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Deftones’ Vocal Chain: Non-conventional Ways to Make Artistic Sounds

One of the most famous bands of the 90’s, Deftones are known for its mix of heavy, and rhythmic riffs, and atmospheric and texturized use of samples, and different kinds of sounds to add an extra layer of immersion to their signature sound, paving the way with other bands such as Linkin Park, and Korn, to what would be later known as “Nu-metal”.

Their previous work, especially their two first albums Adrenaline (1995) and Around the Fur (1997), have a rawer sound in comparison with their latest work such as Diamond Eyes (2010), or Koi No Yokan (2012).

But in their sophomore album Around the Fur (1997), you can already notice they were beginning to gravitate towards experimentation and new ways to crate texture and atmosphere, one of the first signs that this form of experimentation would start to happen was the presence of Frank Delgado as player of keyboards, turntables and samples back in the day, first as a touring musician in 97’-98’, then hired as a band member in 1999 and still with the band nowadays.

But their taste for experimentation and use of different sounds wouldn’t limit itself just for the samples, keyboards and turntables. One of the key elements that would make Deftones’ sound so different from other bands, was vocalist Chino Moreno’s style for making melodies, singing, and creating immersion. Chino has natural talent for creating, eerie, sometimes almost scary sounding vocals, and at the same time having a heavy dose of emotion and melodic sense to it.

So much Chino had a unique style for vocals, some Deftones’ songs had a unique style for recording and production as well, which was the case with Around the Fur’s opening track, My Own Summer.

Some interesting facts about the vocal production and recording of that song, is that Chino didn’t use a condenser microphone, which is usually the standard for recording vocals in the studio, but instead Chino used a Shure SM-58, a handheld, dynamic microphone, usually used for live environments, and instead of headphones, Chino used a pair of Yamaha NS10s studio monitors, giving the original recording a lot of bleed from the monitors.

For the vocal chain, a lot of different things were used as well that gave the recording a really unique sound, such as a Casio four-track cassette pre-amp to give it a tape-saturated/distorted character to it, slap back delays, and other creative alternatives.

This and more information you can find on Chris Liepe’s full in-depth analysis of Chino’s vocal performance and vocal chain.

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