Aqeel Phillips – A View to Aqeel

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

Monome Teletype

I’m gonna go with the Monome Teletype’s single “param” knob. It might be a weird answer, since this knob can do whatever you want it to do, but personally I almost always have it mapped to a global “probability” setting in my Teletype patches. Probability that a trigger will pass through, probability that triggers might jumble and be routed to an unexpected output, etc. I consider this a bit of a secret weapon, and discovering this was a moment when I was really feeling like I was figuring out how to work modular into my music. With this single knob, I can control the “energy” of a patch, taking it from sparse and mysterious to lively and animated with a quick flick.

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

Elektron Machinedrum

I’ll say the Elektron Machinedrum. It sounds amazing, and I feel like I barely need to edit and mix the sounds that come off of it, but it’s definitely dated. It doesn’t have all of the niceties of the newer Elektron boxes, like the Rytm mkII or Digitakt. I find it really easy to edit the wrong track, and it unfortunately doesn’t have the modern Elektron sequencer with trig conditions and microtiming. I’ve even considered sequencing it externally… But the sounds themselves are totally worth keeping it around, even with these limitations.

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

Elektron Digitakt

Historically, I’ve taken the Digitakt. It’s easy enough to throw in a backpack, and you can even record off it without an interface via Overbridge. For whatever reason though, I usually tend to be finishing projects while traveling, so it’s often just my laptop and headphones.

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

Strymon Big Sky

I don’t use a lot of software… I’ll cheat and say that sometimes I wish I had a real piano or Rhodes, as opposed to the VSTs that I use in my music. In terms of hardware, I often wish the Strymon Big Sky was a plugin that I could pull up on the computer. I really just use it as a master send effect from Ableton. 

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

ER-301

Most things I find myself regretting selling, I eventually end up buying again. It feels a little silly (and I lose some cash in the process), but sometimes it takes some time away from something to really respect its worth. I’ve sold and re-bought Make Noise Morphagene, Intellijel Metropolis, and I recently bought an ER-301 back from a friend. I did nab a really nice Yamaha electronic drum kit for an utterly insane deal a while back, and ended up passing it on to somebody else when I was living in a small apartment. Now that I’ve got the room for it, I definitely miss it.

I regret buying an Arturia Matrixbrute. Some of the keys broke somewhere along the way, and it’s so heavy and large that it’s been unruly to get it fixed and eventually sell it. I’ll get around to it, but I’m never excited about the idea of lugging it out to the car…

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

Make Noise Morphagene

Probably Morphagene, the same Morphagene that I’ve sold and re-bought haha. Nowadays, it’s genuinely my favorite module and really epitomizes eurorack to me. I never know what it’s gonna do, but I always love what it ends up spitting out, which is a huge part of the fun I have with modular. It’s like my little bandmate that comes up with something interesting and inspiring for me to craft a song with.

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

Make Noise Tape & Microsound Music Machine

In the same vein as my previous answer, I’d probably start with the Make Noise Tape & Microsound Music Machine. I’ve essentially got this in my system in my rack, purposefully placed right next to each other too. Each module in that system is something that I don’t believe quite exists in the software realm. So I feel like I could do a lot with that system and any DAW for drums, soft synths, effects, etc.

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

Hologram Electronics Microcosm

Pieces of gear that annoy me don’t tend to stick around very long. 🙂 I’ll say the Hologram Electronics Microcosm. I don’t think it’s very flexible, but what it spits out is absolute gold. It feels kind of scared of sounding “bad”, and I frequently find myself wishing I had access to the sounds “between” the settings that it offers. But at the same time, it’s my go-to for spicing up a track, and creating something unexpected. I will say, I think if I didn’t have experience with modular (meaning, having so much experience making bad sounds), I would be totally content with it. But with that experience, it often feels like a box of nice Clouds presets.

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

I mentioned the Machinedrum feeling a little primitive, but I’ve figured out a couple tricks here and there that get me where I need to go. One is that I’ve been using the “swing” to make my beats more interesting. The MD doesn’t have microtiming, but you can add swing per step (even on individual tracks), and adjust the amount of swing. I’ll often have fun with punching in a standard beat, adding swing to a couple steps, and then setting the “swing” amount to something extreme like 75%. This way, it might imply a 32nd note in some places, without adjusting the overall sequence timing to be 2x. It’s something that you could easily do with microtiming on something like the Digitakt, but it needs this fun little workaround on something older like the MD.

Machinedrum

Artist name

Aqeel Aadam

Genre

Some kind of downtempo, cinematic ambient meshed with hip-hop style beats.

Selfie

“Hey, can you take a picture of me?” in the middle of writing this.

Aqeel Philips in the middle of writing this interview

Where are you from?

