Ashley Cronon – ARC Ambient

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

Korg Minilogue Filter/Resonance/EG Knobs.  Being that this is my only piece of gear that has knobs, I am more than satisfied with the sounds that can be achieved.  The possibilities are infinite.  I look forward to purchasing knobs in the future and creating my own modular synth unit.  I recommend the Korg Minilogue as a great start for anyone interested in enriching their sounds.

Filter Cutoff Korg Minilogue

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

Korg Concert 3500.  At the moment I am building my studio so all my equipment has a unique use for now.  Unfortunately the sound quality of this vintage piece is of poor condition and needs heavy repair. 

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

Akai MPK Mini

Laptop/Akai MPK Mini/Casio MT-240.  For travel sake the Akai MPK Mini and the Casio MT-240.  Both are lightweight and when combined, provide the essentials needed for recording ideas outside the studio.  I have yet to perform and personally prefer making sounds as a therapeutic outlet.

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

Garage Band is the only software I have been working with and it’s running a very old version of the program which I am not complaining about. 

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

I could eventually regret all the cheap gear I am purchasing right now.  Most likely I will hand it off to someone starting their own set-up.  I personally don’t regret my buys because I learn from them.  I have not sold anything at the moment.

Keys galore

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

Korg Minilogue.  This is my first and only expensive piece of gear as of now.  Most of my equipment has been collected and repaired. 

Korg Minilogue

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

A new laptop.  I still need to buy one with better music software that doesn’t run at a glacial speed.  It’s been a challenge but I’m surprised at what I have produced.

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

My damaged Korg Concert 3500.

Korg Concert 3500

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

All my cheap equipment surprises me if used properly.  It’s not the gear it’s the artist.


Artist or Band name? 

ARC Ambient

Genre?

Ambient/Dark Ambient/Other

Ashely Cronon

Where are you from?

California

How did you get into music?

I’ve been a band nerd since 3rd grade.

What still drives you to make music?

MUSIC

How do you most often start a new track?

It’s a therapeutic process for me so it depends on my mood.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I make short samples.  I tend to let the tracks sit for a while and open them back up with fresh ears.

Show us your current studio

ARC Ambient Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I don’t like to waste notes not even one – Johnny Marr.

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

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFTlOHmgdSm/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link


Project Null – Noise and Dropouts

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

The speed selector of the Uher 4000 Report-L. You have to push it down and drag it like a gear lever, so satisfying.

Uher 4000 Report-L

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

The Tascam Portastudio 424. It’s a 4 track tape recorder, you can adjust the pitch by more or less 4 semitones, you can switch the speed from « high » to « normal » and to « slow », that’s pretty unsusual for a tape recorder, it distorts well when you record a hot signal, it has a good and effective EQ, panning for each track. Only regret is that there is no xlr input and no phantom power to use condenser mics with it – but this is not really a problem, I use a portable phantom power supply -.

Tascam 424

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

For sure my Volca FM, a tape recorder or a dictaphone, my shortwave radio and a Zoom MS70. (However, when I’m on holidays (which is rare), I don’t do music that much (if I do, its generally field recording))

Volca FM, tape recorder, shortwave radio and Zoom MS70

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

I don’t use that much my computer when I produce music. Of course, I edit/mix my tracks with it, especially when tape recorders are too noisy using a denoiser or to compress a little bit using Klanghelm’s MJUC, or to arrange the stems. However I tend to say that iZotope’s Iris 2 would be great in hardware.

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

Not really a regret because it’s objectively a great synth, but the MS20 (mini) doesn’t really suits me. It’s the first synth I bought when I started – because it looked cool with the patch panel, I felt like a mad scientist or some shit – but I rarely managed to use it in my music, even though some patches are unique and amazing. Sold it 1 week ago because I’m low on money.

Korg MS20 mini

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

The Minilogue has definitely inspired me a lot, especially the mono voice mode – highly underrated imo -. You can bring a sub oscillator, detune you 2 vco a fourth, a fifth or just a little bit, affect your lfo to the pitch or the shape – to get some shifting in the sound – at a really slow rate and you get a massive sound on the lower notes. Also, the sweet spot on the Q of the filter is really nice. The built-in delay is incredible too, noisy as hell and dirty, absolutely perfect.

