David Rothbaum – Cross Town Patching

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

The octave levers on my Yamaha CS-50. They are very playable. There is also just something very satisfying about the aesthetic of them as well as the acoustic clicking sound.

Yamaha CS-50

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

I would say the combination of the monome grid and ansible using kria. To me this set-up is a perfect combination of thoughtful composition mixed with performance and improvisation. Honestly, it has fundamentally changed the way I think of composition. My only issue is the grid is near impossible to see in daylight. I do a lot of outdoor performances and this is always an issue. I often bring a beach towel to throw over the grid and myself to be able to see it.

Modular Field Trip

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

I bring my modular with me a lot. I compose and record on the spot in various locations and occasionally that included what was my daily 1-5 hour commute (pre-Covid). Doing this while driving is clearly a bad idea, would not recommend at all. To be clear I only patched while at a dead stop, which in Los Angeles is most of the time.

[Editor: Ha!… Make art anywhere]

Patching in traffic

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

Paulstretch in a module would be awesome. SketchCassette too. I honestly cannot think of any hardware I’d like to see as software.

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

I am generally not too precious about gear but I did have a Roland Jupiter 4 that I sold to fund more modular and I wish I still had my Tascam 388.  

Tascam 388

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

In the last few years I would have to say again the monome / Whimsical Raps eco-system. 

Monome and Whimsical Raps in a case

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

Good taste.

[Editor: Nah, good taste is overrated…. and anyway, it’s just a by product of the artistic process, that can happen to the best of us 😉 ]

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

The computer.

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

I think in recent years it would have to be manually manipulating the Marantz PMD-430 cassette deck while monitoring live on the tape. Being able to play the tape warbles is pretty great.

Marantz PMD-430

Artist or Band name?

David Rothbaum 

Genre?

Recently, I would say ambient-adjacent. I tend to write mostly melancholic ambient music but I often add more rhythmic elements (I have been obsessed with odd meters and tuplets since forever), which I think disqualifies me as really being ambient. That said, I have made music in a number of different genres. I had a solo project called Monsturo for quite a while. That was very minimalistic drone/noise music, I used to describe it as field recordings for imaginary spacecraft 🙂 I have also played a lot of metal, jazz, noise and free improvisation. I auditioned once for Donny Osmond when I was a teenager in the 80s. 

Selfie?

I don’t really do selfies without my kid so…

David Rothbaum +1

Where are you from?

Born in NY but have lived in Los Angeles for 30+ years and that is my home.

How did you get into music?

As a listener I became obsessed with music as a kid. At around 7 years old I got into The Beatles & Donna Summer. Then shortly after that it was The Eurythmics, AC/DC, Supertramp, Devo & horror film scores. I would make tape mixes from the radio (I had an entire tape with recordings of “Sweet Dreams”). I also made tapes from the TV, grabbing bits of music from horror movies and TV shows that I liked. I failed at saxophone in 5th grade (I did learn the “Pink Panther” theme, though), but when I was 14 I took up the electric bass and played heavy metal.

What still drives you to make music?

Cannot imagine a life worth living without it. 

How do you most often start a new track?

More often than not it will start as an exploration of a technical or aesthetic idea, be it teletype code; a rhythmic, timbral or harmonic thing; or a patch idea. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

When whatever it is I am working on transforms from the technical into something that carries some emotional weight. Or I have a deadline that has expired. 

Show us your current studio

David Rothbaum’s studio

The modular is not the only thing in my studio. I have guitars, hardware synths, an electric piano etc., but it is overwhelming the center of it.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Not comparing your work with others.  This is exceedingly difficult but absolutely liberating if you can do it.

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

I will be releasing a collection of short pieces that I have recorded and posted to social media over the last 4 years. It is called “Miniatures 2016-2020” and will be released on cassette and digital by the awesome Mystery Circles label in early 2021.

[Editor: Check out David’s lovely instagram or his website for more info]


[Editor: Do you have a favorite tip, trick or way of working with any of the gear from this interview?
Then throw us a comment below…
]


TJ Dumser – Six Missing

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

Jazzmaster volume knob

Yes, absolutely, without a doubt, the volume knob on my Jazzmaster. Coming from a band background and learning how to blend with other musicians and when to step out front, I was always using my volume knob. Mostly to clean up my tone and then to send it into overdrive. I play expressively and dynamically, never with a compressor pedal so I am always going for the volume knob. I can control swells and it’s become such second nature to my playing that my pinky just sort of rests there all the time.

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

My room is pretty dialed in right now. Since my day job of being a sound designer and mix engineer for advertising, film, and TV keeps me mostly in the studio, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into making the room my instrument. I have my modular rack, my pedalboard, my synths all patched and routed so I can send and receive audio from any of those places – I have total freedom to create. But I would change the amount of space I have, haha, I always want more.

The Six Missing hub

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

Since the start of the pandemic we haven’t traveled anywhere. And before that I wasn’t touring all that much since my live setup got pretty large, in fact, the setup got to the point where I wasn’t able to take the subway any longer – I need a cab or to drive to the gig. Which for people that have never lived in NYC, that’s a huge dealbreaker as you’ll often spend the money you made from your set on cabs. So the biggest thing for me when I go on holiday is my headphones. I try to create music every day so when I take a vacation, I am truly off-the-grid. But now that I’m in Austin which is far from my home in NYC, I have begun planning a travel/mobile rig – it’s Ableton based and I think the Arturia Keystep looks like the best investment in a tiny keyboard as I could integrate it into my modular rack as well as controlling VSTs. I fall prey to the “I want to have all my options be options” mentality, so traveling light will be a fun challenge I look forward to. I’ll have to check back in with you and keep you posted on how I net out!

Compact setup: MacBook, UAD soundcard and guitar

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

An interesting question indeed. I had seen someone else you interview mention that a lot of software is hardware emulations or based on some piece of hardware, which I agree with. I don’t get picky, though I do think that having Big Sky algorithms in plug-in format would be super cool. Although, I’m sure you’d need a separate computer to run all that DSP, which then circles back to having a box, so I suppose they thought about that and why they stayed away from it. I mostly feel like there’s a companion piece of hardware or software for anything you can dream of these days, and like I said, I don’t discriminate – while, yes, an original Minimoog Model D probably sounds better than a VSTs version, I don’t have the $10k for the real thing and dang if presets aren’t awesome to recall.

Moog Matriarch and Eurorack

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

I’ve been fortunate enough to never really have buyers remorse because 30-day return policies are awesome. But I will say that I purchased the ROLI Seaboard recently with hopes and dreams of it completely transforming how I compose with strings and MPE devices and it was just…awkward. Perhaps I didn’t give it enough time to grow on me. The squishy part was fun for a bit, though I can see it attracting cat hair like crazy. I have only ever sold gear I know I was never going to use again. I tend to hang on to things because I’m a sound designer and having random old pieces of gear are inspiring and you never know when you’re going to need it.

Pedalboard goodies

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

Surprisingly, diving into modular gear was the most inspiring and overwhelming. And now that I’ve picked up Norns and Grid, I’m feeling that same sense of “how do I control you!” which I really think makes you enter into that beginner’s mind and where the magic happens. It’s for this reason (and I’ll get roasted for this, I’m sure) that I absolutely never read a manual. I love clicking about/turning knobs/making horrible mistakes when I first get a piece of gear. I think not knowing what you’re doing is when your true talent shines through. You just kind of use The Force to figure it out and stumble your way through. But to stop getting preachy and answer your question, modular. My newest EP on Inner Ocean Records happened in about three weeks after I got all my rack set up, it was just insanely inspiring to have semi-generative sounds morphing and allowing me space to write other lines over it with other instruments.

Norns and Grids

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

If I had to start over I would still start with just a single piece of gear and learn it completely inside and out before buying the next piece of gear. I admit to falling victim to gear acquisition a while back but I always had this sense of wanting to know how to use the gear I had before stepping up. Granted, I have a ton of pedals these days, but it took me a good three years to get to this point.

Pedals galore

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

Haha, this question is great. The most annoying piece of gear I have (though I still love it) is my DD-20, the old big block delay. When the thing boots up it defaults to being on. There’s probably a way to change that but I never looked it up and when it kicks on with the board the first algo is my custom 16-second delay. So if there’s a bit of hum from the unplugged ¼” cable or I flub a note I won’t hear it for another 16-seconds, way after I’ve forgotten and then I’ll chase line hum or a looper pedal somewhere in the chain for five minutes, until I realize it’s just the delay kicking around every 16-seconds. I have Nels Cline to personally thank for making me lust after 16-second delays.

Boss DD-20

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

Hologram Electronics Microcosm

I got to be one of a very small handful of beta testers on the Hologram Microcosm, so I had the pedal well before the public did and I have never had the opportunity to speak directly to the minds that designed and created the pedals I played, so I learned tons of fun insider tricks with it. But my most favorite trick on it, is taking a live effect and capturing it into the looper and then sending that loop back through the live effects pre-effect and processing that loop a second time but through a different live effect. So fun.

[Editor: The Microcosm is gonna be a classic!]


Artist or Band name?

My name is TJ Dumser but I perform as Six Missing.

Genre?

Ambient, Electronic… Meditation Music sounds grabby, so does Furniture Music or Music for Plants. Music that allows you to do other things and zone out to it.

Selfie?

TJ Dumser aka. Six Missing

This isn’t a selfie, but I spent money on this session with this talented photographer Shervin Lainez and so I usually like to get some mileage out of it 😛 

Where are you from?

I’m from NY, but have been spending the past year (lol, let’s be real, quarantine) in Austin, TX. 

How did you get into music?

I have always loved music and performing, I used to do it even as a baby in diapers, shouting nonsense into a microphone and directing orchestras through the kitchen. But it really hit when I saw Back to the Future and caught my first glimpse at Marty’s red Gibson 335. After that, I uncovered milk crates of records in my grandma’s attic and heard Stairway to Heaven and had my mind blown as a 11 year old. After that, I needed to have a guitar. So I was able to convince my parents that I was interested enough for them to get me one and had been playing since I was 12.

What still drives you to make music?

Music has always been a way for me to retreat from other stresses. Given the state of the world and the general level of collective anxiety, music has given me a way to take care of myself. It’s a way that I can contribute something positive. It ends up making me genuinely feel better having taken some time to play. My hopes are that I’m able to give just even the smallest bit of relief to people who hear my music, maybe it gives them that chance to take a breath or to help them meditate or go to sleep – which I realize isn’t every musicians dream “for folks to fall asleep to my music” but hey – if that helps someone, then I’m happy.

How do you most often start a new track?

It has morphed. When I was mainly composing ambient guitar loops or guitar based tracks, I would just turn on the gear and let the DD-20 sit in 16-sec delay mode and start piling layers into it, slam that into the Ditto x 2 and knock it into half speed and that became my bed. But these days I’m spending more time with eurorack modular gear and synths like the Monome Norns. I can usually get a nice atmosphere created by sending some audio to my modular gear and manipulating over there, capture some ideas and then start adding a bass line with the Moog Matriarch. Though I’m new to it, Norns is massively inspiring and I love the idea of having a tiny digital bandmate taking care of melodies and rhythms for me.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I’m sure the answer is very different for the musicians you’ve interviewed, but for me my answer changes all the time. I have a set of tracks that comprise an LP, about 11 tracks, just sitting collecting dust because I “still feel like they need something” and then I have EPs that I sit and complete in a weekend. Honestly, it’s that different for me. I suppose there’s just a knowing you feel about the track, like, did I serve this? If so, I move on. Also, if I get bored with or anything I try to add to a track starts sounding like garbage or I spend far too long working on a line…that’s how I know. If the track tells me it’s complete. It’ll push away all the superfluous junk.

[Editor: That’s a different way of doing things, it sounds almost like your songs have their own desires and needs. I guess a more empathetic approach to composition by considering the needs and wants of a piece, independently from your own wishes as a composer]

Show us your current studio

Six Missing home studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Show up each day and do something. Whether that’s reading about someone who set out to achieve a goal or career and is doing it. Or just noodling with the guitar. Or perhaps even just turning on the synth, just to let it warm up. You don’t have to expect a masterpiece, but the fact that you’ve done something with the day means that you’ve placed your intention on it and odds are you’re going to get surprised every once in a while.

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

Thanks for asking! I have my debut EP coming out on Inner Ocean Records called “Patricia” on February 12th.

It’ll be available via Inner Ocean’s site as well as mine – or you can stay tuned to my Instagram (www.instagram.com/sixmissing) for more!


[Editor: Do you have a favorite tip, trick or way of working with any of the gear from this interview?
Then throw us a comment below…
]


Only Ruin- Austin White

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

This is a tough one. I’m a sucker for filter sweeps, and I think currently my favorite filter is on the new Prophet 5 (Rev 4) so I’ll have to go with the cutoff knob on that. Honorable mention to the Dry/Wet on the OTO Bam, though. Fully wet on the Bam in ambient mode is heaven.

Prophet 5

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

There are a few pieces that come to mind where one little thing is missing that would just suit my workflow perfectly, but generally that’s what I love about working with hardware – finding the way around those things. Like the (new Korg) ARP 2600 would be absolutely perfect if it had like 2 or 3 more patch points to sent gate/cv in other places, but not having those makes me think more creatively. Also, that’s one of the things I love about eurorack, if it’s missing just add another module.

Arp 2600 with Make Noise 0-Ctrl

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

For travel in the past it’s been a small eurorack case, like 48 hp or something, and a drum machine – usually the Elektron model cycles. But now it’s the Polyend Tracker. I rarely leave home without it. Touring or gigging can be a bit different, I’ll usually want a bigger eurorack case (usually my MDLR 6u 104 hp) and a sequencer of some sort (Tracker, 0-CTRL). Always my laptop, Ableton is there when all else fails.

PolyEnd Tracker

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

Honestly most of the plug-ins and software I use are based on actual hardware, so there’s not much that comes to mind. Sometimes I wish there was a more “player friendly” granular software, something like the Make Noise Morphagene.
That would make an incredible plug in.

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

It’s a constant process with hardware, so not really. Especially with eurorack, there are modules that I’ve bought and not been able to figure out, sold, and then bought again a year later and loved. The one area I have grown skeptical in is MIDI controllers. I’ve tried a few that I hated, like the Qu-Neo. Anything that requires drivers and software for mapping and all of these additional steps kind of drives me crazy. Especially for something that should be fairly straight forward, like a controller.

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

There have been phases of different gear inspiring a lot of music, but probably the Tracker. It’s just completely changed the way I make music and I love it. I’ve already released one EP of tracks all made with it, and I have at least one more that I’m basically done with. It’s just one of those things that I can’t seem to get bored with, and I’m always finding new stuff that I love about it.

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

Honestly I would probably just get Ableton and really dig in first. I had absolutely no understanding of synthesis when I first started getting in to eurorack, and then eventually other hardware. I think having the understanding of what’s happening lends itself to making better decisions as far as purchasing and adding the tools you want to be creative. But since this is an interview about gear, I’ll say the either the Tracker or a standalone modular system like the ARP 2600 or the Make Noise black and gold system.

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

cables

Cables. Audio and MIDI routing are the two things that are always going to be an issue when working with as much hardware as I do. I have everything set up in my studio now so it’s not an issue, but if I ever want to make a change it’s a whole thing. I moved recently and it was a nightmare reconfiguring my studio from scratch, but I’m happy with it for now.

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

Like I said earlier, when I first started with eurorack I knew nothing about synthesis, and very little about electronic music in general. So every time I become more familiar with a technique, it’s a bit surprising. All of the stuff that I’ve learned in modular synths translates to hardware synths, too. Now I find doing sound design on more traditional synths like the Prophet or the OB-6 to be really fun and challenging. Sometimes I get lost just trying to make good kicks on the OB-6 for a couple of hours. Maybe not the best use of my time, but it’s just a way I’ve found to explore a synth’s capabilities more.

Only Ruin eurorack

Artist or Band name?

Austin White aka Only Ruin

Genre?

Who knows? Genres are silly, and according to Spotify there are like 1000000 of
them. Dark ambient synth and break beat IDM?

Selfie?

Austin White aka. Only Ruin

Where are you from?

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY

How did you get into music?

I’ve been kind of obsessed with music since I was a kid. I started playing bass when I was pretty young, and got serious about it around 15 or so. I studied jazz and went to school for upright bass for a while. Before I got into producing electronic music, I was mainly playing improvised and experimental music.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s just what I do. Outside of my family, music is my entire life. It’s everything to me. I can’t imagine living without a creative output, and I’m eternally grateful that I don’t have to.

How do you most often start a new track?

A melody or a harmonic progression, sometimes a texture. Usually I’ll start writing on some kind of poly synth like the Prophet or the One, and then build from there. Recently I’ve been doing more writing on eurorack, where I’ll get some kind of semi-generative or evolving patch going and just resample in Ableton for a few minutes, then chop it up and find parts that I like.

Polysynths Moog One and Prophet 5

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t. I get sick of working on it, maybe. I’m terrible for not finishing things, or more accurately for getting a song to a point that I’m happy with it and then never releasing it because I’ve listened to it so much that I hate it. I have probably 3 or 4 full albums worth of material that I’m just sitting on, but it’ll get out there eventually.

Show us your studio

Only Ruin studio
Roland TB303 in blue
Roland TR909 in blue
500 series rack

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I studied with Reggie Workman a bit in college. Reggie is a legendary jazz musician who played with everybody (Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Coltrane), and he had a huge impact on me as a musician. Most of the advice he gave me as a bass player was about space – leaving space for everyone else to exist in the world that you’re creating together. A lot of that thought is just about playing music in a similar way to how you live your day life, drawing parallels between the person you are creatively and otherwise. Producing electronic music alone is a different thing entirely, but I still think about how to be honest with my output and stay connected to my own individual voice.

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

I have a bunch of music (hopefully) coming out soon, but in the meantime here’s some fairly recent stuff I’ve done :

Tracker EP :
https://soundcloud.com/onlyruin/sets/trackerep

Beach EP :
https://onlyruin.bandcamp.com/album/beach-ep

Distant EP :
https://open.spotify.com/album/4cEWslfdXskHswIpF96kTm?si=1TL6-
PowSA2YZRMzecxM6Q

Always posting jams on IG and YouTube as well, find me @onlyruin


[Editor: Do you have a favorite tip, trick or way of working with any of the gear from this interview?
Then throw us a comment below…
]