Capsun ProAudio sound designer Yvng Face on his go-to tools and techniques

Yvng Face is a producer and sound designer who got his start working in LA.

Since moving back to the UK he linked up with Capsun ProAudio, creating some of the label’s most popular packs on Splice. Fresh off releasing his newest pack, Yvng Face sat down with us to discuss his favorite plugins, creative process, and more.

1. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and the origin of Yvng Face?

What’s good Splice?! I work as the Lead Sound Designer for Capsun ProAudio and produce hip hop, trap, grime, and drill music for UK and US-based artists. I’ve been producing music since the late 90s and have released many records under different genres and aliases – everything from UK garage, dubstep, and grime to dub reggae, hip hop, and electro.

I’m a graduate of the Musicians Institute in Hollywood where I studied engineering. During the early 2000s, I worked at the Icon Collective production school in LA where I was Head of Synthesis and Sampling and taught all levels of sound design. After working in LA for a number of years, I moved back to the UK to work with a record label that I was signed to, and during this period, I performed at all the big UK festivals including Glastonbury and Glade. In 2014, I began producing packs for Capsun ProAudio. These included “Trap Soul & Liquid Gold,” “Slo-Mo Trap & Ambient Lows,” “Trap Wave & Ambient Haze,” “Narco Loops,” and “ILLU: Narco Trap & Future Lean.” Yvng Face is the culmination of everything that I’m about and what I’ve done, framed strictly within a forward-thinking trap and drill sound that the streets can carry.

2. How do you go about making sounds? Are there certain processing techniques that you rely on?

Sound creation always starts with intention for me, and it’s a process of combining technique and emotion. Synthesis, re-sampling, recording, and physical modeling are usually my starting points when creating melodic loops. From there, the processing really comes into play. An essential part of the process is putting the soul and texture into my loops. I use plenty of tape saturation, vinyl simulation, subtle pitch drifts, granular delays, and some mid/side processing to tweak stereo images. I use Reaktor a lot when it comes to this type of thing, and I also love to use Guitar Rig as an effects rack – there’s some really versatile stuff in there.

For lo-fi music, I use some custom Reaktor tape machines, VHS plugins, RC-20 by XLN, and various hardware tape players with custom pitch, speed, and reverse modifications. Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to D16! They make some of the best sounding effects and instruments, and you can hear their stuff all over my work.

3. What is your preferred DAW, and what does your physical studio look like?

I’ve literally used every single DAW at some point in my career. My initial introduction to sequencers was with the old general MIDI Cubasis program by Steinberg. My first setup was with Sonic Foundry Acid Pro, a BOSS DR 202 Dr Groove drum & bass machine, and a cheap Casio keyboard. It was really bad, and I didn’t have MIDI or a proper audio interface. I was simply recording patterns out of the DR202 direct into the PC’s mic input!

Things became more serious after I got on Reason, Cubase SX/ Nuendo, and Logic 5.5. I spent years on Cubase SX after Logic became Mac-only. After Cubase SX, I used Ableton Live for a few years. I think Live is great, but as a mixer and engineer, I’ve always thought the mixer and the mixing experience with Live wasn’t my cup of tea. After Yamaha bought Steinberg, I wasn’t impressed with the direction Cubase was going and a friend turned me on to PreSonus Studio One. It was developed by the team who originally worked on Cubase and I fell in love with it. I’ve been using Studio One for about 5 years now and have not looked back. In my opinion, it’s hands-down the best DAW on the market, and I love the mixer on it.

My studio consists of Studio One running on a powerful custom-built PC and Maschine Studio, which is my main workhorse. Currently, I use EVE SC207 monitors (upgrading to the 407s) which have a really tight and accurate response. In terms of software, I use Fabfilter effects a lot. As mentioned earlier, I use D16 products a lot. Their Lush 101 synth is probably the best synth VSTi in the world (in my opinion). API plugins by Waves are essential for my sound (upgrading to UAD API strips). API EQs, to me, are the best for character and punch, especially for drums. I use Massive, Serum, FM8, and Monark a bit as well. Serato Sample is great for cutting and slicing audio and also for pitch and time-stretching. In terms of hardware, we have some vintage modified tape recorders, an UltraNova synth, a vintage Casio keyboard, and a selection of instruments (flutes, guitars etc.). I’m excited to be upgrading the studio with UAD Apollo Audio Interfaces. I also can’t wait to get my hands on the Presonus Faderport 16 for full Studio One control.

