A.Trentemøller – Yes! That Trentemøller

1. What is your favourite knob/switch/fader on a piece of gear?

The knobs on my Hohner String Melody II… I just love the colours…

Hohner String Melody 2

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?

I really like the sound of the drums on the Volca Beats , especially the kick drum, but I don’t like the snare . I would have loved one which was a bit more aggressive and snappy.

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?

Just my laptop, a midi keyboard, my Apogee Duet Duo and the JHS ColorBox v2 for warming up and EQ’ing softsynhs / hardwaresynths or to record bass or guitar through or re-amping . It sounds so great and it has XLR input for mic as well. Perfect!

JHS ColorBox v2

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?

I wish my Hughes Retriever could be emulated as a plugin, it has such a unique sound and I love the way it opens up the stereo image.

Hughes Retriever and racked friends

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?

A lot I regret buying, ha ha… lately the Yamaha Reface YC. It sounds like plastic and not in the good corny way… don’t know why I bought it.

Yamaha YC

I regret selling my Thermionic Culture Vulture, I didn’t use it enough, but sometimes I have experienced actually missing what it did. The plugin version is not sounding as good at all.

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?

I don’t have one specific thing, but it could actually be my upright piano that I have in my studio. It’s where most of my songs have been made. 

Oluf Pedersen upright piano… where the magic is made

I like to NOT sit in front of a computer, but instead using my ears and I love that the sound is coming from the instrument itself , not through speakers. It’s very intimate and I feel more focused on the songwriting rather than the sound. I also use it with the felt on, and I like that intimate sound it produces. 

Upright piano with hammers on felt

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?

A Mac not a PC. [Editor: Woah-ho! Easy now everyone. Let’s all be friends, ok?]

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?

My wireless Mac mouse . It loses the connection to Bluetooth ALL the time , and I tried different Mac mouses, same problem! And I just got a new MacBook Pro, so it shouldn’t happen… but it does!! It drives me crazy!!

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?

Playing with the reels on my Revox while recording. To give it a bit of wow / flutter here and there.

Revox B77 reel-to-reel

I actually had a controller specifically made for that one thing only.

Revox varispeed controller

Artist or Band name?

Trentemøller

Genre?

Indie / electronica

Selfie?

Anders Trentemøller 🤘

Where are you from?

Copenhagen. Denmark.

How did you get into music?

I started playing on all sorts of stuff, from pots and pans to toy pianos, from when I was 3 or 4 years old, and never stopped loving and playing music!!

What still drives you to make music?

I love the playful energy in it and the fact that I can create my own little musical world!

How do you most often start a new track?

At my upright piano.

How do you know when a track is finished?

It’s easier now, it was hard for me earlier. But I need to, still have that spontaneous vibe I had, when I started working on a song. It’s so easy to overproduce or overdo a track.

Show us your current studio

Trentemoller’s studio… knobs galore!
Trentemoller’s studio DAW setup

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Use your ears” and “There is no right or wrong way to do things!“

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.

Trentemoller – Obverse [Editor: Go listen now! Really]

[Editor: I gotta say it! I’m stupidly glad that Mr. Trentemøller has answered these ‘9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies’, on my tiny little 1 month old blog. It’s been a real pleasure to read about his gear and creative processes. If you have any of the gear he uses? Then leave a comment below]


Chris Petra – Ambient via metal & hiphop

1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?

Lyra 8

As of recently, the pitch knobs on the Lyra-8. They make the unit sound like it’s gearing up to combust, and they add such chaotic energy to whatever I’m working on. They’re also kind of destructive by nature since they’re nearly impossible to get back to the correct starting pitch without stopping what you’re doing and re-tuning. I both live in fear of and respect the pitch knobs on the Lyra-8.

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?

I would say the Multivox Multi Echo MX-201 is about as close to perfect as any of my gear comes. It sounds fantastic, and the whole unit is so aesthetically pleasing to look at. If I could change anything about it, I would probably make it a bit smaller and lighter, as it dominates my workspace when I have it out (which is almost always). 

Multivox Multi Echo MX-201

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?

OP-1, Koma Elektronik Field Kit FX, and a Zoom H4N are my go-to for when I’m away from my studio space. It’s a bit limiting, but like so many others, I really enjoy narrowing down my options sometimes. I’m also kind of obsessed with battery-powered gear, despite rarely being in a situation where I don’t have access to an outlet. 