Outside of Philadelphia, PA (which is where I currently live too!)

How did you get into music?

I started by teaching myself guitar and eventually started making sample-based beats with Ableton in high school. I wanted to trend more towards “composing” than “producing”, so I caught the hardware bug once I realized it could be like commanding your own little orchestra.

What still drives you to make music?

From a musical perspective, I don’t think I can honestly claim that it’s therapeutic or anything like that, but creating something is an activity that I genuinely very deeply enjoy (I suppose this is some form of therapy…). I like creating the music that I want to hear and feel like the world might enjoy. There’s also a sense of pride in creating something that feels very gratifying.

From another perspective, there’s a vast world of instruments that offers a great sense of exploration to me. There’s always a new stone to uncover, a new path to try out, some combination of things that you might never have considered before. Kurt Vonnegut said “we are put on earth to fart around,” and I can say for certain that hardware and modular synthesizers can provide you with a great deal of farting around.

How do you most often start a new track?

Ambience, atmosphere, texture – some kind of ambient wash that becomes the sonic bed for the track. I like to set up a generative bed with something like Morphagene or a granular module, which gives me the “kindling” to find inspiration from and write with. I’ll listen to these beds and hear accidental snippets of chords or melodies – this gives me inspiration to refine those random ideas into something more formalized. Also, I find it very hard to add in texture after the fact, so I like to start with it to keep myself sane.

How do you know when a track is finished?

In line with the previous answer – when I’m working on a track, I’ll hear “whispers” of things to add, little ideas that pop into my head that become a melody, bassline, chord progression, rhythmic element, etc. Once those stop revealing themselves, I take it as my cue to hit record.

Show us your current studio?

Home studio desk
Home studio with eurorack
Moog Matriach

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Probably to “invest in happiness”. Suffering from GAS and chasing gear is one thing, but if there’s something you can tell will help you feel creative and make your life more fun and easier, get it. Looking around my studio though, maybe I’ve invested in happiness too much 🙂 But at the end of the day, the only reason I hold onto something is because it makes me happy to use it.

Aqeel’er Studio [Editor: Ok. I’ll stop now]
Fx Pedals and 4-track tape
Ed O’Brian Strat [Editor: just about the perfect guitar]

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

I just put out a new collaborative EP with my friend Fossilize Me on Mystery Circles! 2 songs each from FM and myself, and one mash-up track. It can be purchased on a 7” vinyl here and is available for streaming under each of our names.


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


BoBeats – Treats from BobEats

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

Since I am a poor keyboard player I really like the Digitakts buttons. Playing on them is for some reason easier to me than playing on regular keys. I guess its because they are just simple on/off buttons. Feels like typing on a keyboard. 

Elektron Digitakt buttons

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

I would say that Maschine+ comes very close to perfect. Being in love with the Maschine workflow and now being able to use it without a computer. Its kinda dreamlike. 

Native Instruments Maschine+

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

It varies a lot. Next summer Maschine+ will 100% come with me to the cabin. Digitakt & Circuit is always nice too. I do like my grooveboxes. 

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

Hardware that was software… Maybe a Subharmonicon VST? It is a unique synth and a software version could be pretty epic. Especially if you could play it polyphonically somehow… 

Moog Subharmonicon


Software in hardware form? I wouldn’t mind having an Ableton Push 3 be standalone! That’d be kinda cool having the Ableton Live DAW in hardware form.

[Editor: This too would be my wish]  

Ableton Push 2 (so close)

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

I regret selling my old Yamaha RM1X. 

Yamaha RM1X (photo:wikipedia)

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

Korg Minilogue. 

Korg Minilogue with custom knobs

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

A good audio interface. Something to grow into, with expandability (adat) and decent latency. 

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

Octatrack MK2. It is so good, yet at the same time so frustrating at times! 

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

I had a Digitakt beta unit and when I was playing with it I noticed it could make some epic synth sounds. Turning it into a groovebox and not just a drum machine.


Artist or Band name?

Bobeats

Genre?

Mostly electronic stuff, I’ll let others label it.

Selfie?

Nobody beats like BoBeats

Where are you from?

Sweden

How did you get into music?

I watched a friend make music on the Playstation ”game” Music.

What still drives you to make music?

It brings me joy.

How do you most often start a new track?

Usually by going thru sounds and finding something that click. That gets me interested.

How do you know when a track is finished?

You don’t. You have to decide that it is. You learn this from the experience of doing it many times. 

Show us your current studio

BoBeats Studio – Lots of grooveboxes and synths
BoBeats Studio – iMac and speakers
BoBeats Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

”What matters isnt what you do in life but that you do something you feel passionate about”.

