No Mana

Plugins & Gear used by No Mana | Exclusive Interview

The exceptionally talented Electro House producer No Mana is back with a nostalgic single “Space (feat. ill-esha)” completing a trilogy of Monstercat releases. Inspired by one of his favorite childhood songs, “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis, the new record sees the artistic virtuoso juxtapose his previous moodier tones on releases like “Out of the Dark” and “Yesterday,” with vintage-analog synths backed by his signature 8-bit beats. The pop-driven melody from ill-esha elevates the track’s ’90s vibe and positions it as a groovy anthem fit for the dancefloor. While “Space” is No Mana’s final release for 2022, fans can still catch him live in December at his final two dates in Denver at The Temple and Harrisburg at Stage On Herr. We recently caught up with the Electro house prodigy No Mana to know more about his music production process. Down below you’ll find the complete list of plugins & gear used by No Mana

 

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Q.1 Top favourite synth plugins / Kontakt libraries

 Answer: Serum, Operator, Simpler, The Giant, Orchestral Essentials.

 

1. Serum (xfer) – Probably uninteresting because it’s like the most overused plugin on the planet, but for good reason. It’s diverse and can get a lot of different jobs done, and the interface is very friendly. But if it can do what any other synth plugin could do, I’d put this one on my list just for being the least frustrating third-party plugin to use considering how many options and parameters there are. Also, this is my go-to for supersaws. Couldn’t do a list of favorite plugins without this one.

 

 

 

2. Operator (Ableton)– The most enjoyable when using it for monophonic sounds, especially when using FM to get metallic-sounding overtones on basslines such as the one in Nostalgia Drive. It’s also incredibly simple and convenient so I find myself making sounds with it that don’t need much care (such as noise, transients and sub-bass sine waves).

 

 

3. Simpler (Ableton) / resampling and sample synthesis – The former two are as far as what I currently use for synthesis. I find myself being pretty minimal about the things I use (there was a time where my projects consisted of only native plugins with Operator being my only synth). Sampling and sample synthesis is a good way to create sounds that are more organic and natural as opposed to something that is digital or artificial, because I’d make waveforms out of vocals (like in my new release, “Space”), guitars, pots, pans, random appliances and field recordings. I use Simpler for all my major one-shot drums (such as kicks, snares and claps), and some melodic lines. I use resampling for experimental sounds because I’m obsessed with the weird results I get from pitching up or down and/or stretching samples.

 

 

4. The Giant (Native Instruments)– My favorite Kontakt library for piano – not that I’ve explored many other options for piano sample libraries since I’ve never felt the need for more than what this one offers. The library also comes with some cinematic one-shots which is a plus for me. Other than that, you know… it’s a piano.

 

 

5. Orchestral Essentials (ProjectSAM) – I’ve been recommended this sample library by a close friend who does orchestral music scoring, and who also recommended The Giant to me. This is an enormous library of several orchestral instruments and I’ve only explored a portion of its Strings folder.

 

 

 

 

Q.2. Top favourite Effects/Mixing/Mastering Plugins

Answer:  Delay, Portal, Fracture, Multiband Compression, iZotope Ozone etc. 

1. Delay (Ableton) – Without a doubt my number 1 effect because of its endless uses, both experimental and practical. I use it more than reverb to create an atmosphere because it fills the mix without muddying it. I can create stereoizing effects on mono signals. On stronger feedback levels I can create tonal delay and resample them into synth-like sounds. I can vibrato anything if I put an LFO on the delay time with 0 feedback. On quantized delay times I can create and experiment with new rhythms. With automated parameters I can’t even begin to talk about the surface of what sounds can come out of that.

 

 

2. Portal (Output)– A plugin that combines multiple effects (mainly delay, reverb, and granulation) and automates their parameters, creating patches of sounds which I would describe as warped, atmospheric and glitchy at the same time. I could feed it anything between drums and vocals and it would spit out some otherworldly jam session which I could then use to resample into something applicable.

 

 

3. Fracture (Glitchmachines) – A similar plugin to Portal as it combines delaying, filtering and time automation, except differs in it being more glitch-heavy as the plugin centers around sample repetition.

 

 

4. Saturation (Ableton) – Distort everything like the punk bands in the 90’s. I’m always wanting to get my fix of grit and getting my clips and distortion from Saturation does it for me. A majority of the time it’s on my basslines to any extent, and sometimes my kicks.

 

 

5. Multiband Compression (Ableton)  – My go-to method of controlling my dynamics, both lightly and over-the-top.

 

6. Ozone (iZotope) – Used mostly for surgical situations when other mixing plugins can’t control or clean up the sound. I find myself using this mostly on vocals and pesky basslines. I like using Multiband Compression most of the time because I find myself taking fewer steps to fix the sound, however Ozone is used when I want to spend more time with a more complex process to really nail down a sound.

 

 

7. Nothing – I used to overdo my mastering process with compression, limiting, and dynamic equalization. Now I’ve resorted to becoming a mixdown purist and haven’t put anything on the master since my track “Yesterday”, unless I find the need to cut inaudible low-end on the master. I find it more rewarding to embrace clipping as opposed to being afraid of it, which for me has resulted in louder and cleaner masters instead of squashed ones as the signal approaches 0db.

 

 

Q.3. Top favourite Gear

Answer:  Yamaha HS7s, JBL LSR310S, Audeze LCD-X etc.

1. Yamaha HS7s – Never felt the need to move on from these for the past 7 years, not because I think they’re the best but because I’m so used to them. They’re prominent on the mid-high band (a Yamaha specialty – like their motorcycles), so I tend to create softer-sounding mixes when using them as a primary reference. I have thought about replacing them but all worthwhile upgrades are very pricy options.

 

 

2. JBL LSR310S – The subwoofer that is currently being paired with the Yamahas at abusive levels.

 

 

3. Audeze LCD-X (2016) – These headphones are beasts. It’s very easy to be convinced that these are all I need to mix everything. There’s only a couple quirks I find with these headphones. I’m used to the HS7’s from listening to them on off days, so when mixing off the LCD-X’s (which I wouldn’t doubt them having a flatter frequency response) I end up making mixes that sound just a little bit brighter than desired on the HS7’s. Secondly, they are less reliable than nearfields when referencing dynamics and transients which I assume is a problem with headphones and not an Audeze problem. They’re still my favorite headphones.

 

 

4. My cat – For emotional support.

 

Image Credits: No Mana (press) / provided by Monstercat

Hemant has been actively involved in the dance music industry with over 3 years of experience. Currently working as a Project Manager and heading the We Rave You Tech division. Get in touch via email.

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