Matthew S – Matteo Scapin

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

I love the Cutoff knob on my prophet Rev 2. Thanks to it, I can modulate the sound in a thousand ways.
Aesthetically the monopole is not beautiful, but I have a lot of fun to use it!

Sequential Prophet Rev 2

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

Roland MC707

My kit is satisfactory, but I like to change musical instrumentation often. I would love to try as many musical instruments as possible! Collaborating with different brands I have the good fortune to try many different instruments, which I have used a lot, for many of my musical projects.

Arturial MicroFreak

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

My travel kit consists of Keystep pro + Ableton + Zoom H6.
When I’m on tour or on vacation I avoid carrying too many tools! I like to be as comfortable as possible!

Arturia Keystep Pro

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

I always wanted a version of Max by Cycling ’74 in a hardware format, that would be pretty cool. I wouldn’t know what to turn into software, I prefer hardware!

Abletob Push 2 and studio desk

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

Hmmm, I have no regrets.
Maybe, thinking about it, I’m missing my Deepind12 by Behringer a little bit. I used it very little, maybe I underestimated the sound of this synthesizer, it had very interesting sounds for my productions!

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

In this period I used a lot the prophet rev2. In every one of my productions there is the sound of this synthesizer. I love the sound depth of it. I love it!
This synthesizer together with my pedals creates sound textures that no VST can create! I use VSTs a lot, but the analog heat is unmatched!

Earthquaker Avalanche Run and fx pedals buddies

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

Maybe I would have liked to have started with Analog Rytm by Elektron.
A lot of my producer friends recommended this drum machine.

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

Surely the ZOIA by empress, I love to use this instrument, I often use this pedal/ Synth for my productions. Unfortunately it is very difficult to create presets for my projects!… But I love it.

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

I use the prophet rev2 with the particle by red panda and the FABRIKAT by Pladask elektrisk to create the audio textures for my projects. This is a great kit to create infinite audio landscapes! Every time I use these tools pre satisfied with the final result!


Artist or Band name?

Matthew S

Genre?

Electronica/Ambient

Selfie?

Matthew S

Where are you from?

Italy

How did you get into music?

I started learning to play guitar in my city’s school when I was 13 years old. from there was born my passion for music. Fortunately now is my job!

What still drives you to make music?

I always have a strong need inside to continue to create and communicate through music, my best communication channel is music! I think it’s my addiction now!

How do you most often start a new track?

Usually to start a song I create improvisations with my synthesizer and sampling sounds with Ableton

Matthew S at the MC707

How do you know when a track is finished?

To create a song I take a long time, when I believe that there are no other changes or additions to do I consider it over and ready for the mix and master!

Show us your current studio

Matthew S Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Set a goal and don’t give up until you reach it. The professionals do not give up in front of the first obstacle and already think 3 moves in advance. While your teammates are still discussing the reasons for the band’s dissolution, you must already be progressing on your next project: tempus fugit!”

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

My Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/artist/57ZTe0YAuhG04dtH42nM1Y?si=c98CgImcRWSyC3XgIBJ7oA

or my website:

https://matthewess.com/


Kir Åge Jæger – Persian Electro Orchestra

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

The ROLI Seaboard (midi-controller) has an X/Y-Pad which is very powerful because it connects with the software “Strobe2” that has a so-called “Euclid” processor. It’s way easier to show on a screen, but imagine that when you drag the “target” symbol with your finger on the ROLI, the small dot (orange arrow on picture) follows the target. You can program HOW the small dot should follow the target with different parameters like slew, damp and rate in order to create some pretty original soundscapes. So far I have only used it for film scoring.

Roli Seaboard with Strobe2

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

This is probably not very original, but just like clichés exist because they are usually true, the PUSH 2 (from Ableton LIVE) works very well for both music production and live performance. What would I change? The fact that Ableton LIVE does not include quartertones as a standard.

Ableton Push 2

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

My setup is quite simple, actually. Even when I play with my orchestra, I can carry everything myself. My laptop, soundcard (Behringer UMC404HD), microphone (sE2200A||C), and headphones (Sennheiser HD 280 Pro) usually do the trick. A small midi-controller is useful too (AKAI MPK Mini). I once brought this with me to Beijing to visit my friend and we ended up inviting a vocalist from Tinder to jam with us.

