Homeshake, aka Peter Sagar, is a solo musician from Montreal known for his unique brand of R’n’B influenced indie-pop which has a lo-fi, home-recorded aesthetic. Formerly Mac DeMarco’s live guitarist, Sagar uses synthesizers and drum machines to accompany his guitar playing and soft vocal delivery; his 2017 album Fresh Air expands upon his sound by incorporating adult-orientated rock sounds into his palette. In this article I’ll look at the synth sounds that Homeshake uses to craft some of his songs.
Sonically, there’s a lot more of an electronic influence on the record – what about this genre made you want to dive into it on the album?One thing was that I was becoming disenchanted with the guitar a little bit as a writing tool, and I found the more instrumentation you allow yourself, the more texture and feeling you can convey through your music. I just needed something else to work with… And I found a good synthesizer for a good price on craigslist, so that helped. – Homeshake
Homeshake’s go-to pieces of equipment, as of Fresh Air, were a Korg Poly 61 and a Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08. The Poly 61 was the successor to the Korg Polysix, and like the much more popular Roland Juno series, it used DCO oscillators for a stable, always in-tune sound. The Prophet 08 is a versatile modern polysynth capable of detuned oscillators and plenty of advanced modulation tricks.
This article is freshly updated version of my original Homeshake Synth Sounds article that was published in 2017; the new version features videos and more accurately recreated sounds.
Call Me Up
Call Me Up has a retro 90s soul vibe, with the chord synth patch and drum machine sound largely responsible. Here’s my full remake, using no samples from the original song:
The lead is a brassy sound that I recreated using the new version of Arturia Prophet-5 V. The patch uses a single sawtooth oscillator with an envelope modulated filter.
My patch has the filter closed all the way with the envelope amount knob set to 5.72. The filter envelope has an attack time of 59ms, decay of 1.64 seconds with sustain around 5.8. The quick attack adds a soft, brassy quality and boosting the resonance helps to emphasise the filter attack; I have the resonance set to 1.68.
- Call Me Up Lead 00:00
The pad chords sound like they came from a digital synth such as the Roland D-50, as they have a metallic, sampled quality. For my remake I used the Roland Cloud D-50 plugin with the preset Flute-Piano Duo with some high and low-pass filtering, Ableton Live’s Chorus-Ensemble device and reverb from Valhalla VintageVerb.
- Chords Dry 00:00
- Chords Processed 00:00
The outro of the song is simply the main beat, but in reverse. To recreate the effect, I recorded the output of the Master channel in Ableton to a new audio track, and then reversed the audio.
- Original Clip 00:00
- Reversed Clip 00:00
Every Single Thing
Every Single Thing features a jazz-inspired chord sequence with some nice interplay between the chords and bass sounds. I recreated all the synths using TAL U-NO-LX, and here’s my full remake:
There are two separate chord synth tracks; the first track is the ‘main’ sound that you can hear from the beginning of the song and the second track is a darker, washed out pad sound that you can hear in the verses, when the main synth drops out. The second synth plays throughout the song, and you can hear it layered behind the main synth.
The Every Single Thing chord patch uses a square wave oscillator, so turn off the saw and sub oscillators and turn on the square oscillator. There’s a nice slow LFO vibrato on the patch which adds the playful, detuned sound, and can be added by setting the LFO fader (top-left) to 1.26 and the LFO rate to 0.95 Hz.
Both the HPF and main LPF filter are set to halfway, and there’s some envelope modulation with a fast attack and decay, sustain and release set to halfway. The VCA mode is set to ENV, which ensures the notes don’t cut off as soon as you release the keys.
- Every Single Thing 1 00:00
The second, washed out synth track is the same as the main synth patch, only with the filter lowered to 2 to darken the track, an auto-pan effect has been added and there is more reverb. Here’s the pad verse synth:
- Every Single Thing 2 00:00
The bass track is another square wave patch, but this time with some white noise to add some ‘dirt’ to the sound. The filter is envelope modulated with a slow attack (4) and decay (6.5) for a brassy quality. Resonance has been boosted to halfway which helps emphasis the filter frequencies, which helps make the synth stand out in the mix.
- Every Single Thing Bass 00:00
Heat comes from Homeshakes 2015 album Midnight Snack, and features two synth tracks that may have been recorded using the DSI Prophet 08, utilising its ability to detune oscillators to create a thick sound. Here’s the remake:
The Heat chords patch uses two slightly detuned sawtooth oscillators; with the tunings only slightly detuned, there is a subtle but noticeable phasing effect. My Prophet-5 patch has both oscillators set to sawtooth waves, with Oscillator B’s fine-tuning knob set to 2 cents sharp. The filter cutoff is set to 357Hz with no resonance, and there’s no envelope modulation whatsoever.
For effects, I used an EQ to tame the low and high-ends, a compressor and a reverb, all of which were added in Prophet-5 V’s onboard effects.
- Heat Chords 00:00
The Heat bass sound has a brassy quality created using a filter envelope, similar to the lead patch from Call Me Up that we looked at. It also uses detuned sawtooth waves, in my Prophet-5 V patch I have Oscillator B detuned by 11 semitones. There’s also some white noise added to ‘dirty up’ the patch and add some grit, this is added in the Mixer section and I have it set to halfway.
- Heat Bass 00:00