Korg Minilogue

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

I would get the Yamaha VSS-200. The sampling section is insane on this one, I use it a lot in my music production. I sample basically anything and everything, from other synths to acoustic instruments such as flute, guitar, even my voice, and it sounds so gritty, lovely. I made this demo on my YouTube channel, to show how it sounds like: https://youtu.be/vxlvFDanYbo

Yamaha VSS200

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

The Casio CZ-101. I love this synth, great evolutives sounds and has a warm character for a digital one, but it erase all the presets you’ve done if you don’t use it for two days. It uses those big expensive batteries (type D I believe), and I didn’t figured out yet how to mod it so it can use standard AA’s batteries. It’s a pain to program too, especially the enveloppes, so I use my iPad and Patch Base to edit my presets and manage them.

Casio CZ101

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

The generation loss technique. It’s mostly known for vhs, but it works with regular cassette tapes as well. When you record something into a tape, and sample it back into another tape, you experience the generation loss. And each generation sounds « worse » than the previous one, with more artifacts. I use it a lot with my two vcrs, but sometimes I also use two walkmans and bounce my stem from one to another. Experienced it on this little snippet on my Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/p/CBLj1X9o4De/

(you can hear the dropouts and the subtle wow and flutter as soon as I engage the vcr)

VCRs

Artist or Band name?

PROJECT NULL

Genre?

Electronic

Where are you from?

Draveil, France

How did you get into music?

When I was 17 years old, I watched on YouTube a drum solo by Joey Jordison, drummer of Slipknot, I was impressed and I wanted to play drums.

What still drives you to make music?

Making stuff that I would like to listen to, I mean, I put a lot of pressure on myself, I don’t want to share anything if I am not ok with it.

How do you most often start a new track?

I start by finding a chord progression or a melody. Then, I work the sound on a synth, depending on the type of sound I’m looking for I’m gonna use a different synthesizer or a different effect chain. Finally, I record it into my tape recorders, reel to reel or vhs, and if I want to give it some mood I resample it again and again, degrading it until I like the result. Then, I add other stems, like some noises, samples from my own stuff, some radio interferences, field recordings… Recently, I even tried to add subtle rhythm (recording real drums/various percussions mixed with electronic sounds) but I’m not really satisfied by the result.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Honestly, I don’t know, I am never satisfied by how my track ends.

Show us your current studio

Project Null Studio
Project Null Studio
Project Null Studio
Project Null Studio

Sorry for the bad light, its a very tiny room (less than 7 sqm) without any window, so no natural light. Lots of mess too, especially on the last photo, and the « light spots » I use for my videos are two Ikea’s light with tissue to avoid too much reflection (hmm I should buy proper lights at some point)

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Less is more. I often want to add too much but I realised that, sometimes, when I « clean » my Ableton session by removing stems, it sounds much better.

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

I released my first album on march, you can listen to it on every streaming platform you use – I put a Spotify link here but it is on every streaming services -.

https://open.spotify.com/artist/2c52lcjvCs1T7mKbXA2fFS


Selsey – Dreamy Synthy Pop

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

The OP-1 crank. It’s just so loveable!

Cranking the OP-1

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

For me, it’s the OP-1. It’s a minimalist’s dream because it can do everything – drums, melody, bass, all the layers – in such an intuitive way. I’d make it fully MIDI compatible so I could integrate it into my Ableton workflow somehow; I’d make the keys touch sensitive; I’d give it 2.5 octaves instead of 1.5; and I’d give it a sustain pedal. Dream machine.

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

On a trip, I try to keep it light:

  • Nuraphones
  • OP-Z
  • OP-1
  • SP-404 (sometimes / for longer trips)
Travel music kit

To play a show, it’s more complicated! I add to that:

  • Yamaha Reface DX
  • TC- Helicon Perform VK
  • Shure Super 55
  • Zoom H6 as a mixer
Live music setup

I don’t have a commute, but if I did, I’d consider just bringing my OP-Z.

