Let's open up Ableton and take an inside look at Beat Of The Week #2. With a combination of synths (Massive X and the ARP 2600), acoustic drums with a metallic twist, and a very special Kontakt Instrument, this beat was inspired by one of the biggest producers in music history. Oh, and be sure to click here to subscribe to the YouTube channel for all future videos.
#1: The Spark
I first met Butch Vig about 8 years ago when he purchased some products from The Loop Loft (my company at the time). Naturally, I was astonished to see the name of one of my biggest influences on the list of orders. For those of you who aren't familiar with Butch's work, he's probably best known as the producer of albums like Nirvana's "Nevermind," Smashing Pumpkins' "Gish," and the Foo Fighters' "Wasting Light." In addition to being a Grammy-winning producer, Butch is also the drummer and founding member of the band Garbage.
I reached out to Butch to express my gratitude for his order, and a friendly email exchange followed. A couple of years later, The Loop Loft was acquired by Native Instruments, and I relocated to Los Angeles. Butch and I soon met up for lunch, during which we brainstormed how we could collaborate to create a "signature" NI drum instrument. This is where we hatched the plan to develop "Butch Vig Drums," a new type of Kontakt Instrument featuring a wide variety of custom drum kits, effects, and grooves, all meticulously designed by Butch.
We entered Studio A at the legendary United Studios in February 2019 and commenced recording all of Butch's favorite drum kits, with his longtime engineer, Billy Bush, manning the console. I found myself in a state of complete drum nerd euphoria, repeatedly pinching myself to fully grasp that this remarkable experience was actually unfolding.
Over the next year, I worked closely with the NI team to design the interface, while Butch took the recordings back to his home studio to mix and sound design the drums into some of the most distinctive samples I've ever heard. In 2020, Native Instruments officially released Butch Vig Drums, and it rapidly became one of their best-selling instruments.
#2: The Production Process
Fast forward three years, and I'm currently collaborating with Butch Vig and Rancho de la Luna studio on a new drum collection. While referencing sounds for this upcoming library, I decided to revisit the NI instrument and listen to the original batch of kits that Butch had created. As I scrolled through the presets, I was immediately struck (no pun intended) by the kick and snare sounds of Butch's "Candyassed" kit. They possessed a larger-than-life quality, with tremendous punch and a generous amount of distortion.
My initial intention of referencing quickly transformed into a beat-making session. I programmed a simple groove using Butch's kick and snare and then layered my substantial Ludwig Classic Maple acoustic kit on top. I opted to pair Butch's loop with a live drum groove, drawing inspiration from the sonic prowess of engineer/producer/mixer Bob Clearmountain, renowned for his massive drum sounds on records by artists like Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, and Bryan Adams.
As I settled behind the kit to begin recording, I noticed my Hadphoon lying nearby on the floor. This unique metallic percussion instrument, invented by my former Berklee instructor Jamey Haddad, produces a range of melodic tones when struck. I decided to position it on my floor tom, use brushes instead of sticks, and record a beat that complemented the loop I had programmed with Butch's drums.
I tracked and mixed the Ludwig and Hadphoon drum loop in Logic, utilizing Soundtoys' Effect Rack to capture the Bob Clearmountain sound (along with a delay). Subsequently, I bounced the loop and imported it into Ableton to finalize the beat with some synths.
I launched the Arturia ARP 2600 plug-in and discovered a sequence with a captivating 3 over 4 polyrhythm, providing a pleasing contrast to the 4/4 grooves of the Ludwig and Butch Vig Drums loops. From there, I began my search for a melody and started exploring various other synths. I eventually settled on NI's Massive X plug-in and found a complementary percussive sound within the preset named "Woozle."
I recorded a melodic 3 over 4 pattern in the key of C. With those four tracks, my beat was complete. To give the final touch, I loaded my trusty master bus plug-in, iZotope's Ozone, to bring everything together with cohesion and limiting. The result is what you can hear below:
#3: The Free Download
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