Hammer comes home: “Experiment: change your production process and try something new.”

Northern Irish producer Hammer takes an old-school approach to dance music and production. The Belfast-born artist uses analog gear to create cinematic pads and Italo disco tracks over percussion that have hit the spot in cavernous rave spaces.

The high energy continues on Hammer’s record label, remmah. The label’s new release, an eight-track compilation championing up-and-coming talent, is deliciously varied yet tied together with an atmosphere of pure ecstasy.

Hammer shows you around his delightful London-based space, talking about the team and the ideas behind the launch.

Hello Hammer! Tell us about your new record label, remmah.

The idea behind remmah it’s putting out music that I love to make, without having to edit or select tracks to fit a particular label. The main catalyst for starting the label was releasing my music during lockdown. I started receiving amazing music from other artists, like Anna Gram, and the label developed from there: I knew that upcoming artists had music that needed to be released and give them the credit that was due.

Tell us about the artists you have brought to Summary of Remmah.

The compilation has a lovely mix of artists including Anna Gram, Stevie Cox & Fossil Archive, KILIMANJARO, Naum Gabo and Phonica’s Ysanne. Talents from elsewhere include Alf Champion & MNDHNTR from Mexico, Club Tularosa from Los Angeles and Remmy from Tokyo.

It is an array of established and up-and-coming talent, past remmah artists, good friends and new producers we welcome you to the family.

Can you tell us a bit about your studio?

I’ve been in the same building in London for about five years but, just before lockdown, we rented the room next door and converted it from a fashion studio to a music studio. My friend Alex Anderson (Inner Zone) and I spent three months building the studio, including building two new soundproof walls, a second door, acoustic panels, and shelving.

It was a great project, as we designed it ourselves to be fully functional, work with both of our sets of gear, have the flexibility to share it with friends/other producers, and ultimately wanted the studio to sound amazing.

How do you use your studio?

I share the studio with Alex Anderson and Saoirse, and use it three days a week. I get my ideas and inspiration from everywhere, but I develop them in the studio, recording as many analog drums, effects and synth lines as possible so I can also work remotely. I have everything set up via Dropbox so when I get home everything is immediately uploaded to my laptop and I can just keep working, cutting things out and working on designs. I find that varying my environment helps with my creativity, but I always go back to the studio to mix the pre-masters.

What is your favorite piece of equipment?

This changes like the seasons. I always have a period where I dig into an effects unit, and that shapes the sound of that era. But with that being said, my Yamaha CS1-x synth is hands down my current favourite: it was the first synth I ever bought and it’s very diverse. It’s played a part in every track I’ve done.

your track sinco it has a very raw, beep-y sound. How was this created?

I did this track with Ysanne in one of our first studio sessions. To keep the creativity flowing, I took out my Boss VT-1 Vocal Transformer and plugged in Alex’s sE Electronics condenser microphone.

The VT-1 is essentially a vocoder that also adds a nice color to the sound. I always find changing your workflow can be exciting in the studio, especially in a collaborative situation. This created the base of the track. We use a Roland SH-2 for the bass line and send MIDI patterns from Ableton Live through my Roland SBX-1 Sync Box, which is awesome but annoyingly discontinued. We used a Roland JV-2080 for that bleep sound, it’s packed with amazing presets and you can also get some great artist created presets online.

What’s next on your study-wise shopping list?

The Roland Juno-X. I love playing with my friends Juno 106 and particularly the Juno 60. The Juno-X combines these and more, and I have high hopes after reading some great reviews.

If you were to stay on a deserted island, what item would you take with you to make music forever?

It would be an audio recorder. When I was stuck on the Isle of Arran during the first lockdown, that was essentially my desert island. But during that time, I had some of my most creative artistic periods in years. I walked every day and recorded sounds, then went home and made tracks based on these sounds and how I felt that day. These clues were the basis for Remmah Records.

What is your main production advice?

Experiment. Change your process and try something new. For example, pull out a mic if you hit a creative wall and start testing yourself.

What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting to build a studio?

Work out your budget and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. If you can afford to have someone build it, do so. We spent three months building ours and it probably would have taken two weeks for a professional. But it was an amazing experience and it was what we could afford.

Check out Remmah Rundown via Bandcamp.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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