During the Covid-19 lockdown, the Nitro family got together via Zoom and did a live concert of the song - "Come On Home" by @Yvesardelt and the Nitro Almost Pretty Good Band. The songwriter behind Offline's ender song - "Come On Home," is the son of Nitro Co-Founder Sepp Ardelt - Yves Ardelt. We sat down with Yves to ask him a few questions for the musicians out there or the people who have started to play music during the last year at home.

Behind The Music

with Yves Ardelt

How long have you been making music?
All my life. It's cliché to say this, but I was throwing big shows for my family when I was three years old, pretending to sing in English.

What are you currently working on?
I just wrapped up the soundtrack for Cayenne Project's movie "CUADRO," which took about eight months to write and produce. I'm proud of this one, and working with Cayenne was such a fun experience because they are great guys and talented filmmakers. Check out thecayenneproject.com for more info on the movie.

You made almost the entire soundtrack of Nitro's latest film Offline - how did that come about?
I've known the Nitro Family for a long time and have been part of several musical projects with them over the past 20 years. Like playing in the Almost Pretty Good Band (which was founded by Sepp & Tommy back in '99) or contributing songs and sound design here and there.

In 2018, Andi from Nitro approached me, asking if I'd be up to join the crew on a trip through the Balkans, soaking up the whole adventure's vibe and then writing a song or two for the part. I had never done anything like this before, but I was interested in trying it out. During the trip, I spent most of my time with Karsten Boysen, who shot and edited most of the movie, and we hit it off. During the editing, Karsten kept asking me if I had something he could use for different parts, and we started to collaborate on the soundtrack. One song turned into six and a total of 25 mins of music.

How do you go about making music for video projects?
First, I like to see a rough cut of the footage talk about the director's general mood. What feelings do you want to convey? Is there an arc we are following? Then I will score the first draft and get back in touch with the director to see if what I'm doing works with their vision. This might happen a few times, depending on whether or not I'm on the right track. Once I know what they want, I will produce the entire song. My last step is then looking at the finished cut and smoothing out all the essential details like transitions, the lengths of parts, fades, cuts, etc...

What kind of recording setup do you use?
I do all my work in Ableton Live 10, although it's not the industry standard. But it's the one DAW I know like the back of my hand and where I can work fast. The rest of my setup is elementary low budget home studio stuff: A Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface, an AKAI MPK Mini as my main Midi-Controller, and some cheap JBL 3 Series monitors (I forgot the exact name). The only thing I spent a lot of money on is a 2019 15" MacBook Pro with 32 GB of RAM, so the CUP won't die of exhaustion when I'm adding more and more tracks. Oh, and most of the sample libraries and software instruments I use were either free or very cheap!
I have to add that I'm a huge fan of DIY music and culture in general. So I'm the anti gear head.

What is different about making music for a video compared to just making music for music?
The most significant difference is what I touched on earlier: Music for a video has a different purpose than music for music. It has to serve the image. Figuring out what this means for a specific video is the trickiest part, but it's easier to write the music once this is done. In contrast: I have so many halves finished songs lying around that I wrote just for me, where I usually get lost in all the possible directions it could go. And it takes me forever to finish one of them.

How did you come up with the idea of the Ender Song in Offline?
This one was relatively easy and fun. Karsten told me he needed something for the credits/outtakes section at the end, and I asked him: How about some vintage soul-inspired stuff? I was also listening to a lot of Al Green, Otis Redding, and Curtis Mayfield at the time. He liked the idea, and I wrote the song.

Who played all the instruments?
I played and recorded everything live on that song. If you listen closely to the drums, you'll hear that they are a bit shaky and not tight. Same with the bass. But it works for this song.

What is the deal with the Almost Pretty Good band music video that was created?
Tommy had the idea of doing something like the Playing For Change videos, where people worldwide all jam to the same song and mix it. So we decided to use Come On Home since it's a Nitro Original and could also showcase our awesome horn section. I sent him a guide track, and he recorded the drums to it, then recorded the different parts to that drum track. I don't remember the exact order but something like bass & guitars, keys, horns, and vocals.
It was an enjoyable project since you can simulate playing with people without getting everyone together in one room, which was impossible this year.

What advice would you give someone looking to start making and recording their music on a low, low budget?
The only thing you need to spend money on is a computer. And it doesn't have to be a fancy MacBook. Just make sure it has enough RAM and storage for what you need. I chose a laptop because I travel a lot, but you can get a good and cheap setup using a desktop computer.

For hardware in general (mics, headphones, controllers, synths, guitars...): You can get all of that use. And flea markets hold hidden gems sometimes!

For software: Check if there's not an open-source or free version you can use. Audacity is a super powerful DAW and is free. I use tons of free sample libraries and plugins. Pro-tip: If you don't want to give your email address to receive a download link, use 10minutemail.com.

In terms of learning to use the stuff: Youtube is the King! There are so many great tutorials on any topic.

The most important thing about working on a budget setup: Use those limitations to your benefit! When I recorded the demo for the song Offline, I was at a friend's place and only had my laptop. I also had just broken my right elbow and couldn't play the guitar properly. So I just recorded something on a ukulele lying around with my laptop mic and then pitched this recording down an octave so that it would sound like a guitar. This all ended up sounding so cool that it became the main guitar in the finished song.

Where can people follow your work and find your music?
You can find my music on all streaming platforms under my name: Yves Ardelt. The Offline Soundtrack is on there, and CUADRO will be up in the coming weeks. If you type my name into YouTube, you will also find my channel. It's not huge, but there's some fun stuff there. And if you want to see music and moving image, check out my website: yvesardelt.com