Michael Famiglietti – Wander.Wonder

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

Automating the flying faders on the Chase Bliss Automatone is a magical way to explore overdrive and fuzz. 

Chase Bliss Automatone

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

Native Instruments Maschine MK3. NI just released a standalone version that somewhat improves upon the MK3. Hopefully the next version will have a touch screen, battery, CV in/out, & more control over what plugins/VSTs you can have onboard. 

Native Instruments Machine MK3

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

I typically take break from music when I’m away from the studio since I’m immersed in it most days. Maschine MK3, headphones, & a laptop is all I need for a portable writing setup. I also use GarageBand on my phone or iPad to get ideas out. 

iPhone and GarageBand and a pair of headphones

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

Like I mentioned earlier, Native Instruments just released a standalone version of the Maschine MK3 so they are working towards perfecting that software into hardware. I think the next version may be the one. I wish Meris would dive into VSTs/plugins. Their sounds are otherworldly but I think their pedal layout makes it tough to dial in their full potential sometimes. 

Meris Ottobit

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

I always regret selling my Meris pedals. I had them all at one point but now I only have the Hedra & Ottobit. I sold the Mercury7 to get a BigSky, Enzo for a C4 and Polymoon for a Timeline. I don’t own the BigSky, Timeline or C4 anymore so I think it may be time to revisit my old Meris friends. 

Meris Hedra

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

NI Maschine MK3

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

A laptop and a Maschine MK3. 

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

My Focusrite Saffire 56 interface. It has never worked quite right, but I’ve made it work for the last 10 years. Time to get an Apollo of some sort. 

Focusrite Saffire 56 audio interface

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

Cassette recorders are very useful. I use them as an instrument, as a “looper” or to add tape warmth/grit to recordings. The best $100 I’ve ever spent was on the old Tascam Porta02. 

Tascam Porta02

Artist or Band name?

Wander.Wonder 

Genre?

Chillhop meets Post-Rock

Selfie?

Michael Famiglietti aka. Wander.Wonder

Where are you from?

Virginia in the United States 

How did you get into music?

I bought a guitar in high school to start a band with my friends and I never stopped. 

What still drives you to make music?

I love exploring new sounds and seeing where they take me. 

How do you most often start a new track?

Typically with a sound I discover on a pedal or plugin. The algo inspires a riff or progression that I write around. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I’ve said enough but not too much.

Show us your current studio

Michael Famiglietti’s home studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Write as much as possible. Whether you’re trying out some new gear or just noodling on guitar, hit record and try to create. Just explore in the moment and then you can refine your ideas later. 

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

Just released my second album. You can stream it on your preferred platform in this link. Also check out my gear noodles on YouTube or IG if that’s your thing. 

https://linktr.ee/rednaw.wonder


Benjamin Shaw – Ponderer Sounds

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

Recently I got the Type One Analog Ensemble by Tom Oakes of Horrothia FX who just
happens to live in my town of birth, Cornwall in the UK. Asides from being an absolutely gorgeous chorus the Type One has this excellent arcade style button for the footswitch and it is so satisfying to click.

Type One Analog Ensemble

I also really love the Speed Control dial on my Sony Clear Voice Walkman, it’s old, plastic and the dial is knurled and recessed almost past the point of being able to turn it but the tactile experience mixed with the sonic result is awesome.

Sony Walkman varispeed

Lastly I don’t own one yet but I’m really looking forward to getting a Nakedboards MC-8 MIDI controller, the faders are a little larger and spaced nicely for using with orchestral software libraries to add that ‘human’ feel.

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

A recent addition for me is my StudioLogic SL88 Studio MIDI keyboard. I have an old family heirloom upright piano that is gorgeous but I haven’t been able to relocate it to our current residence, so getting a properly weighted, natural feeling, full size key bed has made writing with software instruments way more enjoyable and inspiring, so far I wouldn’t change a thing on it.

StudioLogic SL88 Studio MIDI keyboard

I used to manage a mates boutique shop, Pedal Empire, in Brisbane and build pedalboards professionally, so I have played hundreds, if not thousands of individual pedals, my ethos from that experience is that ‘perfect’ is a relative term and every pedal, if you allow it the time, can yield some ‘perfect’ results in the right context. I think it’s up to the player to find the gold and follow where it leads. Even something as amazingly engineered as the Chase Bliss Blooper for example, is full of quirks, artifacts and limitations of sorts, but if you ironed all those out to be ‘perfect’ it probably wouldn’t be half as fun.

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

Since moving to a rural, coastal location in Tasmania in recent years I haven’t had need to take a rig on the road much, however if we do go away for longer than a few days and I need to film a demo or make some music I’ll usually take the Walrus Audio Slö, Bondi Art Van Delay, 1981 DRV & CBA Blooper. Those with a guitar, laptop and little interface is all I need for guitar inspiration.

Walrus Audio Slö, Bondi Art Van Delay, 1981 DRV & CBA Blooper

I’m also building a small modular system that is easy to take out and make generative ambient music.
If I don’t have need for anything and just want to make some music in the moment I love using the Fugue Machine app, it’s great for coming up with a simple melody and layering in different speeds and directions… too much fun.

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

I use PaulStretch a lot, something about taking a 1 minute piece and making it 15 minutes long is so fascinating to me and PaulStretch does that in it’s own special way, I’d love that in a pedal. I’m pretty new to modular synth but perhaps there’s a module that does that.

I recently got hold of a Pecan Audio Edera which is a stereo warming unit in a small simple pedal format. Previously I would use some plugin distortion on the fx bus to warm up tracks while wishing I had something like the Analog Heat, but way less complicated, so the Edera has fulfilled that wish.

Pecan Audio Edera

Back the other way, hardware I wish was software, I still haven’t found a plugin or process that yields the same result as recording to cassette or tape and slowing down. 80’s and 90’s tape/cassette equipment all have their own oddities that they impart to a recording. They sounds so good to me and even the best tape emulation can’t quite nail it just yet. They’re getting closer and closer though.

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

Years ago I made my mind up that I wouldn’t have any extra pedals/gear laying around that weren’t in constant use or on my pedalboard so I used to sell everything surplus to my needs and made my mind up not to regret any of it. I don’t follow that mantra anymore and have heaps of gear in corners and on shelves. I have bought and sold an El Capistan about 4 times now, currently don’t have one, that’ll probably change again. I did have an original Bondi Del Mar that I let go right before the prices got exorbitantly high which is a bit of a bummer, but I kinda despise that part of the gear community anyway, I like to sell knowing people are getting a good deal.
Working at PE for years made it easy not to miss things I’d personally sold when it’s always there in store if you need a fix. I would get way too sad if I let myself think too much about what I’ve let go, safe to say I’ve moved through hundreds of pedals on my board in the last 10 years. I don’t think I’ve regretted a purchase ever because it’s all a learning experience finding out what works and what doesn’t.

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

My process for making pedal demos has always been to let the subject pedal guide my noodling and musing so mostly when you watch one of my videos you’re hearing snippets of how the said pedal has inspired me.
I always get inspired easily by Spitfire Audio orchestral samples, they just capture so much realism and are emotive to play, same goes for Fracture Sounds, The Phonoloop and Felt Instruments.
Pedal wise the Hologram Electronics Microcosm is pretty much the most inspiring analog thing I’ve owned and I can rest assured that plugging into it will spark something if I’m ever drawing a blank.

Hologram Electronics Microcosm

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

I started playing guitar in the ‘Big Amp Heavy Guitar’ era, if I could go back and tell myself to get a Telecaster and a Princeton it would make a world of difference. My first pedals were a Line-6 DL4 and a Crowther Hot Cake which I still think now for the way I like to write and play are great pedals to start with.

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

I feel like maybe I’m in a sweet spot where I’ve narrowed down my choices to equipment that largely improves my work flow. That said, I recently dived headlong into modular synthesis after a few years of deliberating, and though I have a clear vision for what my desired sounds from Modular are, the learning curve is pretty dramatic. The Patch & Tweak book from Kim Bjorn Bjooks is helping a lot though.

Ponderer Sounds eurorack

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

In the box I love to duplicate tracks, hard pan them, and then zoom in and move one of them just a few milliseconds ahead for a massively wide sound. Also a fun trick is recording something to tape, physically speeding it up and recording it again and then slowing it down and stretching it out to overlay with the original recording. This adds textures that I absolutely adore the heck out of.

Hardware wise the Horrothia Type One I mentioned earlier is a terrific widening tool with the chorusing effect dialed at it’s slowest where you can’t actually discern the movement. I nearly always record guitars for stuff other than demos through the Type One in stereo even if I later end up panning or summing to mono, it just sounds so good and I leave it on constantly. The only downside is I don’t get to smash that arcade button as much as I’d like!


Artist or Band name?

Ponderer Sounds – My Youtube Channel for gear demos and music creation

Genre?

Ambient/Post Rock/Dream Pop/Orchestral

Benjamin Shaw

Where are you from?

Originally Cornwall UK – Live in Tasmania Australia (but probably not for too long)

How did you get into music?

I played piano under my grandmothers supervision from about 4 or 5 years old. Music was always encouraged in our home. I have fond memories of crawling under the dining room table with a small cassette radio and a cushion and listening to George Harrison’s Cloud Nine album till I fell asleep. I would have been 6 or so. And I grew up with a nice collection of records from the Beatles, Bee Gees and Creedence Clear Water that I played to death, plus when someone else wasn’t playing music my mum always had Beethoven or Tchaikovsky on. My childhood had a constant soundtrack.

I think I started guitar when I was 17, I’d steal my sister’s boyfriend’s sparkly silver Ibanez and teach myself how to play punk rock like Rancid & Bracket. I remember discovering the power chord and then it was all full steam ahead. Later I got into Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Foo Fighters before getting into less mainstream and more indie/emo stuff in the late 90’s.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s my life blood, being creative is the way of the future and I believe it will only become more and more important to us the more automated the rest of our lifestyle becomes. It amazes me that there’s only a handful of notes, limited combinations of them to create chords and melody, but somehow the human element of interpreting them constantly yields fruit that didn’t exist previously, and an individual can move so many strangers with mere vibration.

How do you most often start a new track?

I’ve never been one for learning other peoples music, when I sit at the piano/keyboard or pick up my guitar I gravitate towards making something myself. I’m in the process now of adapting small musical ideas from pedal demos and turning them into full tracks so typically that’s where a new idea spawns.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t really know, but when I’ve added everything in my head and find myself getting lost in it, when I’m supposed to be listening back subjectively, I know it’s pretty much ready to go.

Show us your current studio

Ponderer Sounds Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’ Pablo Picasso.

Always start, move yourself till something moves you and then chase that down.

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

Head over to my youtube channel (Ponderer Sounds) to watch weekly demos on great pedals and gear, and stay tuned for a new song creation series I’m working on.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgHpuhheoXRxZVKONOOFE_g/

[Editor: All photos in this interview are by Tiarne Shaw]

Slow Haste – Chillwave To Taste

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

OP-1

The blue rotary encoder on the Teenage Engineering OP-1.  I actually cannot keep my hands off of it.  If you watch any of my Instagram jams featuring the OP-1, I’m constantly nudging and spinning it every which way to adjust the tape speed while performing — sort of a faux-master-pitch-vibrato.  Vibrato is tied with reverb for my favorite effect, it adds emotion, uncertainty, and imperfection to everything.  It makes the OP-1 sound less digital, and the OP-1 is unashamedly digital.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that about it.  But that blue knob gives it soul.

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

The Caroline Guitar Co. Météore.  It was my first reverb pedal, and I got it at Chicago Music Exchange the first time I visited Chicago (where I now reside!)  It’s also my only reverb pedal I haven’t sold or traded.  For the uninitiated: it’s a lo-fi reverb inspired by the sonic environment of a particular modern Paris Métro station.  It can get super super gritty and loud, but I think it excels at layering right behind the dry signal, spilling out little splashy puddles of your guitar tone. The only thing I would change is the switches — sometimes engaging the pedal can be a bit finicky.  But to be completely honest, I always have it on (literally all the time) so it’s a non-issue, really.

Caroline Guitar Co. Météore

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

My OP-1.  It’s really the only easily portable piece of gear I have, aside from individual effects pedals.  The OP-1 has an absurd battery life, is designed to travel well, and is perfect for killing time while sketching out ideas or just messing around.  Not to mention you can sample ANYTHING with it.  A laptop, an aux cable, and the OP-1 is a fantastic portable drawing board.  Some of my favorite OP-1 pieces have been built around random samples recorded straight to the onboard mic, too.  

OP1

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

To be honest, I’m not a huge software person.  I’m not a “hardware purist” or a strictly DAW-less musician, but I don’t enjoy making music with software nearly as much as with hardware; it’s just not as inspiring to me.  A DAW is a specific tool that fits into a specific part of my process.  That said… I think having software versions of all of my guitar and modular effects would be incredibly convenient for experimentation and playing around in Logic Pro X.  I think the Montreal Assembly Count to 5 would be particularly fun to play with in a DAW, automating parameters could get really wacky really fast.

Pedalboard of fun

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

I regret selling my Chase Bliss Audio Thermae more than anything.  I bought it on an impulse the summer it was released.  It was not a sound financial decision.  I used it on a recording project and sold it a few months later because I knew I didn’t need it.  But whenever I see any posts showcasing that pedal, I end up revisiting old recordings I’ve used it on and get pretty nostalgic.  As weird as that sounds, it definitely reminds me of hot summer days, since that’s when I was using it most!

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

It’s a tie between my modular system and the OP-1.  My recent album was almost entirely produced on the OP-1, but most of the songs came from modular samples.  I unintentionally started writing and recording the album the day that I got my first modules (Mutable Instruments Plaits and Marbles), just messing around and recording audio into the OP-1 tape tracks.  The modular inspired, and the OP-1 enabled.

Eurorack modular

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

No surprise here: the OP-1.  But can it come with a guitar?  I don’t need pedals or even an amp.  I can get by with the OP-1 and a guitar.

Sweetly colored Stat

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

Cables.  Not talking about patch cables here — I love modular patch cables, and physically patching my system is one of the most therapeutic aspects of creating music.  Any other cables though… mic cables, instruments cables, power cables, etc.  If everything could just connect wirelessly, I wouldn’t have to worry about the physical placement of objects or “setting things up” when I want to play and record.  I have a lot of stuff in a small space, so I try to keep things as tidy as possible.  Cables make this quite a challenge.

Cables

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

More of a creative/writing tip than a technical tip: one of my favorite “help I’m stuck and don’t know where to start creating!” solutions is to play a melody or chord progression into the Montreal Assembly Count to 5, lock a pitch shifted loop into place, and then record a fixed number of bars of that loop onto my Boss RC-30 Looper.  Hearing the instantaneous alteration of an improvised melodic idea repeated in a rhythmic manner gives me SO much to play off of.  It’s an easy quick way to create a new idea to build upon.  If you don’t like the result, it’s easy to give it another go.  I create most of my guitar loops this way, and end up sending them into my modular system and mangling them further with the Make Noise Morphagene.  

Montreal Assembly Count to 5

Artist or Band name?

Slow Haste

Genre?

Experimental Electronic, Chillwave, Ambient.

Selfie?

Slow Haste

Where are you from?

Born and raised in Windham, ME.  Currently based in Chicago, IL.

How did you get into music?

I asked my parents for guitar lessons when I was 6 yrs old, and then drum lessons at 8 yrs old.  I played clarinet in my school band, in a pop punk band with friends, and sang in an auditioned choir in high school.  Music has always been a part of pretty much everything I do, constantly evolving with me.  I also currently play guitar and sing in an indie rock band called Tired Driver.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s an outlet for expression, at the most vague level.  I’m still trying to figure this one out myself.  I tend not to fully understand the essence of a body of work I produce until it’s complete and I’m able to reflect on it from an outside perspective. I suppose I should work on being more in touch and intentional with my musical brain!  But seriously, the stuff I find most inspiring is the stuff that just spills out without having to think about it.  Once that foundation is down, I can use my logical brain to piece it together.  But the essence just happens.  Coffee helps, too.

How do you most often start a new track?

It’s mostly improvisational.  I will decide to play percussion, guitar, synths, or whatever else.  Once I find a beat/melody/progression/etc that excites me, I build upon that with other instruments.  Most of the time once I hear something I like, I can hear the rest of an arrangement in my head and will try to piece this together as I proceed. I’m the most productive early in the morning.  Generally, I thrive in the daytime and vastly prefer it over night.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it makes me smile.  Sounds stupid but I mean it.

Show us your current studio

Studio

Hard to get it all in one shot with guitars/amp/pedals, but here’s my desktop setup! Also, here’s a shot of my old setup in a prior apartment, pre-OP-1 and modular.

Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I don’t know if I heard this anywhere or if it’s just become a common practice of mine through trial and error: Don’t force yourself to try to create if you aren’t in the mood.  I’ve done that before and it makes me start to resent the process.  I never want making music to feel like a chore, so I never make myself do it if I don’t feel like it.  A lot of people will say “just sit down at your instrument and start playing, do this every day to get in the habit”, but I’ve never really gelled with that sentiment.  I have to be excited about what I’m doing to be able to be productive and enjoy it.  And I think it’s important to give myself space from creativity if I’m just not feeling it for whatever reason.

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

I released my first album, “Dandelion”, in March. Go give it a listen!