While the past decade has seen Benjamin David as the driving force behind several successful artist projects, 2017 saw him birth Mild Minds while searching to find that child-like state of creation once again.
He is signed by a tasteful mix of international labels such as ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective, Ninja Tune’s Counter Records in Europe, and Inertia in Australia.
Although a seemingly new act, Mild Minds has quickly paved his path as an influential artist at the forefront of electronic music production.
With an amazing closet filled with accolades ranging from touring with big name artists in the industry, his track “SWIM” racking up over 10 Million streams on Spotify, and receiving critical acclaim for his album “MOOD” which resulted in a nomination for an Australian Music Prize.
Its no surprise that he delivers again with an emotional, thought inducing audio experience leaving you feeling that sense of organic warmth and wonder.
How To Make A Track Like Mild Minds
Step 1. Mild Minds’ Synth Work
Benjamin used a combination of software synths and hardware synths on this project. Omnisphere was used for the chord patch giving the track an emotionally deep sensitive, raw feel while driving the song along nicely.
He used a 2 note minor chord which repeats throughout the track adding a harmony of a 5th to the one midi note being played allows for that 2 note feel.
The Moog sub 37 takes the bass duties. Being a favorite of his and a go to those chunky bass lines that really cut through the track. It compliments the chords and adds to the emotional palette of this track.
You can literally play any bass notes in the key and it will create a strong emotive reaction and dissonance. By doing this you can sculpt the feel of the song, and even change bass progressions while repeating that one chord.
Step 2. Creating The Groove
Benjamin uses hi hats to really bring out a fun groove in this track. He explains how he landed on the pattern for DEVOTION.
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The trick here was to chop up a live hi hat loop and create a rhythmic pattern.
If you listen closely to the track i was able to chop the loop in such a way that there was a percussive effect and bounce. Using live loops can be really effective this way as they contain many nuanced hits. Sometimes emphasizing certain anticipated 16ths can have as much groove as a bassline.
Step 3. Transitional FX
Mild Minds use of Fx specifically during transitions really helps build tension and adds to the dramatic feel of the track. You get a glimpse at the seasoned vets DAW as he explains that:
Another favorite trick of mine is using delays as a build up. In this instance I’ve automated the wet and feedback of the vocal before its drops. Specifically using vintage modeled delays like Echoboy really help the texture and build.
The delays are often filter and feedback into themselves, saturating the signal which gives both a vintage and somewhat psychedelic feel.
Step 4. Use Controllers and Pianos
Every Producer has there favorite methods of coming up with ideas. As we know there is no right or wrong way. Benjamin speaks very highly of the Ableton Push explaining the different methods that he finds helpful for his workflow.
This is the trusty Ableton Push. It is often overlooked as a melodic tool and see more as a computer free way to create. I think it’s a must have for anyone getting into music who hasn’t had experience with playing keys or doesn’t have the physical skill.
Every note you press when on scale mode is in key, you can play chords and bass or even leads on two hands without having any idea what you’re doing. This ties back to my first tip, you could play a chord or two notes on here up high whilst playing the bass below.
It is also useful to find very interesting chord inversions that you might not play on keys.
He also believes there is a significant difference between using a midi controller with piano trigger samples and using a digital piano. Mild Minds uses the Casio Privia pictured below, along with a quote.
I think its hugely important for producers to either have a live piano or proper digital piano in the studio. NOT a midi keys connected to piano samples. It’s a totally different thing.
You can feel the sound coming out of you, it is instant and nuanced, the keys are weighted and everything just feels more human. It allows you to write and find the emotion that you would never be inspired to find with a midi keyboard. It’s so much more inspiring and raw to play.
I could never go back, it really is overlooked. It has been instrumental in helping me discover many chord progressions in the last few years that have made it into my songs.
Step 5. Ideology Towards Producing Music
Mild Minds defines his music as an exploration between the intersection of humanity and technology; an observational top down view of human progress. He finds inspiration in human movement, patterns, mathematics and artificial intelligence.
As diverse as each track may be, he always extracts human emotion from electronic sounds.
Benjamin tells us that he:
wrote this track while in Melbourne while winter was looming. It is about two people converging, diverging, the secrets that we hold from each other and the covert effects they slowly have on our relationships.
Expect to see a lot more from him in the future as the the newly GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, vocalist, and producer assembles electronic music intentionally agnostic of genre.
He manages to do so through a genre bending combination of UK garage, house, and ambient music.