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STEMS: Unpacking Natasha Kmeto's "Dirty Mind Melt"

Breaking apart "Dirty Mind Melt" from Portland's Natasha Kmeto.

by Justin Staple
May 13 2013, 11:30pm

Each week on STEMS, we ask an artist to break one of their tracks down into its stems and reveal how they created each sound, shedding light on every nuance of the production.

This week brings us Portland's own Natasha Kmeto, a singer and electronic dance producer whose combination of pulsing bass heavy beats and ethereal vocal melodies construct a unique sound reminiscent of 90's pop and R&B, but with a modern polish

Here, Kmeto breaks down the single "Dirty Mind Melt", off her self-titled EP released by Dropping Gems in February. "Dirty Mind Melt" presents Kmeto's signature genre clashing production bringing subtly pitch-shifted house vocals behind a steady footwork throb.

Read below to find out how Kmeto used a combination of software and live sampling to achieve her signature sounds:

Vocals:

So this is me singing. The melody was the first thing that occurred to me in this composition. I first recorded this refrain in a much slower tempo and then decided to speed it up and play with a pitched sound using Logic Pro's Flex. I then chopped it up, delayed it and got freaky with the stereo field by using a multitude of effects. It's repetitive nature is supposed to reflect the infatuation I was feeling at the time. I feel like the pitched vocals add a surreal, detached quality to the track.

Drums:

This beat is made up of a lot of things. The kick drum, which kind of serves as a bass line too, is just a straight tuned 808 kick. The high hats and clave are 808 hats as well. The snare is a combination of my recorded claps, dice in a plastic cup and an 808 clap. I perform most of my drum performances live and un-quantized to keep it feeling more human. The rhythms were definitely influenced by a lot of the juke and footwork I was hearing my favorite DJs and producers play out.

Organ:

At time that I wrote this, I had access to a super old Thomas organ with a Leslie speaker attached. I mic'ed it up with a close mic (dynamic) and a far mic (condenser) and recorded these creepy chords. I then used some side chain compression to make it have a little more rhythm once the beat starts. I wanted to use lots of diminished and minor chords in this song to make it sound a bit haunted.

Piano:

I used some software samples of a Yamaha Grand Piano to play these parts. I added tons of EQ and delay to kind of dub it out. I really love how all the rapid arpeggios turned out. There is a certain elegance and timelessness that piano adds to any track, in my opinion, and I wanted that element here for sure.

Strings:

These are some string samples I had laying around for years and been dying to use. I manipulated them a bit inside of my sampler and played with EQ, reverb and delay to get the final tone. If I had access to a full string section I would probably use it all the time, but the limitation of needing to find alternate sound sources is an equally valuable experience.

Vocoder:

This is me making weird sounds through a Korg R3 vocoder and arpeggiator. I was tweaking with buttons and knobs while I recorded it to give it a push and pull vibe with the tempo. I added this part to create tension and energy in the final part of the track.

Put them all together and here's what you get. "Dirty Mind Melt" by Natasha Kmeto.

@justinstaple

Previously on STEMS: Getting Flashed by DJ Clap

Tagged:
Thump
Stems
dirty mind melt
dropping gems
natasha kmeto