OP-1, Koma Elektronik Field Kit FX, and a Zoom H4N

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?

I really wish that Native Instrument’s Maschine was a stand-alone unit. I love the software, but lately, I’ve been spending a lot less time in front of the computer so I find myself using it less and less. I don’t know if NI would ever consider doing it since I imagine the production cost would skyrocket, but it would really be a dream come true for me.

Native Instrument’s Maschine

It would be pretty cool if there was software capable of emulating a tape loop accurately. There’s a lot of great tape emulators out there, but I’ve never come across anything that really captures the sound of a tape loop specifically.

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?

I just sold my SP-404 a few weeks ago, and I’m already kind of wishing I hadn’t. I have to keep reminding myself that I love the idea of the SP-404, but in reality, I rarely found myself reaching for it.

Tascam PortaOne

I bought a broken Tascam PortaOne last year, and I totally regret it. To this day, I still have not figured out why it’s not working properly. I overpaid for it since at the time I was confident that all it needed was a belt change and some re-soldering, but I’m totally in over my head. 

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?

I would say I’ve put more miles on my Korg Minilogue than any other single piece of gear in my setup. Among many other things, I really love its onboard sequencer. It allows me to work fast and sketch out ideas without menu diving and getting too caught up in the technical stuff. The Minilogue as a whole is just so intuitive and intelligently designed, especially for its price point. 

Korg Minilogue

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?

I started out with a Tascam Porta02 and a Casiotone MT-540 and looking back, I don’t think I’d do it any differently. Having such a minimalist setup really forced me to get creative to find the sound I was looking for. Starting out with an OP-1 would have been pretty cool, though that would be quite the investment for my very first piece of gear.

Tascam Porta02

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?

I have an old reel to reel that I inherited from my grandfather that drives me a bit mad at times. Processing sounds through it really adds some beautiful warmth and flutter, but it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t designed for recording music. The master volume knob doubles as an input gain knob, and it doesn’t have a meter to monitor the input level. It takes me an unreasonably long time to get my levels correct when I use it, but the end result is always worth the frustration. 

Reel to reel

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?

When recording tape loops, I like to leave the front-facing half of the cassette off altogether. This allows me to physically mess around with the tape a bit, adding some really interesting artifacts and pitch fluctuations to the recording. 

Cassette tape loop on a Tascam 424

Artist or Band name?

Chris Petra

Genre?

Ambient / Experimental 

Selfie?

Chris Petra

Where are you from?

Long Island, New York

How did you get into music?

I started out playing tenor saxophone for the jazz band in grade school, then at around 13 years old I got my first electric guitar. I went on to play guitar for a Death Metal band in my late teens, then spent a number of years producing hip-hop.

What still drives you to make music?

The act of creating music has become very therapeutic for me. It’s also given me a sense of purpose that I’m not sure I would have found elsewhere. 

How do you most often start a new track?

I usually start out by working out a melody on whatever instrument I’m drawn to at the moment (most often my OP-1). I also keep a dictaphone in my car that I find myself humming ideas into from time to time. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

This might be what I struggle with the most. I’m currently working on an EP that is taking me an exceedingly long time to wrap up because I always find something I feel I need to adjust. 

Show us your current studio

Chris Petra Studio space

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Take any and every musical opportunity you can, no matter how big or small. 

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.

I’m currently working on a record, but in the meantime, I have two tape loop sample packs for free download on my Bandcamp. I also update my Instagram with little tape jams pretty regularly if you’re into that sorta thing!

https://chrispetra.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.instagram.com/chrispetra/?hl=en


Selsey – Dreamy Synthy Pop

1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?

The OP-1 crank. It’s just so loveable!

Cranking the OP-1

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?

For me, it’s the OP-1. It’s a minimalist’s dream because it can do everything – drums, melody, bass, all the layers – in such an intuitive way. I’d make it fully MIDI compatible so I could integrate it into my Ableton workflow somehow; I’d make the keys touch sensitive; I’d give it 2.5 octaves instead of 1.5; and I’d give it a sustain pedal. Dream machine.

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?

On a trip, I try to keep it light:

  • Nuraphones
  • OP-Z
  • OP-1
  • SP-404 (sometimes / for longer trips)
Travel music kit

To play a show, it’s more complicated! I add to that:

  • Yamaha Reface DX
  • TC- Helicon Perform VK
  • Shure Super 55
  • Zoom H6 as a mixer
Live music setup

I don’t have a commute, but if I did, I’d consider just bringing my OP-Z.

Teenage Engineering OPZ

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?

Arpeggios are my favorite musical tool. I really wish you could get the superfine arpeggio controls you have in Ableton on a hardware synth. And as a non-drummer, I would love to find a software drum loop maker as intuitive to me as the OP-1’s finger mode.

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?

I bought the Midi Fighter Twister in the hopes of using it to make layered live loops with my iPad the way @KelbyKryshak does, which is totally awesome🤘. I soon realized that I don’t like using apps in my workflow – I think it somehow takes me out of the moment. I’m hanging onto it because I haven’t ruled out making a custom setup for it in Ableton, but that might prove to be more of a challenge than I’m willing to take on. Also, I have the Push 2, so I’m not yet sure what function or value the twister would add to that setup.

Midi Fighter Twister and Olympus camera

I’m kind of an aspiring minimalist, so it’s very possible that at some point soon I’ll say goodbye to it.

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?

The obvious answer is my OP-1 – it gave me an explosion of creativity around learning basic music production techniques with drums and basslines and everything. However! My Reface DX has been my constant companion and workhorse in songwriting. First of all, it’s a joy to play.  The touch sensitive keys feel great, with smooth action. And as I am working through the hardest parts of identifying and defining melodies and chord progressions,  it is the perfect companion for me because its keyboard is small and manageable, while being big enough to play bass notes and chords at once. And the voices are so evocative and inspiring.

Selsey’s songwriting setup: Reface DX, OP-1, typewriter, and sake

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?

It’s between the OP-1 and the Reface DX. The OP-1 for its all-in-oneness, and the DX for its beautiful sounds, relative portability, and space-pianoness.

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?

My SP-404. The sticky buttons kill me (the phat pads I want are on backorder!), and sampling loops into it is such a pain. I love it to death, but at some point I wouldn’t rule out upgrading to a more robust modern sampler like the Octatrack.

Rolabnd SP404SX

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?

The sequencer on the Casio-PT 30 is amazing. You can program it with a melody, and then push one of two “One Key Play” buttons to activate the notes one by one. So when you play it, it’s like you’re playing a solo, but it’s almost impossible to fuck up. You can see me do this in my cover of White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes, around the 1 minute mark: https://www.instagram.com/tv/Bs3KEAyH3k8/. I wish so hard that the OP-1 could do this.

Casio-PT 30 and OP-1

Artist or Band name?

Selsey

Genre?

Bedroom Synthpop

Selfie?

Selsey herself

Where are you from?

Northern California, but I currently live in Hong Kong.

How did you get into music?

Folk singer songwriters in high school got me inspired to pick up a guitar – Iron and Wine, Feist, Regina Spektor, Bright Eyes, Ray Lamontagne, that type of artist. I also learned classical and a bit of jazz piano in high school. Recently, I got really into making dawless synthpop after falling in love with the OP-1 at the MoMA Design Store in New York. I started making videos for Instagram and, well, here I am!

What drives you to make music?

  1. I relish the challenge of learning songwriting and producing music. Sometimes it’s torture but the payoff is addictive.
  2. The community on Instagram has been really warm and kind. People have created a place you really like to hang around.
  3. I just love singing and making music, so I can’t help but want to do it.

How do you most often start a new track?

I am only now learning how to use Ableton (my first DAW), so I’ll talk about my songwriting process instead. I sit down with my Reface DX, my typewriter or a notebook, and my phone to record snippets. I play chords randomly and vocalize until I hear something I like. Record it. Wash, rinse, repeat. Along the way, I try to get a sense of which snippets are more verselike or more chorus-like. Eventually I will have enough snippets to form a song. Then, I write the words, which is the hardest part.

[Editor: Yeah, lyrics are alwyas a huge pain]

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the words don’t make me cringe too hard; when every section feels like it’s part of the whole; and when the transitions between parts are not too awkward.

Show us your current studio

Selsey Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

You’ll suck at first. Keep going.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.

I have a few things in the works. But for now, head to my Instagram to see some of the stuff I’ve done!

https://www.instagram.com/selsey._/


Michael Hell – Minimalist Conjuring

1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?

I think this is a toss up between the fader on the Octatrack and the magnetic encoders on the OP-Z, they both feel great on their own terms so I would say both.

Octatrack Fader and OPZ encoders

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?

The OP-Z is great and I think it is almost perfect. The big one is of course the hardware itself. I am currently having lots of issues with miss triggering and double triggers and it’s getting a bit annoying tbh and of course I hear people having issues with warpage of the OP-Z itself and popping encoders. On a lighter note, I would love to have the tonic drum engine (from PO-32) in the OP-Z as well, then it would be perfect.

Teenage Engineering OPZ

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?

I think it might be obvious by now…. OP-Z.

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?

I would love to have OrcΛ in hardware form, I just dreamt of a hardware device similar to Polyend tracker, but instead of a tracker for sequencing it’s OrcΛ.

PolyEnd Tracker

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?

I miss my Moog Minitaur a lot actually, the bass that thing churns out is staggering. I also miss the MPC Live at times, it was a really nice partner with the OP-Z. But I found the workflow really boring tbh

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?

OP-Z for sure. I love how you can twist and bend a sequence with it.

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?

Octatrack, It’s just a stream filled with possibilities.

Elektron Octatrack

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?

The SP-404 I love the thought of it, but I hate using it, but I don’t want to sell it. One day I will truly master it! and I also feel like i should enjoy Eurorack a lot more, but I’m actually on the fence about selling all my Eurorack. I’m really down with minimalism. Ohh and the keys on the Arturia Keystep are atrocious, but that little thing is so damn handy.

[Editor: I had the SP404 years ago and sold it coz I just didn’t use it enough. Then I just got the SP404sx model with sd card. It’s strangely a lot more useful. Dunno why]

Roland SP404

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?

Octatrack and QY70 go really well together. The standard midi template on the Octatrack corresponds with the midi implementation of the QY70. So basically you just have to connect them via midi and then start p-locking parameters without even setting up the CC’s. Also realizing that the midi implementation on the MPC Live is actually fantastic once you connect the devices with both midi in and out. the MPC reads all the midi CC settings so you can automate everything on the machine. its pretty incredible tbh.

Octatrack with Yamaha QY70

Artist or Band name?

Grååskala or Graaskala for you non nordics Genre? IDM…. i guess… Glitch… Maybe?

Micheal Hell

Where are you from?

Märsta outside of Stockholm. Currently living in the north of Sweden with wife and family.

How did you get into music?

Played piano and violin as a kid (briefly) but really connected with music through a friend who was doing troubadour gigs at the age of 21. Learned to play guitar and sang to that. Then I went on to study music as a vocalist for two years. Played in bands and such as a vocalist. Got into the electronic hardware thing just a couple of years back, when I wanted to get back into music, but didn’t have anyone to play with… so basically I made a one man band.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s a stress relief thing, I just love disappearing into music. Plus I have a primal need for creating stuff, I guess that’s why i became an engineer by trade so that i can always be in the process of creation.

How do you most often start a new track?

Drums. Almost always drums.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Through my work I’ve learned to adapt to the phrase “good enough”. I know a track is ready when I feel like I have a structure in it or rather a story, there’s almost always imperfections in my recordings, but I chose to honor it instead of shunning it.

Show us your current studio

I’m not a collector in any sense. I have a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy and I strive towards having a streamlined workflow and most importantly FUN. So this is what I’m playing with currently.

Michael’s studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

On the subject of writer’s block Björk stated something in her Reddit AMA that really resonated with me. TL;DR don’t force your creativity.

“I think creativity always lives somewhere in everyone, but its nature is quite pranksterish and slippery and every time u grab its tail, it’s found a new corner to thrive in. Perhaps the trick is not to force it and put it up against a wall and want it to be in a particular area. But rather with a lot of kindness sniff it out and wonder where it has gone to this time around. If its in sauce recipes , writing theater plays , paper-mache improv with nephews, discovering new hiking routes or simply trying to figure out a family members sense of humour . I definetly don’t succeed in this all the time, but feel overall things have been more fertile when I trust this creatures instincts and follow it, rather than me willfully reforming it into a circus animal colouring by numbers”.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.

Well it’s not new by any sense, but it is my latest, my OP-Z only album released on Golfshoe Music. Straight stereo recordings of performances, with imperfections and all.

Thanks for having me! Stay safe and creative folks!!