Zoot Woman is a pioneering electronic super-group with multiple UK and worldwide hits. The group consists of Adam Blake, Stuart Price, and Johnny Blake. Aside from Zoot Woman, Adam and Stuart have also gained acclaim doing remixes under the alias, Paper Faces — reworking songs by artists ranging from the Scissor Sisters and Chromeo to Madonna and more. In this edition of Producer's Corner, Zoot Woman co-founder Adam Blake takes us through the way he continuously uses UAD DSP Accelerator Cards and UAD Powered Plug-Ins in Zoot Woman Studios.
The UAD Powered Plug-Ins library is the longest-standing and most extensively used software processing collection in the Zoot Woman studio. Since installing the first UAD-1 Project PAK in 2003, the only move away has been the upgrade to the UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Cards. The plug-ins first introduced to me are still in full effect: the 1176LN and LA-2A feature on most of the live and studio recordings.
Last year, the Zoot Woman song “We Won’t Break” was used in an online remix competition, allowing its composite audio parts to be downloaded by anyone who wanted to remix it. This obviously exposed every sound in isolation and in turn showed up the quality of UAD plug-ins on both individual and groups of channels. The 1176LN and Pultec Pro were used in abundance. Whether on single tracks or the overall mix, the Precision Limiter is often the first and usually final choice. This may not be the intended use for it, but I like the sound of it and the presets are great to call on from time to time. The Precision De-Esser was added to the vocal group, as was the EMT 140 reverb, 1176LN and Pultec Pro (see Figure 1). There are before-and-after audio snippets of the lead vocal for reference (heard in Vocal Examples below).
The De-Esser seems to work in a very transparent way, and is also used on other non-vocal parts. For example, reducing top end on overly bright software synthesizers. It can lend a bit of character to that kind of thing. The Pultec and Precision Limiter appear on the drums and bass group, which consists of various drum sounds and a Roland SH101 bass part (heard in Drum & Bass Examples below).
The EMT 140, Pultec and 1176LN feature again on the string synthesizer part. When coming up with musical ideas I’ve found that the Roland Classic FX Bundle is extremely helpful. The Dimension D is perfect for adding stereo width and the RE-201 Space Echo always seems to come in handy. (Hear the String Synthesizer Examples below)
The UAD cards have contributed a lot to the way the tracks are mixed, anticipating the final mix while writing or choosing sounds. It’s useful in a world of quick mix recalls and file transferring. Part of the Zoot Woman recording process requires sending reference mixes to Stuart [Price] and Johnny [Blake].
As the use of UAD has become so widespread among people I work with, the necessity to bounce stems has lessened and you can have flexibility at every stage of the software recording process.
Listen to the complete “We Won’t Break” song: