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Unpacked: Stardust 'Music Sounds Better With You' - Recreated with Loopcloud
4 Jul '2024
Learn the inner workings of a certified French House classic, as we use Loopcloud to recreate Stardust’s 'Music Sounds Better With You'
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Even if you weren’t born until the noughties, there is a sense of familiarity and nostalgia when you think back to the music of the 90s. One of the lasting musical milestones of this period is French House, Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You being a standout example.

 

 

 

 

Released in 1998, the track achieved huge commercial success, and despite being over 20 years old, remains a certified summertime anthem. From nightclubs to beach parties, weddings to prime-time radio, there are few scenarios where this track fails to instigate a mass singalong.

 

In this article, we’re going to dive into the composition of Music Sounds Better With You. We’ll also be creating our own remake of the track using Loopcloud samples and plugins. You can download a 14-day trial of Loopcloud now if you want to brush up on your French House production know-how.

 

 

Track History

 

You’ve almost certainly heard Music Sounds Better With You, but you might not know anything about the artists behind the masterpiece. The French House trio Stardust comprises of Alan Braxe, Benjamin Diamond and Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter. Prior to the conception of the track, Alan and Thomas had performed together at Rex Club, Paris. The need to fill in a gap in their improvisational sets led them to hunt through old records for potential samples.

 

 

 

 

After finding the demo of Chaka Khan’s 1981 track Fate, the pair hit the studio to work on the track. After sampling the first few seconds of the track and adding some vocals from Benjamin, Stardust performed the initial version of Music Sounds Better With You. They returned to the studio the following week to record and arrange the final version. Despite being released seven months into the year, the track was one of the UK’s best-selling singles of 1998 and topped the US Billboard Dance Club Play chart for two consecutive weeks. Below is our final Loopcloud version.

 

 

 

Breaking down Music Sounds Better With You

 

We’ve briefly touched on the foundation and creation of the track, but let’s dive deeper into its musical properties.

 

The Sample

As with many French House tracks, the crux of Music Sounds Better With You is a well-chosen and well-implemented sample that is looped throughout the track. In this case, the musical focal point is the opening guitar riff of Fate by Chaka Khan. It’s worth noting that the sample takes on a higher pitch due to being sped up, and doesn’t follow a perfect transposition due to being sped up on a turntable.

 

The sample was recorded into an Emu SP-1200 sampler, which is renowned for its gritty character and unique sound. While we can’t use the same sample in our recreation, and don’t have access to an actual SP-1200, we can achieve a similar sonic aesthetic using Loopcloud samples and plugins.

 

The drums

The drum beat in Music Sounds Better With You is a relatively simple Roland TR-909 drum pattern with a 4/4 kick pattern. Again, we don’t have a physical 909 here, but that won’t stop us from achieving the same sound with Loopcloud samples.

 

The bass

A Korg Trident was used to create the bass sound. Thankfully, it’s a relatively simple and repetitive bass sound that reinforces the track’s main riff. We can recreate this sound using one of the many Loopcloud PLAY bass presets.

 

The vocal

The initial live performance version of Music Sounds Better With You contained a full vocal that followed a traditional verse-chorus song structure. In an interview with DJ Mag, Alan Braxe explained that trying to incorporate full vocals into the track slowed down the production process.

 

In the end, the decision was made to strip the vocals right back and retain only the main vocal hook during the choruses. We won’t be re-recording the vocals here, but we can use Loopcloud’s Audio Filter to find a suitable vocal sample that matches the vibe and feel of the original.

 

 

How to Build a track like Music Sounds Better With You

 

We’re using Ableton Live for this track recreation, but you can use whichever DAW you’re most comfortable with. Aside from your DAW, the only thing you’ll need to execute this track recreation is a Loopcloud subscription. From just £5.99 per month, you can access over four million royalty-free samples and loops from any device. You also get the Loopcloud DRUM and PLAY plugins, which will be essential in this track recreation, plus much more.

