Xrabit + DMG$

What does an ex-rabbit have to do with damaged goods? A lot, it turns out, in the form of Xrabit + DMG$. Sweet.
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Say what you will about MySpace, but it isn''t just for posting compromising pictures of drunk-ass friends or publicly fighting with exes. For the more musically inclined, it''s a tool to help like-minded artists find each other for collaboration. Take Xrabit + Damaged Good$ (DMG$), for example: Producer Xrabit is based in East London, while DMG$ (MCs Trak Bully and Coool Dundee) reside in “Dopeside” Texas. Xrabit was sifting through page after page of MCs on MySpace when he happened upon DMG$. “I feel like I have such a boring story,” Xrabit says. “I was looking for someone to work with. It''s quite tough because there are so many artists out there, but 99 percent are crap. I came across Coool and Trak''s profile on MySpace. There''s no attitude with them. It''s just such a good fit. It''s funny because almost everyone I know works like this nowadays—finding people on MySpace.”

The trio began trading a few files over the Internet to see if the collaboration would be a good fit. “I sent them some tracks, and they sent them back with rhymes. There was some back and forth, and they were a good fit, so they came over to London to record.” And thus the trio''s debut full-length, Hello World (Big Dada, 2009), was born. “It was a crazy session,” Xrabit continues. “Most of the beats were done before I met Coool and Trak. About half to two thirds of the tracks on the album were done in the nine days they were here in London. In nine days we worked day and night and came up with 19 tracks. We worked in my home studio, recording some stuff there at night. Then during the day, we went to a friend''s studio—nothing too fancy. It did the trick.”

Hello World''s 13 tracks have a fun, ‘80s old-school/new-wave feel to it, with songs such as “Ferris Bueller,” “Love of My Night” and “Thunderkats” and “Follow the Leader” bringing back the decade of big hair, Adidas and gold chains. Xrabit''s influences and Coool and Trak''s penchant for simple rhymes (think The Cool Kids) are what make Hello World a fitting throwback. “I listen to Diplo and some Ed Banger [Records] stuff, but lately I''ve been listening to Cherrelle and The Time. What drove me shortly before making the album was a lot of Spank Rock stuff—that whole attitude. It''s like it is something completely fresh and new but not with new sounds. I listened to a lot of dirty south stuff for bpms and speed. Some of the faster tracks have some club music influence. The beats have a little bit of a Baltimore or house influence.”

Xrabit describes his newish music career (he also DJs) as something he “sort of fell into.” After getting his first Mac PowerBook a few years ago and messing around with GarageBand, Xrabit found he was addicted to making music. He found it hard to peel himself away from the computer even into the wee hours of the morning. “Sometimes I''ll be working on tracks late at night, and then I''ll go back to them the next morning and say ‘I''ll just work for a little bit,'' but it turns into hours.”

While Xrabit started his career in music messing around with GarageBand, he eventually exhausted its capabilities and started using Apple Logic and Ableton Live. “What I do is I''ve got a vast sample library that I use with the Sampler instrument in Ableton. I have Ableton as a ReWire slave to Logic. I can play everything in Ableton as if it were an instrument. Logic is amazing, and some sounds are great, but they''re instantly recognizable. I hate that—a song instantly loses quality to me when I can identify the exact sound in Logic. You''ve got to tweak and layer the sounds.”

Continuing on the Ableton Live tip, Xrabit explains why he likes this particular DAW. “Ableton Live is very customizable. I instantly fell in love with it. You can tweak it to your heart''s content. You can build instruments in there; for example, one of the things I really like is the ability to build a synth and add effects, and then save that as an instrument. Because I''m not a natural musician, I started with the computer, so to me, the most important instrument is just the computer. I just love the fact that you can produce all these sounds with a MIDI keyboard and a computer. I''m in love with my computer. You can make sounds that sound real.”

“My Stereo,” a standout on Hello World, was one of the first tracks Xrabit sent over to Coool and Trak. “That song was done entirely in Ableton,” Xrabit says. “Coool wrote that one; I just sent over the beats. They [Coool and Trak] recorded it at a friend''s place. We did hardly any tweaking on it. The main synth in that song is called Operator, and I used sample drum sounds on top of it. To create the ‘doo doo doo...doo'' at the beginning, I took a sample of someone singing, and cut it right at the beginning of the note. I repeated it a few times, then pitched the final ‘doo'' down a notch. Then I added the synth.”

When it comes to mixing, Xrabit says the most important thing for him is to listen to the tracks in as many environments as possible. “I try to listen to it on many different things—my car stereo; two different types of speakers, one normal and the other something high end; and headphones. I try to listen to it from many angles.”

GEAR LIST
Hardware

  • Computer: Apple Mac Pro
  • External sound card: Edirol FA-66 FireWire Audio Capture
  • Headphones: AKG K 271
  • Mic: Rode NT2
  • Preamp: ART Tube MP Studio
  • Speakers: Fostex PM-2 MkII and regular hi-fi stereo speakers
  • Keyboard: M-Audio Axiom 61 MIDI controller

Software

  • Ableton Live with Operator, Sampler, Impulse, Tension, Electric, Drum Racks and Simpler
  • Apple Logic Pro
  • VST plug-ins: ARP 2600, CS-80, Jupiter-8, Minimoog, Moog Modular, Prophet, Tassman 4
  • Vast sample library of sounds

http://www.myspace.com/xrabit
http://www.myspace.com/dmgeez
http://www.helloworldblog.net