Kaytranda burst onto the music scene in 2016 with the release of 99.9%, a genre-defying debut album that mixed electronica and hip-hop, whilst also taking liberally from funk, soul and R&B. The album’s beats were produced by Kaytranada whilst each song features a guest star that co-wrote and performances on each song, giving it an eclectic, ensemble feeling.
I previously covered Kaytranada in an article dedicated to Glowed Up, another 99.9% track which features the inimitable Anderson .Paak on vocals. That article is a good introduction to Kaytranada’s unique style, paying specual attention to his use of sidechain compression, distorted bass and stereo width; techniques which all appear in the two new remakes featured in this article.
For this article, I’ve put together brand new remakes of the songs Vivid Dreams and Together. The TAL U-NO-LX and Xfer Serum presets created for the remakes are featured as a free download the end of the article. Let’s get started!
Vivid Dreams features vocals by River Tiber, a prolific songwriter who has penned songs for Drake, SZA, Travis Scott and James Blake. It’s built around a unique chord sequence with a 90s-influenced sound, and is later joined by syncopated percussion and a monster bass sound. Here’s my full remake:
Vivid Dreams opens up with jazzy, offbeat chords which come from Korg M1 Organ 2 preset. This factory patch has a heavy hall reverb which can’t be heard in Vivid Dreams, so Kaytranada must have disabled the onboard reverb. Here’s what it sounds like:
- M1 Organ 00:00
The distorted bass sound can be heard clearly when it’s isolated around the 2:10 mark. I recreated this sound using Xfer Serum processed through Soundtoys Decapitator for distortion. My Serum patch uses a sawtooth oscillator with osc warp mode set to ‘Bend+/-’ with bend set to 70%. This is subtle but helps emphasis the upper harmonics over the fundamental frequency, helping the track sound stronger once unison, filtering and distortion have been added.
The patch has unison turned to 7 and detune set to 0.20 which creates a wide, thick sound. I also added a sine wave from Serums sub oscillator pitch an octave above Osc A to make help the upper frequencies even more. There are two filters in my patch, the main filter is set to 200Hz with envelope decay modulation, and a second filter is in the effect section cutting at 240Hz. Both envelope’s work together to create a sound that contains just bass frequencies and low-mid frequencies, with nothing in the high-end.
- Chords 00:00
- Bass Dry 00:00
- Bass Distorted 00:00
Together is a funky track featuring vocals by AlunaGeorge and GoldLink. It opens with a drum break sample from Pistolero by Bombers, a disco group from the late 70s. Here’s my full remake:
The Pistolero drum break is joined by a chord sequence played on a heavily modulated Rhodes key sound. I started with the AAS Lounge Lizard Reed 2 preset for my remake, which has a relatively dry sound. To recreate the modulation effects heard on Together, I added Ableton’s Phaser-Flanger device in Phaser mode followed by the Chorus-Ensemble device in Ensemble mode, both set to 50% wet. Hear the difference below:
- Rhodes Dry 00:00
- Rhodes w/Modulation 00:00
Similarly to Vivid Dreams, these main chords are later doubled by a more intense synth patch, which helps to elevate the energy of the song while keeping the same chord sequence. I recreated this sound using TAL U-NO-LX, and my patch uses a square wave oscillator and the Chorus II effect. I’ve raised the pulsewidth (PW) fader to create a more thin, pulse wave sound, and also raised the HPF fader to 7 to cut any low-end. Many of Kaytranada chord sounds are high-passed, which helps them mix with his heavy bass sounds.
- Together Synth 00:00
I also used TAL U-NO-LX for the plucky rhythmic track that is set quite low in the mix. For these funky sounds, setting the filter resonance to medium-high settings and modulating the filter with a short envelope is key. My patch has resonance set to 5.2 with an attack of 1.1 for a soft start and a decay time of 3.2 to ensure that each note is nice and short.
- Together Rhythmic 00:00
The bass sound in Together is a subby square wave that plays in a very low register, making some notes sound muddy. I turned to Xfer Serum for this sound, with oscillator 1 set to a square wave and the sub oscillator set to a sine wave. There's no unison/detune here, the sound is purely mono. The filter cutoff frequency is set to 190Hz and modulated by envelope 2 which has a 1.15 second decay time. Finally, there's some noise from the noise oscillator, which helps to dirty the sound up.
- Together Bass 00:00