On this week’s Pedals with the Pros, Warbly Jets walks us through the songwriting process behind their most recent single, “NASA”, in a special video feature. Watch how the H9 plays a pivotal role in crafting synth hooks and generating ideas on the fly.
There’s some pretty sweet rack gear in the background of this video. Does it ever get used in the songwriting process, or is it mostly saved for the mixing stage?
Yes, all of that gear gets used. A lot of tracks/stems that make it to final versions of songs are recorded during the writing process. Even if the tones are just references to be replaced later down the line I still want to get them as close as possible to what we want. I normally have a few chains of gear set up to do different things depending on how I want something to be treated. I find that to be an easier and more fun way of working than having to set up a specific chain for every source. I can throw any of those chains on any source quickly and get something sounding close to what we’re looking for without stopping the creative flow.
You have the plug-in versions of some of the H9 algorithms, and probably many other FX plug-ins—why do you prefer to use the H9 in the studio over the plug-ins?
Our process is ever-evolving. We’ve always favored vintage analog gear, but we also love new technology. We use the H9 algorithm plug-ins as well. We really love the H910 plug-in, it’s on a ton of our new recordings that will be released in 2021. In general though we like to get the sound source as close as we can to what we want the final version of that instrument to sound like while recording it. For me, it’s insanely important no matter what instrument is being played to make it sound as “in the mix” as possible right from the start. I go to some pretty extreme lengths to find that sometimes.
Apart from using it properly, I use the H9 as a way to get some unconventional sounds as well. I use the H9 to convert a mono signal to stereo pre-Protools or Ableton. Instead of thinking of outputs 1 & 2 in the traditional Left/Right stereo set up, I’ll take one of the outputs and run it through a crazy signal path of outboard gear, and then put the other output through a totally different, equally crazy signal path.
What’s your philosophy behind “printing” the H9 effects on the track, rather than recording dry audio and then adding the H9 effects later?
I’m impatient. Haha, but no, in all seriousness it does save a lot of time making commitments to sounds while tracking! I’m of the belief that you’ve just got to go for it! Most of our favorite songs we grew up listening to were achieved by making good decisions along the way while recording, not sitting after the fact and trying every option available. I don’t mean to downplay the benefit of plug-ins or modern music technology. We use it all as a tool, but it’s nice to be able to trim the fat without compromising and the H9 helps us do that.
Are there any H9 algorithms that you almost always start with when writing?
We love the H910/H949 algorithm. There are lots of cool settings there for beefing up bass and/or making mono synths bigger. I love the Resonator algorithm as well, that one is nice for getting an instrument to sit in a sonic pocket real quick. ModEchoVerb and Spacetime are some more of our favorites for verbs/delays. Jules uses the Blackhole algorithm on his Space pedal.
What’s your favorite thing about writing music in a recording studio rather than in your room or at your apartment?
I like the excitement of making a recording in real time while writing a song. It’s a blessing to have access to a space that allows us to do that. Most of the time we’re chasing a song idea that’s been mapped out to some degree in voice memos or Ableton. From there it’s just a big fun game of piecing the puzzle together of how we hear the song in our heads.