When it comes to their sonic mission statement, LA-based production team the ANMLS are committed to gritty authenticity: “Personally, I like dirtying up some audio, making it sound kind of grimey. I think, both of us, when something’s a little too clean, it just feels a little too polished,” says Faris Al-Majed, who forms half of production duo ANMLS alongside creative partner Richie Muñoz. “We both like hip hop, we both like horror movies. We usually go for like, minor chords, or something spooky sounding.”
While the pair have been friends since their teens, the ANMLS first placement was on The Weeknd’s debut studio album, Kiss Land – an exhilarating dose of synth-heavy dark wave and R&B that garnered certified Gold from the RIAA and led to songwriting and production credits with Belly, French Montana, D.R.A.M., and more.
Watch this Sketches video to see how the ANMLS build a spooky ambient trap beat from scratch with Native Instruments KOMPLETE NOW.
When it comes to building a beat, the ANMLS like to start with a basic arp and “build off of it, manipulate it, and make it something special.” After laying down a dark melodic arpeggiated lead with CLOUD SUPPLY, the ANMLS begin the layering process with a series of contemplative chords from HYBRID KEYS: “I usually use the chord trigger. A lot of stuff, we do by ear. So if you’re not classically trained or anything, if you can figure out the key…you can map everything to set key and then you can harmonize, you can add chords. It works for literally every scale.”
Richie then bounces the stems to Faris, who reverses the arpeggiated lead to create “a weird, spooky, low texture,” then chops it up, loads those chops in BATTERY, adds stabs using MASCHINE MIKRO as a MIDI controller, and bathes it in atmospheric percussion with BATTERY NOW and RAUM.
With the sonic foundation firmly in place, Richie adds a soaring synth lead with LO-FI GLOW, a brassy bass sound with RETRO MACHINES, and a delay-drenched drop with CLOUD SUPPLY before processing the drums in BATTERY. “Not many samplers have this much power. You can like, filter stuff out on a lot of other samplers, but it won’t feel the same. The algorithm at which the filter and the EQs are built on BATTERY – they’re fire.”
To close things out, the ANMLS sculpt a trunk-rumbling 808 in MASSIVE X, pensive melodic pads in HYBRID KEYS, and a series of atmospheric snaps in BATTERY. Then, with all the pieces in place – “verse sections, hook sections, pre, and all that” – they listen back and build the arrangement until it’s ready to be sliced and diced to the artist’s specifications.
NI products used: KOMPLETE NOW, BATTERY, CLOUD SUPPLY, RAUM, LO-FI GLOW, HYBRID KEYS, MASSIVE X, MASCHINE MIKRO, KOMPLETE KONTROL S49
Check out all of our SKETCHES series here.