Felix Raphael has been a massive player in the melodic and organic house scene for years, making waves with some of the best releases in the genre that he released through Melody Of The Soul a few years back. His sound combines soft and textural melodies with often acoustically driven instrumentation. This is a recipe for success, as artists from all genres, from MRAK to Monolink, have stood out by blending live performances with dance music.

Felix Raphael does this too but is in a lane all his own, so when I heard that he recently had a new single drop on bitbird, a label not usually known for 4×4 organic house tunes, I had to dive a bit deeper into what this record is doing and how it was made. So we invited him to share the sauce on how the track was made on the latest iteration of How It Was Made: Felix Raphael – The Further We Go. So listen to the track below to acclimate your ears to what he’s cooking up and what he’ll be discussing, and then dive into the best plugins and some quick tips on making similar genres and styles.

Serum by Xfer

For the top-layer bassline in “The Further We Go,” I utilized Xfer’s Serum. It has quickly become my go-to wavetable synth due to its intuitive interface and clean sound quality. This synth consistently delivers a clear, fluffy sound and allows for the integration and modulation of custom sounds through its nose section. Serum is one of my top virtual studio technology (VST) synths, alongside U-he’s DIVA.

To achieve a wider effect, I panned the two top layers, which operate outside the subregion, slightly to the sides and separated the phase. I added some glide and an LFO on the oscillator’s volume to introduce more dynamics to the pattern. The use of “BrightNoise” adds texture, particularly when the filter opens up. Finally, for the bottom sub-layer of the bass in “The Further We Go,” I used a Moog Sub 37, as its sub-bass is just so stable.

The fusion of genres in “TFWG” gives the track its unique character, creating contrasting vibes that build up to surprise moments, which is exactly what I was aiming for. The use of Serum in the top bassline plays a crucial role, as it opens up the track during the drop and drives the energetic, forward momentum of the track. I particularly like how Serum allows for precise waveform shaping with visual feedback through the “WT-Position” knob, ensuring the sound fits seamlessly into the mix.

Shaperbox 3 by Cableguys

ShaperBox 3 by Cableguys is an incredibly versatile plugin that I couldn’t recommend more. It offers many ways to shape your sounds with high-quality precision, adding that extra touch to my productions. I use it in EVERY one of my tracks. Beyond its perfectly visual and clean approach to classic sidechaining, my favorite features are the “Noise”, “Pan”, and “Bit-Crush” effects. Each effect can be modulated over time, providing almost endless options to make your sound fit seamlessly into the mix and be as dynamic as you desire. You can also add more features, such as adding noise to your hi-hats and panning them the way you like.

In “The Further We Go”, I used Shaperbox for sidechaining the bass and kick and in a more creative, sound design-focused way for one of the main plucks. I applied the “Crush” feature to give the clap and plucks a unique sound by bit-crushing it. By utilizing the filter features, I applied the effect only to the top end of the sound. The mix control can effectively ensure the effects aren’t overdone. Shaperbox operates over time, so I also drew a time automation curve to allow the sound to open up gradually.

Cableguys frequently upload short tutorials on their YouTube channel that can be interesting and helpful. These quick tutorials offer valuable insights and tips for getting the most out of Shaperbox 3. I highly recommend checking them out.

Learn More About This Plugin Here

Gullfoss by Soundtheory

Gullfoss by Soundtheory is a dynamic EQ that responds to incoming signals by shaping their peaks to reduce resonances. It features high and low cuts, allowing you to exclude specific frequency ranges from being treated. The “recover” feature enhances frequencies that are lacking in your sound or mix. I also use Gullfoss LIVE during my performances, as it boasts very low latency, making it ideal for shaping live elements such as vocals and guitar. This plugin excels at cleaning up sounds in specific areas of the frequency spectrum, making it ideal for taming harshness in hi-hats or vocals.

In “The Further We Go,” I used Gullfoss extensively on the piano and supporting lead instruments to clean them up and prevent them from filling the mix excessively, which can make it sound dull. One of the track’s trademarks is its clean, punchy, and full sound. For me, cleaning up backing sounds meant to fill gaps melodically without overwhelming the frequency spectrum is crucial, and Gullfoss is perfect for this task. I used low cuts at 200 Hz to prevent the low frequencies from being pushed up and high cuts around 7 kHz to achieve the same effect. When used gently, Gullfoss can fluff up your sounds beautifully.

The “Gullfoss Master” device offers more subtle algorithms suitable for overall mix cleanup. It can be highly effective for cleaning up your mix and adding a final polish to your production, but use it cautiously.

Trackspacer by Wavesfactory

Trackspacer by Wavesfactory is one of my go-to plugins for separating sounds from each other. It’s the cleanest yet most powerful tool I’ve tried for this purpose. It’s super easy and intuitive to use, you select the input source, and Trackspacer applies the opposite frequency curve to the sound it’s placed on. You can also select low and high cuts (similar to Gullfoss) to prevent them from being shaped. A secret tip here: I love the M/S feature, and you should check it out too. It lets you duck the sound to the sides or the mid, creating a super cool effect.

In “The Further We Go,” I used Trackspacer on many different sounds to separate pads and leads, giving them an order of importance. For example, when multiple sounds are simultaneously, I rank them in importance and audibility, sidechaining them to each other to ensure they each have their space in the “orchestra.” Additionally, Trackspacer plays a big role in my music by helping in carving out space for vocals, ensuring they cut through the mix. I usually apply Trackspacer to sounds that interfere with the vocals but are important for the track, sidechaining them to the sides. This way, the vocals occupy the center, much like a lead singer on stage, with other instruments encasing the vocal like a warm blanket.

Learn More About This Plugin Here

Quick Tips For Making Indietronica

Tip #1: Create two contrasting parts to give the track its surprise factor. Blend them together with the hook in between, using stereo-mono changes to emphasize the transitions.

Tip #2: The interplay of clean and warm sounds with drivey and dirty elements is essential for this genre. Use different synths and modulations, such as Shaperbox’s Crush feature, to achieve this effect.

Tip #3: Utilize your production’s spatial elements—mid/Side, Left/Right, Front/Rear—to create atmosphere and contrast. Plugins like Trackspacer and Shaperbox are perfect for managing this.

Tip #4: Incorporate mini breaks with small drum or melodic fills to add bouncy surprises throughout the track.

Tip #5: Sometimes less is more. Create sections where elements have space to shine, maintaining clarity and cleanliness. This approach is also helpful for live performances.

The post How It Was Made: Felix Raphael – The Further We Go (bitbird) appeared first on Magnetic Magazine.