British DJ and record producer Steve Helstrip known as The Thrillseekers, released his debut single "Synaesthesia" 1999. Not only it peaked successful at #28 in the UK Singles Chart but also was featured in the 2001 movie The 51st State. Helstrip has worked under the guise of En Motion, Insigma, Rapid Eye, and Hydra. He has also remixed work by Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Timo Maas, Blank & Jones, and more. His record label is called 'Adjusted Music'.
Walk us through your favourite feature in Thorn...
Thorn has this really cool glitch sequencer. I’ve used a few glitch-style effects over the years, but I’ve never come across one that’s built directly into a synth before. This approach has some unique benefits, such as key sync and integration with the built-in arpeggiator. The Glitch Seq provides 6 lanes of automation for a repeater effect, hi and low pass filters, a bit crusher, sample rate reduction and gate time.Combined with the arpeggiator it’s possible to create some very intricate patterns with relative ease.
I have a few different approaches when starting a track, but it nearly always starts with the melody. Quite often I’ll sit down with a piano from Keyscape, season with lashings of reverb and start to play. Once I have a chord progression and melody that I’m happy with I’ll develop it further with other sounds. Other times it might be a sound that I’ve stumbled across that inspires me to write something around it. Ultimately, I think you need to be quite flexible with your approach and go with whatever feels right at the time.
Can you give us a rundown of your current setup in the studio and your favourite piece of gear?
Apart from a couple of hardware synths (Nord Lead 2 and a Korg minilogue) I’m 100% in the box these days. I run Cubase through a Thunderbolt Clarett interface, which has very low latency, into Dynaudio LYD48 monitors. I have a second machine running Vienna Ensemble if I need extra processing, along with a couple Octo UADs. I used to be a real gear junkie, but over time the quality of software emulations has changed everything.
My favourite piece of gear has to be Cubase. I’ve been using it for close to 30 years and it’s been fascinating to see it evolve so much.
Any tips or strategies on how to get the most out of Thorn?
It’s helpful to have some context when auditioning sounds in Thorn, so work through the patches with your track running the background. It’s often easy to skip past sounds in isolation when they have a raw, gritty quality, but it’s this quality that can so often help a sound stand out in the mix.
Best advice for writer’s block?
Whenever I’m struggling with writer’s block I use my time to learn or do something new. For me, at least, this helps my mind settle back to a place where creativity can flow again. Worrying about writer’s block has the opposite effect, so try not to stress about it. Most of us go through it, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re writing the next best thing.
What’s your biggest influence outside of music?
Significant life events and nature are my biggest influences. Music is a means of communication for me, so if I’m feeling a particular way I maybe inspired to write some music. All my best tracks have come about after a meaningful trip, or the death of a loved one, say. It’s how you communicate those feelings in a meaningful way that’s sometimes the hardest part.
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