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._/


Martin Yam Moller – OPZ FanBoi

[Editor: So I decided to do a blog of artist interviews and this is the pilot episode/article. I’m asking fellow musicians the same “9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies”.
Why am I doing this? Well, I miss the old TrashAudio interview series about Workspace and Environments (not to mention Analog Industries and MusicThing). Also, everything is so damn Podcast-y and YouToob-ish now a days. It would be nice to have a place where one can go to read a little, maybe browse a few photos about music gear and other cool junk. (besides I’m already paying for this website and domain name, might as well use it for something interesting like an old-school blog).
Anyway, I guess I’ll have to go first, so here are my answers to… 9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies
].

1 .What’s your favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?

Teenage Engineering OPZ wih flat encoder knobs

The knobs on the Teenage Engineering OPZ. Coz they’re flush with the body and work like tiny little turntables. Also they’re compatible with Lego Technics which is so damn cool. I’ve never used it. But it seems fun. The flatness of the knobs isn’t just a nice looking design, it is actually functionally better, because it means you can turn several knobs at once. Using one finger per knob. I don’t quite have the mental capacity to control all 4 knobs at once in a deliberate manner, but then again so much of music is a subconscious process.

Also the flat knobs make the OPZ easier to transport and take with you wherever you go. Which is actually 90% why I love the OPZ.

2. What is your ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?

Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar Larrivee

Acoustic guitar is probably the instrument that I think comes the closest to perfect. I got a lovely 25 year old, dreadnought Larrivee, which feels just like home. But of course, it can’t really do all genres. I guess if I had to select one bit of kit that could do it all. It would be the Akai MPC Live… or Ableton Live, which does pretty much every type of music. If only it didn’t require a computer to run on (with all the internet bagage that comes with it), then it would be perfect 😉

Akai MPC Live with stickers

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

If I had to be extremely minimal, it would probably be my Yamaha GuitarLele and my iPhone 6s (the last model with a proper headphone output jack) running AUM and a bunch of good apps, lately I’ve been really into Koala Sampler by Elf Audio. And some Sennheiser HD650 headphones. I think I could make a whole album with just that.

Yamaha GuitarLele with piezo pickup. Sennheiser HD650 and iPhone 6S running KoalaSampler

For a setup that I would actually have fun using. It would definitely be the Teenage Engineering OPZ and the Pocket Operators PO33 Knock Out and PO35 Speak, processed with the wonderful Zoom MS70CDR and the super playable the Korg Kaoss Pad Mini-S. This setup would have nearly no menus, be hugely flexible fx and yet very immediate to just make music and have a jam with. Also, all battery powered.

Zoom MS70CDR Teenage Engineering PO33 PO35 OPZ and Korg Kaoss Pad Mini-S

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

Is it totally silly to want Ableton Live as a piece of hardware? I guess Ableton’s Push is kind of a hardware version of Live. But the deep and detailed mouse editing is missing. Of course that would be nearly impossible to replicate in hardware.

iPad 3 running Samplr on Griffen soundcard

A more realistic piece of software to make into hardware would be the iOS app Samplr. But maybe the Tasty Chips Granular FX G-R1 is basically that, I dunno, coz I don’t own it. Love Samplr though, have it permanently ready to play on an old iPad3 with a cheap Griffin 30-pin soundcard.

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

Danelectro getting sticker bombed

Yeah, it pains me to admit that I once sold a nearly pristine Yamaha VSS-30 (aka. The ‘Sigur Ros’ lofi maker). That thing plugged into a huge reverb, and you’re done!

I also kinda regret buying a terracotta colored Danelectro via mail ordering, but only because I ordered a ‘Commie’ red one (Danelectros name) and I got another colored guitar instead. The exciting unboxing that revealed a pale pink guitar quickly turned into a disappointment. But the guitar itself sounded great… and I’ve since modded it quite heavily. Installing a piezo pickup and making it fretless and sticker bombed it too.

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

Probably just Ableton Live. It’s so great to make music with and super quick too. Conversely, I find it really hard to finish music in Ableton Live. Because there are endless possibilities and there are so many avenues to explore, that I never actually make decisions and finalise a composition. One way that I’ve used Ableton a lot, is to record out onto cassette tape with a 4-track recorder. That has become my preferred ‘dj’ setup to play electronic music in a live concert… and also just to get some great lofi soundscapes. The Tascam 424 mk1 has an extra low tape speed setting that just transforms every sound into an orgasmic mush of wonder.

Tascam 424 – 4track cassette recorder

The OPZ, with its limited sonic palette has really been an eye-opener for me as well. I’ve gotten a lot more tracks done and finished with the Opz, than nearly anything else I’ve owned. Mainly because it is so easy to take with you, and doesn’t have a million options.

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

OPZ…. If I had the skill-set that I have now, maybe the MPC Live. But if I was 15 and had no knowledge of production, then just a Macbook running Ableton Live 10, connected to the net, so I could see lots of tutorials. That would be awesome.

Although, I wonder what music I would be making if I had stuck to using just the setup that I had at the start. I’d might be making really crazy glitchy Warp level stuff, if I had just stuck to just making music on the transparent green iMac and Cubase VST 3.1, that I had in college.

8. The most annoying thing you have, that you just can’t live without?

I have a couple of Behringer soundcards with lots of inputs and outputs, the UMC1820 with ADA8200 on the ADAT i/o. They are the central part of my tiny studio, connecting my rack of moogerfoogers to my pc running ableton live. They just do the job and they are super cheap. And even though, I gotta admit to having a little bit of gear-snobbish-ness… some Behringer products are just too good a deal to leave alone. Hell, the fact that the UMC1820 has 2 headphone outputs, means that I can drive a couple of Accutonics tanks and return them via mic preamps… and voila: analog spring reverb inside ableton live!

Behringer UMC 1820 soundcard and ADA8200 i/o

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

The Ableton looper has a send-return path. So you can process each pass of the loop with other plugins or even better, with external hardware. I use this to make drones and ambient soundscapes that slowly disintegrate or morph into unrecognisable audio kibble. Fun stuff. Check out this article, which describes howto set up the Looper-Insert-FX


Artist or Band name?

Martin Yam Moller, it’s right there in the url 😉

Genre?

Mainly lofi beats with ambient soundscapes, but also sometimes alt-folk songs with a unique lyrical shock.

Martin Yam Møller

Selfie?

No thanks, I’m trying to quit… haha. Okay, fine…

Where are you from?

I’m half Danish and half Hong Kong Chinese. Currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark.

How did you get into music?

It’s that classic old tale again… Grunge meets boy. Boy plays drums with buddies in high-school. Mainly coz Nirvana’s Nevermind hit HK in ‘92 and also of course, Beatles records at home.

What still drives you to make music?

It still gives me that feeling.

How do you most often start a new track?

On my commute to work with an Opz. Or at home, after dinner with an acoustic guitar.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Well, I listen to the song, and if it’s 3min 20seconds later … and I haven’t gotten annoyed by something. Then it’s done!
It should also be said, that I don’t finish that many tracks or songs!

Go on… show us your current studio!

It ain’t pretty or large or anything else really…. but it’s mine.

Martin Yam Møller Home Studio 2020

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Fresh eyes or ears” can be had in 3 ways. Via Time, Space or Empathy. In other words…

  1. Wait a day/week/month and listen again.
  2. Go for a walk//bike/drive and listen someplace else.
  3. Listen with someone you love/respect.

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

Check out my instagram or youtube here below:


[Editor: If you got any artists you’d like to see interviewed in ‘9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies’? Then leave a comment]