1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear andwhy?
Large blue, skirted Rogan knobs like on my Buchla 259 Complex Waveform Generator. They fit my hand nicely, feel good and I can see the index on the skirt. For sliders, all the sliders on my Easel. I prefer sliders to knobs, because I can more easily see where they are. Clearly I use the sliders a lot, since the printing is wearing off!
2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
When I travel my favorite setup of my Buchla Music Easel plus a lunchbox of eurorack modules, ususally a Makenoise Morphagene or Epoch Hordijk Benjolin to bring into the Easel’s Aux In for manipulation and processing and the Intellijel Planar 2 for spatialization.
3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commuteetc.?
4. What software do you wish was hardware and viceversa?
I wish Tom Erbe’s Soundhack plugins were hardware. Ooops, wait! They are 🙂 All of his modules with Makenoise: Morphagene, Mimeophon, Echophon,Erbeverb are the ones I have.
5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
My Buchla 100 and Synthi AKS. Couldn’t be helped at the time.
6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
Clearly my Buchla instruments, but I have also created a lot of music I love with my Hordijk and Serge systems.
7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
Though I learned about analog synthesis from a friends’ Easel back in the 1970’s, the first modular I owned was a Serge Modular Music System in 1979. It was a great entreand, I’d do it again.
8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have,that you just can’t live without?
I’m going to interpret “annoying” as “tempermental” in which case my Easel. It’s tempermental, but I love it.
[Editor: It’s a little nice to know that even a synthesis master, who clearly has a superb grasp of the Music Easel, thinks that his instruments can be ‘tempermental’]
9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’vediscovered about a bit of kit?
Feedback. I try to get every module I encounter to feedback and learn what that has to teach me, what I can discover from it.
Artist or Band name?
Sure. Well a photo of me taken by my artist daughter, Ursula Barton
Where are you from?
Originally the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Moved permanently to Ashland, Oregon in my late teens. I’m now 70.
How did you get into music?
Though my parents weren’t musical they played musicin the house (radio and phonograph) and there was a piano in the house that I began exploring at age 5. From then on I was obsessed with sound . . .
What still drives you to make music?
How do you most often start a new track?
By following the sound, listening to where it might takeme. It feels like sonic T’ai Chi, or more specifically a T’aiChi form called Push Hands which is done with a partner and it is an exploration and exercise of moving energy. I feel like my partner is sound.
How do you know when a track is finished?
Completely intuitive . . . the sonic sculpture looks and feels complete, nothing more to add and along the way I have stripped away unnecessary gestures and layers.
Show us your current studio— Too messy to show, but here are a few isolated shots ofsome gear.
Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
Buchla Now album. In 2020 the cassette tape label Ultraviolet Light will release Buchla Now. This album will feature a compilation of new tracks recorded by some of the most exciting electronic musicians working today, and focus solely on instruments designed by Don Buchla, the legendary instrument builder, physicist, circuit designer and inventor of West Coast Synthesis. Buchla Now was curated by Todd Barton with contributions from Marcia Bassett, Suzanne Ciani, Dan Deacon, Jonathan Fitoussi, Steve Horelick, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and Hans Tammen.
Suzanne Ciani once said of Don Buchla that his “ unique mindset allowed him to be outside the popular notion of what electronic music was”. Each of these artists, in their own way, carries on this tradition of boundary-pushing music, expanding the very notion of what music can be.
[Editor: Do you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? Leave a comment]