 

 

1. Project tempo and key

We’ve set our project tempo to 124 BPM to match the speed of the original, and we’ll also be working in the key of D Minor. As we mentioned earlier, the melodic elements in this track don’t sit exactly at D Minor. For that reason, we’ll need to detune all melodic elements up by 30 cents in order to match the melodic and harmonic qualities of the original accurately.

 

 

2. Recreating the Chaka Khan sample

While we can’t utilise the sample that was used in the original track, we can emulate it using Loopcloud samples and plugins. Let’s start by opening an instance of Loopcloud PLAY, and searching for a preset that resembles the Rhodes-style sound in the sample. After searching for ‘keys’ in PLAY’s Store tab, we found the Dub & Lo-Fi Keys preset pack, which contains the Baked EPiano preset.

 

 

Within the Advanced tab, we’ve tightened up the Amp Envelope, reduced the Filter Cutoff amount and applied some Filter Envelope and LFO to give the sound some movement. We’ve also used the Lo-Fi effect module at the top of the Advanced tab to simulate the sound of the Emu SP-1200. The SP-1200 recorded at a sample rate of around 16kHz and a bit rate of 12-bits, so we’ve applied those settings here to achieve the same kind of gritty sound.

 

 

We’ve layered this with the Ease Piano preset from the Intro II Keys pack. 

 

The notes follow a simple chord pattern which repeats throughout the track. and are transposed up an octave for the Ease Piano preset.

 

 

One of the most crucial elements of the sample is the rhythm guitar. The plucked high notes not only help to reinforce the rhythm of the track, but work with the Rhodes sound to create a call-and-response effect. To achieve this, we’ve loaded the DF3_124_Dminotaur_Guitar_1 sample into our DAW’s sampler and drawn in a simple MIDI pattern, The pattern contains two strummed 16th notes at the end of every third and fourth beat within a bar with an additional note layered an octave higher.  We’ve also applied some overdrive to give the sound a bit more grit.

 

 

The final element of the sample is a buzzy lead sound which plays a legato E3 note. To recreate this, load a new instance of PLAY, and within the Intro II Synths pack, you’ll find the Ready Lead preset. We’ve slightly increased the amp’s Attack and Release times, and have applied the SP-1200’s Sample Rate and Bit Depth settings as we did with the Rhodes sound..

 

 

We’ve also stacked a note one octave above to give the sound more density.

 

 

In order to capture that classic French House sound, we’ve also grouped the melodic elements of the track and applied a phaser with a Rate of six beats, high Feedback and medium Mix amount.

 

3. The bass

Once again, we’re turning to PLAY to provide the bass sound. The Bass Coaster preset from the Medea Tech House Bass pack works well once you remove some of the high frequencies with a low pass filter. The bass pattern follows the root notes of the chords we used earlier.

 

 

4. The drums

For the drums, we’re using Loopcloud’s proprietary drum plugin. Loopcloud DRUM is the perfect tool for quickly loading high-quality premade drum kits into your DAW. Within the Store tab, you can search for suitable kits by Genres or Labels. In this case, the Flame Kit from our own Ignition House pack is a great starting point.

 

 

After loading the kit, we’ve opened the Kit Generator tab which allows us to swap out individual samples. As can be seen below, we’ve swapped the kick for something a bit fuller and rounder, and the clap for something shorter and tighter. We’ve also swapped the open hi-hat for a longer, brighter style.

 

 

The drum pattern is a basic house pattern with a kick on every beat, a clap on two and four, an eighth note closed hi-hat and an open hi-hat before the end of each bar. Notice that we’ve adjusted the closed hi-hat velocity to add some groove to the drums.

 


 

 

FAQs

 

Who made Music Sounds Better With You?

Music Sounds Better With You was made by Stardust, a French House trio comprising of Alan Braxe, Benjamin Diamond and Thomas Bangalter.

 

Is Stardust Daft Punk?

Stardust is a French House trio. One member of the band, Thomas Bangalter, is also one half of Daft Punk.

 

What song does Music Sounds Better With You sample?

Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust samples Fate  by Chaka Khan.