Ace Of Base – Happy Nation (Live Cover)

Sunday Synth Jam: This video, via Synt5, captures their live performance of the Ace Of Base track, Happy Nation.

Here’s what member Guillermo Caceres has to say about the arrangement and performance:

This is our live synth performance of the 1993 hit from Swedish act Ace of Base, composed by Ulf Ekberg and Jonas Berggren.

Every synth line has been transcribed note-by-note from the original arrangement and played live using a set of VCO, DCO, VA hardware and virtual synthesizers, along with a sampler for drums. We did not use any form of sequencing or sync through computers or MIDI.

This time we recorded live in a small studio to a very small audience as part of a synth workshop. Space was very limited, so we had to set up a circular pattern with the synths.

Starting with the Sixtrak and moving clockwise, gear list and synth players were:

Sequential Sixtrak – José Lucas – Main synth riff

Korg Microkorg, Roland Sp404 – Guillermo Caceres – Bassline, drum triggering

M-Audio controller – Gegê Teófilo – Korg M1 (Vst) voice pad & whistles

Arturia controller – Anderson Freitas – Korg M1 (Vst) electric piano chords

Roland Jx-10 Super Jx – Douglas Araujo – Saw pads

Yamaha An1x – George Frederick Marques – Saw pads, synthy chords

Backing vocals – Livia Fittipaldi

Lead vocals – Quésia Carvalho

We confess there have been a few omissions this time. Most notably, we didn’t do the male vocal parts in this one, as we ran out of microphones, recording channels and extroverted male candidates – but you can still hear some of us singing “we’re travelling in time” in the background. Feel free to sing along!

The drums were reconstructed from scratch on Reaper using mostly samples from the Roland R8mkII and Yamaha Ry-30, which were sought after drum machines around the year this song was produced. They were heavily processed with UAD stuff to get them punchier and closer to the original, and then chopped and bounced to .wav to be imported by the Sp-404.

The Sixtrak did an amazing job at recreating the main synth lead of this song. Despite the huge amount of stepping in its parameters, we were able to adjust the resonance and add just the right amount of filter feedback to achieve that sandy texture of the original sound. And then threw a ton of reverb over it.

The Microkorg has got the main bassline, though I must admit it is not 100% accurate. It has some notes missing here and there (I should probably stop getting so distracted trying to record videos and play those tiny keys at the same time…). For purists, in the original recording there was yet another synth line – a barely audible secondary bass layer playing semiquavers. We’ve decided to omit it in favour of clarity in the mix. As for those controllers… for the first time we had to break our vow to only use hardware synthesizers. Unfortunately we did not have our Korg M1 available anymore, so we had to go with the next best thing – the Korg M1 Vst – which sounded convincing enough for our purposes. Please forgive our heresy.

Both controllers were midi-chained to the VST using Reaper as a host. The patches for the epiano, voice and whistles were slightly edited versions of presets in the M1 library. The Roland Jx-10 resurrects once more to provide us with those unique low pads, intersecting with the An1x (which plays the high pads). The An1x also doubles the M1 E. piano chords with a synth layer.

Once more, please forgive the shaky cameras, some misspelled lyrics and the few misplaced notes, we were just having fun. Thank you for watching 🙂

8 thoughts on “Ace Of Base – Happy Nation (Live Cover)

  1. I am REALY enjoying your guys videos. This one and Rhythm is the Dancer are my two favorites. I’ve done that kind of “reconstruction from scratch” kind of thing myself. It’s tricky and time consuming but a lot of fun too. Here’s to seeing you guys do more great work and having more fun doing it!

  2. very impressive! Thanks for sharing!
    This song (and album) is the foundation of the new electronic music, if you consider that it was first´s Max Martin worldwide success. BTW, I would recommend the book “The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory” 🙂

  3. I’ve read that Denniz Pop kept a 106 in the Cheiron studio, so spent some time trying to re-create that intro line with mine. I was able to to dial it in, but not quite 100%. This version’s definitely respectable.

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