Experimental producer, sound designer, and educator sv1 knows how to get the most out of his sounds.
Introspective but intricate, his music immerses listeners in sonic landscapes that are unlike any other. In celebration of the recent release of his new Data Pollen sample pack, we had the opportunity to sit down with sv1 to hear about the lessons he’s gathered across the span of his creative journey in sound design—read on for highlights.
1. Maximize what you have
Getting the most out of sound design doesn’t mean you need to have every fancy third-party plugin under the sun loaded on your channel strip. If anything, sv1 emphasizes the importance of doing more with less. “I think it’s all about maximizing what you have,” he tells us. “Low-level tools like flangers, basic granulators, and Max object abstractions can do a ton if you use them right, especially when paired with some randomization.“
2. Experiment with Max
In addition to his music, sv1 is known for writing numerous custom sound design tools in Max. When asked about how other producers can also incorporate Max into their own creative process, sv1 points us towards the software’s built-in tutorials. “They’re super well documented and very easy to digest,” he says. “It’s not a YouTube tutorial, so you’re going to have to read, but it’s really rewarding to even just know the basics.”
“My other piece of advice would be to go into learning it by having a goal,” sv1 continues. “My goal going into Max was to teach myself how to make all of the basic audio effects like flangers, phasors, and reverbs. And while you’re on the journey towards your own goals, you may find yourself sidetracked—and that’s where the really interesting and unexpected stuff happens. While on my search, I learned about spectral effects and basic granulation. The tools I’ve made from those ‘side quests’ are my most favorite and useful ones.”
Ultimately, the beauty of Max lies in its sheer flexibility. “I think the greatest advantage of using these is that if there’s a specific function you think pre-existing tools are lacking, you can go and tweak the device so that it does what you want it to do,” sv1 explains. “Also, when making these tools, mistakes are likely to happen in the construction since we’re human. However, these might yield interesting results. I’m sure one of my devices has an unintended flaw in it, but because of this, it produces a lot of interesting sounds I might not have stumbled upon otherwise.”
3. Learn from what you love
When it comes to improving your craft, sv1 recommends actively listening to and recreating the songs that you enjoy. “That’s how I started, and I personally got more out of that than watching a lot of production tutorials,” he shares. “Thankfully, there’s a ton of resources directly from artists now in the way of Patreons, articles like this, and production streams. I think production tutorials can certainly be useful, but you can’t beat primary sources, especially if they’re from an artist you’re into. Production is usually a lot simpler than it appears.”
“I’ve personally been trying hard to recreate all the ‘cliche’ (I hate to use that word, because I love them—but you know what I mean) sounds you hear in all the rap kits for the past year or so,” sv1 tells us. “I genuinely think making those well is harder to achieve than a lot of experimental sound design—maybe that’s a hot take. Have you ever tried to recreate a 707 clap? That one took me forever. I still can’t get the Spinz 808 right.”
“More technically, I just try to listen to what’s going on and look closely at the waveform, as well as the frequency spectrum,” he continues. “Then, I try to deduce what kind of effects are going on, with mostly just a lot of trial and error and listening. It took me a long time to figure it out; I didn’t look at a lot of tutorials, because most of the ones out there I could find were for the bigger EDM-type sounds. Once I figured out how to make them, I just experimented with the processing and tried to find new ways I wanted them to sound, now that I had the recipe.”
An inside look into sv1’s process
Discussing Data Pollen, sv1 opens up the DAW to give us an intimate look into how he created some of the claps in the pack, which were inspired by the aforementioned 707 clap.
“With most drum synthesis, it’s good to start with a noise oscillator. It’s all about shaping noise most of the time,” he says.
“Next, we can apply a volume envelope to match the shape of the sample.”
“From there, we can use a bandpass filter to get the timbre of our clap right. Automating the cutoff and mix of the filter can give it a slight whooshing sound that’s subtly present in claps.”
“Next, I added some distortion and compression to just glue the sound together and make it a bit thicker. There’s no real recipe for this; I just experimented with the effects and parameters until the sound came out how I wanted.”
“Finally, I added several more effects to just clean up the sound a bit further. The three compressors give the sound more punch and richness. The erosion is there to brighten up the clap a bit, and the EQ just shapes up the sound a bit more at the end.”
“Just as a final tip, bounce out your files and look at them next to the original—a lot of information can be gleaned from just looking at the waveform and the frequency spectrum.”
4. Just enjoy music
Last but certainly not least, sv1 encourages us to just enjoy music for the sake of music. “This took me the longest time to learn, but try to avoid listening to music for technical reasons,” he tells us. “Listen to music because you enjoy it and you like the way it makes you feel—not because you’re trying to get some sort of technical benefit from it. You’ll not only enjoy music more, but you’ll have a better idea of what you can and want to bring. I feel like a lot of my earlier music was rooted in some sort of technical sound design arms race, rather than the reasons I love music. However, that’s not to say you can’t love those things. There are no ‘wrong’ decisions as long as you’re learning and reflecting.”
What’s next for sv1
Looking ahead, sv1 is aiming to follow his own advice. “My sound has been recently leaning towards rap production,” he shares. “I started out making beats, so I guess this is just my return to what got me excited about producing in the first place, and I think it’s got me excited about music again now that I’ve come back to it. What’s next for me is a lot more of what I was doing in 2021. I’m still trying to refine that sound that I cultivated for myself last year. The biggest thing I’m working on currently is trying to figure out how to push that sound more experimentally. I think what I made in 2021 was a good first step, but there’s definitely a lot more I can do with it. I’m excited about it.”
Explore the world of sound design with sv1’s new sample pack:
June 1, 2022