Travel setup

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

I would love to have the VsT-plugin “Manipulator” by Infected Mushroom as hardware. Manipulator is always in my effect rack when I perform live on my santoor.

Uuh.. Speaking of… A midi-signal santoor would give my music production wings!

Infected Mushroom Manipulator VST

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

Hmm… I really regret buying any “Waves”-VsT plugins. They tried so hard to prevent people from cracking their software that it ended up being a headache to use legally. I decided to boycut them some years ago. 

Waves

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

Well… If software is gear I think “Nexus” from “REFX” inspired me the most. It is a so-called ROM synthesizer. The sounds are so delicate (yet expensive) and the software is very intuitive. I even heard that they programmed the sounds in order for you to combine them.

REFX Nexus

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

I started in “Music Maker” for Playstation (1998), then I changed to FL Studio (2003) and eventually Ableton LIVE in 2013. I definitely would’ve skipped FL Studio and gone directly to Ableton LIVE.

FL Studio

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

Hehe… That would be my cheap-ass in-ear monitor system that I bought for my orchestra musicians so that I can talk to them during a live show and they can listen to their own performance on a backing track. The sound is absolutely awful, but they’ve accepted it so far. 

Wireless In Ear Monitoring

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

That would definitely be the world of Persian tonal systems through my santoor. They have 7 tonal systems in Iran. We only have one in the western hemisphere. Working with electronic music (and thereby frequencies) has made it easier for me to understand these systems.

Santoor

Artist or Band name?

Persian Electro Orchestra

Genre?

Hmm… Well… Downtempo/Techno/World/Organic/Persian

Selfie?

Kir

Where are you from?

Copenhagen, Denmark

How did you get into music?

No one in my family plays an instrument. The interest was kind of there from the beginning. I started borrowing cd’s at the library at the age of 10.

Free CD’s from the library

What still drives you to make music?

Music – and everything that surrounds music – is the reason I am alive.

How do you most often start a new track?

With a fat polyrhythmic beat!

How do you know when a track is finished?

None of my tracks are ever finished. I always make new mixes and arrangements for live performance, hehe.

Show us your current studio

Kir’s home studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Finish your shit and get it out there – even though it is not “perfect”. It will only make you thirsty for more when you get your first “real” feedback.

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

There is a bunch of songs being released soon, but meanwhile check out “Losing My Impatience”:
https://song.link/dk/i/1488153140

ShoeGazeCity – Head DownTown Sound

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

My favorite knob has to be the sequence multiplier knob on my Meris OttoBit Jr. This pedal is a bit-crusher/video game/glitch/stutter machine and it has a full on 6-step sequencer built in (which can be used to sequence multiple things, but pitch is the most obvious and fun one). The sequence multiplier knob speeds up the rate of the sequence being played, so you can get pretty wild on-the-fly video game arpeggios if you manually turn the knob while sustaining a note. (You can also use an expression pedal to do this, but alas, I don’t have room on my board for one at the moment).

Ottobit Jr. by Meris

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

The DigiTech EX-7 Expression Factory pedal comes to mind. This big and heavy expression pedal looking box has a bunch of different sounds packed into it… It has overdrives/distortions, flangers/rotary modulation, a full on whammy pedal, and my favorite: the legendary space station. The idea is to let the user control all of these authentic sounds via the expression pedal (ie: controlling pitch on the whammy setting, or the swell of the space station). However, it kind of sucks that the actual feel of this expression pedal is so hard to use. It’s very “sticky” feeling and doesn’t move a lot, so you have to be very precise on how you use it. It also requires a bit of an extra “push” to turn it on, which involves stepping on the front or back of the pedal, and it always feels awkward. I give it 10/10 for the sounds it makes, but is very difficult to use in a live setting.

DigiTech EX-7 Expression Factory pedal

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

I play guitar and keyboards in an instrumental progressive-rock band called Tortoise Forest. We all have fairly large pedal boards and try to implement weird electronic sounds into our music whenever possible. So my usual gear that I bring to shows consists of 1 or 2 guitars (90’s Yamaha SGV-300 and/or Squier Super-Sonic), a loaded pedal board (Pedaltrain Novo 24), my amp (a Quilter Tone Block 201 head and a 1×12 cab that I converted from an old broken Fender Stage Master), my keyboard (Nord Electro 3 73SW) and synth (Korg Prologue 8) and sometimes a powered speaker for the keys/synth (JBL EON615).

I’ve gotten pretty good at setting all of this up in a timely manner, although the keys/synths are still pretty new for me in the band. I still play about 70% of the time on guitar and about 30% I switch to pianos, organs, electric pianos or synth leads & pads. I have thought about down-sizing the board and what-not, but I use all of these tools at live shows and I really enjoy improvising with new sounds each night, even if it means cramming extra stuff into my tiny sedan! 

Tortoise Forest live pedalboard setup
Quilter Tone Block 201 head with a 1×12 cab Fender Stage Master
Nord Electro 3-73SW and Korg Prologue 8

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

Right away, I gotta say that I wish Serum was available as an actual synth and not just a plug-in. Serum is an extremely versatile synth plug-in that has a very intuitive user interface, even if you’re not a big synth person. I have used a lot of synth VSTs and other plug-ins and I wish a lot of them were available as hardware units, but I love Serum so much and use it to write/improv/record many projects. I went with the Korg Prologue for my live hardware synth because it still does a lot of things well (mono leads, pads, arp stuff, etc.) But to have Serum in an actual hardware synth would be a dream. I understand why it’s not really feasible to do this, as you can add so many voices and so many high-end effects with Serum, but maybe someday…

For hardware available as software, I’m just gonna be that guy and wish that my entire pedal board was available as one easy-to-use plug-in. There are certain products available to record your board into your DAW without an amp or any kind of cab emulation… But it would be rad if in the future, every new pedal you purchase came with a serial-code or something for a free plug-in version. Then you could design a board in your DAW and have it there for recording with actual effects that you’re used to using, instead of having to design reverbs with unfamiliar plug-ins.

Serum VST plugin

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

Well, I have to admit that when I first bought my Meris Enzo (synth pedal), I ended up selling it. I just had a hard time using it live and dialing in levels. Then after about a week of not having it, I missed it SO much and ordered another one. It is one of the most flexible pedals capable of so much other than just gorgeous “real” synth sounds. I especially missed it for it’s dry mode, which lets you use a plethora of effects including pitch shifting, portamento, modulation (with rotary vibes), filters, ring mod, delay.. It is the coolest!).

Meris Enzo

I don’t regret buying too many items, however I do own TWO 1983 Yamaha SBG-200 electric guitars, and I totally don’t need TWO of them. My friend had one when we were younger and I remember it being awesome, so I bought one on Reverb (and it was as awesome as I remember). Then I saw another one pop up, the same exact guitar in the same finish, and I bought that one… My thought process was that these are becoming rare and I want to have a backup, but now I have an extra guitar taking up valuable space in my tiny basement studio and I never play it. Also, it’s for sale if anyone is interested ;).

Yamaha SBG-200

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

Hmm… A few pedals definitely come to mind. Any delay or reverb pedal with super long decay times are always inspirational. I got my Strymon TimeLine when I was just out of high-school back in 2010. That thing opened up a whole new world for me. It has infinite decay times with a bunch of different sounding delays, modulation, and a built-in looper… Ahh that looper is SO good. I know there are more options for loopers on the market now (I want a Blooper)… But the TimeLine looper can do similar things as the Line 6 DL-4 and being introduced to this when I was younger let me explore different sonic soundscapes that I didn’t know were possible to create.

Strymon Timeline

I also have to give it up to Meris again, the Hedra is one of the craziest pedals I have ever used. I bought it the day it was released (because Meris is great at revealing mysterious new pedals) and it’s one of my favorites on my board today. I’m a huge fan of pitch delay and this thing has THREE separate pitch delays that you can dial in at different rhythmic patterns. It can also pitch glide as slow or fast as you want it to, giving every option you would want in the world of pitch shifting.

