In Pound for the Sound, Phoenix New Times get technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create their signature tones.
Duckie, half of Phoenix DJ duo W.A.S.H. (We Are Shit Heads), is an interesting character who doesn't take himself, or his music, too seriously these days. For Duckie, it is all about having good times and making booty-shaking music. They want people to smile and enjoy themselves. And how can you not? Especially when those duck heads are out in full force, keeping booties bumping and true identities secret.
Duckie was born here in Phoenix. As a duckling, he was always interested in music, but his family did not have a musical background. However, as he progressed as a duckling, he decided to pick up electric bass guitar, and started playing in rock bands as soon as he was able. After high school graduation, this duck fled the pond for the greener pastures of Flagstaff, Arizona.
While studying at Northern Arizona University, Duckie stuck with writing music and playing bass in more rock bands than he had feathers on a wing. He had the love for rock, but that flame was growing a little dimmer with each passing year, as he decided to incorporate more electronic and EDM vibes into his compositions.
After graduating from NAU, Duckie returned home to Phoenix and began taking a serious interest in keyboards in his new band, A Life of Science. He worked with ALOS locally from 2006 to 2011, but that project fizzled out, as it was harder and harder to keep band mates together and he wanted to dive deeper into the EDM world.
Out of necessity and desire to keep things minimal, Duckie then formed W.A.S.H. with co-founder and co-producer Puddles in 2015, and the DJ and producer duo have been going strong ever since. They have collaborated directly with several prominent Valley vocalists, and recently released a new track called "Me Gusta."
On Sunday, June 24, Duckie and Puddles appear as W.A.S.H. at BLK Live in Scottsdale, opening for Max Cohen. New Times was able to get some words in via phone and email with Duckie about his gear, having fun and being silly, and his upcoming performance.
Phoenix New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?
Duckie: We do all of our production on Ableton and lean heavily on Serum, Sylenth and Spire for our synths. We also dip into the Waves & Fabfilter Bundles for mixing [and] mastering. Our secret weapon is our vocals. We get vocalists from around town from all genres to sing on our tracks, and we keep sound banks of all their voices to use as flourishes throughout our catalog.
What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
Our live setup consists of Pioneer XDJ-700 decks with a DJM-450 mixer with Rekordbox, so we don’t have to rely on a computer to run our show. Hardware is much more reliable for us than software, and you don’t have to worry about a laptop overheating or crashing.
Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
Though we have tons of rock gear and instruments, our pride and joy in the W.A.S.H. studio is our vocal booth. Puddles’ girlfriend built it, and it’s velvety and fuzzy and makes us feel good all over. All the vocalists that come record with us feel at home in there.
Our wish list is to improve that vocal rig with a Neve 1073LB mic pre and SSL compressor, and maybe upgrade to a Neumann U87 mic when we got the scratch. Dream big haha.
Just listened to your track “Me Gusta.” Yo gusto! Love all the fun sounds and movement in the track. How did you go about recording all the tones that are floating around the song?
Muchas gracias! Moombahton music holds a special place in our hearts. We love Mexican inspired music like Cumbia, so we try to bring that feeling into our EDM tracks sometimes. We put a lot of attention and detail into the swing of the drums. And we just happened upon that vocal sample and fell in love with it. It’s pretty rare when you can repeat a three-second vocal sample dozens of times without it getting annoying. The synth leads were built in Serum, and we wanted them to be nasty, but still have a dancey groove to them.
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During our phone conversation, you had said that you wanted to make music that is fun and silly out of necessity. Can you expand upon your thoughts here with our readers please?
Puddles and I come from backgrounds where we took our musical endeavors very seriously. With W.A.S.H., we decided from the get go that we would design our music strictly to make people dance and smile, while still pushing the envelope of electronic music innovation. We don’t shy away from silly and offensive topics. W.A.S.H. was designed to make booties shake.
WASH has a show coming up this Sunday at BLK Live with Max Cohen. Any words you wish to share about your upcoming performance?
It’s pool party season! And this one is gonna be NUTS. They’re giving away an absurd amount of money and prizes. $500 bikini contest, $500 money hunt, and even more. We’re bringing up guest vocalists to rock out with us. Plus we’re sharing the stage with our homie International DJ Max Cohen. Don’t sleep on this one.