1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?
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 :/
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.
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.
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?
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?
Where are you from?
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.
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: Jens recently did a lovely ‘driven’ ambient set at Chiba City Museum of Art in Japan. Check it out below]