Teenage Engineering OPZ

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

Arpeggios are my favorite musical tool. I really wish you could get the superfine arpeggio controls you have in Ableton on a hardware synth. And as a non-drummer, I would love to find a software drum loop maker as intuitive to me as the OP-1’s finger mode.

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

I bought the Midi Fighter Twister in the hopes of using it to make layered live loops with my iPad the way @KelbyKryshak does, which is totally awesome🤘. I soon realized that I don’t like using apps in my workflow – I think it somehow takes me out of the moment. I’m hanging onto it because I haven’t ruled out making a custom setup for it in Ableton, but that might prove to be more of a challenge than I’m willing to take on. Also, I have the Push 2, so I’m not yet sure what function or value the twister would add to that setup.

Midi Fighter Twister and Olympus camera

I’m kind of an aspiring minimalist, so it’s very possible that at some point soon I’ll say goodbye to it.

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

The obvious answer is my OP-1 – it gave me an explosion of creativity around learning basic music production techniques with drums and basslines and everything. However! My Reface DX has been my constant companion and workhorse in songwriting. First of all, it’s a joy to play.  The touch sensitive keys feel great, with smooth action. And as I am working through the hardest parts of identifying and defining melodies and chord progressions,  it is the perfect companion for me because its keyboard is small and manageable, while being big enough to play bass notes and chords at once. And the voices are so evocative and inspiring.

Selsey’s songwriting setup: Reface DX, OP-1, typewriter, and sake

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

It’s between the OP-1 and the Reface DX. The OP-1 for its all-in-oneness, and the DX for its beautiful sounds, relative portability, and space-pianoness.

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

My SP-404. The sticky buttons kill me (the phat pads I want are on backorder!), and sampling loops into it is such a pain. I love it to death, but at some point I wouldn’t rule out upgrading to a more robust modern sampler like the Octatrack.

Rolabnd SP404SX

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

The sequencer on the Casio-PT 30 is amazing. You can program it with a melody, and then push one of two “One Key Play” buttons to activate the notes one by one. So when you play it, it’s like you’re playing a solo, but it’s almost impossible to fuck up. You can see me do this in my cover of White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes, around the 1 minute mark: https://www.instagram.com/tv/Bs3KEAyH3k8/. I wish so hard that the OP-1 could do this.

Casio-PT 30 and OP-1

Artist or Band name?

Selsey

Genre?

Bedroom Synthpop

Selfie?

Selsey herself

Where are you from?

Northern California, but I currently live in Hong Kong.

How did you get into music?

Folk singer songwriters in high school got me inspired to pick up a guitar – Iron and Wine, Feist, Regina Spektor, Bright Eyes, Ray Lamontagne, that type of artist. I also learned classical and a bit of jazz piano in high school. Recently, I got really into making dawless synthpop after falling in love with the OP-1 at the MoMA Design Store in New York. I started making videos for Instagram and, well, here I am!

What drives you to make music?

  1. I relish the challenge of learning songwriting and producing music. Sometimes it’s torture but the payoff is addictive.
  2. The community on Instagram has been really warm and kind. People have created a place you really like to hang around.
  3. I just love singing and making music, so I can’t help but want to do it.

How do you most often start a new track?

I am only now learning how to use Ableton (my first DAW), so I’ll talk about my songwriting process instead. I sit down with my Reface DX, my typewriter or a notebook, and my phone to record snippets. I play chords randomly and vocalize until I hear something I like. Record it. Wash, rinse, repeat. Along the way, I try to get a sense of which snippets are more verselike or more chorus-like. Eventually I will have enough snippets to form a song. Then, I write the words, which is the hardest part.

[Editor: Yeah, lyrics are alwyas a huge pain]

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the words don’t make me cringe too hard; when every section feels like it’s part of the whole; and when the transitions between parts are not too awkward.

Show us your current studio

Selsey Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

You’ll suck at first. Keep going.

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

I have a few things in the works. But for now, head to my Instagram to see some of the stuff I’ve done!

https://www.instagram.com/selsey._/