Frank Pedersen – EuroCrack Soundscapaydor

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

From eurorack modules, I really like the white knobs on Vermona and the keys on the NerdSeq is just fantastic. Both Modules have a good build quality. Also the patch cables from Instruo and Vermona I really enjoy using because they are great quality.

NerdSeq tracker sequencer in the center of the picture

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

Well yes, but mostly no 😉 I primarily use eurorack, so there is always coming and going modules in my system, but that’s a big part of the fun in eurorack, at least for me. Last year I bought around 140 -150 modules and sold maybe around 100. I cleaned out a lot and tried getting rid of the modules that didn’t fit my workflow and purpose. I’m currently down to 1750 HP which I feel is a good size for my home studio. [Editor: May I, on behalf of all the readers, say ‘Woa!’]

FourMulator from Vermona

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

Holidays?? For Modular meet-ups I used to carry a medium and a large flightcase, plus a big backpack with cables, but it turned out I damaged my back by carrying this. So for the time being i’m down to a 60 HP case from 4MS. I think I will get the Intellijel Palette soon though. It seems to have a good size for a small backpack.

My first homemade flight cases. The small one was used for a Mother32 and a few modules

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

Orca from Hundredrabbits. It can run on Monome Norns, but the display is small and it’s not eurorack. I would really like a dedicated hardware module with a large screen for that. I don’t wish for any modules to become software.

Orca from Hundredrabbits

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

Yeah a lot of things.. Roland TR8s was surprisingly awesome, and I regret selling it. (Did you know that you can multitrack record the channels on the TR8’s directly to your DAW with usb. It’s quite awesome, most synth boxes just pop up as a Stereo Master). Hermod and Pyramid from Squarp, OTO BAM, Orthogonal Devices ER-301. And of course all my 12 Amiga’s I had through time. I really wish I still had them all. Regrets from buying, sure, lots. There will always be many regrets when buying eurorack modules no matter how well you research modules. Period!

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

It’s kinda of weird, but I was fascinated by RF noise since I where a kid. For space sound textures I like the CW-upper sideband and CW-lower sideband the most. Running it thought various filters never disappoints me. Lately I’ve been “resynthesizing“ it through Panharmonium, and it can create some crazy wicked sounds, as well as nice random melodies.

Panharmonium from Rossum (picture taken the day I got it)

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

From standalone synths I would most likely buy Syntrx from Erica Synth and Tracker from Polyend. On eurorack modules I would start with what I know is good for me. NerdSeq, Trident, Panharmonium, and various standard modules. I have a long list in my head 🙂

Trident from Rossum

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

Besides the obvious; my computer. Then it is the Clouds and Rings. I currently don’t have either, but I have a Rings on the way again 🙂

Samsung 49” 32:9

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

I guess it is what I mentioned before. Any RF noise from an AM radio and the Panharmonium or just some nice filters. Wasp and Belgrad are great for this.


Artist or Band name?

Franksemi

Genre?

Interstellar soundscapes & ambient

Selfie?

Uffff.. but ok

Franksemi

Where are you from?

Denmark, Northern Jutland, Countryside. Raised by my Grandparents.

How did you get into music?

My uncle was teaching me how to play guitar every Sunday afternoon from when I was around 6 years old. But I lost interest in that after a while and somehow I also managed to break the guitar in half.. I don’t remember how and why, but I most certainly remember making up a cover story, so that my Grandparents would not get angry at me 😀 I can’t believe they fell for the story. I put the guitar back together as good as I could and placed it between some heavy wooden boxes so that it looked like the boxes had fallen and broken it… haha 🙂 Then I moved on to bass, and then tried drums for a bit. I also got tired from that pretty fast. Then when I was 13, the Amiga popped up and I was hooked on Protracker for some years. Later I got access to a 303 and borrowed a 606 for a while. Then it was mostly software for many years and next a 15 year break from making any music. Three years ago I split up with my x-girlfriend after many years together, and I needed to do something creative again, so I started building my first Eurorack flight case. And from there I started with Eurorack which was something I wanted to do for years.

My third homemade modular flight case

What still drives you to make music?

I don’t know if what I make is considered music, at least not in a traditional way. I would just categorize it as making space soundscapes & textures for my own personal meditative pleasure, and that is really what drives me. That and making something creative, which I have always done one way or another. I always imagine myself how I would enjoy these sounds while leaving this solarsystem in a spaceship. Plainly put; sounds for space travel. But I also think of it as kind of alien communication that I am still trying to learn. Sometimes I would call it ‘Sound Design’ but that’s probably a stretch 🙂

How do you most often start a new track?

I just start a new patch and see what happens.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I never finished a ‘real track’, at least not for many years. I often just make patches and let it run for a couple of nights, sometimes a week or more. I like falling asleep to that, instead of just putting on some random DI stream etc. Most of time I don’t even bother to record it, cuz it is too much of a hassle and I often have problems with getting the levels right etc. But sometimes I put a small video clip on Instagram, but not so much anymore.

Show us your current studio.

Franksemi’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

When I was in Art academy in Kolding 25 years ago, I had a teacher that told me that the best art is always something you made 20 years ago. That was funny back then, cuz I asked if he meant, that I made art like a 5 year old. But no, seriously, depending on how you will interpret it, I think this can apply to music as well. I will let you think upon that for yourself.. 🙂

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

You are very welcome to follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/franksemi/

[Editor: Eurorack modules: Too much or Never Enough? Leave a comment… but be nice 🙂 ]


Jens Paldam – Buchla Buddy

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

Turing Machine by Music Thing Modular

Here I am on the same blog as Tom Whitwell (Editor: Read his answers to ‘9 Odd Questions’ here) and I must mention his Turing Machine. It is one of the most brilliant modules out there and the knob that sets the balance between random and looped is nothing short of genius in all its simplicity. I have it sitting right next to Mutable Instruments Marbles (though I have owned the original, I currently use the Antumbra CARA version to save precious hp). Marbles is another brilliant module that expands on the core idea from the Turing Machine. The two of them are often patched together in a feedback loop that forms the foundation of many of the patches I create.

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
The Buchla Multi-dimensional kinesthetic input port model 223e is somewhere between a keyboard and a sequencer. It is extremely playable. With it, one never runs out of control voltage sources. You can dial in the CV value for each key, so any scale or tuning system can be applied. The one thing that would be great was if the CV value wasn’t restricted to whole numbers, since the note I am trying to reach often lies somewhere between two whole numbers :/

Buchla Multi-dimensional kinesthetic input port model 223e

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
I usually bring my Buchla Skylab case. I have this nice soft bag for it and it can be packed while patched up.
There is always some programming of the 223e I can do, something that is nice to do away from the distractions of my other studio gear.

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
I worked with several hardware samplers over the years, but with the software sampler HALion from Steinberg I thought I had found my main sampler. When I started using modular hardware, I stopped using samplers all together, but about a year ago, I got hold of an Assimil8or from Rossum Electro Music. Though it might not be as comprehensive as a software sampler like the HALion or Native Instruments Kontakt, it has some great features that makes it an amazing tool in a modular context, like sampling of CV, phase modulation, scrub and shuttle, CV control over bit depth and aliasing. It is an amazing module.

Assimil8or by Rossum Electro Music

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I had a TR-808 that I sold some 15 years ago for about 1000 euros. I don’t really miss having it, since I hadn’t lived in Detroit in the eighties and wasn’t amongst those who had thrown their love on a discarded second hand machine, using it to realize their dream of changing the world through a unique vision of how the future should sound, but I regret not holding on to it for a little longer because now it is worth three times what I sold it for. Basically, I am on the lookout for something that is unique for my time and can help me achieve something with the same level of originality as the 808 and the techno created by the maestros from Detroit.

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
Sorry for the predictable and boring answer, but probably just modular gear in general. When patching, I can “invent” my own instrument particular to whatever track that I wish to create. This description might also apply to other types of gear or software, but with modular, everything starts like an experiment. It is to me, infinitely more inspiring and creative than choosing a software instrument and then browse through and modify the presets until I find a sound I like.

Jens Paldam’s Eurorack Modular

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
Modular hardware, like maybe a Doepfer system. Learning about modular is learning about the elements of electronic music in the right order. When I got my first modules, working with music software suddenly felt like a flight simulator compared to modular, which is like being in the cockpit of a real airplane 🙂

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
Not sure that I have any gear that annoys me. The one thing I can think of is the Rossum Control Forge. It is in every sense an amazing module – it takes the concept of the Buchla MARF to the next level. But since it is so advanced, I often have to reach out for the manual, so I guess that is one of those “good problems”.

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

Roman Filippov Buchla 208 Clone

I have a Roman Filippov Buchla 208 Clone. I absolutely love the way it sounds, and wouldn’t change it for a “real” Buchla 208, even if I got paid to do it, but one thing that bothered me was that I didn’t have control over the envelope section’s attack and decay, that was until a friend of mine pointed out that patching CV into the ‘from prog‘ and ‘to prog‘ does exactly that.


Artist or Band name?
Jens Paldam

Genre?
Leftfield

Selfie?

Jens Paldam in his happy place

Where are you from?
Aarhus, Denmark

How did you get into music?
I started playing the guitar when I was seven.

What still drives you to make music?
I can’t stop. I love it. I once asked myself the essential question: What is it you want? Do you want to put your efforts into making a name for yourself or do you want to put everything into making music that gives your listeners an experience? You might think that the two are not mutually exclusive, but he who chases two rabbits rarely catches one – as the Japanese saying goes.

How do you most often start a new track?
I make a field recording somewhere and get an idea. Other times, an experiment on the modular becomes the foundation of a new track.

How do you know when a track is finished?
When it starts to feel done, I let it sit for a while without listening to it. That is the only way I can come close to that valuable fresh ears experience.

Show us your current studio
Here is a photo of the bulletin board I have above my studio desk. I often look at it and let my thoughts drift while listening to a track I am working on, so the content changes frequently.

Mood board of meditating modular mind

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
My YouTube channel is youtube.com/jenspaldam

But I also think you should do yourself a solid and check out Chris Cutler’s excellent podcast series “Probes”… I learned so much from it.

[Editor: Thx Jens. If anyone else has a great resource on leftfield sounds and experimental music, then leave a comment]


Gustav Rasmussen – Synthing The Horn

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

AMT Expression Pedal

I would say my mission engineering expressionator + my expression pedal. A lot of the time, I use my hands to make music, so having a knob under my foot is super useful. And with the expressionator, I can use the same expression pedal for a number of different pedals, and on top of saving space on my board I can use it on several pedals at once. For me the expression-pedal is so important because I can play around with a lot of different musical parameters while I am playing – so it gives me a great connection between the acoustic and the electric.

Mission Engineering Expressionator

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

Trombone

My trombone. The sound is wonderful and it’s in great condition even though it’s pushing 60 years old now. If it doesn’t break in some way, I will still be playing it in 60 years time 🙂 However: the one thing I would change is to implement some kind of pickup system. It is a constant work-in-progress scouring the internet, talking to other horn players etc. and I have tried a number of systems (clip-on mics, piezo-pickups soldered to the mouthpiece, practice mutes with microphones) but they usually fail in either sounding crappy acoustically or not being well suited for effects. I’ll continue searching and cross my fingers that one day, I’ll have a true electronic trombone.

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

Trombone, Zoom H6 and a MacBook

Zoom H6 + a few instruments & my macbook. The zoom H6 is brilliant because of it’s size and versatility: I can do field recordings, use it as an audio device and record into a DAW, using stereo mics or whatever I have on hand.

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

Eventide Physion

Eventide Physion plug-in is a brilliant tool for changing the texture of an instrument. It separates the audio signal into transients and tonal parts – take away the attack of a piano, get a randomly stuttering horn sound – etc. and since I mainly work with acoustic signals, this can really change the sound of the instruments into something unexpected and unique.

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

I am pretty un-sentimental when it comes to instruments and gear: if it’s useful and inspiring to me I’m happy, and if it ends up unused in the corner, then someone else may as well enjoy it. Having said that I almost sold the very first pedal I ever bought – a Boss Turbo Overdrive (OD-2) a couple of years ago but thought twice because, of course, it’s still a great pedal. I saved up for it over 20 years ago, in high school and it was the beginning of a new world for me.

A classic Ibanez Tubescreamer

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

My computer. Studio-quality recordings in the bedroom, weird processing, layering of sounds etc etc. – the fact that I have all this at my fingertips still gives me a surge of amazement and joy every time I do it.

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

A 4-track cassette recorder. Simple to use, but infinitely inspiring – and it would have put me on track (!) towards composing my own material much sooner.

Tanberg 3000X

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

My trusted TC Helicon Voicelive pedal. A large fellow, that I really only use for one thing: harmonizing. My main instrument (trombone) only produces one note at a time, so it is an endless thrill for me to add extra notes – do a keyboard part, play a nicely voiced chord etc. It really opens up the spectrum of what is possible on my instrument. Basically I can program it to produce 4 new notes depending on what note I play – so way beyond just adding notes of a scale. And precisely this feature means that I cannot live without it. Quite annoying, because it is noisy, clunky and heavy. Please, someone make a small pedal that does just that and I’ll have room for loads more stuff on my pedal board 😉

TC Helicon Voicelive

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

Recently while I was working on the recordings of my indie-tronica choir project “Ghost Coast Choir”. I got some really cool distortion out of playing around with side chain compression. I basically set the attack and release time to very fast and the compressor just didn’t know when to grab the audio. The fluctuating digital distortion I got out of that was completely unpredictable and a sound I would never have gotten otherwise. 

Logic Pro X and C1 Compressor

Artist or Band name?
The KutiMangoes, Ghost Coast Choir.

Genre?
Afro-beat, post-classical indie-choir/ambient/experimental.

Selfie?

Where are you from?
Copenhagen, Denmark.

How did you get into music?
Started playing the trumpet as a 7-year old. Then messed around on a lot of different instruments growing up, and this really shaped my musical development, in the way that I’m more interested in the music than the instrument.

What still drives you to make music?

The desire to communicate with sound. The way music can make me feel certain things, swallow me up in whole worlds or surprise me, is a constant motivation, and to not only be in the receiving end, but changing it around and having my music affect the listener in all sorts of ways is a great joy.

How do you most often start a new track?
Any inspiration will do. Often I use some kind of technical issue to start me up like “let’s explore a new effect, certain mode of playing or plug-in” – and this then takes me to new places. For me it needs to feel new, so I don’t resort (too much) to the tried and true.

How do you know when a track is finished?
To me it’s a matter of trying to listen to it as if you’ve never heard it before and register your own reaction to it. When you work deeply with a track you can lose sight of how it communicates, because your mind is focused on technical stuff on many levels. But being able to take a step back and just listen is really crucial.

Show us your current studio

Gustav Rasmussens Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Accept that you keep on feeling like a beginner – even after 20 years. Every time you create something it feels as if you are re-inventing your own work process. In other words: it never feels like another day at the office – when you create something new you start from scratch. Every time.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
Kutimangoes.com / ghostcoastchoir.com

[Editor: It is refreshing to read about an audio-fx obsessed player, whose main instrument isn’t electric guitar or keyboard. Know any other timbral explorers playing others instrument? Suggestions are welcome in the comments]

Kumie – Battery Powered Fun

1.  Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?
Currently, I love the buttons on the Elektron Digitakt. I’m not a gamer, but in the past couple years, I have gotten super into mechanical keyboards. The Digitakt’s keys have that same feel.They have such a satisfying click and light up quite nicely. They aren’t velocity sensitive, but I actually don’t miss that feature on the device.

Elektron Digitakt
Elektron Digitakt

2.  Do you have an _‘almost’_ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
The OP-Z is sooooooo close to being perfect for me. It’s tiny, portable, the synth engines are solid, it samples, the step components and performance effects are a blast, and the encoders are a close second for favorite knob/fader/switch. But, the sampling could be better. In a perfect world, it would have a little more memory to store samples in a bank the way the Digitakt does. Then using the OP-Z app, I could access and load them for a given project. I’d also make some tweaks to how it sends MIDI because right now lots of crazy things happen when I try to control other hardware.

IMG_1189.HEIC
Teenage Engineering OPZ

3.  What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
The OP-Z is with me, always. Though, I did just get a Roland MC-101, so I may start carrying that around too.

IMG_1193.HEIC
Roland MC-101 and Teenage Engineering OPZ

4.  What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
I wish there was something a little more Ableton-like in the hardware world in the $500 range. Looping pedals are nice and in the moment, but not good (in my mind) for planning and arranging finished songs. And, most other samplers I have seen are a little half baked in the loop/slice/time stretch department.

5.  Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I am a gear hoarder. I hate selling things. I just put them in cold storage until something inspires me to use them again. For example, I got a Yamaha QY70 the summer of 1997. I used it for a couple years, then got really into Reason and Logic and never touched it. About a year ago, I was inspired by someone else’s Instagram post to pull the QY70 out and use it to sequence other gear. Turns out, it is the perfect companion to the Volca line.

IMG_1092.HEIC
Yamaha QY70 and Korg Volca Drum

BUT, there is one device that I bought and hated so much that I returned a day later: The Boss DR-202 Dr. Groove. I got it around the time it was released. I had this fantasy that it would be my core groove production tool. It wasn’t. Sounds were meh, sequencer was meh, even the buttons were pretty meh.

6.  What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
I spent about 7 years barely making music even though I had Ableton Live and Reason just sitting loaded on my computer waiting to be used. I just could not get excited about sitting down with a mouse and staring at a screen for fun after staring at one for work all day. Then, the OP-Z came out and thought that maybe it was time to give hardware a try again, which led me to all sorts of other battery-powered music-making devices. It’s exciting to be able to just turn a device on and start instantly making beats and sequences. 

IMG_0942.HEIC
OPZ with iPad app and Volca Drum

7.  If you had to start over, what would you get first?
Even though bang for your buck answer would be an iPad (so many good music apps), I’d start with hardware. Since I love grooveboxes so much, that would be my starting point. Maybe one of the recent Electribes or a Novation Circuit. Or, of course, an OP-Z.

8.  What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
Ableton Live. It is really hard for me to stay focused on a piece of software, but it is just so essential for finishing tracks.

9.  Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
It wasn’t really a surprise, but the most welcome technique I have found in recent hardware (like the Digitakt, OP-Z, and Volca Drum) is parameter locking. It opens so many creative possibilities.


Artist or Band name?
Kumie

Me.jpg
Scott Kumis

Genre?
Soundtracks for sci-fi stories that don’t exist

Where are you from?
Currently, Northern Virginia

How did you get into music?
I started taking drum and percussion lessons in the 5th grade and kept going from there.

What still drives you to make music?
It’s an itch that just needs to be scratched. One of the only places in my life where I can fully focus on something for hours without the urge to check my phone or surf the web.

How do you most often start a new track?
Drums are my original instrument. So things almost always start with a beat.

How do you know when a track is finished?
I’ll let you know when I figure that out.

Show us your current studio
It’s a bit of a mess now as it doubles as my office for telework and also a closet.

IMG_1191.HEIC
Scott Kumis’ studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Make as much art as you can, no matter how bad. The more you create without holding back, the better you get over time.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
You can fine me in a few places here: https://kumiemusic.com/kumie-links/

[Editor: Hey, anyone else got a good battery powered setup? Using PowerBanks? SolarPanels? HamsterWheel Generator? Leave a comment]

Tuesday Night Machines – On a Sunday

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

I have a weird fixation with the data wheels on Akai’s MPC 500 and MPC 1000. They’re not really high quality components or feel nice to the touch, but they’re essential to operating those devices efficiently and in my opinion the designers did a great job of integrating them into the software and general MPC workflow. They’re just so quick and easy to rotate and the software reacts so snappily to their motion … it’s a delight.

Akai MPC500

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

AE Modular

This always depends on the situation or musical context, but I’ve been very impressed by the AE Modular synth format and how it developed over the past two years. It’s a fully featured modular synthesizer, which is relatively small and portable and costs only a fraction of a Eurorack system. I’ve dreamed of a system like this ever since I delved into the modular synth rabbit hole ten years ago and it seems that it has finally become reality … at least for my tastes and requirements.

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

Akai MPC 500 and YouTuber’s toes

I love making music while on vacation or when commuting. The iPad has worked for me greatly as a mobile music workhorse ever since its inception and I always carry it with me and do something musical with it. Sometimes it’s too much like a computer though, meaning that it can distract me with its internet access, notifications, etc. So, especially for vacations, I like to bring other pieces of gear as well, which run on USB power bank power, which is easy nowadays, even for devices requiring a 12V supply, thanks to cheap and efficient step-up adapter cables. Last year I re-bought the aforementioned MPC 500 and created a full album with it during a three week camping vacation. For this year I’m planning to take my freshly modded TI-82 calculator with Houston Tracker 2 and maybe even a Gotharman Little Deformer 3. I have also enjoyed Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 (obviously), the Bastl Microgranny 2 and BitRanger, a Gameboy Advance Micro with LSDJ and various other bits. Somehow, I can concentrate on music best when I’m on vacation and I get the most finished tracks out of those periods of time.

TI-82 calculator with Houston Tracker 2

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

Lumen! It’s a really cool analog-style video synth for macOS with MIDI control, which I would really love to have as a standalone and affordable hardware device. Maybe I can snag a Critter & Guitari ETC at some point, which seems close.

Lumen video synth

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

I’m not into vintage synths or rare gear, so I’ve not regretted selling stuff so far, because I could always just buy it again if I wanted to. However, I’m in the heaviest music studio downsizing phase I’ve ever had right now and I might run the risk of finally regretting a thoughtless sale after all. I sometimes get this “reverse GAS”, which makes me feel unattached to all my gear, so I end up selling things left and right. After those phases though, there has always been something new to be acquired and tried out with the new funds. It’s a journey and I enjoy it.

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

Ciat Lonbarde

While it was not the “most” music I made, my recent foray into Ciat Lonbarde instruments, like the Cocoquantus, Sidrax Organ and Plumbutter, very much inspired me. Those instruments are incredibly well designed for spontaneous, electric forest ambient music live-patching sessions.

Linnstrument and inspiration

Apart from that, I also like to play an MPE synth with the Linnstrument and have the Bastl Thyme or Mooer Ocean Machine attached as audio effects. Somehow this simple setup is an instant relaxation tool for me. I could press, slide and wiggle my fingers for hours on this rubbery control surface and drown in the looping ambient delay and reverb sounds coming through my headphones.

Linstrument and Mooer Ocean Machine

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

I think I might try a larger hardware music workstation, like the MPC X and then get some cheap and small gadgets to sample.

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

Axoloti DSP DIY

I’ve kept a few of my DIY synths for way too long. They took too much space and I hardly used them anymore, yet I couldn’t let go of them. Especially the Axoloti platform is like a drug to me sometimes. It’s so easy to prototype and build synth, sampler and sequencer ideas with it, but all of the sudden you have eight of those DSP boards and a drawer full of wooden boxes which might work as enclosures, electric components and cheap USB MIDI controllers. Still, the Axoloti is one of the most empowering electronic music experiences for me. Making your own hardware instruments from scratch is incredibly satisfying, especially when it’s that easy.

Axoloti DSP board

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

Reading Ken Stone’s CGS Serge circuit diagrams made me discover the power and versatility of the 4051 analog multiplexer IC, which is a 3 bit, binary-addressed eight-way switch, perfect as a basic building block for analog sequencers. This has furthered my DIY endeavors tremendously and if everything goes as planned, it will result in my first commercially available modular synth module later this year. [Editor: Cool, I look forward to hearing and seeing what these do. Will insert link when it comes out]

Synth DIY

Tuesday Night Machines logo

Artist or Band name?

The Tuesday Night Machines

Genre?

All over the place. It’s not good to cultivate an audience for my music like this I guess, but I like jumping between genres. I’ve made chiptunes, a beat tape, harsh noise, ambient drones and I’m currently dabbling in Acid. Oh well.

Selfie?

Sure, but I’m writing this on the couch and it’s Sunday, so I look the part.

Felix on a sunday aka. Tuesday Night Machines

Where are you from?

My family moved a lot, so I’m not “from” somewhere really. I currently live in Köln, Germany for over a decade though, so it looks as if I like this city.

How did you get into music?

I had classic piano lessons and some electric keyboard lessons as a child, which I didn’t like too much back then. I’m glad that I got some basic music theory from it though. Later, I learned to play the guitar during university to play my favorite punk rock songs. Electronic music came some time after I started working then, beginning just with a copy of Ableton Live Lite, which seemed like a fun and easy way to make music. Apparently it wasn’t though, as it led me to DAWless hardware setups quickly.

What still drives you to make music?

I work in visual media, so music is basically the counterpiece to my day job. It’s a great way to relax for me, more or less away from the computer.

How do you most often start a new track?

Mostly with a certain sound or melody. Depending on the workflow of the device I’m playing with, I sometimes even just create one single long audio track for that one sound and then layer drums and other instruments on top afterwards.
How do you know when a track is finished?

When I get past the 3 minute mark.

Show us your current studio

The current state of my studio downsizing craze:

Cupboard studio

.. and how it was before, neatly constructed inside an inconspicuous IKEA PAX wardrobe:

Cupboard studio full of knobs

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

That limitation thing which everyone mentions. Limitations are great for music.

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

Thicket Whispers, a Ciat Lonbarde album:

https://nightmachines.bandcamp.com/album/thicket-whispers

Thicket Whispers, a Ciat Lonbarde album by Tuesday Night Machines

[Editor: You seen any of TuesdayNightMachines youtube tutorials? Leave a comment]

Tom Whitwell – Mr MusicThingModular

[Editor: I gotta preface this interview with the fact that I’m very pleased that Mr. Whitwell has agreed to be interviewed. His blog, MusicThing, was a wonderful resource and a great inspiration to me back in the heady days of the late ’00’s… and one of the original reasons I wanted to start a blog for nerding music gear. So without further ado…]

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

So many: the start button on a Technics 1200, the Intensity knob on a Princeton Reverb, the rotary mode switches on a Makenoise QMMG, the aluminium mod wheel on a Nord G2.

Princeton amp and Telecaster with a deadly tremolo

Of things I’ve designed myself, I’m still proud of the random/lock knob on a Turing Machine, the way it steers between randomness and repetition. And the Station knob on a Music Thing Radio Music is always pleasing, you never know quite what you’re going to get. 

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

A Wurlitzer 200A. I’d known about them forever – that sound on Supertramp and Beck and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ and so many other records. I first met one for real in a second hand shop in New York. I stared at it, then finally asked the woman in the shop if I could try it. They came over and turned it on, I played a chord and that incredible sound came out, the feel of the wooden keys, the two speakers, it’s like a hug. I bought one a few years later from a guy in London and have gradually upgraded it with a new amp board from RetroLinear, replacement legs and pedal. It’s the only vintage thing I own – about the same age as me. It would be improved if I was a better piano player.

Wurlitzer 200A with friends at the beach

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

My favourite place to research and design circuits is on a laptop in a beach bar, watching my family playing, completely relaxed with no pressure, a cold beer, and the ability to spend hours trying to work something out. Those ideas often lead nowhere, but turn into things years later.

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

The Moog Model D app is great. I’d love a hardware version of that. I’ve just built a version of the external input section for my modular, because it’s such a cool effect. 

Eurorack modular and patch cables

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

When I was about 14 I bought a Korg MS10 for £75, then sold it to a friend for £50. [Editor: Ouch!]

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

Eagle is the software I use to design circuit boards. You start by drawing the schematic and end up routing all the traces on the circuit board. There’s a long learning curve, but it now feels like a superpower. I can have an idea like “what if I had the Minimoog drive circuit in a 4hp euro module?” and have the thing my hand a few weeks later.

Big knobs and Motu UltraLite mk4 soundcard

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

A laptop or an iPad and some headphones. 

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

I have a love/hate relationship with coding. At the moment I’m enjoying the Monome Norns (I have the DIY Fates version). It’s clever and powerful, but also it’s coding, so a bit annoying.

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

Always feedback everything. Whether it’s feeding back the reverb sends into themselves in Ableton, or self-switching feedback loops using the Turing Machine Vactrol Mix Expander, it’s always always interesting & unexpected.

Nagra 4.2 with books

Artist or Band name?

Tom Whitwell / Music Thing Modular 

Genre?

Solder 

Where are you from?

South East London 

How did you get into music electronics?

I’d always been interested in music gear. In 2005-8 I wrote a blog called Music Thing, which was a celebration of gear for the sake of gear. In 2009 I got an arduino kit and started making guitar pedals, then in 2011 I bought a small Eurorack system and started making modules for myself. 

What still drives you to make music electronics?

I keep having ideas for things that I want. 

How do you most often start a new circuit?

I normally start with a sketch, sometimes a part of a circuit, or a panel. It’s a very round-and-round process, so there will be sketches, bits of circuits in Eagle, maybe bits of circuit on a breadboard, articles or papers to read. 

How do you know when a ‘thing’ is finished?

When there’s nothing else to remove. [Editor: Sounds like a Dieter Rams fan]

Go on… show us your current studio!

A window in a studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

If in doubt, leave it out.

Promote your thing…. Throw us a link

[Editor: Mr. Whitwell has a severe case of British modesty and won’t self-promote. So I’ll be cheeky and do it for him. Find his eurorack modules here musicthing.co.uk. Also, leave a comment if you ever read his blog back in the day]

Dr. Sauce – Rollin’ in Roland

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

Moog Minitaur Frequency Cutoff

Moog’s Minitaur holds a big spot in my heart, this analog bass synth is the perfect size, vintage looking giving them a classy look and smooth travel; not to mention a phenomenal FILTER CUTOFF KNOB, with freaks ranging from 20Hz to 20KHz allowing me to reach deep down underground and talk to HERMES.

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

With all these fantastic magic boxes out for purchase it’s difficult to come to a point of satisfaction. I go weak in the knees for gear, specially gear that is portable and gear that allows me to play without the need of a DAW. I’d agree that my synth collection is ‘almost’ perfect, the couple of things I’m lacking is a polyphonic keyboard synth to lay down proper pads and keys.

Arturia DrumBrute and MicroFreak

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

The portable synth that I take with me on Holidays/Tours/ & Commutes is non other than Teenage Engineerings OP-Z. The OP-Z is a powerhouse, this synth allows me to arrange and create complex tracks within five minutes time. The foot print is of minimum real estate, generously leaving space for other gear and nonsense in my backpack.

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

I’m a DAWLESS Artist, all my gear is physical, no need for software.

Korg Electribe and Volcas

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

I’m not one to sell my gear, but I have some regret of not buying a Subsequent 37, the DFAM and Mother-32

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

The gear which inspired me to produce the most music has been the Roland’s MC-707, SH-01a, and TR-09.

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

Roland’s TR8s, MC-707 and Korg’s Monologue DX

Roland Grooveboxes

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

Roland TR-9

My most annoying piece of gear is Roland’s Boutique TR-09, this has ben the most challenging piece of gear to learn and operate, the manner in which the synth is programmed to delete patterns in step mode is a pain in the ass, not to mention laying down the steps for the track write mode is alien when you try and learn to use this part of the synth. Even though it gives me headaches when I don’t play it for a while and forget the procedure to delete patterns and tracks, I just can’t live without it, this machine holds the classic clap and hats sounds of house and techno.

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

Teenage Engineerings OPZ along with the Pocket Operators have a sort of subtractive synthesis when applying effects to patterns, I really like this, stimulates creativity, but it can be a double edge sword, once you move on its nearly impossible to reproduce the same sounds.


Artist or Band name?

DR.SAUCE

Genre?

Techno, Deep House and House Music

Dr. Sauce

Where are you from?

Currently I reside in San Diego, California – Born in Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico.

How did you get into music?

In 2004 depression preceded by a night out to a famous night club in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico called La Serata, Dj Carlos Elizondo laid down a phenomenal set that pulled me out of the depression instantaneously; that night the Dj and his underground electronic music saved my life. Days following that night I purchased a pair of Pioneer 200 CDj’s and a Djm 400mixer, this was the start to my Dj career. [Editor: the healing power of music is the closest to real-life magic]

What still drives you to make music?

Currently I’m finishing up a medical degree, soon to graduate this June I’ll become a full fledged Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine; Balance is why I make music, it allows for me to engage the artistic side of my brain allowing for a break and disconnect from the more analytical/logical side.

How do you most often start a new track?

Four to the Floor

How do you know when a track is finished?

Around minute six after the second drop past the last break, all layers removed allowing for a kick solo without the bass.

Show us your current studio

1222_Records Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Limitations lead to enhanced creativity

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

Follow me on IG @1222_records for updates

[Editor: Anyone else experience the healing power of music? Leave a comment]

A773 – Melodic Modular Maestro

1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?
I just love my Horstronic joystick! I’ve been trying out a few different touch/grab/turn modules and somehow didn’t gel with most. But the joystick is great. I removed the spring from it, to keep it from returning to center position, it makes much more sense to me, that it stays where it’s left. It feels really good and the gestural nature of if makes it such a joy to “play”.
To cater for the muscle memory I mostly have it patched up the same way: X controls “skipping of something” (left is no skip, right is more skip) and Y is “brightness of something” (up is bright, down is mellow, middle is neutral).

Horstronic Joystick

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
I recently got a 2nd hand MicroFreak, that I’ve fallen in love with. It has a quite simple synth engine, but the modulation matrix opens it up and makes it easy to get organic and dynamic sounds. I was a bit skeptical about the Buchla-style keyboard, but it feels great and the polyphonic aftertouch is very nice. It has a few quirks, for instance although the engine is polyphonic, everything runs through a monophonic filter, but for me it just adds to it’s charm.
There are, however, two things that annoy me. Most importantly: it always powers on on preset 1, something I hate so much that I sold modules, I otherwise liked because of them not remembering their state between powercycles. I’m hoping they’ll change that in a new firmware soon! Secondly, it’s quite a shame that it doesn’t have CV in, but I’m not sure they can fix that with a firmware update 🙂

Arturia Microfreak

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
I actually stopped bringing stuff on holiday and trips. I prefer to take time off, do nothing, maybe read a book. Currently I’m reading Schoenbergs “Theory of Harmony”, which contrary to what many people believe, is not at all about 12-tone technique, but rather sums up and marks his departure from tonal music. Last time I was on an exceptionally long and boring train trip, I brought the computer and took the opportunity to work with csound. I mostly use it to generate batches of samples with slight or drastic variations for later use in the ER-301.

Orthogonal Devices ER-301

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
The ORCΛ “sequencer” would be great to have in modular format, just a screen, connections for USB keyboard and a bunch of trigger and CV I/O. A friend of mine has made
a module for himself from a raspberry pi, that kind of is that, but it’s too much DIY for my skills and it’s also a bit rough around the edges. The only software I use on a daily basis is Reaper, I’m not sure I’d like to have that in hardware. I think software and hardware have their strengths and weaknesses, and the power of Reaper to me is the extreme flexibility, which I don’t think would carry over to hardware.

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I had a Yamaha SY77 some years back, it was an amazing synth, not really sure why I sold it.

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

I’ve become much more productive since I got into modular, maybe it is because you can’t make anything new before you pull the cables. When using software I often had a hard time finishing anything, there was always this feeling of unrealized potential in every track.
With modular there’s no way around it, just finish the patch, record it, pull the cables and then move on.

Modular and mixer

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
I’d get a modular and an acoustic piano!

Night time modular lights

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
I have a very brutal attitude towards annoying gear, to the point that I’d rather change my workflow, than live with something that annoys me. So I can’t really think of any piece of gear I have that annoys me.

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
I recently found that the mystic circuits vert can make sound without any input, which surprised me, since it’s basically an AD converter. I had to switch it off/on to convince myself it wasn’t due to some old input still stuck in there. When sending it random voltages it makes some wonderful, glitchy bursts, all with a bit different flavour, depending on what output you use.

Mystic Circuits Vert

Artist or Band name?
a773

Genre?
Melodic electronic music.

Selfie?
Please no!

Where are you from?
Copenhagen, Denmark

How did you get into music?
I taught myself to play the piano as a teenager, then eventually ended up studying jazz piano at the conservatory in The Hague. Around the same time as I started playing the piano, I got interested in electronic music, and read all books (which weren’t many) available in the public library on synthesizers, and soon after I bought my first synth, a Roland JX-8P.

What still drives you to make music?
Music in general is the most satisfying activity I have ever been involved in. And when it comes to making music, the whole process of making something out of nothing is so fulfilling. I love all the small and large decisions that it takes, to make a piece of music. I also immensely enjoy improvising, that whole interacting with the music in the moment and making split minute decisions represents something very special, something that keeps the mind alert and the music fresh.

How do you most often start a new track?
That’s deliberately very different. Sometimes I have a rhythmic idea, sometimes I have a chord progression or a modulation in mind, sometimes it’s just an experiment on the modular that develops into something.

How do you know when a track is finished?
When my teletype is full (not entirely untrue). On a serious note, I make all my music on the modular, and perform it live in one take. So it’s a process, where I patch something up, then play it, then patch some more. At some point I’ll explore what I have, try out different forms, find ways to take it down dynamically, or ways to go wild. I might find there’s a tricky part I need to practice, or feel something needs to be added, a variation in the bass or more texture, so I might work a bit more on the patch. When I can play the patch confidently and don’t feel like anything is misssing, I multitrack to reaper, and at this point I consider it finished. More often than not, I do a quick mix right after the recording, to check if the performance was ok. If not I do another take, I very rarely do any overdubs or edits.

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
“Don’t be afraid to imitate, the closer you get to your heroes, the closer you get to yourself”

Promote your latest thing…
latestyoutube.a773.dk

[Editor: Have you gone modular or have you deliberately stayed away?? Leave a comment]

Martin Yam Moller – OPZ FanBoi

Right, so I decided to do a blog of artist interviews and this is the pilot episode/article. Asking fellow musicians the same 9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies.

Why am I doing this? Well, I miss the old Trash Audio interview series about Workspace and Environments (not to mention Analog Industries and MusicThing). Also everything is so damn Podcast-y and YuuToob-ish now a days. It would be nice to have a place where one can go to read a little, maybe browse a few photos about music gear and other cool junk. (besides I’m already paying for this website and domain name, might as well use it for something interesting).

Anyway, I guess I have to go first… so here are my answers to – 9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies.

1 .What’s your favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?

Teenage Engineering OPZ wih flat encoder knobs

The knobs on the Teenage Engineering OPZ. Coz they’re flush with the body and work like tiny little turntables. Also they’re compatible with Lego Technics which is so damn cool. I’ve never used it. But it seems fun. The flatness of the knobs isn’t just a nice looking design, it is actually functionally better because it means you can turn several knobs at once. Using one finger per knob. I don’t quite have the mental capacity to control all 4 knobs at once in a deliberate manner, but then again so much of music is a subconscious process.

Also the flat knobs make the OPZ easier to transport and take with you wherever you go. Which is actually 90% why I love the OPZ.

2. What is your ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?

Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar Larrivee

Acoustic guitar is actually an instrument that I consider the closest to perfect. I got a lovely dreadnought Larrivee, which just feels like home. But it can’t really do all genres. I guess if I had to select one bit of kit that could do it all. It would be the Akai MPC Live or Ableton.

Akai MPC Live with stickers

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

If I had to be extremely minimal, it would probably be my Yamaha GuitarLele and my iPhone 6s (the last model with a proper headphone output jack) running AUM and a bunch of good apps, lately I’ve been really into Koala Sampler by Elf Audio. And some Sennheiser HD650 headphones. I think I could make a whole album with just that.

Yamaha GuitarLele with piezo pickup. Sennheiser HD650 and iPhone 6S running KoalaSampler

For a setup that I would actually have fun using. It would definitely be the Teenage Engineering OPZ and the Pocket Operators PO33 Knock Out and PO35 Speak, processed with the wonderful Zoom MS70CDR and playable the Korg Kaoss Pad Mini-S. This setup would have nearly no menus, be hugely flexible with fx and very immediate to just make music and have a jam with. Also, all battery powered.

Zoom MS70CDR Teenage Engineering PO33 PO35 OPZ and Korg Kaoss Pad Mini-S

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

Is it totally silly to want Ableton Live as a piece of hardware? I guess Ableton’s Push is kind of a hardware version of Live. But the deep and detailed mouse editing is missing. Of course that would be nearly impossible to replicate in hardware.

iPad 3 running Samplr on Griffen soundcard

A more realistic piece of software to make into hardware would be the iOS app Samplr. But maybe the Tasty Chips Granular FX G-R1 is basically that, I dunno coz I don’t own it. Love Samplr though, have it permanently ready to play on an old iPad3 with a cheap Griffin 30-pin soundcard.

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

Danelectro getting sticker bombed

Yeah, it pains me to admit that I once sold a nearly pristine Yamaha VSS-30 (aka. The ‘Sigur Ros’ lofi maker). That thing plugged into a huge reverb, and you’re done!

I also kinda regret buying a terracotta colored Danelectro via mail ordering, but only because I ordered a ‘Commie’ red one (Danelectros name) and I got another color guitar instead. The exciting unboxing that revealed a pale pink guitar quickly turned into a disappointment. But the guitar itself sounded great… and I’ve since modded it quite heavily. Installing a piezo pickup and making it fretless and sticker bombed it.

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

Probably just Ableton Live. It’s so great to make music with and super quick too. Conversely, I find it really hard to finish music in Ableton Live. Because there are endless possibilities and there are so many avenues to explore, that I never actually take proper decisions and finalise a composition. One way that I’ve used Ableton a lot is to record out onto cassette tape in a 4-track recorder. That has become my preferred ‘dj’ setup to play electronic music in a live concert… and also just to get some great lofi soundscapes.

Tascam 424 – 4track cassette recorder

The OPZ, with its limited sonic palette has really been an eye-opener for me as well. I’ve gotten a lot more tracks done and finished with the Opz, than nearly anything else I own. Mainly because it is so grab and go and doesn’t have a million options.

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

OPZ…. If I had the skill-set that I have now, maybe the MPC Live. But if I was 15 and had no knowledge of production, then just a laptop running Ableton Live 10 connected to the net so I could see lots of tutorials, that would be awesome.

Although, I wonder what music I would be making if I had stuck to using just the setup that I had at the start. I’d might be making really crazy glitchy Warp level stuff, if I had just stuck to just making music on the transparent green iMac and Cubase VST 3.1, that I had in college.

8. The most annoying thing you have, that you just can’t live without?

I have a couple of Behringer soundcards with lots of inputs and outputs, the UMC1820 with ADA8200 on the ADAT i/o. They are the central part of my tiny studio, connecting my rack of moogerfoogers to my pc running ableton live. They just do the job and are super cheap. And even though, I gotta admit to having a little bit of gear-snobbish-ness… some Behringer products are just too good a deal to leave alone. Hell, the fact that the UMC1820 has 2 headphone outputs, means that I can drive a couple of Accutonics tanks and return them via mic preamps… and voila: analog spring reverb inside ableton live!

Behringer UMC 1820 soundcard and ADA8200 i/o

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

The Ableton looper has a send-return path. So you can process each pass of the loop with other plugins or even better with external hardware. I use this to make drones and ambient soundscapes that slowly disintegrate or morph into unrecognisable audio mush. Fun stuff. This article describes howto set it up Looper-Insert-FX


Artist or Band name?

Martin Yam Moller, it’s right there in the url

Genre?

Mainly lofi beats with ambient soundscapes, but sometimes alt-folk songs with a unique lyrical shock.

Martin Yam Møller

Selfie?

No thanks, I’m trying to quit… haha. Okay, fine…

Where are you from?

I’m half Danish and half Hong Kong Chinese. Currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark.

How did you get into music?

It’s that classic old tale again… Grunge meets boy. Boy plays drums with buddies in school. Mainly coz Nirvana’s Nevermind hit HK in ‘92 and also of course, Beatles records at home.

What still drives you to make music?

It still gives me that feeling.

How do you most often start a new track?

On my commute to work with an Opz. Or at home, after dinner with an acoustic guitar.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Well, I listen to the song, and if it’s 3min 20seconds later … and I haven’t gotten annoyed by something. Then it’s done!

It should also be said, that I don’t finish that many tracks or songs!

Go on… show us your current studio!

It ain’t pretty or large or anything else really…. but it’s mine.

Martin Yam Møller Home Studio 2020

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I once told one of my old punk rock friends about those 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. He laughed and said “Nah, fuck that, I’ll do it afterwards.” His point was… Don’t wait. Just make.

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

Check out my instagram or youtube here below:

[Editor: If you got any artists you’d like to see interviewed in ‘9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies’? Then leave a comment]