Producing the Toontrack UK Pop EZX

Producing the Toontrack UK Pop EZX

No nation in the world has had a bigger impact on the sound and worldwide development of pop music than the UK. So throughout February Toontrack are celebrating five decades of heritage and sound by taking their customers on a modern pop journey through the UK. The latest stop on this journey is a brand new EZX created with the help of some of the biggest names in UK pop.

EZX UK Pop for EZdrummer 2 was recorded in London’s famed RAK Studios by acclaimed session drummer Ash Soan (Adele, James Morrison) and Grammy Award-winning engineer Mark Taylor (Rod Stewart, Cher). The package contains four full kits with a host of extra snare/cymbal selections. If this wasn’t enough you also get seven mix-ready presets, each with a distinct sound plus a selection of MIDI grooves for each preset, performed by Ash Soan himself.

So, other than the drums, studio, drummer and producer, what makes this EZX different from the others? Project Manager for the UK Pop EZX – Damian Blunt – tells us more…

DAMIAN BLUNT"The EZX was conceived as I felt there was space in the catalogue for a library that encapsulated British modern pop music.  In the past few years, there has been a shift back to more acoustic artists, for example, Adele and Ed Sheeran amongst others. 

We wanted to capture the sound on those records so we approached Ash Soan who has played with most high profile contemporary British artists and was the first British drummer to win the coveted Modern Drummer Studio Drummer of the year award in 2017 (as well as the same category in Rhythm Magazine for the past two years). Ash identified Grammy award-winning Producer Mark Taylor as ideal for the project.  RAK studios was chosen as it is considered to have one of the best drum rooms in the country.

Ash Soan drummer
Early on in the process, Ash, Mark and I discussed what typifies modern UK Pop music and we decided that it is diversity. Nowadays on one album, you can have songs with a vintage Beatlesque drum sound alongside more EDM influenced tracks – mallets etc.

We wanted to capture all the acoustic drum sounds necessary for songwriters and producers to quickly create these sounds.  We discussed differences between the US pop drum sound and the British Pop sound and it was felt that the latter is often grittier.

During the recording, we had a clear idea of the sounds we wanted to capture and based the kits and recording setups around obtaining these sounds. Unusually for an EZX, there are a lot of mics in the product.  As well as the regular close mics there are three sets of overheads (condenser and two sets of ribbons), Close and Far Ambient Mics plus three mono mics each which add character and degrees of distortion to the sound.

MARK TAYLOR PRODUCERObviously, all these options are far from 'EZ' so, in each preset, EZdrummer 2 users are presented with a limited set of controls that enables them to easily access the most useful parameters.  For example, there is an 'Overhead Blend knob' that moves between Condenser and Ribbon mics.  Superior Drummer 3 users get access to everything of course.

 

There are seven presets in the product each with a different influence.  Each preset also has some associated MIDI grooves, which are named the same and which show them off to their best…

Deeper Beater - Damien Rice / Laura Marling-style Mallets,

UK Pop - the go-to sound that Ash and Mark use on most of their hit records. A fat snare sound that gives lots of space for vocals.

Tea Towels - Ringo/Take That drum sound.

Carnaby Street - T-Rex/Fratellis' Glam style.

Bow Street Runner - Police/Bruno Mars sound.

Bristol Eyes - Disclosure/Breakbeat style.

Art School - Early Bowie /Iggy Pop-style sound.

This is the first time that EZDrummer 2 presets have used effects on the mix bus which adds a special 'glue' to the sound and makes them mix ready.  (There are also versions without the mix bus effects which are suitable for users wanting to route to multiple outputs).

As well as the big fat snare sound within the library we recorded some extra instruments and articulations that Ash is known for – for example, the small Purpleheart snare that, in addition to the regular rimshot, has shallow rimshot and rimshot fx sounds (a one-inch rimshot!).  We also recorded his famed stack cymbals with bow and edge articulations so EZdrummer 2 users can easily trigger that using 'Edit Play Style'.  The hi-hats are also recorded in detail.

Recording at RAK studios

Overall the sound of the EZX is very fat, versatile and has loads of character - it probably does a drier sound better than any other libraries we have so far.  The library was also checked with e-drums throughout its creation so it performs very naturally and realistically."

Click here for more information on the Toontrack UK Pop EZX

Click here to read a review of the UK Pop EZX by Computer Music's Ronan Macdonald.