Take a tour through the gear Ratarue used to create ‘Steam’

Ratarue sifts through the ample gear required for his kaleidoscopic 2023 track, ‘Steam’. 

By now we hope you’re all across ‘Steam’, the kaleidoscopic and genre-defying track from Austin’s Ratarue.

At once ominous and technicoloured, the song is a producer’s haven, pulling together layered beats, instrumental samples and unique melodic choices.

Ratarue gear rundown

“I wanted to expand and take the production further,” Ratarue recently told us of the force behind his production choices. With such a rich soundscape, we couldn’t help but ask Ratarue for a rundown of his go-to music gear.

Below, the production wizard walks us through the different tools, suites and plug-ins he used to create ‘Steam’. Catch the full gear rundown below, and scroll down to listen to ‘Steam’.  

First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to my homie Stef “Sharky”  Schultz and the big homie Sloke One, both for appearing on the track. 

Steam, in its infancy, was just a need and a want to collaborate.  Stef came by my humble studio and we started knocking around a couple of ideas. 

She had a verse and we recorded it to Pro Tools.  I have Pro Tools 10.  It is simple but gets the job done.  I pulled out the MPC 3000 and programmed a couple of loops, just ideas to get the ball rolling.  We mainly were in brainstorming mode. 

A few days later, I opened up the Pro Tools session and chopped up Stef’s vocals to get a good idea of her vocal presence and then later found some chords that worked well, in her range. 

ratarue steam review happy mag

Unfortunately, she had to go to Cali, for an acting gig, but I still wanted to see the project out.  After getting the vocals and chords matched up, I formulated a chord progression idea, leaving that behind. 

I was having some issues with one of the channels of my MPC 3000 so I broke out the MPC 2000 classic and composed a drum beat.  What’s great about the MPC 2000 Classic is the speed of it. 

I needed some drums and sticking to the recent aesthetic of not sampling records for my releases (in hopes of getting some love from the sync gods!) I broke out the Boss DR 660 Dr. Rhythm and plugged it into the MPC 2000. 

I chose some drum sounds from different kits that I thought would work well together. I was then off and running.  I turned quantize off, for the entirety of the beat, trying to be lazy at some points, just barely on beat, if at all. 


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I went back to the chords that I got from the ideas Stef was singing and put them in a progression that I thought would work. 

I then dumped the drums from the MPC 2000 into Ableton Suite, tracking out each drum part, by using the eight outputs of the MPC 2000 Classic, into my Focusrite Scarlet 18i20. 

As far as the instrumentation, I usually start with a bass line.  In this case, I picked out the notes that I dug, in the chord progression, accentuating the bass tones that I preferred. 

Steam was mostly created in Ableton Suite.  Then I took each part, bathed it in some awesome plug ins, by Abbey Road.  I used a lot of mic emulations and other great stuff, to color the sounds. 

The instruments themselves where just clean VST’s, instrument sounds that where designed to emulate real organics.  Clean, well produced.  The magic came in the colorization of the VST’s with the Abbey Roads plug ins. 


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After that was complete I tracked everything out and put it all into Pro Tools 10.  Everything was lined up and then I had the idea to record each track into my Portastudio 414 Track Cassette. 

I recorded a track and then re dubbed them, in the Tascam 414, boosting up the bass and mids, for the most part.  I colored them further and them I re recorded each, back into Pro Tools. 

After, I noticed that they tracks did not quite match up, due to the fattening up of the audio with the presence of the tape and re dubbing. 

I then underwent the surgical process of chopping up the instruments to match the digital tracks that I used earlier, making sure everything stayed in time. 

After, I called Stef and she later sent me the “Choo Choo” sample.  I ended up taking the bits of her singing that I dug, stacking  them, in Pro Tools.  I then took the layered Stef vocals and put them into an SP404 SX, adding some colorizations, delay, and echo. 


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The process of gathering all of this madness back into the instrumentation Pro Tools session, I went to 5th Street Studios, to condense everything Into a concise presentation and song structure. 

Nick Joswick took all of these crazy tracks and made it all sound amazing, as well as getting great vocal takes.  That is basically it, in a nutshell.  In the future It won’t be such a travel of exploration. 

I pretty much have a workflow down that works for me.  I recently got my MPC 3000 back from repair.  It has the Vailixi REV 3.50 upgrade, as well as memory expansion.  So, that is going to change things up a bit.  Also, my Tascam 414 needs repair. 

Working with Vintage Gear is not only a luxury but a responsibility, due to upkeep.  I am pretty stoked, though.  These are all good problems.  I am blessed.  Peace.