Producer, DJ, and sound artist object blue makes jagged and unpredictable electronic assemblages for the brain and the body, mixing heavy club percussion with fantasy atmospheres and ghostly R&B samples. Born in Tokyo, raised in Beijing and now based in London, her experimental and emotional style is a tribute to her three biggest influences: Björk, Aphex Twin and Aaliyah. After EPs on Tobago Tracks and Let’s Go Swimming, her latest, FIGURE BESIDE ME, is a self-released “ode to love”.
object blue’s sketch is an experiment in rich textures and cinematic moods, with tiny details adding up to a widescreen picture. As a deep bass rumble cuts through chirruping upper frequencies, you can almost imagine yourself wandering through the jungle and stumbling on a ruined temple.
Listen to object blue’s sketch below, then read on to hear how she made it and check out a short interview. You can also grab the stems here to explore, remix, and re-use however you like.
Tell us about how you made the sketch. What did you use?
“Instead of making my usual dance music, I was interested in creating lush textures, because NI tools are so good for sound design. I made small edits to all the presets I mention, but only minimally because the presets already sound so good!
“The bedrock of this sketch is Massive’s Spray, duplicated and fed into the Choral effect, one panned left and the other right. Both tracks were then 100% fed into a Return track of Reaktor’s Analogic Filter Box on the Glasperlen Spiel setting. I discarded the original Massive channels and just kept the wall of sound that came out of the Return signal.
“I wanted something bright to offset that, so the sketch begins with a blare of Steampipe’s Sax, which is also fed into the Return track. I have heavy, bassy riffs creeping in, which were done with Razor’s Offshore Strings and made wonky with the Flair effect. Flair is like flanger x 100 – its Scan mode is amazing.
“Also creeping in is Reaktor’s Sound Generator, which I absolutely love – this one is Metaphysical Function’s Dark Control Centre. Finally there’s the plucked string riff, which is Absynth’s Incense Stick preset. I love how rich the sound is, especially after RC 24, which is a fabulous reverb that makes it sound like I recorded the instrument in a hall.”
What does sketching mean to you?
Usually it’s about notating an idea so that I don’t lose it, or testing out new functions or rhythms.
What did you want to achieve with your sketch?
Because I know people won’t be treating this as home listening or a club soundtrack, I wanted to make the most of learning NI functions I’m not familiar with. I’ve only ever really used Reaktor Sound Generators and Hive before this, so it was a good way to learn new techniques and hear the results.
What’s your favourite element of the sketch?
I’m really pleased with the Massive signal that’s 100% wet with Reaktor filters!
How do you go from a sketch to a finished track?
A finished track, for me, is when nothing sounds wrong. That involves both taking away or adding things in, or completely gutting an element or section. But whatever it takes, I have to listen to it and think: OK, there are no (unintentional) flaws here.
What’s the best production advice you’ve ever been given?
This goes for any discipline, but “The Gap” speech by NPR presenter Ira Glass.
What are some of your favourite online learning resources?
YouTube really helps – seeing the actual workflow of people helps so much when learning plug-ins or native functions. I just type in the name of the function and flip through a few to find the least annoying presenter, haha. I don’t really like to give friends [my] works in progress for feedback, because in the end I think my taste is the most important in making my own music, so I just watch tutorials on how to use Ableton.
You can stay up to date with object blue over on her Instagram.
Who do you want to hear next?
We’ve already got a stacked lineup of producers heading your way, but we want to know who you’d like to see on Sketches. Know an up-and-coming producer with a unique sound? A cutting-edge sound design talent? Drop us a comment on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
In the meantime, check out a full playlist of all 50 sketches so far over on our Soundcloud.