1. Eventide h3000
2. Roland Space echo
3. Oberheim Xpander
4. Roland SH-101
5. Roland TB-303
6. Roland System 100
Henry Smithson, AKA Riton, is having a stellar year, musically. His 2021 track with Nightcrawlers, Friday, has racked up over 350 million streams on Spotify alone, and there’s no doubt you’ve heard it if you’ve popped the radio on since it dropped. If not, you’ve probably heard his Grammy-nominated track Rinse & Repeat, or Dua Lipa and Silk City’s Grammy-winning Electricity, which he co-produced.
Riton’s Balearic project with Alex Metric is also well underway, releasing the recent Kuu EP with Shungudzo laying down the vocals. Then there’s his newest single, Come With Me, featuring Bad Boy Chiller Crew. Despite his seemingly hectic schedule, he invites us into his studio to flaunt some of his desirable gear, including some classic Eventide effects, a Moog One and an iPad.
Tell us a bit about the studio, Riton.
My studio is by the canalside in Hackney, East London, and I’ve already been there for around one year. I’m in there most days, using my studio to create, record and complete my tracks.
When did you go from bedroom studio to “proper” studio? How did you decide on what you needed from that studio?
I always had a studio in my house or used studios in commercial places, depending on how much time I want to spend at home. Right now, I’ve moved to a studio somewhere away from my home because otherwise, during lockdown, I think I would have moved about 10 meters a week.
How does the studio environment help your creativity?
I’m surrounded by machines, which instantly gets me in the mood to work. I’m into working early in the day, and I’m also a fan of stopping when I’ve had enough for the day – there’s no point in wasting energy if it’s not happening.
Which DAW do you use?
Ableton Live. I’ve just used it for years, and I like the way it warps audio; it lets me try things in different keys and timings effortlessly.
What is your favourite piece of gear?
The Eventide H3000 – it’s important to have high-quality effects if you’re recording old monosynths.
You have some enviable synths and drum machines – How do you decide what gear to buy next?
I normally go a bit mad on equipment, but now I’m into all the modern gear coming out, which takes the old analogue gear and tweaks it for modern use.
What are your go-to synths for your basslines?
The Roland SH-101 is always great. Sometimes I create the sub with my Moog One, then later add some mid-frequency layers and layer a part with sharper attack, too
What synth or effect can be heard the most on your recent release, Come With Me?
It’s pretty much just piano and live bass, but there’s a lead at the end from an Oberheim OB6. It’s nothing too crazy, though – a simple one OSC patch with portamento
Your other 2021 single, Friday, is still making impressive numbers. What do you think makes it such a success?
I think it was a nice topline and sample combo that just worked well. I did everything on old samplers and TR-909, so I feel like it weaved a bit of life in the overall sound.
What’s been the biggest investment in your studio?
I have a pretty expensive Eventide H7600 that is good but probably not as great as the 3000. I still use it a lot, though. It has some posh stereo effects that seem to bring things alive a bit more
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
I’d take a bunch of circuit boards and broken electronics and try to learn how to fix my broken gear for when I get back!
What is your dream piece of gear?
A massive desk. It’d be useful to have the ability to group buses and create effects chains, all patched in any kind of way you can imagine.
Do you have any frustrations with your current setup?
Well, I have to stand up to use some equipment at the back of my studio, and sometimes I get a bit lazy(!)
What is your top piece of production advice?
Make something you enjoy creating and listening to because that will be the most natural and authentic version of yourself.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Get an iPad and have a play around on it. iPad music apps are very powerful for creations so that is a great place to start for very cheap. See if you’re really into production before you go full-on investing.