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Prophet of the Dance Floor

Prophet of the Dance Floor

Flosstradamus Uses UAD to Power his Modern EDM Productions

If the prophet Nostradamus had been able to foresee the rise of dance music, perhaps he would have envisioned the floor-rockin’ jam of juke, trap, southern hip-hop, intelligent house, soaring lead synth, and high-concept EDM that defines the muscular, expansive sound of Curt Cameruci’s future‑leaning Flosstradamus.

Helping elevate trap music with a remix of Major Lazer’s “Original Don” in 2012, Flosstradamus has since racked up production and remix credits for Dillon Francis, Post Malone, Young Thug, Matt & Kim, and more — including full-length albums like 2015’s Hdynation Radio. And while Flosstradamus may be a global DJ attraction, Cameruci’s restless imagination finds him wringing eclectic results out of Ableton Live along with UAD plug-ins and an Apollo 8p interface — as much as moving dance floors worldwide.

Flosstradamus (aka Curt Cameruci) and a screenful of UAD plug‑ins.

Your mixes always have an expansive soundstage, but still hit hard with the drums and bass. How do you maintain punchiness while still keeping a wide soundfield?

With electronic music, you have to build the soundstage yourself — you're not miking anything, there’s no room sounds, so we have to create this "false" environment. I actually use a lot of old, time-honored recording tricks to create that stereo depth and width.

One trick is, I'll split my signal from a stereo track into separate left and right tracks. Then, I’ll treat each side separately — maybe enhance the transients on each side differently using the UAD Precision De-Esser or SPL Transient Designer plug‑ins.

This creates more depth and width in the mix, giving the listener a contrast between the ears. If I were to play those back in mono, they wouldn't disappear necessarily, but with separately treated stereo tracks, it almost feels like you can reach into the mix.

Do you lean on any reverbs in particular?

Most reverb plug-ins still sound digital, in a way. And something about the UAD Lexicon reverbs sounds so natural. The UAD Lexicon 224 and, my favorite, the Lexicon 480L Digital Reverb are really the best ever. Out of all the reverbs I've used, those two feel the most real with authentic environments – especially for in-the-box stuff, which I use all the time since I'm traveling constantly.

"The UAD Oxford Inflator plug-in has always been the cheat code for me."

Any tricks to getting the reverbs to work with your punchy approach to mixing?

Well, I always print my reverbs, especially on my lead synths. Sure, I'll have my lead synths going dry while recording them, but then, once I’ve got the reverbs applied the way I want, I'll re-record that back into Ableton, so at that point I’m not sending it anymore — I'll have an actual audio track with the reverb printed.

At that point, you can do a lot of dope things with the actual audio file. For example, sometimes I'll cut it — basically hard-gate it, and pretty much, cut out a whole section of the reverb. And that creates this really cool effect, which of course is “unnatural,” you could say, but it really grabs the listener's attention .

"With EDM, hip-hop, and trap music, there are no rules. You can make your own path."

Is there some of that on the track "2 MUCH"?

Yes, there are certain moments where I cut off the reverb in “2 MUCH,” and again, so much becomes available to you because the source sound and reverb are now printed together on audio tracks, so you can do anything you want to them.

What are some of the other tricks you like to do?

One thing I do is automate another reverb on top of the reverb you already have if you want to make it even bigger, or add some different character to it.

There’s another song I'm working on right now where I really chop up the reverb audio. I'll cut it, and then use automation to create a fade-in, so the reverb will fade into the next sound — it’s almost like a reverse reverb — the vocal trick that a lot of people do reversing the reverb into the vocal — but I'll mix it with an unaffected track, and then I'll fade the reverb into where, say, the synth is going to hit its first attack.

Now, it’s not reversed — it’s just what was left over from the previous reverb tail in the fade-in. It creates this weird reverse-like movement that is so unnatural, but it sounds unique and it's just one of those things that grabs your attention.

"The Oxford Dynamic EQ is a new, modern tool, and I'm making modern music, so why not use a modern tool?"

