SAFETY HARBOR, FLORIDA: DJ Bless, who often goes by his darker alter-ego Sutter Kain, was a songwriter and producer first and only became known as a mix engineer when other musicians needed his help to achieve his signature “Ghetto Metal” sound. Now heading into his third decade in the industry, DJ Bless has worked under MCA Records, Capitol Records, and his own label, Never So Deep Records. He produces tracks for HBO and Elijah Wood’s horror movie company SpectreVision, among many others. Even with so much going on, DJ Bless still makes time for Sutter Kain originals. Citing Metric Halo’s ability to “be anything,” he used Metric Halo plugins for his forthcoming Kain full length Death Has Found Me.
“I was always into metal as a kid, and I didn’t get into hip hop till junior high school,” DJ Bless said. “Even then, I only liked hip hop that had the energy of metal. Wu tang, NWA, things like that. Ghetto Metal is the most brutalist hip hop meets the most brutalist metal. It’s not that whack rap rock s**t. Brutality to the utmost of brutality. There’s nothing PC about it. When my Sutter Kain album August Underground blew up in 2008, I wasn’t taking mixing seriously. But then people started sending me stuff because they couldn’t get my sound. I had to take it more seriously and became known as a mix engineer.”
He continued, “I really love the sound of Metric Halo plugins. They’re very intuitive, and I totally recommend them. With the Production Bundle, it’s all in there. The thing is, you can make Metric Halo do what you want it to do. You’re not stuck with one sound. So, I think of my rig as a Metric Halo console that can become anything I want it to be… SSL for drums, Neve for vocals, whatever. That said, I do keep my sessions simple (when I see other engineers’ sessions, it’s like plugin central!). I get almost everything I need with Metric Halo ChannelStrip and Metric Halo Character. They’re my go-tos.”
The aptly-named Metric Halo ChannelStrip includes a six-band EQ with fully-customizable filters, shelves, and parametric options, a versatile compressor (pre- or post-EQ), a versatile gate, a limiter, and a delay. “Say you have percussion tracks,” DJ Bless explained. “On the drum bus alone, you can filter out tops and lows, cut everything, in one plugin. That keeps the percussion from interfering with the vocals. You can use it on all the instruments by themselves to clean out all the junk you don’t want. You can boost if you want. You can make the kick or snare punch harder just by turning the limiter up. The snare is always a problem, you gotta calm it down. I’ll often cut around 2.6kHz and that smooths the snare out and gets it in the mix all gluey-wise. It does it all in one plugin instead of having like seven lined up! I use ChannelStrip on literally everything.”
Metric Halo Character emulates twenty-two different analog signal paths, including such things as “Transformer,” “Valve,” “SoftSat,” “FET,” “Modern Tube EQ,” “Classic British Mic Pre,” “American Solid State,” and so on. For each, users can dial in the amount of drive or allow the plugin to “auto-drive.” “In my mind, I’m on a Metric Halo board,” DJ Bless said. “I’m from that era. We actually used boards. ChannelStrip is the EQ and dynamics that came with my Metric Halo board. But back in the day, you were stuck with the sound of your board. People went to different studios to get different sounds. With Character, my Metric Halo board can be anything I want it to be.”
After using his “Metric Halo board” on the forthcoming Sutter Kain album Death Has Found Me and after A/B-ing Metric Halo converters against ones he is familiar with, DJ Bless is exploring Metric Halo converters for his next project. “Metric Halo converters sound fat, big, and warm,” he said. “All A-1! I might pick one up for the inputs alone. I use old drum machines like [an E-mu] SP-1200 and I need hardware inputs. The Metric Halo ULN-8 has awesome sounding preamps and converters, plus it has AES and S/PDIF so I can lock it all in there. That will really give me the full Metric Halo board.”
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