Build ups are an opportunity to create tension, emotion, and much-needed energy in your music – because of this, they deserve your utmost attention.
I’m a firm believer that your drop is only as good as the build that precedes it.
As a producer who has remixed some of the biggest artists in the world (Beyoncé, Tove Lo, Nick Jonas, etc.) for some of the biggest labels in the world (Universal Music Group, Island Def Jam, Sony Music, etc.) I am always amazed at how easy it is to fall short when making a build up. It’s both difficult AND time intensive to pull off.
And because of that, when buildups lack detail, it’s a recipe for sounding amateur (in my humble opinion).
That said – here are 6 HUGE build up tips, tricks and techniques I’ve come to embrace and utilize in almost every single track I produce.
#1 Get Creative When Entering the Drop
Yes – the drop needs to be memorable, interesting and well-produced. But if there is an area that most producers overlook, it’s how they enter the drop.
The way you introduce or present a new sound is often more important than the sound itself.
Instead of relying on the same Pryda snare or reverse cymbal for every transition – try a unique gap of silence, or introduce a sound using triplets, or get creative with drum fills.
Long story short: don’t skimp on creating a unique entrance to your drop. This can be relatively time-intensive and test your creativity, but if it was easy – everyone would do it.
#2 Automate Parameters on the Master
There are a few things I automate on the master of every build up:
- Volume (lower the volume just 1-2 DBs over time during the build)
- EQ (automate the low cut & resonance to taste to get the famed DJM effect)
- Reverb (small amounts of reverb can create tons of depth and spacing)
- The Mono-build trick (automate your stereo image for added drop impact)
Bonus: For Ableton users, there is a simple rack for all of this that Bass Kelph made called “Easy Wash Out“. It’s totally free.
#3 Program Intricate Snare Work
Intricate build ups require multiple layers all working cohesively to create one dramatic moment of tension.
This is no individual secret to making this work, but here are some things that might help:
- Start with foundational elements (you can’t make the build interesting unless the basics are there first)
- Layer by automating loops and snare rolls in volume to slowly come up over time. This will create the perception of a much more intricate, detailed build.
- Don’t forget your basic white noise and forever/risers for background tension. These make builds a lot easier.
What does this mean exactly?
Watch this ALL in action as I use a few military snares I downloaded from a random Youtube performance to create a unique and intricate build up in my remix for Laidback Luke.
Click here to see how I made this Laidback Luke remix in just under 5 hours, entirely unedited from start to finish.
#4 Use the Splice Sounds Library
When it comes to searching for a one-off sample, don’t forget that Splice Sounds was built and organized specifically for your sample-finding needs.
There is absolutely no better way to add details to your productions than utilizing the Splice Sounds library. Want to see this in action?
Check out the video below where I use Splice Sounds to add details to an otherwise simplistic build up in my official remix for Laidback Luke.
#5 Let Samples Do the Work for You
First off – don’t limit yourself to only using samples from sample packs.
Google stuff. Listen to random Youtube performances. Get sounds from the world. And then flex time, pitch, distort, and warp to get them to match your track.
There is nothing more refreshing than unique, original sounds outside of the norm of what everyone else is using. This doesn’t take too much work either – just a decent amount of experimentation.
#6 Create Unique Drum Fills
The best drum fills are a combination of self-programmed midi, alongside chopped up loops & pre-made fills.
There is an art-form to this, but generally speaking – someone spent a lot of time making those sample drum fills sound good – so take advantage of it and use them.
Combine the pre-made fills with some of your own chopping and self-programmed midi, and you’ve created a unique fill that no one else has in any track.
If you’re enjoying these build up videos, just think of this:
I put together over 60+ HD videos in just under 5 hours of footage to write and produce my latest remix for Laidback Luke.
Again, this blog post only has 3 videos out of over 60+.
Check out the full, completed Laidback Luke Remix below: