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's STEMS brings us Pcoat, a young glitch and IDM producer hailing from Washington, DC. Pcoat's compositions vary from the wide and atmospheric to the succinct and laid-back.
Here, Pcoat presents "Division" a downtempo and discordant production that brings a smooth moving baseline and clicking texture to fluid and circling strings and pads. Pcoat's "Division" comes courtesy of the amazing Show Me The Future compilation from Los Angeles label Friends of Friends and serves as one of his first officially released productions.
Read below as Pcoat describes his moves using various production software coupled with some oold Japanese and Bollywood samples:
The drums were the first thing that I made for 'Division' and were based around the idea of taking one relatively simple pattern then doubling , pitching-up, and offsetting it by 3/4s of a bar to create the cluttered groove that you hear in the final track. I really didn't have much in mind when I started making them, just a simple idea I wanted to try. I bounced the first pattern with a kick drum and no snare and then with a snare and no kick drum.
The pattern with the snare was pitched up 9 steps and layered on top of the pattern with the kick drum to create the final arrangement. I wasn't expecting much to come from what was just an experiment, but the result was just too striking to throw out.
I had to iterate a lot on the melodic aspects of this track because the beat was so broken and off-kilter that I just wasn't sure if it even really made sense. Initially I played around with just having sparse, chopped-vocals and synths but realized that the beat called for something more grandiose. I found some samples of pads from random keyboards that a friend had given me a while back and arranged them as they appear herein.
The rhythmic effect that makes them seem undulating and weird comes from Live's native time-stretching - The DAW tried to keep the transients of the original samples intact/in-time to the best of its ability, but the resulting sound was ultimately kind of off yet fit the groove nicely.
Bangs And Harmony:
I added these distorted and harmonic-dense sounds to the intro of the song to add to its unstable and imperfect feel. The vocal part is sampled from the soundtrack to some old Bollywood movie whose name escapes me now. I had to use a lot of sketchy noise-removal tricks to get the background sounds out of that vocal but the result was surprisingly clear and just fit perfectly. The owl-like sound at the beginning is from this same sample just stretched out and looped.
These parts are half sampled from an old Japanese folk record that featured a woman singing very long and dramatic notes. I was pleasantly surprised that she was singing mostly in key with what I had already made so all I did was cut the decay off of said notes and arranged them into something more rhythmic.
The other vocals are from the aforementioned soundtrack and are mostly just pitched up or down or have Live's standard reverb depending on the sample.
This squeaky guy is actually just a part from the beginning of the track without reverb. I really wanted the track to be about the division between the dense sounds of the introduction and the sparser sound of the rest the track so re-using and re-arranging these bits without much processing just made sense.
At some point I mixed-down this part with a bit of the vocal and so the two are permanently stuck together in the middle section of the track. I do a lot of mixing down of disparate elements in my tracks so I can manipulate them in tandem and get unique sounds.
Put them all together and here's what you get. "Divsion" by Pcoat: