Trap producer Salva talks vintage synths and “open-source” album

Salva is a trap and hip hop producer, whose “open-source” beat tape CLIPS included stems for every track.

He’s now released his second pack with Splice, where we’ve dived deep into his creative process.

With Clips 2, you’ve decided to release the album in an “open source” format again. What was the reaction when you released the stems for the first Clips, and what made you decide to do it again?

Basically, I’m really just trying to encourage more experimental sound design and rhythms in rap/trap beats. I’ve had this idea in my head for like 5 years – I really wanted to make everything open source. I hope in the future everybody’s albums are open source. It went great last time with Clips 1, and I ended up releasing a remix compilation of all the user submissions – some were fans, some were professionals. This time I went harder on the sample pack and included a lot more content.

Your 808s have a punishing presence in your mixes. Can you walk us through the effects chain you typically run on your subs, and where you source your 808s? Are you using a VST like Operator, or samples?

The majority of these sounds are coming from external sound sources or effects pedals. You can hear a distinctly different timbre on my 808s and drums because they’re sampled from Roland and various other drum machines, ran through either a Bass DI effects pedal or a Roland distortion pedal, then resampled and compressed in my DAW. Then, I like to get more evil and put VST distortion or effects on the resampled drums.

Your leads similarly cut through the mix in energetic ways. What synths are your usual “go-to’s” while producing?

The leads come from my Moog Voyager, Oberheim OB-6, or Juno 106 – they’re then also tweaked both outside and inside the box. Specifically for this pack, all of the FM synth and laser effects are all custom made using the Moog. I just love getting out of the box as much as possible because then I know I’m creating something unique.

All of your tracks sound pristinely mixed. Do you mix as you produce, or typically have mixdown sessions towards the final stages of working on a track or album?

Both, actually. I generally mix while I work… but then I like to bounce everything out and start fresh by mixing from scratch just using audio, without any processing or automation. That gives me a clear vision of the waveforms both aurally and visually so that I can see where everything is sitting in the mix. Then, from there it’s easy – I usually A/B my mix and master to songs that I DJ out and know hit perfectly on a sound system.

This is your second pack for Splice. What sounds and samples did you bring along this time, and what was the decision / curation process for it?

I definitely focused on gathering even more analog input this time. I really went in on the Voyager and editing stuff… chopping some vocals from old projects and digging choice samples from old beats that never made it. I wanted to make this pack fire for me to use – and I hope it’ll have even more potency for those who don’t have access to analog gear or know a lot about sound design.

Check out Salva’s Clips 2 sample pack and its predecessor, Clips.

April 19, 2018

Ken Herman Ken Herman is a producer under the name Exitpost and is an editor of the Splice blog.