“Without that synth, I wouldn’t have my sound”: Demi Riquisimo shines a light on essential hardware

The producer also talks about the benefits of REX files, why he keeps processing to a minimum, and how he layers drums.

Demi Riquisimo in his studio

Demi Riquisimo in his studio
Credit: Jimi Heritage

Raised in Detroit and now based in London, Demi Riquisimo’s playful dance tracks reflect a vintage acid, Italo, and disco-inspired house sound made with a modern sensibility, making them huge hits on dance floors. It’s seriously hard to not want to move when listening to one of his tracks, as he laces old-school drums with break samples and combines them with tasty synths.

We speak to Riquisimo about the latest compilation on his label, Semi Delicious, and how he made his standout release on DJ Tennis’ Life & Death, an EP entitled Proto Call. A big advocate for the use of hardware, we get to hear about his hard synths and drum machines and we also learn of his sampling techniques. Just don’t ask Demi Riquisimo where he gets his vocal samples.

Hey Demi, your recent VA compilation on Semi Delicious is fantastic!

Thanks. I’m happy with the SEMID016 Asylum Of Love EP. All the artists on this EP are people I’ve played with over the past few years and whose music I admire.

Demi Riquisimo in his studio
Credit: Jimi Heritage

We also have to give a big shout-out to your recent Proto Call EP. It must’ve been a fun one to make.

Thank you. These were two tracks I made fairly close to each other in early 2022. They were both tracks that I made quickly which is normally a good sign. In October that year I had the opportunity to do a B2B set with DJ Tennis at ADE. I thought it would be a good opportunity to test these two tracks in front of the man himself and when I played Talk To Frank, which was labelled April 22, he asked me what it was. We pinged a few messages back and forth and then the Proto Call EP was created for a release on Life And Death, which then came out in June 2023.

Did you mostly make this using the hardware in your studio space?

This one was totally hardware for all the bass and mid-range sounds and samples as Rex files for the drums taken from jungle packs (I find slowing down the BPM for jungle loops better with Rex files as each hit isn’t being warped, although it’s old school). I used some PSP plugins for processing but that’s it. I try not to over-process sounds to keep them as raw and dynamic as possible.

Tell us a bit about the studio and how you use it.

My studio is based in Mile End, London. I’ve been there for eight years. Before that, I lived in Bristol, where I always had a home studio. I’ve always had the space in Mile End but for the first few years, I’d rent it out at the weekends as I’d normally be gigging. I currently do all my writing, producing and creating in the studio with all my gear, but I want to try and look to produce more on-the-go as I’m touring a lot more now, so to be able to do that whilst I’m away is very important to me.

Demi Riquisimo’s studio
Credit: Jimi Heritage

What is your favourite piece of gear?

Novation Bass Station 2 – 100 per cent. Without that synth, I wouldn’t have my sound. It’s an affordable bit of kit which has amazing modulation features.

What synth or effect can be heard the most on Proto Call?

The Korg Prologue. It’s a fantastic poly-synth that mixes analogue and digital oscillators. It has an effects unit built in which creates a lot of original movement, especially the grain delay.

A synth rack in Demi Riquisimo’s studio
Credit: Jimi Heritage

How did you create the synth line in Proto Call?

Both the synth line and bassline are from the Novation Bass Station. The synth-line is an auto-modulated high resonance SAW tooth and the bassline is a modulated sine wave.

How do you create drums?

I use a 606 drum machine for the hi-hats and I use analogue drum samples from sample packs which I put into samplers to create patterns. Processing-wise, I don’t use too much standard compression because I prefer to saturate and limit the sounds myself, which is a type of compression.

For me, it’s all about sample choice above everything. I would rather pick the right sounds than spend half a day picking the wrong one but trying to make it sound decent.

Novation Bass Station and Native Instruments Maschine in Demi Riquisimo’s studio
Credit: Jimi Heritage

Where did you get your vocal samples from?

No producer is going to tell you where they get their vocal samples from! That would be telling. However, I will tell you that I processed the samples and added basic delay and reverb.

What’s been the biggest investment in your studio? Was it worth it?

The Korg Prologue. I bought it at the beginning of lockdown and it was my first modern polysynth. It was 100% worth it.

Records in Demi Riquisimo’s studio
Credit: Jimi Heritage

What is next on your shopping list studio-wise?

I’ve been debating a Roland Juno X. I’ve never owned a Juno synth and the 106 has always been my dream synth. The X – although digital – has many of the sounds and features of the 106 while combining the modulation and programming of a modern synth.

How did you go about getting the acoustics right in the studio?

It took me many years. I’ve been in my studio for almost eight years now so it’s been a lot of trial and error. I’ve got bass traps in each corner of the room and panels on the side wall and hanging from the ceiling. All are made from rockwall; a highly absorbent material.

Do you have any frustrations with your current setup and why?

I’m running out of room for new gear!

What is your top piece of production advice?

Don’t be afraid to start a new idea if the current one isn’t working out. If you do have an idea that is working, try and finish a version there and then so when you go back to it you have an easier job ahead of you. I feel that if an idea is going well, the best ideas happen quickly, so I feel it’s good to make the most of this time.

Check out Demi Riquisimo on SoundCloud

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