Greeting from his new home in Spain and a quite successful 2018, Argentinian artist Santiago Garcia goes deep into the tech-side of some of his productions from last year, which were released on labels such as Innervisions, Exit Strategy or Multinotes. In the first episode of ‘In the Studio with’ the DJ and producer reveals what gear and equipment he used to produce the typical Santiago Garcia-sound, which is – simply said – a mixture of delicate percussions and warm synth-chords. But, of course, there is more to it as Santiago reveals in an intimate studio-chat as he also explains what motivates him, how he starts a track in general and what working with Thomas Gandey was like.
Torture the Artist: Hello Santiago, we are happy having you for the first ‘In the Studio with’- episode, a format relating to tech-issues and focussing on nerdy aspects. Speaking of the latter, would you consider yourself a nerd when it comes to production?
Santiago Garcia: Hello! Thank you for the invitation. It’s always a pleasure to share some words with Torture the Artist. If you mean nerd to explain many hours and almost all the time thinking on new music to make, definitely yes. I am very dedicated to make music every time I can. Always trying to improve myself; there is always something to learn. It never ends.
Torture the Artist: What is your favorite gear at the moment?
Santiago Garcia: Prophet 06 – Dave Smith is actually the one I use a lot for my music.
Torture the Artist: What does your studio set-up look like?
Santiago Garcia: Actually I don’t have a studio anymore because of my big move to Spain this past year.I didn’t have the time to rebuild it again but I will soon. I can tell you for speakers I used Focal Shape 65 and for gear, Nord Lead, Roland Drum Machine, MFB Tanzbar, Minitaur and Dave Smith Prophet 6 and 12 are the ones I see perfectly fitting my music. Lately I really like to rent if I’m not being invited to other studios, where they have a lot of stuff to work with and to discover for my new music.
Torture the Artist: Which software do you use and what does your workflow look like?
Santiago Garcia: I’ve used Ableton Live since 2006. I think is an excellent DAW where you can work fast and if you know how to use it well you can reach a perfect sound.
Torture the Artist: Your EP on Exit Strategy was super strong and you have a recent collaboration with Thomas Gandey on Innervisions. Which synth did you use for the wild solo and what does the effect chain look like?
Santiago Garcia: We used a couple synths for this one, Nord Lead 4 for the solo and for the noisy bass we used the Voyager by Moog. We also added some analog reverb and delays that Thomas has in his studio; I can’t remember the name exactly but he always has a lot of beautiful synths to make music with. Claps and hi-hats come from the vintage Roland TR 707 and for the afro percussions we used a piece of vinyl from the 60’sthat we put in the Technics 1200 connected to a DJ 900nxs Pioneer mixer then to the sound card and we started dropping them very pitched with effects. Then we choose the best ones for the song. It was 100% analog jamming and super happy with the final work. Thomas is a good friend of mine for a while now and is a very respected producer in the music industry. I enjoyed making music with him, especially in ‘On Two Stranger’.
The way I usually work is to start with a kick, or a couple toms or bass to get a groove idea, even if the bass at the end will be a synth. Then I start writing music; maybe recording 20 or 30 minutes of synths. After that I select the parts I really want to use for the song. Another very important thing I do while I work on the song is the mixdown.
Torture the Artist: Did you work together in the studio or send files back and forth?
Santiago Garcia: We worked in Thomas Gandey’s studio located in the south of France. Just after the ADE event in 2017, we organized to have a week to spend time in the studio and in nature but it’s not all the time like this.
Torture the Artist: How do you separate work in this kind of collaboration?
Santiago Garcia: When I work remotely with someone else in a collaboration I usually work a bass or synth into an idea and then I sent stems because obviously I use plug-ins that the other person may not have. So we need to record everything and send the channels individually because we might not use the same DAW. This is the best way to work.
Don’t rush things because they will happen sooner or later.
Torture the Artist: What have you learned over the past year and what has been a game changer for you?
Santiago Garcia: This past year was crazy for me because of my move to Spain and because of all the good things that happened to me musically. I’ve learned something very important in all of this – if you have patience, the music will do everything for you. If you are good you will be recognized in time. Don’t rush things because they will happen sooner or later.
Torture the Artist: Your track on Multinotes is super deep and dreamy; you have this kind of Bongo sound in it. What gear or instrument is it, and where did you do the low-cut, reduced the highs, killed frequences?
Santiago Garcia: I didn’t use any analog gear for this one. For the melody I used Diva by U-HE and to transform it I used grain delay. I then modulated it to make constant changes, different in every part. I also used Zebra and Omnisphere for the crazy percussions. I like to experiment with recording analog things and VST plugins. You can find a lot of interesting things in both.
Torture the Artist: In general you always use a lot of interesting percussion? Where do you get them from? Did yourecord some of them?
Santiago Garcia: My percussion are single shot; I get them from online libraries or from music industry friends who’ve recorded their own. But I never use them without effects and my own personal touches; I always need to add something new to make them stronger. I use big reverbs and put them in super stereo the I want to highlight them. Slow pans also work well too. I use toms for low frequencies and to make them shiny I might use another one for the middle or high. Always doing a nice EQ so they don’t clash. For EQ I like to use Fabfilter as it works very well for me but Ableton EQ’s are also good.
Torture the Artist: Are you working on a Live set? If so, how would your set-up look like?
Santiago Garcia: Live sets for me are something special, if I do it, it should be a fully live set. But yes of course I would love to work on this maybe presenting an album for 2020 or maybe earlier with the music I already made. Just stay tuned.
Interview by Sanny Ehrhardt