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Producer Sessions is a series from Dancing Astronaut meant to shine a brighter light on the producer community. Each volume will guide producers toward professionals in their field.
Adventure Club is currently on their headlining Death or Glory Tour, bringing along a grip of heavy hitters such as Bear Grillz, Gammer, Riot Ten, ARMNHMR, Dirt Monkey, TYNAN, Wooli, William Black, Yakz, and more.
The Montreal duo consisting of Christian Srigley and Leighton James recently released a collaboration with Crankdat featuring Krewella, “Next Life.” Their last work with the Yousaf sisters was on their hit, “Rise and Fall,” back in 2012. Since then, both parties involved have grown quite a bit as musicians, and this evolution can clearly be heard on “Next Life.” We spoke with Srigley at Echostage in Washington DC about music production, among other facets of his work as a professional DJ and producer.
What made you finally collaborate with Krewella on your new song with Crankdat?
We toyed with ideas a couple times. With music, every song you write isn’t going to get released. You have to get a project that everyone jells with and we had five creative minds on this, and this is the one that stuck.
What is your production process like?
I’m the button pusher, Leighton is the idea man. We don’t use hard synths. I twist the nobs with my mouse.
What VSTs do you use?
A lot of times when I’m writing a new track, I’ll try to learn a new VST as I’m going through the track. You box yourself in a bit by continuing to use the same synth. Once I start feeling boxed in with a synth, I’ll move onto a new one.
You mentioned you liked our Flight Facilities – “Crave You” remix––that was Native Instrument’s Massive––and a similar patch was used for our Britney Spears “Till The World Ends” remix. That growl came from back when I was doing 20 hour bass builds because I was having so much fun with it. If I’m looking for a growl or specific synth sound for a song, I’ll go back to massive or whatever I’m looking for.
How do you normally start a song?
Typically, Leighton will find a melody on the guitar or piano. I’ll also cut some generic piano synthesizer and draw in chords. Here we’re listening for a cord line that really follows the vocals. Chords with the vocals really sets the tone. It’s the foundation and feel, then we add the details. Percussion comes in last for us.
Percussion is something I have to force myself to be more creative in. Drums are just less natural for me and more mathematical.
When doing a remix. We’re building the melodies around the vocals then add the drums last. I’ll try and reinvent the vocals as well.
Any plugins that you use in your signature melodic style?
Our most classic sound is our piano sound. I have a secret piano recipe that I use. Layers of it. I won’t give the secret sauce here tho.
What is your DAW?
Cakewalk. It’s pretty rare within the EDM industry. We use this plugin that’s native to Cakewalk, it’s called the Z3TA. They have really cool effects that we’ll put on vocals. Enigma by Waves is another with good features that we use for vocal treatment. Those are some old school plugins.
I’ve tried swapping over to Abelton. I was recording blues guitar when I was 11 years old in Cakewalk at my home studio, and whenever I tried crossing over to another DAW that might be more EDM friendly, it was like learning a new language. Cakewalk is my comfort zone.
It’s all about workflow. The faster I can get from point A to point B, the better.
What on the production side do you still struggle with?
I have trouble getting that super fat saw wave synth that really builds a whole room in all the right places and still leaves room for everything else. Even the spread as far as the chords go and how many synths are you going to layer into that. I don’t like using the same patch over and over, so I’m building up from scratch every time, and it’s always an uphill battle.
Can you talk about your collaboration process, on “Next Life?”
That was a stem swap, where we email stems back and forth without going to the studio. For some collaborations, we’ll go in the studio. For example, we with in the studio with Terravita when we made our collaboration, “Save Me” featuring Adara off our Red // Blue album.
Do you have any unique studio habits?
Guru energy drinks dials me in. I’m also a space bar squirrel. I’ll hammer the space bar, which is play and stop, and hit the same sound over and over again until Leighton has to run out of the room because he’s getting hit with the same sound over and over again. I’ll just be lost in thought hammering the space bar. Poor Leighton.
Do you have another vision for your live show?
Leighton and I have toyed with the idea of bringing live instrumentation to our sets. I grew up on blues guitar, so I would love to solo off all the songs in my set, but I don’t think that would necessarily hit. We have to find the right way to do it.
Singing is another aspect we’ve toyed with. One song that I’ve recently sang on is this song in the works about mental health. I’ve battled through depression and anxiety throughout parts of my career. It’s a song completely from the heart and vulnerable; I’ve never really spoken about it until now. I’ve found great guidance and growth, so I’d like to promote that side a bit and release this track about me opening up and advocating for mental health.
What’s it like being signed to a big label versus releasing independently?
The pros outweigh the cons. Just having those lines to release music from. Some of the cons are you can’t just finish a song and put it out. Sitting on projects I want to get out is a little tough.
Do you and Leighton make any weird ass music that you can’t release under the Adventure Club brand?
Absolutely, we’re constantly battling that. I think we’re on the luckier side because we have a nice spread where we can hit multiple genres. I know artists that are way more pigeonholed to a genre. Getter had a lot of trouble with that. From the industry standpoint, his album was phenomenal, but it just was expected with his fans and there was pushback there.
Have you ever wanted to create another pseudonym?
I’m a big gamer. It’s like World of Warcraft. We’ve been grinding for 10 years, we have all the top level gear, and every single step is so hard and involved now. I’d be fun to role a new character from the beginning.
What makes Canada such a powerhouse in electronic music production?
If you look 10 years ago, a lot of dubstep was coming out of Kelowna. It was a breeding pool for dubstep. Deadmau5 has been an influence for so many producer and you have to come back to Montreal to talk about A-Trak.
What is next for you guys?
“Next Life” with Crankdat featuring Krewella is the start of a big backlog of music. We’ve been sitting to long on some good stuff. Out next song is with Yuna who you might remember from our single “Gold” and a remix we did of her single “Lullabys.”
Do you do any extracurricular activities?
Magic the Gathering. In Seattle, we got to play with the people who worked at Magic alongside fans.