Studio Essentials: GL

We step into the Melbourne electro-funk duo's studio for a behind-the-scenes tour

The '80s are well and truly back in vogue right now, and no group knows that better than Melbourne's GL. Across their new album You Read My Mind, the duo make use of some of the most iconoclastic machines of that decade to create a shimmering, funky synthesis of R&B and classic electro, with Ella Thompson's powerhouse vocals soaring atop of Graeme Pogson's sunglasses-on approach to electronic production.

To find out more about the sounds of You Read My Mind, we asked for Ella and Graeme to take us on a tour through their studio space in Fitzroy, where we're checking out some of the synths, drum machines, sequencers and other bits and bobs that made it onto the record. 

 

 

1. AKAI MPC 5000 

This is the central piece of gear in the GL setup. It has been involved in every GL production since the start, and even used to run the entire live show, which was not a great idea in hindsight. An amazing piece of equipment that gets a bad rap unfairly.

 

Akai MPC 5000

 

2. Oberheim DX

This is an essential drum machine with heaps of versatility and attitude. Can be unruly, but always satisfying. I usually just record out of the mono mix on this for the true juiciness.

 

3. Yamaha DX7

I've been looking after this for my friend since about 2010. It's full of Chick Corea inspired patches. Our first singles 'Won't You See' and 'What Happened To Us' were recorded using this classic.

 

Yamaha DX7 + Oberheim DX

 

4. Simmons SDS 8

Love this drum synth, not only as the brain for the accompanying Simmons pads, but also as a unit to control using acoustic drum triggers, or the MPC. It's quite versatile and can add a lot of fun to your live drums.

 

Simmons SDS 8

 

5. Ludwig Drums 

This is a pretty ratty '60s Ludwig kit. Very thumpy, and warm. Very forgiving and easy to play/record.

 

Ludwig drums

 

6. Tubs full of handy things

Boring but important, some semblance of organisation in the studio is very important. Saving time searching for small bits and cables can really help you stay focused.

 

Need we say more?

 

7. Buckets full of handy percussion bits

Percussion can be so inspirational for creating energy and fun early on in the process. Recently triangle, castanets and blocks have featured heavily on GL recordings.

 

So much percussion

 

8. Roland JX3P

This synth was used on many songs on the album. I love its warmth and versatility. Great for everything from ambient drone sounds to lush string parts and thick round chordal sounds.

 

Roland JX-3P

 

9. Imagist Poetry

I find it can be helpful to have a few poetry books around when writing lyrics sometimes you just need a word or different metaphor to think about. I always come back to this book of imagist poetry which I found at a second hand bookstore years ago. It's a collection of different writers' work which use this idea of the paradox of the image.

 

Imagist Poetry

 

10. More books

 A couple more books I love, like this lovely book of animal poems. Here is one of my favourites;

 

'A Jellyfish' - Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

Visible, invisible,

a fluctuating charm

an amber-tinctured amethyst

inhabits it, your arm

approaches and it opens

and it closes; you had meant

to catch it and it quivers;

you abandon your intent

 

 

Another book I always keep around is a collection of poems by Margaret Atwood titled The Door. Here is a lovely excerpt from one of her poems called 'Gasoline';

"I knew that it was poison

its beauty an illusion:

I could spell flammable.

But still, I loved the smell:

So Alien, a whiff

of starstuff."

 

GL's new album You Read My Mind is out now via Pool Records.

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