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Justin Lassen on the Making of Black Fox Society: Abstract

29/04/2019

Justin Lassen is a composer, producer, sound designer, and good friend to PreSonus. Justin has had his hands in a LOT of music, TV, and video game projects over the years, but is perhaps best known for his best-selling sound library White Rabbit Asylum. Always one to outdo himself, Justin has followed it up with a spiritual successor called Black Fox Society: Abstract, available now at shop.presonus.com.

Let's be clear from the get-go this is not just another sound library. Justin spent ten years traveling to obtuse corners of the earth to record strange and unheard sounds for this project, and then spent another year just editing them all together for this massive 3.7 gigabyte collection of loops, instrumentals, and industrial beats-all inspired by mysterious secret societies. He was kind enough to take the time to share some stories (and AMAZING photos!) of how this all came to be. Strap in, this one's quite a ride.

Talk to us a little bit about some of the mysterious locations you went to-22+ countries is a LOT!

Secret societies have fascinated me for years. When I lived in Europe in my twenties, I became aware of so much history the world never hears about. Everything in these ancient cities is literally built on top of the previous generations. This means there are a lot of hidden spaces and forgotten stories to uncover. I knew that every country in the world has stories to tell, but I focused especially on the places that have shaped the world as we know it today.

I was drawn to places where I knew groups of influencers have gathered throughout time. So, I would start with plans to visit places that I knew would not only be visually intriguing but would also provide unique sound environments that could be crafted into high-quality ambient concepts. The most surprising part was what I would find along the way. As I talked to locals and explored some less-traveled roads, I found spaces that had a unique vibe, and I would stop and capture the environment before moving on.

Staying flexible in both my expectations of what I would actually capture, as well as where it would happen, allowed for some unexpected opportunities to capture some once-in-a-lifetime material.

For example, when I was in Korea, I received a tip from a local contact about a secret shamanic temple up in the mountains outside of the city. With very few people around, I was able to capture much of the mystical ambiance that was available among those sacred stones. Distant chanting and ceremonial bells enriched the environment more than I could have hoped.

In Europe, where so much history has been buried through the years, I made a point of going off the beaten path. This led me into ancient grottos, up decaying staircases, through ruins and forgotten graveyards full of nameless stones. You can't be in these places without feeling something.

You might think that this is the magic behind Black Fox Society, but it's these feelings that inspired me to take the recordings I collected around the world and shape them into individual works of art that evoke specific emotions, reminders of what I felt in these places.

What sort of field recording gear did you use?

My primary field recording equipment was Zoom F4, Sennheiser Ambeo-VR Mic, and a Roland R-07 Recorder w/ Roland binaural headset/mic combo. I also brought a Netbook on my trip, several hard drives, and a ton of SD cards for the various recorders and camera equipment. I also used the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset for some cool unique recording situations.

Any fave mics, recorders, etc? Binaural mics?

With all of that gear, and using all of it in each country and location, what ended up being my favorite piece of gear was the Ambeo Smart HeadSet, particularly when going into places that I wasn't able to bring all of the mics, XLR cables, recorders. It ended up capturing some really beautiful audio that felt 3D and even made me feel like I was there on playback. Upon returning from my trip, I actually got a ton of new equipment and microphones that I plan on bringing with me on my next set of adventures.

How do you keep such a huge collection of .WAV files organized when you're busy traveling? One SD Card per location? Strict file naming conventions?

Keeping the files organized is easier than you might expect. I was walking an average of 10 miles per day in most cities. I was usually pretty tired by the end of the day! It was a non-negotiable routine when I would get back to my computer to download the work from that day. I would organize it by city and by date. I kept a concise log of my itinerary, including notes of where I went and what I did that day. I organized the video, pictures, and drone footage the same way and that helped keep everything straight.

The most important thing to know about the file management is that at the end of the day, the project didn't demand location-specific end products. Creating the library was a much more artistic venture than just a single track pulled from a cathedral in Prague, for example. Each ambient loop in the library has 8 to 17 layers in them, each layer coming from different parts of the trip and world. The color of each audio sample was more important than the locale in deciding how it would be used in the final content.

The file names were simple, based on date and city. My criteria for what was worth including was determined beforehand, so I didn't need to filter my content much when I got back. I ended up using almost every single thing I recorded!

Did you have any issues getting all of that recording gear and media from country-to-country (through international customs) in your travels?

Yes, actually. I was at airports almost every other day, and no airport ever took it easy on me. I had to take everything out of its case, out of the bag each time, to show them
LINK: http://blog.presonus.com/index.php/2019/04/29/justin-lassen-making-bla...
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