Pond recently released their seventh studio album The Weather and it's fantastic, after my Sweep Me Off My Feet tutorial I've had a couple of requests for the synths in 'Paint Me Silver'. What a lot of people don't know is that the main hook is based on a Todd Rundgren & Utopia song called Cosmic Convoy. Although 'Paint Me Silver' starts out with a direct sample from 'Cosmic Convoy', the main hook is based on the lead lick later in the song overdubbed by the Pond members. I was lucky enough to see Pond on their recent tour and their live synth setup consisted of a Moog Sub Phatty, a Korg Poly-800 and a Dave Smith Prophet 08. They mostly used the Moog for basses and the Korg for chorused pad chords, and for 'Paint Me Silver' they used guitar for the lead, so it's hard to tell what was used for the studio recording. I played with some differents synths and decided that the lead synth is either the Korg Poly-800 or a Roland Juno-106, which they also use regularly.
Tell me about your new album… There’s this new song you played that has a repeating riff, I loved that. It was sort of hip-hop-y.
Jay: That song is a sample of a Todd Rundgren song, really slowed down, sort of like G-Funk and hip-hop.
Nick: Not so much the G-Funk, but more flamboyant southern sort of stuff, like Kanye flamboyant.
To get an idea of where 'Paint Me Silver' started I'll try playing around with the 'Cosmic Convoy' sample a little. Here's the original sample from around 1:05 in the song:
To get from 'Cosmic Convoy' to 'Paint Me Silver' we need to lower both the tempo and the pitch, and we can lower both at the same time with Repitch sampling. Put your sampler into Repitch mode and lower the tempo from 133bpm to 88.8bpm and the pitch will drop at the same rate as the tempo. This gives an immediate vaporwave vibe:
As mentioned previously the lead synth line was likely created with either a Roland Juno-106 or a Korg Poly-800. It's a simple sawtooth patch with some thick chorus and pitch-bending for the melody. I'm using a TAL U-NO-LX patch with just a sawtooth wave and the Low-Pass Filter pulled down a little. I've got Chorus I on and the pitch-bend range set to 2 semitones. To make the lead sound a little less sterile, add some LFO vibrato to the DCO and keep the amount small, the rate fast and delay the vibrato a little to keep the initial sound in tune.
As with a lot of music of this type, the effects play a huge part in shaping the sound. After TAL U-NO-LX I'm running the sound into a delay, compression, saturation and reverb. The compression after delay is the most important element as it creates a smearing effect across the notes, I'm specifically using an analogue style delay and compressor to keep the effects element dark and driven.
The pad chords in Paint Me Silver are again from the Juno-106, making use of the Juno's built in chorus effect and some additional phaser effects to get a swirling effect. I'm using TAL U-NO-LX again and I'm using the ADSR envelope to slowly open the Filter. To do this, take the cutoff frequency almost all the way down, raise the ENV amount to halfway and set the ADSR with a long, slow attack. Set Chorus I on and change the VCA mode from GATE to ENV so that the volume rises along with the filter frequency. For a Phaser I'm using my trusty EHX Small Stone Phaser pedal on low colour mode. For software options, every guitar amp sim seems to have a Small Stone emulation built in.
The Full Beat
I've covered the two main synth patches used in the song, some additional tracks are some guitar layering, bass guitar and processed drums. To get the sample to sit better in the mix I've EQed it to make it brighter and add more treble to it. I've then added some bass guitar and sampled drums from Superior Drummer, listen to the different mixes below:
Thanks for reading, hopefully the section about sampling has given you some insight into the process behind this kind of songwriting, check out the TAL U-NO-LX patches below and use them in your own songs.
The Pond Ableton Sessions, featuring the Ableton Projects from my two Pond tutorials:
3rd Party Plugins Used
Arturia Prophet V
GForce String Machine
NI Reaktor Player & Boscomac Twinkle (both free!)
I've turned several of the main instruments into Live Instruments Racks for easy tweaking and use in your own songs.