Grammy Award-winning electronic dance music producer and songwriter Dennis White, better known as Latroit, recently teamed up with L-Acoustics to create an immersive mix of his latest release, “Dance My Tears Away,” a collaboration with Australian singer Charlz.
Latroit mixed the song using L-Acoustics’ L-ISA Studio software at the company’s U.S. headquarters in California, which houses a facility outfitted for the company’s object-based spatial audio technology.
The song’s melody and lyrics were written seven years ago by Charlz after she experienced a loss in her life. “It shocked me in the heart, the first time I heard it,” says Latroit, who spent the next several years tinkering with the track, never fully satisfied that it relayed the song’s heartfelt underpinnings. After going through a life-changing event of his own in early 2021, he was more determined than ever to come up with a definitive version that would do the song justice. “Knowing how much that song meant lyrically,” he says, “I had to step up to the occasion musically and emotionally.”
As a newcomer to spatial audio in general, Latroit collaborated with L-Acoustics L-ISA engineer Carlos Mosquera on the immersive mix of “Dance My Tears Away.” It provided an optimized canvas for a song that had seen several remix iterations over the years and a project file rich in 72 tracks, offering numerous creative options. “When you have so many versions of a song, there are so many tracks that you can make full use of all the space and multiple speakers,” Latroit says.
The software can be operated from a touch screen. Latroit: “I instantly got it. The ability to work on a tactile interface made it really easy. L-ISA also has a visual component; you can see where things are in the room on the screen and manipulate them, and immediately hear them in real time. I’m quite a visual guy, so that was helpful.”
Along with L-ISA, L-Acoustics’ BluSpace standard is designed offers a match to human hearing response, arraying 13 speakers horizontally at 15-degree intervals in front of the listener with another five behind, 30 degrees apart, plus subwoofers and overheads. While there was plenty of experimentation in the mix process, Mosquera helped him keep things focused. “You get the possibilities immediately. But what takes a second — and Carlos was very patient with me — is the discipline. You’re in a kitchen with all the flavors that you like, but they don’t really go together all at once. Carlos and I discussed what would be interesting versus distracting.”
Latroit, an analog synth enthusiast, offers the example of one of his favorite mono analog synths, Pioneer DJ’s Toraiz AS-1, designed with Dave Smith Instruments, for its creative possibilities in the song. “You can only play one note at a time, so each note got its own track and its own space and place in the arrangement. One four-note chord has four tracks, so each note could be represented in a different place in the room. I get chills thinking about it,” he says.
After experimenting with different locations and environments for the lead vocal, he continues, “I ended up in a cathedral with Charlz as the voice of God. Her voice is clean in front of you and there is this cathedral wash behind you.”
Latroit credits his friend, Oscar-winning sound designer Mark Mangini, for influencing his approach to production. “I learned a lot from him. This is where I developed the narrative about the impact of technology with songwriting. Mark taught me a lot about how he tells stories with sound.”
“Dance My Tears Away” is released by Secret Technology, the imprint established by DJ, music supervisor and tastemaker Jason Bentley, former music director of NPR Southern California affiliate KCRW. Latroit and Charlz also collaborated on Secret Technology’s debut release in June 2020, a reimagined version of Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up.”
“Jason was the driving force behind this,” Latroit says. “It was his concept to do something with L-Acoustics that was interesting and fun.” A binaural version of the immersive mix of “Dance My Tears Away” is available on YouTube. The stereo mix of the song can also be found on all major streaming platforms, with release of an L-ISA Studio version mixed for Dolby Atmos in the pipeline. The song will be introduced at the upcoming DJ Expo in Atlantic City where attendees will have the opportunity to interact directly with the track in L-ISA Studio.
At the end of the mixing session, Latroit was able to experience the track in Island by L-Acoustics Creations, a 360-degree immersive sound lounge embedded with concert-grade loudspeakers. “Sound on this level is like an acoustic weighted blanket, ensconcing you and surrounding you and taking you into a different world. You hear with every part of your body. You hear and you feel. I’m excited about people experiencing this,” he says. “Thanks to L-Acoustics for making it possible; I’m honored and excited to be part of the first wave of artists to use the technology.”
L-ISA Studio software has been nominated for a 2022 NAMM TEC Award in the Outstanding Technical Achievement category. Find out more about it here.