UK-based newcomers Sound Pressure Level are X Factor 2011 participant Roxy Yarnold, Sammie Ellard-King and Alex Wallace who have recently been recording their debut long player The Recipe in Soho Sonic Studios, situated in the heart of London. Production team UPIA, owned by OJ (Ofer Shabi) and Sefi Carmel, produced SPL’s entire album in Cubase 6. Steinberg met up with OJ to talk about the band and the many projects he’s previously been caught up in.
How long have you been in the business and when did you found UPIA?
I’ve been making music from since I can remember, but I’ve been in the music business since 2003, when I founded OJ Music Productions. UPIA was founded by myself and Sefi Carmel in 2007.
Tell us about SPL. How did the collaboration between UPIA and SPL come about? What background does the band have and what makes them special?
SPL were originally a two-piece hip-hop group called Soup and Peas consisting of Sammie “Soup” King and Alex “Peas” Wallace. They approached OJ Music Productions in 2006 to help record their EP Snatchup Alley. We really enjoyed working together, and I recognized their potential. I introduced them to my business partner at UPIA music, Sefi Carmel, with the goal to produce a commercial album for a major release. Once we had an album’s worth of material, we recruited X-factor contestant Roxy Yarnold. Her amazing soulful voice brought SPL to the next level.
SPL are not just another hip-hop act talking about gangs and guns. They’re a talented group who capture current feelings and ideas of today’s youth. The mixture of electronic and acoustic sounds, catchy hooks, Alex and Sammie’s lyrics and Roxy’s soulful vocals makes this group very unique, and international.
Elaborate a little on producing The Recipe.
The Recipe draws influence from a mix of genres. Everything from dubstep to hip hop, grime and pop music. The main challenge was to help the band keep their sound focused, but still fresh and interesting throughout the album.
When and where will the album be available, and will SPL be touring the UK after the release?
We’ve finished the production of the album, and it’s currently being mastered by Yoad Nevo (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Brian Adams, Petshop Boys). There’s a lot of buzz around the guys, and they already have interest from key players in the industry. The album was planned for self release this summer, but as there is interest from potential partners, we’re looking at options of joining forces to market SPL to a wider audience.
What other projects have you recently been working on?
I’m currently working with Cassandra Fox (#1 hit “Touch Me”) on a new single, Baby Blue (featured on John Legend, Estelle), Taz DMT (Dizzee Rascal, Akon) and JJ Cinnerman (aka James Young from sE electronics). Also, I recently finished working with Hilz (Crown Music) from Hill Street Soul on her new album, Bring Back The Love.
Since when have you been using Cubase for your productions?
Cubase has been my platform of choice since it became available on the Atari system. Since then I’ve been working in parallel on all DAWs, but when it comes to production, editing and vocals, I always come back to Cubase.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on you and your work?
I always looked for a platform that would allow me to be creative and put ideas down very quickly, but at the same time have the ability to record vocal takes, audition and comp them in an intuitive way, and if necessary tune them on the fly. I used to do all that with external equipment, but the major improvements in Cubase in the last few years allowed me to do this to a very high standard in one program.
You’ve been running Cubase 6 since it was released last year and have already updated to Cubase 6.5. What features do you appreciate especially in the latest version?
Retrologue and Padshop are great new synths, the new comp tool makes editing even faster, the Warp Quantize function is indispensable and the new guitar amp presets sound great.
What other Steinberg gear do you use for your productions?
I also have HALion 4, HALion Symphonic Orchestra, HALion Sonic, The Grand, Groove Agent and the CC121 controller.
Any final words you’d like to share with our readers?
Cubase has everything that this kind of program has to have: great samples, great plug-ins, audio quantize, tuning, editing and time stretching. The vocal production tools native to Cubase are unparalleled in sound and ease of use, and I have yet to find a program with as good lanes functionality for comping takes. I will be a Cubase user for years to come.