Our 7 favourite Plug-Ins on NEON jungle

The making of Neon Jungle was a major learning process for us in songwriting. The biggest change in our workflow was learning the ability to blend the production stage and writing stage together, which offers endless opportunities when brainstorming new parts in songs. In today’s age of music making, laptops have given us infinite opportunities (and you’ll read that in almost every interview with a producer). However, people often overlook the biggest and most simple advantage of making music on a computer, and that is the ability to see everything you’re doing drawn out in front of you. You get to just sit in a chair and listen over and over to figure out what step to take next. This way you’re listening to all instruments opposed to focusing solely on the one in front of you. It results in more calculated, and better-written songs.

These are just some of our favourite tools that we have used over and over in the making of Neon Jungle. For the most part you can hear all of them throughout the record. At times, some people won’t even notice them in the music as they’re used, but that’s also what we love. We hope it helps our producer friends out there in some way! Enjoy x

 

Crystallizer – Soundtoys

What It Does
This pretty little audio plug-in adds a shimmery, synthetic feel to whatever you put on it. It uses a pitch-randomiser in a jarring and hectic way, adding this sort of shiny and inhuman feeling to the overall sound.

Why We Love It
This plug-in is amazing for experimenting. Try it on all kinds of instruments and it will deliver a different effect, especially vocals! It might sound like there are a million clones of Alvin the Chipmunk in a tube yelling at you, but it can also be great for resampling and creating unique rhythmic pads and rises out of your audio tracks.

How We Used it
You can hear it especially well in our song “Lucky Fish”. Listen to the rise right before the drop in the bridge where the instruments cut out and just the singing is present (2:40).

As everything cuts out, you will hear a shimmering tail to the sound saturated with the crystallizer right before the singing kicks in. We also used it on top of a pad that we reversed and turned into a swell which ultimately became the first sound you hear in the song.


TAL-U-NO-LX

What It Does
This is the next best thing (and much cheaper option) to the famous analogue Juno synthesizer by Roland. Famous for its chorus settings, it has such a warm, rich tone to it that will make you reminisce about all your favourite music from the 80’s. You can assume the majority of your favourite bands have used the Juno synthesizer at some point; it sounds too good to pass up.

Why We Love It
Using this VST instantly brought us back to the 80’s. We love its arpeggiator functions and the amount of control you have over the tone, in fact, we tried to replicate a preset on a real Juno and preferred the plug in! We often used it as a synth bass to pack that extra punch in a natural way. You can literally do everything on this synth.

How We Used it
Our song “Dancer” was hugely inspired by the Juno. The pulsing bass that is the backbone of the song was done completely on the TAL UNO. The original demo on our computer was even titled “TAL Me Something”. You will also hear we used it often as an instrumental break or drop down in between sections of the song. Listen especially at the (2:00) mark to that 80’s arp!


West Africa – Kontakt

What It Does
This one’s self-explanatory. It is an array of real African drum samples that you can use either individually or as a drum machine. It has a bunch of tweaking options to find the right tonality and delivery on the drum as well.

Why We Love It
We’ve always loved African influences. Conan’s roots are South African, so this comes natural for us. We loved using it in songs that you would never expect to put them in to add a unique and organic feel. Using the drum machine function, you can really get some interesting patterns that will get your hips moving.

How We Used it
We loved layering these drums in quite a few sections of our songs. You may not hear it initially, but underneath many of our songs it really added the swing-feeling that gave a part the extra head-bopping vibe it needed. You can hear it in “Weird For You” most prominently at (1:13). We used it on its own basically to give an unexpected African flare to an otherwise prog-rock feeling song and keep it moving forward.


Little Alter Boy – Soundtoys

What It Does
The purpose of this audio plug is for pitch transformations, which is common in most DAWs. You are able to adjust the formant of the pitch as well, to prevent the audio wave form from being shortened or stretched. Other features like “robot” and “drive” allow even more manipulation to the tone of the audio.  

Why We Love It
It’s less about the uniqueness of this plug in that we love, and more about the quality of what it does. Little Alter Boy is by far the highest quality plug in for transforming vocals and samples, so that you don’t lose the original character of your sound. Play with the formant to get some real creative tones to high or low pitched samples, and the robot function is great if you’re feeling weird.

How We Used it
We used this to get the deep tonality of the main sample hook (00:24) in “The Hunt”. The vocal sample you hear in the intro and post-choruses of the song is actually Conan’s voice that we recorded in his bedroom, which we then pitched down using Little Alter Boy. Using the formant knob sparingly, we were able to get the most length and richness out of the sample without losing its character.


Exhale – Output

 What It Does
For all the producers who scour the internet for vocal sample packs, this is for you. This is basically a plug in that has hundreds of vocal samples and pads that you can modify on the fly, and they sound amazing. You can alter everything from rhythm and filters to the articulation of what they are actually saying. It’s the first modern vocal engine.

Why We Love It
We’ve found this useful for sparking ideas for hooks in songs, and also creating pads underneath instrumentation. The editing is so versatile you can make any patch sound nothing like a vocal at all. The “Flux” option is really cool for rhythmic inspiration as well.

How We Used it
We used Exhale twice in our single from Neon Jungle, “Youngblood”. You will hear at (00:12) that there is a lingering pad sound underneath the instrumentation. This was a vocal taken from Exhale that we modified, chopped, and looped to give it a pad texture. It is hardly noticeable until you take it out and you realise how much it fills the space. You can also hear an Exhale sample in the bridge (1:41); it sounds like a high-pitched cartoon character. We thought it added a shimmery element to the drop-down pulse bass.


Oneknob Pumper – Waves

What It Does
This is a plug in that acts as a quick side chain to the track.  You can adjust the depth and rate of the side chain using the big knob.

Why We Love It
Quite simply this just saves us a lot of time. We don’t have to go through the process of sending tracks to hidden kick drums if it’s just a straight forward pumping effect that we want to try. It’s just a quick click away and works like a charm.

How We Used it
Our favourite example of this would have to be in “Youngblood” at the (1:02) mark. We put some pretty intense side chaining on a tambourine using the Oneknob Pumper and the result sounded like a horse galloping with bells on. We laughed and galloped around the studio before we all said we loved it and wanted it in there. It definitely helps pick up the second verse before the 2nd chorus hits.


Good Old Fashioned Piano

🌴 The echo chamber that @echoplant has is incredible, and it's bringing this record to life #neonjungleeep

A post shared by L I T T L E I N D I A (@littleindiaband) on

So this one is not exactly a plug-in... but sometimes you need to just forget about the rabbit hole of plug-ins and remember why certain instruments are so amazing. There was an echo chamber in the studio that we recorded at (Echoplant Studios) along with a very old, out of tune piano that had the most epic sound that reverberated throughout the whole room. We were trying to get really weird during the bridge of Weird For You; we started putting crazy things in like doors creaking, women screaming, and us laughing. Then, when Conan began to layer some of this piano it sounded perfectly eerie (2:30).

It’s sometimes good to experiment with plug-ins and sound design to be unique and find some new inspiration, but it’s always good to keep things OG with some rich analog.

 

Much Love
Little India
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