4. For the Yung Gold pack, can you tell us more about your process in making the sounds? How did you create the drum and percussion sounds specifically?

Drum sounds are the heartbeat of any pack and are usually the first thing that I’m designing. All my drum hits are designed from the ground up using synthesis, foley, and recorded sound. I strive for freshness and originality with my drums, while maintaining the spirit of what makes trap and hip hop drums so definitive. If I hear a drum sound in a track that I think sounds great, I’ll do some research on the sound and find out where it came from and then spend time building it from scratch. The process of drum design was something I had to learn when I started working for Capsun ProAudio, and it’s a process we’re proud to bring to every pack that we produce.

The process of drum design itself almost always starts with drum synthesis. I use the Maschine Drum Synth, Punchbox, D16 Drum machines, Chromotone, layered recorded foley, and drum tool layers. I re-sample these with processing as many times as needed using saturation, EQ, filtering, distortion, layering, and dynamic processing. Transient shaping is an essential part of the process, as is correct limiting to get the RMS level just right.

5. In 5 words (or more), can you share with us the things that embody your creative process and give you inspiration?

I’m always searching for the soul within the sound, and that often has to do with imperfections and character. Making something come to life and placing it within a context that has a clear ‘narrative’ or vibe is a large part of it. Making a piano sound like it was recorded in a dusty attic from an old gramophone player is like painting a visual scene or picture with the sound. It gives it a specific context and ‘backstory,’ similar to the vibe crate-diggers search for when cutting samples out of old vinyl.

There are certain things I lean on for inspiration, and these largely have to do with my background:

  • 1980s synth and electro / sci-fi nostalgia composers: John Carpenter, Vince DiCola, Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind, and Vangelis. These electronic composers have significantly influenced the way I use subtractive synths. I love their wavy, emotive, and ambient synth work.
  • 1990s new jack swing: Teddy Riley, Boyz 2 Men, New Edition, and Bobby Brown. Teddy Riley is probably the greatest producer of all time, and when it comes to drums that smack, his influence cannot be under-appreciated.
  • Late 90s British trip hop: Massive Attack, Tricky, and Portishead. These artists are introverted, hazy, bleak, and sparse, yet still beautiful and emotional. When it comes to minimalism and subtlety, these artists really had a big influence on me.
  • Roots reggae and dub music. There are obviously too many names to mention, but dub music is the root of all modern electronic music. Big sub bass, huge drums, dub echo delay, and spring reverb are some of the things that still influence my way of producing.
  • Trap and hip hop. I keep up with current artists, producers, and trends and take influence from what I like. Producers such as Metro Boomin and Murda Beatz and artists like Drake, Travis Scott, Young Thug, Future, Tory Lanes, and Migos are all making really amazing music. Gucci Mane is probably my favorite trap artist, and I’m influenced a lot by his mixtape sound.

6. Do you have any advice for producers and artists who are just beginning their journey?

Become a ninja-monk. Don’t go out. Lock yourself in your room and learn your DAW and how to produce. Learn how to play keys. Understand instrumentation and arrangement. Do homework. Analyze tracks. Become a nerd. These days, producers just starting out are blessed to have youtube for tutorials. We didn’t have that back in the day. The more hours you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. Input equals output. If you really want a career in music, then you have to make that your priority. There will be sacrifices. You can learn how to produce and mix in 6 – 12 months if you dedicate yourself to it. From there, it can take up to 5 years to get all your influences out of your system, but one day you’ll arrive to your own sound.

Check out “Yung Gold: Trap Soul World,” Capsun ProAudio’s newest pack crafted by Yvng Face.

January 4, 2019