get the hands on an inspiring vocal.
All of the instrumentals are created or recreated in the Afterman’s studio with both – physical and virtual instruments.
Afterman loves to chop everything what goes through his computer while JL focuses on the sound and squeezes the track for days until it’s finished.
The momentum of the idea is very important – most of our good tracks were made fast. The time saved during the composition process are invested in better mixing and mastering at the final stage.

One piece of kit or plug-in you can’t live without? Why?

Logic plugins for sure!It’s everything inside the box: compressors, pitch correction, reverbs, vocals. And now – even virtual instruments are something we can’t live without. JL massively uses third party UAD plugins as well.

 

What’s the best production advice you’ve ever received?

Well, it’s not really a production advice, but probably the best what happened to us is the track – “Should I Stay or Should I Go”. After standing #1 on the Beatport House Chart the whole summer and reaching #12 on the overall chart, it was play listed by Pete Tong from BBC Radio 1, also Carl Cox still plays it and hopefully he will be able to remix that track someday.

 

JL & Afterman Production & Productivity Tips

Mixing – Everything must be clean in order to avoid mixing problems afterwards. We use clean groove samples, clean instrument riffs, clean vocals etc. We invested in quality equipment: quality audio chain (speakers, headphones, audio interfaces) and standard plugins. We cut 120 Hz from the vocals and synths, leaving proper space for each instrument in the frequency map. Working this way – ensures that the mix sounds like a final draft, so JL has less work to do. But he’s always angry because Afterman leaves clicks on his chops!

Mastering – We always creating busses and groups to manage similar elements: groove elements, basses, vocals, synths, effects.
When the sound seems to be well balanced and solid, we proceed to the mastering stage, where we make a few unobtrusive operations.

We try to reach good RMS and perceive levels without squashing the sound, appropriate dynamic range makes a production more interesting to listen to. At the final stage, we compare the final mix to some reference tracks and we listen on various speakers, to be sure that the record sounds good everywhere.

Productivity – We’re using the same technique to maximize productivity: Afterman creates the melodics, JL is taking care of all the mixing and mastering activities, then – we bounce the track back and forth for the last refinements.

JL & Afterman TOP 3:

Compressors

UAD – Teletronix LA-2A

UAD – UA 1176

UAD – Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor

EQ

Eiosis – Air EQ

Logic – Channel EQ

Logic – Match EQ

Synths

Lennar Digital – Sylenth1

Native Insrtuments – Massive

reFX – Nexus 2

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