Caravel makes devastating techno using reFX’s “flawless” Nexus4 plugin

The Parisian producer’s latest track, ‘Phoenix’, is out now on Terminal V

Caravel in her studio

Caravel in her studio

For Exhale Records mainstay, Parisian techno producer and DJ Caravel, no BPM is safe. Delivering a nimble sound full of crushing kick drums and eerie atmospheres, the aim of her music is to keep the darkest dancefloors moving.

Caravel has notable releases on labels like HEKATE, OBSCUUR Records, and contributions to Amelie Lens’ EXHALE compilations. She’s also a resident at Synoid, a nightclub in Berlin, as well as a regular face on HÖR. Her most recent venture, however, is a release on Scottish label, Terminal V. The track, called Phoenix, is a devastating, towering wave of hard, ferocious techno.

We speak to Caravel, who tells MusicTech about some of the plugins she swears by when making music.

Are you working on any new music at the moment, or are you focusing more on touring? How does one inspire the other?

I’m always working on new music. Every time I come home after a gig, my brain is full of inspiration. Every time I’m digging a new track for my next shows, I get inspiration. So, I’m permanently working on new tracks, but most of the time, I never finish them.

What’s your latest plugin purchase?

I bought the reFX Nexus 4 a couple of months ago. You can find thousands of different sounds, such as drums, effects, screeches, and many more. I mainly used it for my latest EP that I’ve just finished. Nexus 4 is not the cheapest plugin, but you can create any type of music with it. The sound quality is flawless, and it’s easy to manage.

Nicky Romero Kickstart 2 and reFX Nexus 4 plugins from Caravel
Nicky Romero Kickstart 2 and reFX Nexus 4 plugins from Caravel

What’s the best free plugin you own?

Xfer Records’ OTT is really cool; it’s a multiband compressor. You can use it for upward (parallel compression) or downward (classic compression) with just two buttons. I use it to add more aggression to my synths or drums.

What’s the best value plugin you own?

I would say Kickstart 2 from Nicky Romero, an affordable plugin that I use on almost every channel. It’s a side-chain tool that makes me work much faster.

Nicky Romero Kickstart 2 and iZotope Trash 2 plugins from Caravel
Nicky Romero Kickstart 2 and iZotope Trash 2 plugins from Caravel

What’s the most expensive plugin you’ve ever bought? 

It was Nexus 4. I paid €499, but that was definitely worth it.

What’s a DAW stock plugin you use all the time?

I started using FL Studio because I thought it was easier to handle, but I quickly changed to Ableton. Once you get used to the interface, Ableton is more intuitive, and the creative process is smoother.

What plugin would Queen of Darkness be incomplete without?

U-He Hive; I was using Hive a lot when I made this track.

The track slows down before the drop – such an interesting idea. What led you to making this decision?

If you know the TV show, you probably made the link. I was watching Stranger Things, and I was obsessed with the soundtrack. I just came up with the idea of building something with this famous arpeggio and adding a techno kick. I used automation on the BPM before and during the break to make the transition slower and more intense.

And on this breakdown and buildup to the second drop, the synth pairs so nicely with the rolling snares…

I tried to keep it as smooth as I can, using a filter and letting the bass get all the place it needed. I used the rolling snares to bring more intensity, and I decided to keep it for the second drop, so it would bring more rhythm to the track. I used Hive for the bassline and the arpeggio synth.

Do you have any secret sauce plugins?

I like to use iZotope Trash 2; it’s a really good plugin if you want to add distortion. It has different effects, and you can apply them separately. So if you like crunchy, noisy and want all kinds of possibilities to make your drums or your synth harder, this is perfect for that.

Little AlterBoy by Soundtoys plugin from Caravel
Little AlterBoy by Soundtoys plugin from Caravel

What about a guilty pleasure plugin?

I would say Little AlterBoy; you can easily pitch and put hard tune to any voices. I also use it for my drums to make them sound different.

What do you use without fully understanding?

To be honest, I don’t fully understand anything. I didn’t have any school to teach me, and I learned with tutorials and some help from friends.

Follow Caravel on Soundcloud.

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