I haven’t done anything like this for a while and a few kind folks have asked how it came together. So I thought I would share it.

The Music & Production

The entire production took place in Cubase 6.5 with Wavelab 7 for a bit of mastering.

As you can see from the screen shot – This is a pretty small project, compared to the huge behemoths we come up with when making club music and remixes.

The Full Project in Cubase 6.5

The Full “Psiren” Project in Cubase 6.5

And just so you know what I mean – Here’s a very compressed screen shot of the original Digital 96 “When I’m Dancing” Project – With the orchestra parts already bounced to audio.

A Typical Club Production Project

A Typical Club Production Project

In this case, the Psirens music actually came first. As any musician / songwriter / producer will tell you; We always have any number of unfinished “masterpieces” laying around waiting to be discovered.

This music actually started off as an instrumental riff for a 130BPM dance track. The intro riff (first 8 bars) is played using Spectrosonics Omnispehere – Which does just about anything. I always edit presets, but in this case there wasn’t much to do, as it was just an experiment.

But during one of those “experimenting-with-a-new-plugin” moments I decided to whack some heavily compressed, half speed drums over the riff. The drums are played “live on the keyboard” using Toontrack Superior Drummer 2 – and a massively edited preset of my own. Then various UAD compressors and channel strips were added, to squash the hell out of that kit!

Omnispehere & SD2

Omnispehere & SD2

After I had the drums going it was pretty obvious that this was going to need some guitar. So out comes the Variax 700 with my best Flying V emulation. Plus Guitar Rig 5, using my own Michael Schenker preset. Schenker was my hero when I was younger and great influence on my music in general due to his melodic style. I Just played the riffs a few times and spread the takes out a bit in the stereo field to get that nice full sound. (If only MSG had done that on their début album eh).

Tip: To get a nice feel with the live instruments; Play it all the way through in one take if you can. Don’t be tempted to use too much copy and paste with this kind of track.

Give me words!

So now we need some lyrics… And not another love song please!

So, driving home from a gig one weekend I had a few lyrics going round my head and managed to get them into the iPhone for later perusal.

Slipping through my dreams – Blah Blah Blah – Look Behind your eyes – Your a monster in disguise

As song-writing often goes, it didn’t take long to finish it off once I realised that those few words could fit straight into a tribute to one of my favourite episodes of Red Dwarf.

What is this Psiren of which you speak?

“Psirens” is the first episode of science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf Series VI and the 31st in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 7 October 1993. Written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor and directed by Andy de Emmony. The episode – which involves Psirens who try and lure the crew to them to feast on their brains – had its script published before the episode was broadcast. – Wikipedia

I’ve been a huge Red Dwarf fan since the very first episode in 1988 – And Psirens (from series 6) has always been one of my favourite episodes. So within an hour or so I had the rest of the lyrics and the 8 bar instrumental soon became a song:

Slipping through my dreams
Twisted Psiren Queen
Look behind your eyes
You’re a monster in disguise

You know, you know you know I want you
I know, I know, I know you want me too
Why don’t you let me go!
(Twisted Psiren Queen)
Why don’t you let me go!
(Twisted Psiren Queen)

Moving through my mind
Like a being of another kind
Pulling me outside
With desire that I can’t hide

You know, you know you know I want you
I know, I know, I know you want me too
Why don’t you let me go!
(Twisted Psiren Queen)
Why don’t you let me go!
(Twisted Psiren Queen)

That’ll do. Simple and no mention of “love”, “baby” or “yeah” anywhere at all. (Well Ok there are plenty of “want you” and “want me” but it’s all about context – Hehe).

Next day, bring up the project and sing in the words. Make two takes and use them both. The melody is simple -So no need for hundreds of takes and the low octave vocals are tuned using Cubase’s Vari-Audio to make them sound more science-fictionesque.

Vari Audio

Vari Audio

I wanted the vocals to sound mean and rough. No matter what I do these days (or how many cigarettes I smoke), my voice seems to sound too “nice”. But not if I add a ton of distortion (using Guitar Rig again) on the main vocal channel. Hehe. Probably added too much but hey… It’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Distorting The Vox!

Distorting The Vox!

I thought it would be fun to add a clip from the Red Dwarf episode to go underneath the break down. This was a real rush job but I managed to find the part I wanted, edit it down and fit it in place.

God you’re beautiful. I can’t resist you. I’ve got to be strong. I know what you want. No… No you don’t. You don’t want to love me – You want to suck out my brains with that straw like you did the rest of them!

All the time with that weird Psiren sound effect underneath, which actually sounds like a very non-musical version of my Omnisphere intro sound. Classic stuff.

Then into Wavelab for a very quick bit of mastering treatment, we’re almost done.

I then did an internet search for images of “Pete Tranter’s Sister” – Who is the main “Psiren” in the Red Dwarf Episode. I found a nice piece on Deviant Art and contacted the artist, asking for his permission to use it. He very kindly gave me the go-ahead. So a big THANK YOU goes out to Daniel Groom.

Psiren Cover

Psiren Cover

So there you have it. It is by no means a modern day work of art. Just a bit of fun and a chance to let the hair down without worrying about every note, beat and frequency being perfect. And it makes a real change not having to care about the necessary evils of today’s club music – How long we have to run the intro before the vocal comes in and is it enough time for DJs to mix in from the preceding track. Phew!

Here’s the finished result. I hope you enjoy it somewhere near as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Thanks for reading (and listening).