Hanna makes no bones about his bare-bones approach to drum 'n' bass.
House and techno producer Warren Harris of Cleveland, Ohio, records as Hanna. He is a bass player who is educated in classical music and plays a range of styles, from heavy metal to jazz fusion. “Three years ago, I started doing electronic music out of the blue sky,” Hanna says. “I don't listen to the music too much; I just listen to a vibe and incorporate my own colors into the music.”
Hanna makes his Shadow Records debut with Scarlet Manifesto, a blistering drum 'n' bass record that he recorded in his apartment. “This album is pretty dark compared with my house stuff,” he says. “I guess it wouldn't be conventional drum 'n' bass, but there are some authentic shades in there.” Scarlet Manifesto is his first full-length release in the United States and follows an album titled Severance that he recorded for the Sublime label, based in Japan. “That's a techno album,” Hanna says. “I used one keyboard and a DAT machine for the whole album.”
For Scarlet Manifesto, Hanna used the Korg Triton, Novation Nova, and Roland JX-305 synths as well as a Boss DR-660 drum machine and an Ensoniq ASR-X sampling drum machine. Hanna eschews digital-audio sequencers, opting instead to use the onboard sequencers in the JX-305 and the Triton. “I'm not a fan of creating in front of a computer sequencer, because I'm from the old school,” he says.
Often, Hanna builds entire tracks using one device. For example, the track “Peacemaker” is the ASR-X alone. “Drum 'n' bass is a form of hip-hop, so there has to be some kind of groove there that will start me off,” he says. “Mostly, it's the chords. I start a track from a texture of the sound of the chords. I'm trying to be a trendsetter harmonically.”
A Roland SP-808 phrase sampler served as Hanna's sole tracking device. “That was my recorder, period,” he says. “I can get by with what it does. There are limitations; you have to be creative. I went from the SP-808 to a Sony PCM-R300 DAT machine, and then I would make a digital dump of that to a CD.” Hanna mastered Scarlet Manifesto on his iMac using Waves' Gold Native Bundle plug-ins.
Hanna spent ten years working at a local television station as an engineer and credits that experience with preparing him for recording his own projects.
“It was probably a half-million dollar studio, and I ran it,” he says. “I learned a lot in there. I used to do commercial jingles and stuff like that with [Akai] MPCs, so I'm used to hardware sequencers. I can use a sequencer and a keyboard for a few bars — just make little performances and piece them together. So that's the whole concept. I work with little sequences that I create and then sample, cut, and paste them. There's no outboard gear. The effects are from the keyboards or the SP-808.
“It's pretty amazing what you can do with those effects,” he says, and argues that many musicians don't explore their gear's full potential. “These keyboards have great sounds, but a lot of people don't get into them. The effects that they give you can make your projects production-ready.
“Any way you make the music, it doesn't matter how you get there,” Hanna says. “The music has to be good at the end of the day. Nobody really cares [about] or knows the process of how it got there. I'm all about doing stuff quickly. If it's laborious, I lose the vibe.”