Joran van Pol shares invaluable production hints and tips

When Richie Hawtin and Dubfire want to sign your debut release you know you are doing something right. It was Joran’s track ‘Faded’ that opened the doors for this new producer to the scene and he was signed to both MINUS and SCI+TEC shortly after. With further releases on Joris Voorn’s label Rejected, Joran reached out to a new audience, expanding his fanbase and setting the stage for what was to come. Joran is now making waves with his fresh imprint FADE, releasing his own tracks with remixes from the artists including Luigi Madonna and Egbert. Within just a few short years, Joran van Pol has put himself on the international map as a key part of the techno community.

Joran has kindly put together some great technical hints and tips for you producers out there. Check out what he had to say…

The low end – consisting of your kick drum and basslines – is perhaps the most essential part of your track. It is the foundation upon which you build your track. In order to make the low-end sound more powerful, I like to tune my basslines to my kicks. For example, the 909 kick is by default tuned to around 55hz, corresponding to the A0 note on your keyboard. Tuning your bassline to A0 will result in a much more harmonious low-end.

In order to make the low-end sound a bit tighter, I like to filter out everything below 30Hz. Frequencies below 30Hz are barely audible and usually consist of rumble, rather than well-defined bass. At the same time, such low frequencies take up quite a bit of energy and leaving less space for the rest of your track.

I think this is common practice for all electronic producers by now, but side-chaining your bassline to your kick is essential. It will allow you to have your kickstand out while pushing the bassline as well. You can do this with a compressor, or with plugins like Cableguys VolumeShaper.

I like to think of my tracks as a physical box full of elements. Each element needs its own place, this can either be done in terms of volume, timing or stereo-placement. It might sound obvious, but make sure your track is well structured in terms of volume. It’s okay if some elements are lower in volume, it gives the track a sense of depth.

If you have two elements in the same frequency area that you feel need to be equally loud in the mix, make sure that they’re not happening at the same time. Side-chaining the bassline to the kick is a great example of this, in this way you’re ensuring the bass and kick (which are in the same frequency area) are not interrupting each other.
Another way to give elements in your track their own position is through stereo-placement. Generally speaking, you’d want your low frequencies to be mono. The higher you go up in the spectrum, the more room you have for width.

Effect use:
All the effects we have at our disposal as producers are great, but we tend to stick to using them in the way they were meant to use. Things get really interesting when you start using them in different ways or different orders. This can lead to very interesting results and is the way how I do most of my sound designs. You can use a simple delay as a stereo-widener, your chorus as a spring reverb or your reverb as a delay.

If you ever get stuck in your creative process, try switching up your workflow. It is a common practice to first start programming your kicks, hi-hats, claps, etc. However, if you switch this up and first start with your lead sounds or sound design. You can even go as far as trying to make an entire track without kicks. You’ll find that changing your creative workflow like this will yield interesting results.

For a long long time, I used to produce my tracks with everything straight on the grid. While my kicks and claps are still tight on the grid, I’ve started playing around with the elements a bit more. Especially hi-hats have an interesting influence on the track if you start changing their timing. One thing I always like to do is move my off-beat hi-hat forward 7 to 8 milliseconds. In this way it’s closer to its preceding kick, giving the listener the illusion that the track is a notch faster. If you’re using 16th hi-hats, it’s interesting to try different types of swing on your hats.

Joran van Pol’s ‘Immediate’ EP on RUKUS is out now. Buy it here.

About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about many genres of music from Breakbeat and Drum & Bass to Techno and Electronica. A man that lives in a world of bass and beats, Ian is an obsessive collector of music and a true geek at heart, with many years spent in application design.