Jonas Bjerre – Very A-Mew-Sing

[Editor: It’s with great pleasure that I present this interview. In case you didn’t know, Jonas is the lead singer in Mew; a very influential danish alternative rock band. A bonafide rock-star and a music gear junkie to boot]

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

The frequency knob on my Analogue Systems RS-240 Bode Type Frequency Shifter is pretty tasty. It’s huge! And I love turning it slowly to find the sweet spot I want to create a sort of strangely widened stereo image from a mono signal.

Analogue Systems RS-240 Bode Type Frequency Shifter

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

A few years back I bought a slightly expanded Make Noise Black and Gold Shared System, which I love dearly. I use it almost every day. I have a lot of other modules as well, but could probably get by with just the Black and Gold system – except I absolutely needed to be able to send clock from my DAW, which is why I opted for adding the Polyend Poly as one of my first additional purchases. I appreciate that Make Noise wants it to be separate from computers, and I think it would be strange if they made a midi to cv module, but that was the one thing that I absolutely needed.

Jonas’ Make Noise Black and Gold Shared System with lots of buddies

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

Usually just my notebook, my laptop, and a little usb keyboard. But I rarely work on music during vacations. I tend to take pictures instead.

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

Oh, I don’t know. They both got their own thing going on. I can’t think of anything.

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

There are some modules in my modular system that I don’t use very often. Maybe because they don’t feel as intuitive as I would like them to. I mainly don’t like modules with sub menus and whatnot, as it tends to disrupt my creative flow. But I have no regrets, I will get into using them when the time is right, or I will sell them. 
Quite a few years ago I bought a Paca, to run Kyma X, and I have still only touched the surface of that. It’s a bit like Max, but it runs on its own hardware. I really got into it at one point, and it’s an exciting system, you can do boundless things with it, but I am a little unhappy that it still only runs on soundcards with firewire (and a few oldish usb ones). And it’s not just about the connection, and getting an adapter, it really has to be specific soundcards. They really need to upgrade that soon, to usb-c, or I don’t think I’m going to be using it again, as I no longer have a firewire based soundcard, and it seems kind of foolish to have to buy one.
I regret that Mew sold our Juno-6 many years ago.
[Editor: Ouch!]

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

Honung & Møller Grand Piano

My very sweet parents gifted me a Tascam Portastudio 424 (mk1) 4-track casette recorder when I was about 14 (thanks mom and dad!). The fact that I could make overdubs opened up a whole universe to me, and we recorded the first demos for Mew on it. Of course this seems like ancient history today, with DAWs. Over time it’s probably been my Fender Jaguar and my Hornung & Möller piano. These days I am using my modular synths for almost every project, as well as my cello.

Yamaha CS-50, Prophet VS and Rhodes MkII

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

At present day, probably a laptop, soundcard, DAW, and mics. To me, the studio is the most important instrument. But then of course you’d need something to make sounds, and I don’t really like the feeling of using software synths. So I would get a nice analogue polyphonic synth, and a guitar. And a piano. And some drums. I’d definitely get into modular synths much sooner than I did.

Jonas’ instruments

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

Most problems I experience are with the software part of my DAW, corrupted preferences files, etc. Can’t do much recording without it, but sometimes I wish I had some simpler way of recording. In the last 5 years I’ve been using my Oberheim Matrix-1000 a lot, and that unit has caused me some headaches occasionally. I don’t really mind though. I don’t mind that things take time, and effort. To me, that’s part of the process of finding the happy accidents, and appreciating the results.

Marshall JCM2000 and Telefunken U47 vocal mic

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

Making feedback loops through reverbs and delays. You can design whole worlds of sonic texture, mixing an output back into an input. The Make Noise Erbe-Verb has this brilliant thing where the volume of the main output is translated into a control voltage, which you can patch and use to control the decay, so that it never completely distorts. Put a sound through it, and let it just reverberate for hours, cv-ing all the variables, it goes through an odyssey of sonic changes.


Artist or Band name?

Mew, Tachys, and Apparatjik

Genre

Oh man. 

Selfie?

Jonas Bjerre

Where are you from?

I’m from Copenhagen, Denmark.

How did you get into music?

I think I got into creativity as a whole, not necessarily music at first. I think, when I first watched Yellow Submarine with my dad as a kid, that’s when I first thought “oh of course, you can go wherever your imagination takes you”. So today I’m really into music and animation. It was the friendships with people at my school that formed the band, not so much wanting to be in a band necessarily.

What still drives you to make music?

More than anything, curiousity. And then of course this underlying need to create things, I am not sure where it comes from. I don’t want to believe it’s all escapism, but it’s probably all escapism.

How do you most often start a new track?

It really depends. I try to rid myself of methods. I just go with what happens. I always get the best results when I work without having a specific goal as to what the piece is going to be used for. Once I get too goal-oriented, it becomes less of a pleasure, and I think my best work comes from a process that I can take some kind of pleasure in. But I suppose a lot of the time, I start at the piano, or patching up something unexpected with my modular.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Sometimes it’s difficult. The really big ideas usually come about in an instant, and then I (or we) spend months trying to finish it in a way that doesn’t go against the flow of the initial idea. And towards the end, it’s often hard to let go and say it’s done.

