Melbourne's Northeast Party House definitely bring the party with them. The sextet have ascended the ranks, in the process becoming one of the countries finest purveyors of floor filling, synthy goodness. The Melbourne band have certainly levelled up on their most recent release, their cleverly titled third album Shelf Life. Co-produced alongside Kim Moyes of The Presets fame, Shelf Life sees the band putting their arrangement and production chops front and centre, with tasty synth sounds in abundance. Mixdown recently caught up with synth brainiac Sean Kenihan to chat about the some of the sounds and textures that went into making the album.
Nord Lead 2X
“We always seem to come back to the Nord Lead 2X, which is my main keyboard on the road. It’s got this crazy siren sound that has become a bit of a Northeast staple. The first time we ever used it was at the end of ‘The Haunted’, but it can be heard all over tracks like ‘Youth Allowance and ‘For You’, and now it’s turns up a lot on Shelf Life as well. We actually had to consciously pick and choose when we used it as to not overdo it.”
Roland Juno 106
“So much of the synth stuff is done at home, either using soft synths or whatever we have lying around. One of the great things about being up at The Grove is that they have so many synths to choose from. I was able to take the soft synths or MIDI data and run them back through a Juno 106 and try and match the tone and improve on it, just trying combination after combination. I was in this little synth sweat-box, getting lost in my own little world.”
“Another synth that got a fair but of use in the latter stages of the album, especially on tracks like ‘Sunset’, which is fun because every time you plug in you just get exactly where you left off. There are no presets or anything. Techno sounding, FM kind of blippy bass thing that loops along. It just has a nice analogue sound and it’s so refreshing sometimes just play, especially when you are so overwhelmed by all the options and parameters on soft synths.”
Trace Elliot Velocette
“Quite often we will run sounds like that Nord siren and a lot of other synth stuff through this little Velocette guitar amp, which is this tiny little green thing that looks like it’s from the ‘70s. It really grits it up and gives it a bit of analog warmth. A lot of that bass sound you here in ‘Dominos’ is from that.”
“Some of my favourite synths on the album are actually just done by Mitch (Guitarist) on soft synths. He’s got an uncanny knack when it comes to pulling sounds. On ‘Dominos’ the main bass sound is Massive run back through the Velocet with my Moog Little Phatty and maybe some XFer Serum for good measure, just to fatten it up in the chorus.”
“All the vocals were recorded up with Kim in Sydney at his studio. We kind of went into it with the idea of giving ourselves every opportunity to make the most professional sounding album we could. Zach (singer) had his heart set on this $4000 Manley Reference Mic that we bought for the sessions. Having recorded Zach so much over the years, we kind of knew that his sound had more to do with how he was feeling rather than what mic we put in front of him. More often than not, we went with the SM7B because we were just so used to hearing it in the demos.”
Shelf Life is out now via Sony Music Australia.