French electro pioneers, Justice rose to fame in the early 2000s with their signature choppy and aggressive brand of EDM, we find out how they did it.
The duo of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay first reached a global audience with their remix of Simian’s Never Be Alone that was in fact created for a remix competition for a Paris college radio station in 2003.
At a time when EDM was beginning to gain traction, Justice followed up with a series of remixes of French artists before releasing their first-ever single, Waters of Nazareth on Ed Banger Records.
How To Sound Like Justice
Justice released their debut album, Cross, in 2007 and began touring with a stage stacked with Marshall amplifiers for their live performances. Let’s take a look at some of the key elements that contributed to the Justice sound:
Oberheim’s answer to the famous Linn LM-1, the DMX is also an expensive EPROM-based drum machine with punchy digital drum sounds. Introduced in 1980, the DMX featured variable pitch for tuning each sound and 8 discrete outputs.
The sequencer also featured swing with a classic feel, as well as some human element rolls, flams, and timing variations based on techniques implemented by drummers in real performances.
You can get some great DMX sounds within the Reel Machines ADPak for XLN Audio Addictive Drums, and the expansion also includes MIDI patterns to help mimic the feel.
*Please note that the Reel Machines ADPak requires Addictive Drums 2
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Although Justice started out using hardware synths and drum machines, they quickly abandoned the purist approach and began creating tracks with Cubase SX and Garageband.
Much of their production style involves chopping and stretching waveforms, so perhaps Gaspard and Xavier felt that using stock DAW library samples was more punk rock.
Cubase is still one of the most popular DAW systems, with impressive audio stretching features that make it appealing to electronic music producers.
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Introduced in 1984, the Juno-106 is one of the most popular polysynths, with musicians, synth collectors, and producers of so many different styles of music.
Although Justice used the 106 in their creative process, early on, along with the LinPlug Delta, they mostly replaced the sounds with other samples during the production phase.
As an alternative, the Behringer Deepmind 6 offers a 6-voice analogue engine combined with a digital effects section that makes it slightly more appealing to first-time synth users.
Roland Alpha Juno 2
Roland’s Alpha Juno series synthesizers from the mid-1980s have become synonymous with techno, electro, and other hard-style forms of EDM, and the Alpha Juno 2 was also used by Liam Howlett of The Prodigy.
However, these synths offer far more than just the ability to create the famous hoover sounds they are known for. Justice made use of the Alpha Juno 2 on their third studio album, Woman, where it’s contextualized over disco-influenced tracks like Alakazam.
One of the best recreations of the Alpha Juno remains the ReDominator synth plug-in from AudioRealism, which also functions as a controller and Sysex librarian.
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Esoteric Audio Research EAR-660
When asked about their most prized studio gear during a Mix with the Masters masterclass, Xavier, immediately mentioned the EAR-660, of which they have 4.
It’s likely that the duo was introduced to this amazing compressor by Philippe Zdar when they were working at Motorbass Studio. He referred to the EAR-660 as a modernized Fairchild, with faster compression that made more sense in modern music.
While it might not provide the same classic sound, the versatile Empirical Labs EL8 X Distressor is the choice of many dance music producers and has the ability to mimic the behaviour of some famous compressors.
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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!
More about Justice:
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- Oberheim DMX: DMX Fan Club / Facebook
- Steinberg Cubase SX3.: Espace Cubase
- Roland Juno-106: Amazona
- Roland Alpha Juno 2: Prodigy
- Esoteric Audio Research EAR-660: Music Production