This Summer, Cameron Edwards and Joe Lenzie, aka UK chart-topping Drum n Bass duo Sigma, have been zooming around the UK and Europe wowing festival go-ers with their euphoric arms-aloft anthems and hedonistic party music from the hugely successful debut album ´Life´.
Incredibly, they still managed to find time to talk to us about their tour, studio and why they love iZotope software...
So guys, you’ve been doing a lot of touring this Summer, how’s that going and what have been the highlights so far?
We´ve done so many shows it feels like a bit of a blur to be honest! A few highlights so far have been Radio 1´s One Big Weekend, Boardmasters festival and closing the Isle of Wight festival. Sooo much fun!
Has there been anything in particular that you’ve learnt from being on such an intensive tour schedule that you’ll be sure to remember next time?!
Always bring a spare pair of undies as you´re bound to get caught short at some point!
Have you had time in the studio as well and if so, what have you been working on?
Yes, not as much as we would like, but we´re finding the odd moment here and there. We´ve been putting together a load of sketches and ideas at the moment to be contenders for album 2. It´s slowly coming together.
You’ve been working together for over 10 years now. How has your sound evolved in this time?
Yes. When we started as producers we were always looking to write tracks that DJs would want to rewind in the clubs. We always still want to go for that reaction if possible, but our style has mellowed as the years have gone by, and we enjoy working with harmonies and melodies just the same.
Which of your approaches or production techniques have remained constant, or indeed particularly changed since then and why?
We try not to use a massive amount of compression on our drum bus, as we feel it gives our tracks more of an organic feel. The breaks and sounds we use are generally from our personal sample libraries and have seen a lot of processing initially, we just feel it gives it our signature sound to get the balance of levels right individually instead of fixing the issues with groups of compression & EQ. From the ground up.
Aside from D&B, what other types of music or artists are you into right now? Any recommendations?
Outside of the studio and club environment we listen to very little Dnb. Our playlists are incredibly broad. Everything from big band Jazz through to Rock, Hip Hop and Soul. At the moment we are listening to SG Lewis, Rationale, Cassisdead & Michael Kiwanuka.
So moving on to your studio, can you run us through the key elements of your set-up?
We write in the box. If we use Outboard stuff it´s generally live instruments such as orchestral, brass ensembles and vocals. We rely quite heavily on the Native Instruments sample libraries and synths and we recently added a UAD Octo card to our set up, it’s great. The one thing that never changes from every project is the iZotope Ozone master at the end of the chain. It sounds great.
Which host/DAW software are you using and why?
We use Cubase. When we started producing it was either that or Logic, and we went for Cubase. It´s an amazing DAW, we love the mixer and the audio editing - including the vari audio. Excellent.
Presumably, you work a lot on the road too? If so, what are your go-to plugins in this set up?
On the road we use Ableton and the same chains we use in the studio. Trash 2 is a go-to for distortion. It sounds amazing.
The limiter sounds amazing. We run things through with a fast release as we like things to be punchy and loud. It´s also just great that you have every tool available for you in the one place. The multiband compressor sounds great too.
So has Ozone changed the way you master your tracks?
Yeah. We used to use the L2 and a chain of plugins, but the limiter just isn´t fast enough. We love it
The envelopes and LFO controls are amazing as they can add a nice feel of movement to your elements. The sound of the plug-in is amazing. One of the best!
Can you talk us through any of the tracks where you’ve used Trash and how it was used on them?
We always have a few synth leads sat behind the string sections in our tracks - they generally follow the Bassline. We always add a Trash to these to get some grit and modulation, it really helps to thicken the sound and add movement.
With voc, ls we always have an FX send of the lead vocal straight into a Trash 2. It´s very subtle but adds a nice layer that thickens up the sound of the Vox and can help brighten the lead sound.
You’ve also recently started using iZotope’s Nectar 2 Vocal Production Suite, have you had much chance to dive into the software and if so, what features have been particularly useful and why?
Once again we like the way that the plugin encompasses every tool you need for vocal processing in one place. We like the stock presets as well as tweaking, the pop vocal presets sound great straight out of the box.
Finally, what should we look out for in the coming months from Sigma? Will you be heading back into the studio?
We´re working on a club track at the moment which we´re excited about. We´re looking forward to getting the Summer done with and jumping back into the studio full time to get stuck into this album. Exciting times!
Thanks for talking to us guys, and good luck with the rest of the tour!