‘Discovering the process behind this iconic track will have you thinking about it in a whole new way.’
Intro to Track Deconstructions:
Those of you who are regulars at Listen to Discover will already be fully aware that there are always two key elements involved in features: connection and detail. Lying at the centre of coverage decisions, connection comes first via a release immediately catching the ear for a multitude of reasons. Then, once the track has been chosen, the detail arrives in the form of reviews that consider musical nuances, artist intentions and the lyrical storytelling of the release. For me, it’s what makes Listen to Discover so different to many other sites. Therefore it’s great to be back with another, extra special, Track Deconstruction feature in collaboration with Point Blank Music School.
How does the feature work?
In the series of videos, a well known track is chosen, completely stripped back and recreated step by step to sound as close to the original as can be. And trust me, the similarities are phenomenal! Considering everything from musical contexts and uses of samples to chord progressions and production techniques, they not only give an insight to everything you could want to know, but are the perfect way for new artists to learn more about some of the best tracks in the world and gain further inspiration. Equally, for those considering further music-tech studies, it’s an enticing window into what’s on offer with Point Blank Music School’s London courses. But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what Curtis MacPherson has to say on the chosen track this time:
“Point Blank are back with their Head of Education & Development, Ski Oakenfull, for an extra special deconstruction of Adamski’s huge 90s hit, ‘Killer’, featuring soul-sensation, Seal. This deconstruction is particularly special as they were joined by Adamski himself to answer some questions about his processes, how he hooked up with Seal for the track and his career before delving into the magic behind his anthemic ‘Killer’.
The Adamski-produced ‘Killer’ was released back in 1990 and fuses influences from acid house and soul with plenty of dancey vibes mixed in. What started off as an instrumental to be included in the UK-producer, DJ and singer’s live sets soon became a legendary earworm that’s racked up millions of plays to date. The track was created using the iconic Roland TR-909 as well as the Ensoniq SQ 80 synth and a Yamaha RX120 Drum Machine (some pieces of gear Ski goes into more detail about in the video) and featured on Adamski’s Doctor Adamski’s Musical Pharmacy which was released by major label, MCA.
For the deconstruction, Ski fires up Ableton Live 10.1 with his trusty Push 2 and loads up Ableton’s stock 909 kit. He punches in the beat starting with kicks, claps, rim shots and hats before breaking for an exclusive interview with the man behind the track. Picking things back up, Ski keys in the iconic bassline revealing a plugin he found which emulates the distinct sound perfectly. He plays in the emotional chords for ‘Killer’ shedding some light on the music theory behind the track then gets to work on the rave piano and bell synth which lends that added sparkle. Ski rounds things off by adding the vocals to the song which were recreated by Valerie Etienne and recorded in Point Blank’s studio 5.” Curtis MacPherson, Point Blank Music School.
So why Adamski’s Killer?
I suppose really the question should be why not? As Curtis has already highlighted, it’s an anthemic track, an iconic one if you will. One full to the brim with evolving beats, sustaining strings and brain-burrowing lyricism. In fact, as I write this now all three are swirling around my head. Equally, with it being one of the earliest dance tracks I would have experienced as I headed towards my teens in the late 90s, it’s little surprise that I always have this reaction after hearing only a few seconds. Some tracks have that level of impact you see. As soon as that first beat – or in this case echoing synth – appears, you know exactly what track has had play pressed on it. There is of course a hell of a lot more to Adamski’s ‘Killer’ than simply a succession of 90s centric motifs. It was forward thinking. Both in creation and production. And that’s why it still continues to resonate so much today.
So whether you’re a new artist or an experienced music producer, take a watch of the Track Deconstruction below and discover how such an iconic release came about.
Thanks Point Blank Music School for collaborating with Listen to Discover.