Meris Hedra

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

I mentioned it earlier, but again I have to say the Strymon TimeLine. It still sounds great compared to everything out there today, and I have been using the looper for so long that it’s become so natural to use compared to other loopers. BUT the foot switches are very worn out from a decade of use, (plus it’s annoying to have to click two switches at once to bank up/down). I have sold some gear recently so that I can afford to order a midi controller to control all of my midi pedals. This will allow me to access more presets on each pedal, explore new sonic territories, AND hopefully make it so I don’t have to ever use the footswitches on the TimeLine again (will be using the midi controller as a looper-controller as well). I’m very excited.

Strymon Timeline having a whale of a time

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

Using multiple loopers at once. I have performed solo sets where I will use two looper pedals that are not at all midi-synced or anything, and stacking them is surprisingly good sounding. What I do is loop/record a short melody into the first looper in my signal chain. Then, after auditioning different chord progressions and/or basslines to put under this melody, I will loop/record the new chord progression WITH the first looper also playing the melody INTO the second looper in my chain. I’m sure that some people reading this are like “why don’t you just use a single looper than can already do this?”, which is totally valid. Because that exists. Umm, they are more expensive and I like using cheaper loopers that I already have. Plus this setup usually takes up less space than larger loopers (had the Boss RC-300 and sold it for being so huge). Some of my favorite loopers I use for this are the Line 6 DL4, Hotone Wally, Boss RC-3, Strymon Timeline, and the new Dunlop Clone Looper. Side note: having a looper such as the DL4, Timeline or the Clone Looper with a “play once” function makes it easier to “sync” each stacked loop.

Multiple loopers: Timeline, Line6 DL4, MXR clone, Hotone Wally, Boss Loop Station

Artist or Band name?

Tortoise Forest

Genre?

Instrumental Progressive-Rock

Selfie?

Max Davies aka. ShoeGazeCity

Where are you from?

Buffalo, NY

How did you get into music?

I started taking piano lessons when I was 5, then switched to drums and guitar when I was 13 and played in a bunch of bands. Being able to record myself on different instruments at a young age helped me to grow as a musician (thanks old school Tascam 8 Track :).

What still drives you to make music?

A bunch of things. Friends who post clips on Instagram of new pedal/instrument sounds are always super inspiring and make me want to explore new ideas in my studio. Writing new stuff with the band is always fun because it gives us the opportunity to take time to create something extremely technical/progressive/mathy in a private setting and then allows us to record this and play it live for our friends and fans to hear. Such a good feeling to have people enjoy what you’re creating.

How do you most often start a new track?

It depends on which project I’m working on. Tortoise Forest typically starts with one single melody, chord progression or “riff”. We try to explore every single possibility of different ways of playing that riff, whether it be backwards, faster, slower, in a random time signature, drowned in weird pedal effects, whatever. This makes writing songs in the progressive genre very satisfying. 

I will also record myself on drums, guitar, bass, keys, and vocals from time to time and make solo ambient/math/post/prog rock stuff. Sometimes if I want to just record “something” I will lay down an improvised/on-the-spot drum part without knowing what I want on top of it. Then I grab a guitar and throw whatever comes to mind on it, then record the appropriate bass lines, keys and sometimes vocals. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t even come close, but it still lets me practice improvising and I think it’s important to create new music every single day.

How do you know when a track is finished?

You don’t! I mean, there have been songs where we just didn’t have any more parts to add on and we deemed it as being finished. On the other hand, we still have songs that have been in the writing phase for a while that feel like they need more of… “something”. I guess regardless of the traditional “verse/chorus/bridge” writing styles, if our songs have a beginning, a middle chunk and an ending that sounds like an ending, we are generally pretty happy. 

Show us your current studio

ShoeGazeCity Studio
ShoeGazeCity Pedals and Guitars
ShoeGazeCity DAW setup with Ableton Live

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Everyone has a different standard for what is considered good music. You can create whatever you want, just create something.

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

I post pedal sounds and loops on my Instagram almost daily → @shoegazecity

[Editor: Do you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? Leave a comment]