Next up in the Synth History Recommends Series is the talented musician, producer and song-writer Will Wiesenfeld, known by his stage name Baths and also as Geotic.
Since 2010 Baths had been putting out records with Anticon and now with his very own label, Basement's Basement. On May 29, 2020, Baths released his fourth album, Pop Music/ False B-Sides II.
In this series I ask music-makers what their studio essentials are. This can be anything, from cables to software to things that generally inspire them to create.
Without further ado, here is what Baths Recommends! With pictures from Baths' very own studio included.
I’ve been using trackpads forever and they’ve stayed essential to my workflow for my entire career. Two finger pinch-to-zoom and two finger dragging are crucial timesavers while navigating production software. I’ve tried using a normal mouse and it just slows me down when I need to be getting ideas out as fast as possible.
2. Ableton Live
Ableton still remains the most intuitive software I’ve ever used (versus Digital Performer, Reason, Logic, Garageband, Pro Tools, etc). Ableton, as well as these other programs, are all exceptional in a recording environment, but Ableton has zero competitors for use in a performance setting. That versatility between recording and performance environments is built into the fabric of the program. It feels like there’s no upper limit to the things it can accomplish while also making new features extremely easy to understand. I’m a diehard fan at this point, particularly when talking to someone that’s new to recording music. There’s no better learning environment.
This is an almost indestructible and infinitely versatile MIDI controller. I use it in live performance and in the studio in equal measure (It goes everywhere with me). Keyboard inputs, that double as pad inputs, that are also velocity sensitive AND x-y sensitive, complete with backlight indicators for every possible function, all at around $100? Absolute steal.
I use an AKG C414 microphone, but really any condenser mic you’re able to afford (versus using a dynamic mic) is a great idea. Thinking broadly, about 50% or more of the sounds I use in production typically get recorded through a mic, so having a high-quality, dependable, and versatile microphone has never been a question. ‘Versatile’ really is the keyword for my entire setup at this point, haha. I love getting more for less.
A good pre-amp makes all your recorded input shine. A crucial piece of hardware when coupled with a condenser mic (you more or less can’t have one without the other), but a pre-amp also adds so much to instrument / keyboard input as well. I’ve been using a Neve Portico 5017 for years and I love it, but admittedly I don’t have wide enough range of experience to make a firm recommendation in this department.
A real piano is an extremely personal studio essential to me, but not at all necessary for everyone. I inherited my family’s upright piano and have used it consistently on almost every record I’ve made. Playing piano tends to be where my musical ideas manifest the fastest, and I truly don’t know where I’d be without it. I should also note that a mute pedal is as essential to me as the piano itself, but again, an entirely personal preference.
A balanced mix is a never-ending quest for someone working in production. I think you should take advantage of every opportunity to simplify that process, and sound baffling is one of the most effective means of making that happen— less reverberations in your workspace means more room to hear the actual intended sounds coming from your monitors. I have infinitely fewer adjustments to make listening back to my mixes on different systems after having invested in good sound baffling.
8. Heater / Air Conditioning
I can’t focus on being creative if I am physically uncomfortable. That’s that on that.
Open cans, glasses or cups of liquids near equipment is inexcusable! Bad! No!!! Get a Contigo or something similar to protect all your equipment and stay hydrated for all those vocal takes u gotta do. Also spice it up with stickers to keep it thematically connected to your recording environment, and then you don’t have to remind yourself to use it— It’ll be the only thing you ever drink out of when you’re recording.
10. Fake Plants
I have a whole passionate spiel about fake plants, the basic gist of which is that indoor spaces that typically don’t get sunlight (recording studios!) can gain a sense of nature and calm with almost no overhead. You can make your recording space so beautiful, so easily, with zero added risk. I can’t stress how much of a difference they make.
11. Artwork that Centers You
Fill your space with things that make you feel centered just by being there. Inspirations that burst with identity and purpose and soul, even if they might seem distracting to someone else. Production is nothing if not world-building, and giving yourself a visual head start on that atmosphere does more for your productions than you might realize.
Be sure to check out all of Baths' and Geotic's releases here.