1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?
The freq fader on the VCF section of my SH-101. Riding the cutoff frequency on that synth is just such nice squelchy acid techno sound that’s been used on many classic records. It was also the first analog synth I got and the one I learned basic synthesis on. Most synths have a big old knob for cutoff control these days, but I like that the SH-101 is all faders.
[Editor: Yeah, I like how faders are easier to read visually too]
2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
The Elektron Digitakt is great, but I would like to see a bandpass filter, an extra LFO and maybe some more sequencer playback options like reverse and random etc. Maybe we will get it a firmware update some day.
3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
On holiday I would bring a Model:Samples – still waiting for that battery handle so I can make beats while I sip drinks in the swimming pool, haha.
4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
It would be cool to have Madrona Labs Aalto as a hardware synth, preferably Eurorack-compatible. The sound and design of Aalto is inspired by a Buchla synthesizer, so it could actually make sense in hardware form. It’s just a lovely sounding synth and the patchable UI is great fun. Seems like most hardware has been ported to software already whether it be, pre-amps, tape machines, fx units or guitar amps – a lot them sound great.
5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I regret selling my Fostex 280 4-track cassette recorder. I still have a bunch of old tapes in the basement with recordings of songs and demos that would be fun to have a listen to today. I regularly check the market for used ones, but seems like they’re either too expensive or too hard to get a hold of these days. The demand seems to be high so maybe it’s time Fostex, Yamaha or Tascam start up production again?
6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
For any genre I would say the electric guitar. Specifically for electronic music I would say a computer with Ableton Live. I switched from Logic to Ableton back in 2003 and from getting ideas down to a final track, I think this setup has led me to produce the most music. I do think it’s healthy to shake things up now and then and try new ways of working. I recently setup a couple of small hardware only workspaces in the corners of my room just to get my eyes away from the computer screen and see what happens. One is based around a modular setup and the other one is based around some drum machines and analog monosynths.
7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
A computer or maybe a sampler. When I upgraded from the multitrack cassette recorder I bought this Roland VS-1680 harddisk recorder, which I used for a long time. It was ok, but quite clunky and difficult to edit recordings. Looking back I should have just have skipped it and gone with a computer and good soundcard, but computer/software and soundcard solutions were kind a of new thing then and not that stable back then.
8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
I have this Roland GI-10 guitar to midi interface which has terrible tracking. You listen back to the recorded midi file of your performance and it has all these random ghost notes that you didn’t even play on the guitar. It’s quite annoying to have to sit and clean up the file afterwards, but it’s also just fun playing synths and triggering samplers from guitar. You just have to kind of embrace the chaos or play really clean with it.
9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
Generally I am fascinated by distortion and how it can either subtly or radically change the timbre or transients of a sound. Instead of making synth sounds with standard saw/square-waves I like waveshaping a basic sinewave and see what comes out. Instead of grabbing a compressor to treat the transients on drums I might try distorting them instead. Not really a musical tip, but I was pleasantly surprised that you can twist the voice mode knob while powering on to play a video game on a Korg Minilogue. Easter eggs are cool.
Artist or Band name?
I try to avoid sticking to genres.
Where are you from?
How did you get into music?
My dad had a classical guitar hanging on the wall in the house I grew up in. I just picked it up one day and tried to figure out how to play it by playing along to records I liked. I think I was about thirteen years old. The year after I got an electric guitar and a 4-track cassette recorded and started recording my own sounds.
What still drives you to make music?
I just find it exciting, entertaining and fun. I get really restless if I cant make music on a regular basis in some way or form. It’s like stepping into an unknown fantasy world. Especially working with electronic music, there is so still so much new ground to cover and new stuff to learn, it never gets boring.
How do you most often start a new track?
Usually it will be a sound that grabs my attention and that inspires me to build a track up around it. The initial sound or idea can come from anywhere really, but usually it will come from a synth, guitar, field recording or sounds in nature. If it’s a techno/electro track it will usually start with a beat made on a drum machine or Ableton.
How do you know when a track is finished?
I try to trust my intuition to tell me when a track is finished.
If I feel like it’s not getting better when working on it or if I get bored with it, it’s usually a good time to let it sit and come back to it later – lot’s of times it will sound finished after letting it rest a while.
Setting up predefined rules, such as max number of tracks, only live recordings, no overdubs etc. or a deadline can be helpful too.
Show us your current studio
Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Not sure if it was meant as creative advice, but as Da Vinci said, art is never finished, only abandoned.
I think what he is saying is to don’t expect everything you do to be a masterpiece and remember to enjoy the process of creating, as least that’s how I interpret it.
Some other good ones: think outside the box, challenge your ideals and try to do things the wrong way once in a while.
Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
Here’s an ambient thing I did with the Neutron synth while I was beta-testing Aaltoverb
[Editor: Do you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? Leave a comment]