Show us your current studio

Jonas’ home studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Let the song be what it wants to be, don’t force it. I think Michael Beinhorn told me that.

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

I did the soundtrack for a documentary series about Scandinavian Star, a cruise ship which caught fire in 1990 and killed 160 people. The music is pretty dark, for obvious reasons. I did most of it using my modular system, cello, and violin. It is out as a soundtrack album.
Currently I’m working on first Tachys music, my new project with Tobias Wilner of Blue Foundation, I’m really excited about that project!

[Editor: Scandinavian Star Soundtrack on Spotify]

[Editor: Also check out Mew]


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


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


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


Per Hansen – SongsFromTinPanAlley

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

Definitely the structure-knob on the Rings-module in Sympathetic strings-mode. I just love turning it and hear the subtle changes of harmonics! And it’s bigger than any of the other modular knobs I have.

Mutable Instruments Rings-module Structure knob

I also recently got the Microcosm from Hologram and the filter knob is turning out to be a favorite too. Turning it all the way clockwise and the reverb cranked nearly all the way up results in such beautiful and musical textures.

Microcosm from Hologram Electronics

But to be totally honest, then I’m more of a fader-man. I actually think knobs tend to be tedious and not so expressive and musical as faders. Just purchased the Sweet 16 from Tesseract Modular and I love being able to control my Disting ex and especially parameters on my Norns with it. I feel more focused and in control with faders.

Tesseract Modular

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

The Deluge is the mothership of my setup. Even though it has some flaws, like its lack of a decent file structure where you have to scroll through all the synths till you find the one you need, killing the flow, I cannot live without it. In an almost dawless environment, it is essential!

Synthstrom Deluge

And of course, I cannot live without my feelings. I consider feelings my main instrument and 100% my most perfect kit. All compositions start and flourish from the state of mind I’m in and it’s important for me to embrace it and let it unfold without any dogmas and restrictions.

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

My Oscar Teller guitar and the Deluge! Used to own the OP-Z, but unfortunately had to let it go to finance other gear. The Zed has a more handy size compared to the Deluge, but the Deluge has some other aces up its sleeve, like the fact that you are able to record very long samples on it and its ability to create an endless amount of tracks.

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

I’m actually trying to spend the least time possible with software. I get impatient behind a computer screen. What I love about making music is the tactile experience. Tuning “knobs” and “faders” with a mouse doesn’t give me that 😉

Audio Damage Quanta

It could be cool, though, to have the Qaunta by Audio Damage in a hardware eurorack- or synth version, with all the matrix possibilities.

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

Went down the eurorack-rabbit-hole and had to let go of my OP-1. I miss it every day, but they’re too expensive compared to what they can do!

I also sold my two polysynths – Digitone and Novation Peak. Miss them dearly every day. Maybe I have to buy a new secondhand Peak in the near future.

I usually don’t regret buying anything. Cause every purchase is a new adventure for me.

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

Definitely the Rings module. Whenever I send a sequence to it, it turns out to be a keeper.

I also get very inspired when looping random objects and instruments using the Cheat Codes script on my Norns.

Norns and Grid

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

A Grand piano in my own giant palace. Joke. It’s just a dreamers mind speaking, living with four kids in a relative small apartment.

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

My mini Mac!

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

Marantz PMD 222

Thanks to @perbarfot I discovered how cool it is to run an instrument through the Marantz PMD 222, while giving the loop tape a good scratching massage. Love the wow and flutter effect it gives. Also tried it on my Revox B77 using the tension arm with very good results.

ReVox B77

Artist or Band name?

Songs From Tin Pan Ally

Genre?

Ambient

Selfie?

Per Hansen

Where are you from?

Denmark, Copenhagen

How did you get into music?

When I was 15, I got a worn-out classical guitar from my grandmother and my first step was to learn every GNR song from a tabs book! Must have sounded pretty bad because I didn’t know how to tune a guitar 😉

But I really loved it and after learning the basics a friend of mine and I started a band and from there I began writing my own songs.

What still drives you to make music?

I’m always striving for music of chance. That’s my drive. Love the way a simple melody or a sound of any kind of music instrument can turn into something totally mind-blowing! And you end up asking yourself… Did I really do this?

How do you most often start a new track?

I often start a new track while patching my modular stuff and turning knobs. It can be a sound, a melody or just a drone-kind-of-sound that express a feeling or a mood. That’s the foundation. From there, I just try to add different layers to that foundation.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I press stop rec 😉

I listen to it many times the following days and if it still blows my mind, it’s a keeper.

Show us your current studio

Per Hansen’s Home Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t think too much. Just play and make a lot of mistakes!

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

I’ve just released ‘tænkeRUM’ on bandcamp and not long before that ‘Time’, which is also available on any streaming platform. In a couple of months, my first physical release is a reality. I’m planning on releasing it on cassette. At the moment, I’m calling it ‘autumn lullabies’

https://songsfromtinpanalley.bandcamp.com/album/t-nkerum

https://songsfromtinpanalley.bandcamp.com/album/time


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