[VST04] Approach to Plunderphonics & Vaporwave by m a l i b l u e : (

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This tutorial was written from /r/makingvaporwave's own VST series! This is VST02 by m a l i b l u e : (

Hey everybody and thanks for inviting me to take part in this! For those who don't know me, I produce vaporwave and plunderphonics under the alias m a l i b l u e : ( .

I am from Melbourne, Australia and I have released music under various pseudonyms on various labels including Illuminated Paths, Adhesive Sounds, Beer Wizard, Elemental 95, Beauty Supply Records and Healthy Tapes.

I will also have some new stuff out on Pool House Ltd by the end of the year. My latest release is a vaporwave / plunderphonics / sound collage album released on Beauty Supply records called "just end it ✓✓✓"

When I make vaporwave, I work in a really manic way, so it is difficult to recall specific processes but I'll do my best.

On my mac and hard drive I have a bunch of samples that have been randomly collected over the years from a variety of different sources.

Mostly I scour YouTube for obscure and/or local sounds, but I have also ripped audio from cassette, vinyl and CD's that I have found at local thrift stores.

View: https://maliblue2323.bandcamp.com/album/just-end-it

I use a broken cassette player to rip these samples to my computer and the crappy tape player sometimes produces a really unique and especially nostalgic woe & flutter sound (you can hear the effect best on this track: "ascension".)

View: https://soundcloud.com/m-a-l-i-b-l-u-e/ascension

Once I have the sample I wish to use, I use Ableton Live 9 for pretty much everything else (sometimes I use Audacity for the PaulStretch and reverse effects). I chop and edit and loop in the same way as everyone else, adding or removing unwanted frequencies where necessary (especially the noise associated with cassette rips). I always add extra bass and use the "stereo enhancer" and "warm and wide master" to expand and boost the sample if necessary.

In Live, I use arrangement view and layer the same sample across a handful of tracks (usually at least 5). From there, I can add different digital effects to each track individually, allowing more freedom to adjust effects separately without working in a chain (this also makes it easier to adjust the volume of each effect track, treating each effect like a new "layer" of sorts.)

I have no set bunch of effects I frequently use, but I would say nearly 98% of stuff I've made has some kind of digital delay or ping pong delay effect used in there somewhere. I'm a big fan of shoegaze, so the more reverb and delay I can drown the sample in, the better. Live has a bunch of interesting effects, although I've barely scratched the surface of what it offers. Often I can use all 16 of Ableton's allowed tracks for a single song, particularly on the more dense plunderphonics stuff with multiple overdubs and effects.

I regularly sample different parts of the same track, often overlaying them on each other (for example, the intro bars in "when u r down" are looped throughout the entire track with different parts of the same track looped on top of it.)


I find that layering like this gives the song a fuller sound (especially if you spread different parts across the audio spectrum) and sometimes I will have as many as six different loops working together on top of each other. Doing things this way also helps to keep time, though Ableton's warp feature is handy in this way too.

Once I have a basic song structure set out using the sample and effects, I try to add some overdubs. I have a borrowed Alesis Micron synth and a Roland GAIA SH-01, both of which I use frequently to add stuff to the samples.

Usually I will just add some airy synth or bass to help fill out the sound and give it a "wider" more shoegazey feel (this will sometimes add dissonance, especially if the sample isn't in a proper key). Othertimes, I add an entirely new melody on top of the sample, as in "sadness follows u" (the melody starts at 0:35).

View: https://soundcloud.com/m-a-l-i-b-l-u-e/sadness-follows-u

I have also added guitar overdubs to some of my tracks using my Fender Mustang and the random assortment of guitar pedals I've collected over the years. Guitar overdubs are considerably harder to record and get sounding right without a proper studio set up, but I managed to add a bunch of guitar to the song "disconnect" from my split with Chungking Mansions.

View: https://soundcloud.com/m-a-l-i-b-l-u-e/disconnect

More recently, I have begun toying with collage and plunderphonics techniques – the art of trying to smash random samples against each other - especially on my latest album "just end it." On the track "zzzap", for example, I use samples from five different sources plus synthesiser and drum overdubs.

View: https://soundcloud.com/m-a-l-i-b-l-u-e/zzzap

This kind of random collage technique has been best used recently by deaths dynamic shroud.wmv on their album "I'll Try Living Like This" but can also be heard used brilliantly on personal favourites of mine like C L E A N E R S 2014 masterpiece "Real Raga Shit Vol.1" and Jónó Mí Ló's similarly brilliant "Eco Reject Mixtape". I think that these albums in particular show how far sample based music can go when pushed to it's limits. Of course, I am all for keeping vaporwave simple, too.

Thanks for reading and hit me up with any questions!