The past months have seen Dani and Michi, better known under their Innellea moniker, releasing their music on the hottest labels in the electronic music scene and gaining support from the likes of Âme, Dixon, Tale Of Us and many more. Their remix of Tunnelvisions’ track ‘Imaja’s Drum’ will most likely be listed in every year chart, ‘If Sarah Wouldn’t Cry’, the duo’s contribution to Innervisions’ yearly ‘Secret Weapons-compilation raised the bar for future releases, after Michi and Dani had made their debut on Tale Of Us’ label Afterlife at the end of 2018. The duo’s latest coup is their track ‘The Things We’ve Accomplished Together’ on TAU and came out a couple of days ago – of course, another highly anticipated track out of the duo’s studio(s). So it was about time we get some insights of both’s studio routine, the equipment and plug-ins they use and what defines the typical Innellea sound.
Torture the Artist: Hello guys, we are delighted to have you at Torture the Artist. ‘In the studio with’ is a category for nerd talk. Would you consider yourself a nerd, when it comes to productions, and if so, why?
Innellea: Hey, we are pleased to talk to you, too. Since our music consists mostly of ones and zeros, its sometimes unavoidable to be a ‘nerd’. It’s also the prerequisite when it comes to sound-design, mixing-techniques, mastering and many more parts of producing electronic music. So, to answer your question, a third person would call us nerds but for us it’s a normal process which we love and we feel comfortable with.
Torture the Artist: How and when did you start producing music?
Michi: It was about 8 years ago in my room in my parent’s house, on a shitty laptop. I decided to produce music after I visited a Boys Noise concert. That was my first touch with electronic music. I was immediately infected and bought my first little set-up – an Akai-MPK mini and some headphones.
Dani: For me, it was also about 8 years ago, when I realised that I could use the DAW; I used it back then not only for recording my guitar but also doing more stuff with it, and so I got sucked into production and bought my first pair of speakers.
Torture the Artist: What was the first program/software that got you started?
Michi: It was Fl-Studio.
Dani: For me, Cubase
I had no clue what I was doing…
Torture the Artist: What made that software special to you?
Michi: Nothing, I had no clue what I was doing…
Dani: Same for me, but maybe it’s the free version of using 8 tracks…
Torture the Artist: We heard that you’re living in two different cities. How do you manage working together on your projects? Do you use a specific software to manage them?
Innellea:We used to share our projects with Splice. It’s like a cloud especially made for music. If you save your approach your partner will immediately receive a message that there’s a new version online and can open it on his PC. But we stopped using this nice tool as we now have different operating systems and plugins – so it isn’t possible anymore to work on the other’s project.
Torture the Artist: What does your workflow look like and what are the key elements that you start working with?
Innellea: It’s always very useful to set a mood. That can happen by building a nice atmosphere, maybe we’ll start with a specific drumloop or something else that lets you enter a certain vibration. If you are losing time and get lost in this mood, then you know that it’s the right path that you should follow. That step is super important to us as it is the base of your song which leads it towards the finishing process
Every sound needs its space in the mix.
Torture the Artist: Your mixes are super clean. Which monitors do you use and what would you say makes your production sound so clean?
Michi: To be honest. At the moment I only use the Yamaha HS7 as my room in Munich isn’t that big and it’s a square which sounds awful even if we tried to make it sound good by using a lot of acoustic panels. But one reason for a clean mix is that we choose every sound very carefully and then spend some time on making it sound like we want it to sound. Also, arrangement is an important thing for clean mixes. If you have an accidental layer of 5 sounds that don’t fit, your mix won’t sound well. Every sound needsits space in the mix.
Dani: Yes, I agree – I think choosing the right sounds can be also a helpful step before going deeper into the production process as you don’t have to enforce it to fit in the mix.
Torture the Artist: You just released an EP on Afterlife and a track on Innervisions. On your Afterlife release you’ve got this amazing guitar riff in the title track ‘Vigilans’, which is perfectly integrated in the mix with the bass. Is there a certain frequency at which you are doing your low-cuts to make both sounds harmonise together?
Innellea: Generally we do a low cut on the kick drum at around 30Hz. On basslines it depends on the kick – if the bassline plays around the kick nicely we often don’t have to low cut it and it just needs a slightly side chain compression.
Torture the Artist: Recently you released a remix for Tunnelvisions, who are also amazing artists by the way. Did the riffs of ‘Vigilans’ inspired you also with your remix?
Innellea: It is almost the same riff, but much more in the background than in ‘Vigilans’. Bass guitars in general are always inspiring for us as we both have played the guitar in the past
Torture the Artist: Innellea has a quite unique synth-sound, which you can find in most of your productions. Which synths are you using for this sound and what are the typical effects you are putting on it?
Innellea: The most often used synth definitely is the Arturia Minibrute. Besides that we love the Prophet 8PE and the Arp Odyssey. But honestly, we use a lot of software synthesizers as their possibilities are infinite. Our return-tracks are a mixture of delays and reverbs. We use the Echoboy of Soundtoys for the delays and the Ableton reverb for almost all our reverbs.
Torture the Artist: Which synth do you use to create your groovy bass lines?
Innellea: Also very often we use the Minibrute, as it has a very nice sub-oscillator where you can only choose between sine and square. If you add a bit of the brute factor which is comparable with the feedback function of some synthesizers it sounds super fat and warm. But also some plugins are very nice for creating different bass sounds, like Spectatronics Omnisphere.
Torture the Artist: What have you learnt over the last few months regarding the production process of your music that you’d consider a gamer-changer?
Innellea: Soundtoys! These plugins are incredible.
Torture the Artist: What effects have to be made with analog gadgets, or are you mostly working with digital effects?
Innellea: When it comes to effects we are working with digital effects, like the aforementioned Soundtoys. Fabfilter for eq-ing or the Virtual Mix Rack of Slate Digital for different types of compressors, eq’s and saturation. These digitals sound great to us and we love working with them as it is super fast and easy to handle.
Torture the Artist: What’s the drum computer of your choice and what makes this one special in your opinion?
Innellea: We recently bought the Vermona DRM MKIII. It has some very unique sounds and is different to every other drumcomputer.
Torture the Artist: What is your Live-Set set-up looking like now and you have any plans in changing it?
Dani: When playing live, I’m mainly managing Ableton and its effects with some Novation controllers.
Michi: I am creating grooves with the Arturia Drumbrute, playing drums on the Bop Pad from Keith McMillen and adding some keys – either with the Yamaha Reface CS or with the Arturia Minibrute.
Torture the Artist: What is the next gadget to buy for you?
Dani: Somehow I’m interested in Moog’s Grandmother.
Michi: I almost buy one new gadget per month as it gives me an amazing inspiration. But that happens very intuitively.
Interview by Sanny Ehrhardt