But you still use traditional reverse sounds too, right?

I do because that creates a tension and an energy that something is about to happen. There’s nothing quite like it, especially on snare hits and things like that. I'll pull a reverse tail into that.

But there’s something about taking the non-reversed reverb, and cutting it and adding fades with it, even automating certain things, it creates this cool movement. And yeah, even cutting it out, removing it for a split-second, almost like a side-chain compression effect, so that when the actual attack of the lead happens, the reverb pulls away, and it leaves the lead dry, and then the reverb re-enters in a somewhat unnatural way.

Flosstradamus ft. 24hrs - 2 MUCH

I heard you’re a big fan of the UAD Oxford Inflator, and now that I’m using it more, I can hear why!

It's so magical, man. I'm a huge fan of plug-ins that make my stuff sound good instantly and easily. I suppose it’s the same thing everyone wants — the cheat code! So the UAD Oxford Inflator has always been the cheat code for me and I've used it on every song I've ever put out. It works really well for this “maximal” EDM sound.

Now, I use my hardware Dangerous Music D-BOX for summing, which I think makes a huge difference in making my mixes sound warm, and I actually send eight outputs out of my Apollo 8p into the D-BOX, and I always have the UAD Oxford Inflator on every single one of those outputs, so it's always one of the last key parts of the signal chain before it goes out of the Apollo into the 2‑BUS.

To be clear, lately I've been sending four sets of stereo pairs out of the Apollo, so I can have a bit more width in certain things. Now, sometimes I’ll do three sets of stereo pairs out, plus two mono outs from the Apollo, for the low end of the kick drum and bass stuff. But regardless, the UAD Oxford Inflator is the last thing before the signal exits out of the Apollo into the D-BOX. It just makes things sound better — the ultimate cheat code.

What lives on your master bus typically?

The UAD Oxford Limiter is actually great on the master bus, and what’s interesting about that is that it was the go-to dance music and EDM limiter before you guys adapted it onto your platform.

A lot of drum n’ bass producers, and a lot of people in my world were using the Oxford Limiter — it was just “the one.” And I think it was because it has that “Enhance” feature, which in its own way is very “Inflator-esque”; it brings out that detail similarly to what the Inflator does. I'll generally go really slow-attack, so that all my kicks and stuff can come through, and I'll just let the Release sit where it needs to. Then I usually tweak the Enhancement slider and it brings up all this information and detail – it also cuts the peaks and it just sounds loud.

"The UAD Oxford Inflator plug-in works really well for the 'maximal' EDM sound."

What EQs do you rely on for fine tuning sources?

I've been using the Oxford Dynamic EQ lately. When there’s a frequency spectrum that I need to tame or boost every now and again, I can make that band dynamic, and the Dynamic EQ will enhance that little section as needed, because it detects and reacts to the transients.

Also, the Oxford Dynamic EQ is the cleanest-sounding EQ I've ever used. It has such a transparent sound to it, and as a result, I've been using it like crazy sinceI can get great results from it really fast.

It’s a very modern tool — rock engineers of old would have killed for it in the '70s.

Well, the cool thing with EDM is that there's no rulebook for us. Sure, I’ve learned a lot of stuff from what rock engineers do, but often when I’ve tried to apply those ideas to this genre, I find that stuff doesn't apply. A lot of those tricks are great; they're standard tricks that you “should” do in a mix, but the cool thing with EDM and Hip-Hop and Trap music is that there are no rules — you can make your own path.

The Oxford Dynamic EQ is definitely this new, more modern tool, and I'm making modern music, so why not use a modern tool?

Whenever there's an exciting new technology, it's daunting to people at first, right? We can look back on an idea like, how cool it used to be to have the whole band in the studio with their hands on the faders, right on the desk, which is fantastic because it adds that human feel and character. But in 2019, if I can have the computer be the one with all those hands on the desk, it just makes things a lot easier and faster, and those are the two words that I really like in music creation!

— James Rotondi

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