by Stefan Wyeth | 2,7 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 5 Minutes
2manyDJs: How To Sound Like Soulwax

2manyDJs: How To Sound Like Soulwax  ·  Source: Soulwax

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Soulwax boldly blurs the lines between a live band, a DJ collective, and a production duo more than most artists you’ll come across in the history of recorded music. We’re taking a closer look at some of their most prized instruments used over the years.

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Formed in the mid-1990s by David and Stephen Dewaele, Soulwax began as a rock band. However, rather than sticking to the same formula album after album, they branched out to form the DJ act, 2manyDJs, which would have a profound effect on their musical output.

As a production duo, the Dewaele brothers rose to prominence with the unbelievable originality and quality of the remixes they released. With each one, they gained valuable production experience and fed their love of vintage music equipment, which led to more electronic elements creeping into the Soulwax project.

The Soulwax Sound

This insatiable curiosity for exploring new sounds led to the creation of the monolithic DEEWEE studio, record label, and publishing company in Ghent, Belgium, which permitted collaboration with a wide range of artists in different musical styles.

Never straying from its punk rock roots, Soulwax has always represented the DIY approach to the music industry, setting trends rather than following them and taking the analogue route wherever possible.

Cadac Console

At the heart of the DEEWEE Studio is a legendary Cadac console from 1969. The Dewaele brothers’ love of analogue consoles doesn’t stop there, because they also use several Trident Fleximix consoles in the Soulwax live rig.

There’s nothing quite as punk rock as Cadac mixers, as used to record albums such as Never Mind The Bollocks. Renowned for headroom and exceptional audio quality, the Cadac console brings a signature sound to DEEWEE and Soulwax releases.

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Creating a console workflow isn’t always a cheap or easy task, but there are simple ways to do it using summing mixers and multichannel interfaces, and routing signals to your outboard processors and guitar pedals.

If you don’t have the budget for a studio console, a live console is also a viable option. Although it doesn’t have the same routing options, the Dynacord CMS series is a great way to get a decent amount of channels with great EQs to build your mixes.

The first Cadac console.

Source: Cadac

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Dynacord CMS600-3
Dynacord CMS600-3
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Kawai 100F

The Kawai 100F was a regular fixture in the Soulwax live rig. Although it’s a simple single-oscillator synth, the 100F sounds incredible and punches straight through dense mixes just like the Roland SH-101.

It’s limited, but there are plenty of ways to shape and animate the sound to create the infectious, euphoric leads we know from Soulwax records and live performances.

Luckily you don’t necessarily need a vintage synth to recreate these sounds. With the right shaping and modulation, an affordable analogue monosynth like the Novation Bass Station II will do the trick nicely.

What’s more, with additional features like a step sequencer, distortion, and sample & hold LFO shape the Bass Station II is well-suited for building groove-based synth patterns.

Kawai 100F

Source: Great Synthesizers

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Novation Bass Station II
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Studio Electronics ATC-1

It might not be the best-looking synth ever built, but the ATC-1 is powerful and juicy, offering versatile programmability via MIDI, as well as the optional expansion of Oberheim SEM, ARP 2600, or Roland TB-303 filters.

The ATC-1 is an incredibly lush-sounding synth, capable of producing classic leads and basslines comparable to any of the iconic monosynths we know and love.

Although, programming via the front panel is rather tedious, having a memory capacity of over 500 patches is a great feature. When it comes to recreating the SE sound, the Roland Boutique SE-02 is a perfect option for home studios.

It might not have the same degree of sonic weight and texture, but the compact SE-02 module is capable of producing similar sounds with more spontaneous hands-on control.

Studio Electronics ATC-1

Source: Noisegate

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Mode Machines x0xb0x

When creating some of the squelchy acid house leads and basslines you hear on Soulwax recordings, the Mode Machines x0xb0x is an important part of their synth armada.

The x0xb0x is a hand-built analogue 303 recreation with MIDI I/O, USB, DIN Sync, and the ability to modify the firmware for additional functionality. It’s been meticulously crafted to offer the same iconic sound while giving you a more flexible synth to play.

In addition, you can trigger notes with the keyboard and control the x0xb0x with a Java-based software app that also allows you to create, edit, and save patterns.

Although the x0xb0x has now been discontinued by Mode Machines, you can also create impressive acid sounds with the Cyclone Analogic TT-303 Bass Bot V2.

Mode Machines x0xb0x

Source: Mode Machines

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EMS Synthi 100

As avid collectors of rare vintage instruments and effects, David and Stephen had always dreamt of the possibility of owning the EMS Synthi 100. The holy grail of synths, only 31 were ever produced, making this an unlikely reality.

However, little did they know that a Synthi 100 was located at the Ghent University’s Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music (IPEM) not far from their studio.

Although acquiring the Synthi 100 was not an option, the brothers were rewarded for their enthusiasm when the IPEM was changing locations and granted 12 months as caretakers of this analogue dream machine.

While few are in the position to use a Synthi 100, the Analogue Solutions Colossus is a more viable modern option. For the rest of us, the Erica Synths SYNTRX II is a great platform to explore EMS-style synthesis.

EMS Synthi 100

Source: NTS Radio

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Which of your favourite artists would you like to see in our Sound-alike series? Please let us know in the comments below!

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2manyDJs: How To Sound Like Soulwax

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