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The Chvrches Synth Setup

Published: Tue June 25, 2013  News Feed

The Chvrches Synth Setup

By Hugh McKenna




If you're a GoT fan and have any kind of interest in electronic music we're pretty sure you'll dig this analogue synth cover of the Game Of Thrones theme tune.

There's been quite stir being made over synthpop lately with Chvrches keeping good company with Little Daylight as one to watch for 2013, plus there's a new Empire Of The Sun album released recently. While the overall aesthetic may hark back to the 80's it's not been that long since (often female fronted) synth acts stormed the charts and wowed the indie press.

Our article from 2009 picked up on Little Boots, La Roux and Passion Pit all coming to prominence.

Want to find out more about Little Daylight's gear.

If you prefer your synth acts a little more indie...

Or with more aggression.


We strapped on our geargoggles and took a peek at a Chvrches gig from 2012. Their setup appears to be quite similar to that of Little Daylight, with Ableton, Novation MIDI Controller, Fender bass and fat synths all present. There's a little more of an analogue edge to Chvrches sound accompanying a more downbeat feel and different focus in Lauren Mayberry's lyrics.


Chvrches Live
Chvrches Novation Maschine
We can see a Novation Remote MIDI Controller (discontinued so now try the Impulse range) being used with a Native Instruments Maschine for sample triggering and synth key sounds. The Ableton integration on the Impulse is top drawer and back lit pads help in those more moodily lit venues.
Chvrches Ableton
The live musicians choice is frequently Live, no surprise there. Flexible, stable and inspirding. Seems to be quite a minimal set of clips, more likely used for sync and routing rather than arranging.
Chvrches Moog Roland
Analogue synth loveliness, a Moog Voyager, Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08 and vintage Roland 106 (try the Gaia for bigger range of analogue modeled sounds).

Chvrches Album 'The Bones of What You Believe'

Talking to Future Music Chvrches went into detail about their synth selection and studio gear. The gear we spotted above was the main stuff they used when writing The Bones of What You Believe. Recently though they've been going analogue crazy, picking up a neat pile of Dave Smith Instruments including the Tempest, Prophet 12 and Mopho X4. Expect even more layers and thick sounds on any new material, along with a little retro charm from the DX7 they picked up (it wouldn't be a synth act without some classic FM).

"At the moment we have three analogue synths on the stage: Moog Voyager, DSI Prophet 08 and a Juno 106. They are all set up in one bank which I play but there's a midi controller keyboard across the other side of the stage thatMartin and Lauren plays. We use Ableton Live to control our in-ear monitor mixes, for routing midi and processing synth effects. Martin also plays a Native Instruments Machine for triggering vocal and drum samples. I also play a bit o fbass guitar and guitar which all go through Ableton Live."

While they work mainly in the box for mixing Universal Audio plugins help bring some analogue character to proceedings. Iain says that time ran out for them to complete mixing duties on the album and so superstar mixer Rich Costey was drafted in. Having recently worked with Vampire Weekend and The Shins it's fair to say Rich knows how to make a mix pop, Sound On Sound interviewed him about his mix for 'The Pretender' by the Foo Fighters. Working within Pro Tools but using a traditional mixing desk and analogue outboard from Neve, API and Lexicon, a perfect compliment for Chvrches largely analogue synth sound.

Chvrches On Tour

Here's Martin and Iain geeking out about their live setup with Future Music. They've developed their own setup relying on Ableton Live for sequencing, processing, monitor mix setup and running their impressive array of analogue synths. No need to have a monitor enginer either, with complex IEM send automation possible within Ableton. Other bits of gear they couldn't live without are the Maschine for triggering vocal and percussion samples, Dave Smith Instruments Tempest (which Iain feels might well be the best drum machine ever made) and

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