MN2S | Features | In The Studio with Serge Devant

After putting out two albums and numerous big singles on Ultra, Serge Devant was well on the way to becoming one of dance music’s biggest stars. Sadly as his star was very much on the ascent, he suffered a serious back injury, forcing him to take a lengthy break for a couple of years. The good news is that he is now back, fighting fit, with his new sound the product of having had a period of reflection and time to focus.

On the April 6, his ‘Fearing Love’ EP with Damiano and singer Camille Safiya will launch Jamie Jones and Lee Foss’ new vocal-led imprint Emerald City – pretty much the best return a producer could hope for after a period of absence. We caught up with Serge to find out about his studio habits in the run-up to the release.

So Serge, you’re back in the spotlight after some time away. How has your production setup changed since then?

My production set up didn’t change much really. If anything I have less than before. But I’ve switched from Logic to Ableton which was a big change for me. The workflow became much smoother. Ideas are much easier and faster to lay down. It’s just a lot more user-friendly.

Have you learnt new skills and techniques in that time?

Yes – I’ve had to learn Ableton from scratch so that did take a bit of time!

What has been the most exciting new technological development for production since you have been away?

I don’t know if there was anything huge, but since I moved over to Ableton it has been such pleasure to work with. It’s so easy to get something going quick. I started using Steve Duda’s plug-in Nerve which has been amazing to sequence percussion and create grooves instantly. It’s a very user-friendly plug in and it saved me a lot of time.

I also picked up an Olympus field recorder that I have been using a lot, recording different sounds when I’m on the road and using them in the tracks to add depth or work around some weird sound that nobody else would have – which is pretty cool .

Tell us about your new material. How has your sound evolved and what can we expect?

I’m just making music I always wanted to play. Some deeper than others. A more organic sound. I’m using sounds that I record. Some of the tracks have vocals. I’m letting the music guide me from the start, rather than trying to fit a certain label or follow the trend.

Who has been inspiring you in terms of production recently?

Maya Jane Coles, Matthew Dekay, Shonky and Solomun to name a few.

What did you first start making music on?

An Apple G4 and Logic 4.6 I think if I’m not mistaken, with a 32×8 Mackie Board, a Novation Supernova, a Nord Lead, a KORG M1 and a Roland Juno.

What are your usual studio habits? Do you treat it like a day job or work well into the night?

I usually start late afternoon and it really takes off into the night. Nothing amazing usually ever happens before 6-8 PM…

How do you usually go about beginning a track?

I just throw some grooves together over a kick and hopefully I hear a bassline once I have some percussion going. Then just see where it goes from there. I let one element inspire me to find the next.

What are your tips for working with vocalists and processing vocals?

I try to process less. Find a nice preamp that has nice colour so your vocal could have some character, rather than being super clean and perfect. I use a Great River preamp, the texture of which I love.

What do you find the hardest part of production?
Coming out of the break. Making something else interesting happen after the break is always a tough part.

Do you have an all-time favourite machine, soft-synth or plugin?

At the moment it’s TAL’s plug-ins.

Serge Devant & Damiano feat. Camille Safiya ‘Fearing Love’ is out April 6 on Emerald City.

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