Plug-ins I Actually Use: Picard Brothers

The sought-after production duo explain their remixing process and which plug-ins are essential to their tracks.

Grammy-winning siblings Maxime and Clement Picard, better known as Picard Brothers, have an incredible list of credits to their name. Having worked with the likes of Beyonce, Diplo, Burna Boy, Mark Ronson, Madonna and DRAM, the French duo are gearing up to release their debut album, following remixes of Disclosure and Flume in 2020.

With the ability to tap into a range of genres, the duo is sure to have some interesting techniques and tools to learn about. We peer into their plug-in folder to find out how they craft their driving bass sounds using Kontakt and sampling, why Soothe 2 is a must-have and why Ableton Live’s Auto Filter is on every single one of their tracks.

Hey guys. We’re loving your remix of Myd’s Let You Speak – what effect would it not be complete without?

We spent a lot of time finding the right bass sound on this track. We eventually made it work by using the Digitech Bass Synth Wah. It’s an awesome bass pedal that has a bunch of different digital distortions in it. It was made famous by Daft Punk – they used it all over Human After All. We then layered that bass with a TB-303 playing an octave up to make it sound richer.

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Picard Brothers Plug-ins

You remixed Disclosure’s Watch Your Step and Flume’s The Difference last year. What’s your general approach to remixing?

It depends on each remix but, most of the time, we start by isolating the vocal parts that we want to use, and then we start building the track around them.

We also love to start ideas separately and then combine them together. It helps us create happy accidents that we would have never thought otherwise.

What’s your latest plug-in purchase?

We just bought iZotope RX 8, and it’s pretty mind-blowing. We used it to separate drums and acapellas from a mix, and we found it opens up new doors for sampling music.

We also recently got an Akai MPC 2000XL – there’s something magical when making drums with it, which is apparently thanks to its old digital/audio converter. You can achieve that sound in the DAW, for sure, but it’s way more enjoyable with the real machine. It’s easy to create grooves and humanise everything, too.

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iZotope RX8

What’s the best free plug-in you own?

I’d say either TAL Chorus-LX, an emulator of the Juno 106 chorus, or this little free sidechain plug-in called STFU. You can do way more than sidechain with it, but we mainly use it for that.

What about the best value plug-in you own?

RX950 is a plug-in that emulates the 12-bit digital/audio converter of the Akai S950. It’s amazing to get that breakbeat/jungle grit on drums and it’s only €19. We love it!

What’s the most expensive plug-in you’ve ever bought? Was it worth the money?

Spectrasonics Omnisphere is probably the most expensive one we have bought so far but, unfortunately, we never got too much into it. It’s totally worth the money, but sometimes when there is too much sound or too many options, it tends to feel a little overwhelming for us.

GOTd Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

What’s a DAW stock plug-in you use all the time?

Auto Filter in Ableton Live is our favourite filter out there – you can do so much stuff with it; it’s insane. We love the LFO on there and the emulation of the MS20 is pretty on point too. We’ve used it on every single track we’ve made.

What plug-ins go on your master bus without fail?

FabFilter Pro L3 and nothing else. We try to leave the master bus as empty as possible.

Do you have a secret sauce plug-in?

It’s not so much of a secret sauce anymore, but Oeksound Soothe 2 is definitely a must-have for vocals and drums. We still don’t understand exactly how it works, but it helped us save so much time and make everything sound better and less harsh.

Oeksounds Soothe 2

Do you have a guilty pleasure plug-in?

Ableton’s Drum Buss. It’s so simple to use and it makes everything sound louder and crunchier – the compressor on there is incredible, as well.

The bassline is the main focus in a lot of your tracks. What plug-ins are you using to create them and process them?

Most of the time, it’s a mix of Kontakt banks and short bass clips that we sampled from old records. We compress them and add some digital distortion, such as bit crush and sometimes use the XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Colour or Ableton Live Redux. It depends on the vibe of the song and how in your face we want it to be.

What do you use without fully understanding?

To be honest, I have no idea how most of our plug-ins work, but if I had to name one, it would probably be Melodyne in polyphonic mode. iZotope RX 8 as well. It has some super-advanced AI features that make us feel like we’re living in the future [laughs]

What’s coming up for you in the rest of the year?

We just released our new single Best Of Me, and we’re working on the video at the moment, which should be coming soon too. We’re also finishing our first album, and we’re seriously proud of it. We’ve literally made the album that we always dreamed of making, so stay tuned!

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