Katie Gately: Sound Processing

Katie Gately: Sound Processing

November 8, 2019 92 By Kailee Schamberger


So this is my studio. I start pieces standing up, and I throw
around ideas, loop things, try out different effects processing. When I have an overall sense
of the shape of the piece, I will transition to my desktop computer. And here I can sit and carve,
and do all the tedious iterations that you have to do
when you’re producing a track. Essentially I work sitting and I play standing. I’m gonna start by showing you how I process
sounds initally, these are some field recordings from around
my house and around downtown Los Angeles. And usually what I do, is I will start
with a little sound and loop it and then start adding effects rather quickly
to get some exciting process sound. So this sound is my oven,
which makes sort of a vocal sound, but it’s certainly grounded in Earth reality. In this version I have looped it and doubled
the length of time it takes for each loop, in Live. So this to me feels much more
like an alien screaming. It’s almost like an agonized sound,
which I really like. And… I added some effects to it. Here it’s sort of getting chopped up, and the way
it sounds to me is like someone is trying to speak but they’re being interrupted. So often I’ll take sounds that are not human,
not at all human, and I try to perhaps make them speak,
give them a voice. One other thing I have is a little tap sound
that when I first heard it, was not very interesting. But that’s sometimes the fun challenge,
to take something that is not interesting and doesn’t stand out and try to, like,
push it, to see if it can be exciting. And then I’ve played with splitting the frequencies,
so I have a little rack in Live and I’ve split the high frequencies,
the mids and the lows. And on the highs I’ve put this delay,
and so it’s only affecting those highs. And then the mids, I’ve put… this effect that’s moving around, and it’s… there’s a bunch of different effects in here. The lows I usually don’t do much to.
I’ll often just actually cut them a little bit. Because effects in the lows, at least for me,
don’t… you can’t hear them very well. And then because I like this,
but it’s a little extreme to have all your highs going through a delay. I just have a dry… a duplicated… well another channel, and it’s dry,
and this one is… Frequency Splitter – so it’s like the wet channel. And I’ll mix those together. Next I have a scanner sound. Very tonal. There’s the musicality there. And I wanted to see how much
I could change the sound, how could I make this
as little like the original as possible. And so I tryed to push it back into this washy,
big kind of ocean sound. By… adding delay. Again, pitching it down 2 octaves. Some distortion, another delay,
some EQ bringing up the highs, cutting some of the lows. And I will play with the wetness, in terms of how
far away I want it to feel, I’ll use delays. The goal is sort of to create something that sings,
that actually is maybe just an impact sound or a really dull sound. I feel this urge to try to make mundane objects
beautiful or scary or threatening, to give them as much power as possible. I don’t know why this is something
I feel compelled to do, but it’s very much a compulsive instinct I have. Lemurs and lots of animals will have animal calls
that sound a bit like a saxophone, or… some kind of brass. So here’s a lemur. And then the same sort of notes
are being played by these samples, so they combine, in my mind, to something
greater than just lemur samples or saxophones, it becomes this exotic orchestra that could never
really exist in the real world. This is a pitched-down lemur. Sometimes when I work with traditional
instrumentation, because I’m not a trained pianist, or guitarist, I feel like I have to add something
interesting and different that would reflect my own perspective. So I was making this song with basic piano line, and I thought what if I record
each note separately. And then I process them separately, so I can create something that sounds bigger
and stranger than a piano, but is basically a piano. So it sounds like this altogether. And if I just solo tracks you’ll see this note. There’s a little bit of auto pan, I have an EQ there. This note is similar, but a different kind of panning. This third note, I have some bit reduction
and like a filter that’s doing random sweeps. And… Down here I have some distortion and another
filter doing something else. Later in the track I will bring in a piano that’s
“normal”, it’s recorded just on one track and I’m not separating any notes. But together when you combine them
it’s interesting cos you have a stable piano
and then sort of a wildwest piano. And just really to have this sense of the piano
kind of like a ghost moving around the room, I added these little details on specific notes. And… later I have another effect – it’s like a reversed,
distorted panning note. And in context it sounds like…