You might know the New Zealand indie electronic band The Naked And Famous from their 2010 hit single “Young Blood,” a shimmering tune that’s been listened to 88 million times on Spotify alone. But their sound is instantly recognizable across all three of their full-length albums: memorable synth melodies and vocal falsettos crescendo to anthemic, guitar-driven choruses.
How do they create such a unique sound? In part, from the plug-ins they use. In this interview, two of the band members (Thom Powers—vocals and guitars, Aaron Short—keyboards) share their favorite iZotope products and how they use them to produce The Naked And Famous’ songs.
Thom Powers: We owe the sound of the lead key line in "Young Blood" to Trash 2: The Wrecktifier fuzz setting has made its way onto countless TNAF recordings ever since. This same fuzz, on a milder setting, was also used to sharpen and elevate the lead key line during the chorus in our latest single, "Higher." I've even foregone traditional guitar techniques, treating a D.I. signal solely with Trash!
Aaron introduced me to iZotope ten years ago, and it’s been indispensable ever since.
Aaron Short: A favorite feature of Trash for us is its ability to run in Multiband mode. When distorting really big sounds, it’s important to be able to treat each frequency range separately as they all react so differently. When working with a whole drum buss for example, we would subtly apply Tape Saturation to the lows, Smooth Overdrive to the mids, and my favorite fuzz patch called Cracked Actress to the tops, all with a very gentle dry/wet mix (or sometimes stronger if we’re getting wild!).
“Young Blood” session by The Naked And Famous, using Trash 2 Multiband module
Aaron: Iris is another plug-in I’ve used when working on atmospheric/soundscape sounds. It originally caught my eye after seeing it in an Amon Tobin interview, explaining the use of spectral synthesizers as a great tool for sound design. Iris has a really unique look to it and was immediately fun to play with. My side project, Space Above, uses a lot of textural atmospheric sounds, and Iris plays a big part in that. It was also used on a couple of patches on TNAF's Simple Forms record, one of which being the track “The Runners.”
A favorite patch I have on it is actually taken from a field recording I got on the beach where waves were coming in and hitting thousands of big pebbles on the shore. It was this loud clattering chaos, but still a softness to it. After pulling it into Iris and filtering just the knock of the pebbles at a different speed, it gave me this completely unnatural unique sound, which is when I knew it was mission accomplished!