3 timeless sound design tips from MYLK

MYLK is a UK-based producer, songwriter, and vocalist.

Known for her colorful tracks that seamlessly blend J-pop and EDM influences, MYLK’s music has been released via Monstercat and featured on some of the world’s biggest video games including the likes of Rocket League, Fortnite, and League of Legends.

In celebration of the release of her latest sample pack, below we had the opportunity to sit down with MYLK to hear about the lessons she’s gathered across the span of her creative journey in sound design.

1. Reach far and wide for sonic influences

Finding one’s unique sound is a core topic that all music creators think about throughout their careers—and MYLK has done this seemingly effortlessly by blending influences from an incredibly wide array of sources. “I’d describe my sonic identity like a bag of pick ‘n mix sweets,” she tells us. “You don’t really know which one you’re going to get, but they’re all sweet and fun. I like to always make my productions interesting by mixing different flavors from different genres. I’m naturally a melodic person, and a lot of my melodies derive from my past in classical music and my love for jazz. I have a motto, ‘keep the listeners entertained,’ which is why it’s always upbeat and a little bit crazy.”

Video games also naturally play a significant role in MYLK’s sonic identity. “I’ve always loved game soundtracks from the Game Boy, SNES, N64, etc.,” she says. “I used to also make chiptunes, and I still do incorporate some chiptune-inspired sounds in my tracks here and there. The little arpeggio bleeps are something I incorporate in a lot of my songs.”

Last but not least, the tools we use also directly shape our distinctive sound as creators. “I love all the classic Waves plugins, but recently I’ve been playing around a lot more with samplers—SampleOne and DirectWave—and iZotope’s VocalSynth,” MYLK shares. “A lot of the tools I work with are probably more than a decade old; I should really go on a hunt for some new tools to work with!”

2. Give your basses love

While we might spend hours fine-tuning our leads, plucks, and pads, it can sometimes be all too easy to pick a preset for the bass and call it a day. However, the reality is that basses are often the crucial foundation of a track that ties everything together—and even with something as ostensibly minimal as a sub bass, MYLK inspires us to sweat the details.

“Recently, I’ve been really into creating different sub basses and being a little bit obsessed with the ratio of sound and feel from them,” she says. “Everyone has different tastes, but I personally like to at least hear it subtly and feel it at the same time. I’ve been collaborating a lot with different artists, and I created this sub I’m quite happy with in one of them. Usually, I like my subs very simple and direct, but this time I decided to not make it completely mono, instead using two voices with a sort of detuned effect—the sound almost feels like it switches between mono and stereo, giving it an extra oomf when listening to it. I love it.”

3. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone

“I probably always say this, but never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, especially when experimenting with sounds,” MYLK says. “Combinations are endless. With vocals, I believe many producers can get into it, and you don’t have to be a natural-born singer to do them; never be embarrassed to try it! I believe doing your own vocals can add a strong impact and mark to your overall sound, and it’s what makes mine more personal too.”

MYLK on her latest collection of sounds

While MYLK has also released other sample packs on Splice Sounds in the past, she has brought a renewed energy and some new creative experimentations to this third installment. “I had so much fun making this sample pack,” she reflects. “I love voice acting, and I got to do almost 100 of those! This sample pack is solely based on anime. I included the words and phrases that you would hear a lot in anime, and I tried to create song kits that are inspired by anime intros and outros. I also regularly get sent creations by others using my vocals from previous packs, and I noticed that among those, some didn’t realize that not all of the vocals start ‘on-beat.’ So, to help with that, I decided to introduce the cowbell counter at the start of each song kit sample to show where the vocal begins.”

“I actually also did some ‘faux-male’ voices in my song kits this time, which is something new and something I’m quite proud of because you can’t have an anime pack without male voices! For those, I sang as low as I could with specified pronunciations and dynamics to fit the style of a male singing in this particular genre. Then, I brought the formant of my voice down so the pitch doesn’t sound too artificial.”

“I can’t wait to hear what people will create from this anime pack,” MYLK concludes. “Be sure to also check out my recent work via my Linktree—everything from my recent songs to my merch and social media can be found there!”

Incorporate MYLK’s anime-inspired sounds into your own productions:

August 3, 2023

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.