Analogue compression and '80s porn basslines: talking gear with Patches Paradise

Analogue compression and ’80s porn basslines: gear talk with Patches Paradise

Not long ago Patches Paradise released their debut single Fever, a feel-good adventure held together by one slammer of a bassline. We quickly learned this was the solo project of Charlie White, a multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer currently working out of Sydney.

As we all know, studio folk always have the best gear to show off. We reached out to Charlie to find out what’s currently in the setup, what new gear he’s eyeing off right now, and how he scored that ridiculous bass tone.

patches paradise charlie smith
All images: Patches Paradise

What kind of gear did Patches Paradise use to craft their debut single Fever? Dive into the sublime studio life of Charlie White.

HAPPY: Hey Charlie, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

CHARLIE: Hey hey, it’s going very well! I’m just working at the moment and have recently been finishing up a couple of music cues for this documentary film which has been awesome.

HAPPY: Tell us a bit about how you record? Is it all a very DIY/home studio kind of vibe? If so, tell us about your space? Any studio gear you really dig?

CHARLIE: I record at my studio space in Redfern, I’m incredibly lucky to work at a recording studio and they allow me to use everything after hours which is amazing. As for the process, it’s still very much me in a room recording myself over and over again and driving myself crazy… the space is a room with a few really nice pre-amps, a control desk and a range of different microphones. I really dig a particular Neve 517 Pre/Compressor which I can’t help but use on almost everything. It has a really satisfying way of compressing sounds and keeping things shiny yet full of colour – that saturated analog sound I suppose.

Neve 517 Pre/Compressor patches paradise

HAPPY: That bass tone really rules over Fever. What are we hearing there?

CHARLIE: Yeah the bass tone was what really excited me! The tone was so important and it stemmed from experimenting with this violin bass one night and coming up with the sassy, kind of ’80s porn-like bass line which was a bit of fun. I loved the way the strings vibrated between certain notes and I wanted to capture that in the recording. I ended up recording through the magical Neve 517 and really squashing the sound – it gave it this strong fast attack and allowed those little sonic imperfections to shine through.

HAPPY: Where do beats come into your workflow?

CHARLIE: That’s a good question and it can really depend… by no stretch am I a drummer and so I usually start with a melodic idea or chord progression first before figuring out what sort of beat would work. I usually choose or cut up a drum loop as a place-holder to give a vibe to the demo before recording real drums. For Fever that’s what I planned but I loved keeping the track electronic with this dance beat, whilst still blending in some rock and psych elements.

HAPPY: What synths or controllers are you currently playing on?

CHARLIE: I have a Korg MS-20 mini, and a Korg Minilogue which were both amazing value and I use on almost everything. I also bought a (Roland) SPD which I don’t use nearly enough yet – that will change!

HAPPY: What’s the cheapest piece of gear you feel like you’ve gotten the best value out of?

CHARLIE: I think I’d have to say the stock Logic Pro plug-ins. I’m still building my plug-in empire so I’m always relying on Logic’s compressor, EQ and modulation plug-ins, not to mention their instruments. It’s crazy value when you break it down.

HAPPY: What do you have at home at the moment that really shapes your sound?

CHARLIE: I’d have to mention my synths again and my delicious guitar/pedalboard. Years of playing around with delay pedals and modulation reverbs has really helped shape the sounds I love.

HAPPY: Is there anything you’re really hanging out to buy at the moment?

CHARLIE: Yeah I’m always thinking about the next thing to buy which is a blessing and a curse – more of a curse at the moment. There are some great orchestral packages that I want to get stuck into for my personal composing work. It’s also time I bought a sequencer for my MS-20, I’ve been procrastinating on that for years – I think it will be life changing.

HAPPY: Who are some of your favourite gear manufacturers and why?

CHARLIE: I’d have to say Korg and Dave Smith Instruments. Korg because without my MS-20 and Minilogue, Patches Paradise would be a completely different sounding project for sure! Dave Smith Instruments make outstanding analog synths that I’ve dabbled on and I always find it hard to pull myself away – so much viiiiibe.

HAPPY: Do you have any hero artists who you feel really nail a sound through their rig?

CHARLIE: For sure! Jagwar Ma, Tame Impala, Hot Chip and Radiohead come to mind very quickly. Tame Impala fascinate me with the way they can reproduce their production live so well – especially keeping their live drum sound so consistent. I was reading a fantastic Audio Technology article about Kevin Parker and how they’ve streamlined their live setup to allow them to do so on any stage. It’s very inspiring and still perplexes me…


Fever by Patches Paradise is out now.