Fair Game X Touch Loops
We recently sat down with Fair Game to chat about his love of live instruments, manipulating foley and how he created first his iconic collection of organic Lo-Fi samples in Lo-fi Nostalgia.
Tell us a little about yourself! Projects, styles etc.
I’m a music producer, composer and sound designer based in Cape Town, South Africa. I release music as FAIR GAME which has a melancholic yet hopeful sound based in lofi hip hop but I draw inspiration from various other genres such as downtempo, electronica, ambient, indie rock and neo-classical music. My song ‘Wednesday Afternoon’ was shared on Twitter by Jungkook of BTS last year and ended up charting in multiple territories on Spotify, which was crazy.
You play a number of instruments on your records and in your packs to a high level, what was your first instrument? Was there any particular artists that you aspired to sound like?
The first instrument I started on was acoustic guitar playing and going to lessons on and off while growing up but I’ve recently started playing more regularly and incorporating it into my productions. For piano I’m inspired by artists such as Ólafur Arnalds, idealism and any movie soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Guitar wise I’m inspired by Helios, Daughter and Phoebe Bridgers.
What’s your process like both ‘in the box’ and when integrating hardware (DAW of choice, processes, mixing live sounds with synths etc)?
My DAW of choice is Ableton - it works so well for my workflow and the audio manipulation power it has is so good for creating samples. Most of my process is in the box, but of course I have mics, guitars and midi keyboards ready for recording when needed. Also I’m continually recording foley with my Zoom H5 or phone to use in my music or sample packs.
Have you established any workflow hacks or tricks for ensuring a smooth workflow thus not losing a special moment?
Obviously the first trick would be having a good starting template with all the instruments and effects you use frequently ready and I find having saved mixing racks can speed things up a lot.
Since I use resampling in Ableton a ton, especially when making samples, I’ve set the default in on my audio tracks to resample.
I also find having a specific sound you want to use like a snare, top loop, vocal etc. before starting a track can help get things going faster.
Tell me about how you created Lo-Fi Nostalgia?
With this pack I went for the melancholic feel of my own music for the piano and guitar loops with a Tycho nostalgic feel on the synths. For the drums I formed them to be warm and textured but still sound good in modern mixes. I’m also a big fan of organic sounds in production, so I’ve included a solid collection of processed field recordings and foley. I also used things like my own homemade shakers and Kalimba recordings to add to the organic feel.
Why would you choose a piece of hardware over a plugin emulation?
Plugin emulations are really good these days but I don’t think it’s possible to emulate the slight variations or randomness that hardware or physical recordings can create. Also the hands-on nature of hardware or recording real instruments can make the process of making music feel more rewarding.
Could you tell us about some of your favourite plugins/ what they do?
I’m a big fan of anything Spitfire Audio does and I use their stuff on most of my songs. The Originals - Felt Piano is the main piano instrument I use when making my own music.
I of course love RC-20, it’s such a great tool for making any sound warmer and more textured. I also like to use the distortion and EQ boost to add more power to drums.
And then all the Ableton effects are great, I’ve recently started using the Hybrid Reverb and Pedal effects frequently after upgrading to Ableton 11. Hybrid Reverb is great for warm and lush reverbs and the vintage feature on it is great for lofi. I’ve been finding Pedal really helps me with getting a good guitar tone and can also work great on pianos.
Feeling inspired? Check out our favourite found sound production tips.
What are you listening to these days?
At the moment I’m really enjoying Janus Rasmussen’s Vín album and the Whatever Tomorrow EP by Chet Faker.
Do you use sample packs in your own music? What role do they play if so?
I do. I primarily use them for drums but I also find melodic loops really helpful for inspiration when getting a track started or for creating textures and background melodies with various audio manipulation techniques.