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

Videos at https://www.youtube.com/bobeatsmusic


[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…
]


Ikosoveta – Synthalicous Funiture

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

Moog Sub37

What immediately comes to mind is the cutoff knob on the Moog Sub 37. Not very original, but I love the responsiveness of it, I use the 37 on almost every recording, and I am always modulating it by hand while recording. It’s truly just a very satisfying turn and the warmth that comes from it gets me every time.

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

Roland MC101

The Roland MC-101 is a terribly fun device to work with. I have been only using that thing for the past month to produce Instagram videos while my home studio was in a transitional phase. I love how this device functions, the size and portability is great however, not being able to jump projects while performing is pretty disappointing. I’ve only played a handful of “shows” in my day, mostly when I was younger, but I solely performed on the Korg Electribe EMX-1. It was my first production station, so anything that comes close to EMX-1’s workflow is going to feel ‘almost perfect’. The MC-101 feels like a more updated, compact version of the EMX. Now that I am typing this out, I feel as though the EMX is the proper response to this question. Both have their quirks and work kind of similarly in my opinion. I do think it would be funny to play a show with only the MC-101 only on AA batteries and have the ability to switch projects seamlessly.

Korg Electribe EMX

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

My last large trip, I took the Digitone, Digitakt, and the Volca Drum. This was a pretty enjoyable setup however the sounds on the Volca are lacking a bit on the low end. Maybe the next trip that will be supplemented with the Roland TR-8S, which also isn’t my favorite device sound wise, but I do love the workflow of it. 

Digitakt and Digitone

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

I wish there was a plugin version of my Korg KP3. I run my mixer’s master through the KP3 and usually process sounds individually on the fly when recording. Most of the time I use it for the glitchy stutters and reverbs just to add a little variation to recordings. Sometimes when I am mixing tracks away from the studio I do wish I could add a bit more. I realize there are other far superior processing VSTs that can handle this, but I prefer the crudeness of the KP3 and the touchpad surface is very entertaining. There’s no software that I would want to be hardware, because I don’t really use VSTs. Generally, I don’t like being in the DAW so there are no VSTs that could even capture my attention long enough to invest enough time in. 

Korg Kaoss Pad KP3+

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

The only thing I regret buying is the Arturia Rackbrute 6U. I wanted to get into modular gear so I purchased one and filled it with some gear until I could diversify it a bit more however, I had some power cycling issues with the Make Noise Morphagene. I was informed by the company and other people on Instagram that this is a common issue. I really wasn’t willing to constantly be flipping the power switch on and off simply to get one module to work. I also realized that I made more use out of the Moog DFAM and Mother32, so I decided to purchase the Subharmonicon and just replace the Rackbrute with the 3 tier Moog Semi-modular rack. 

Moog DFAM, Subharmonicon, Mother-32 and a sneaky Lyra-8

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

Percussion has always piqued my interest so I would have to say the Roland TR8-S has inspired me the most over the past year or so. There’s nothing super spectacular about it, it just has a really easy workflow and I love punching random rhythms into it, hitting play, and then constructing synth voices around that. That’s pretty much how most of the tracks are made. I did however recently acquire a DSI Tempest, so I am hoping to get more familiarized with that device and devote a bit more energy to that piece when mapping out songs. 

Roland TR8-S

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

I would immediately get a nice drum machine such as the Tempest along with a solid Moog as well. At the beginning I tried to supplement those higher fidelity options with cheaper pieces and ended up purchasing more as a result of that to find the sounds I was searching for. If possible, I believe the move is to save up for a few higher end pieces, instead of cheaper devices with weak builds and lacking synth engines. I also didn’t expect to get this into synthesizers though, so when I began making short videos on gear I was only looking for unrefined devices to just make quick songs on. But if one day I need to get rid of all of this, I would probably just keep the Tempest and the Matriarch… or something along those lines.

Dave Smith Tempest
Moog Matriarch

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

Everything that has annoyed me I have gotten rid of almost immediately, especially all of the devices I have received broken (which has been a lot). The setup needs to be easily accessible so that tracks can be created in a matter of minutes if necessary. The only somewhat ‘annoying’ thing is the sequencer on the Sub37. I really dislike that sequencer. Luckily, that was remedied when Novation sent me the Launchpad Pro to try out. If you have a Sub37, I highly recommend pairing it with the Launchpad Pro. 

Novation Launchpad Pro

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

The retrigger function on the Digitakt definitely changed the way I approach sampling a bit. Anything that randomizes patches or samples in an effortless manner will always catch my attention. The best part of electronic music is letting the machines take control of the song. 

Elektron Digitakt

EDIT (Hindsight): 

Upon looking back at these questions I have noticed that a lot of big pieces I wrote about have been replaced or are in the process of being replaced. These pieces include the MC101, Matriarch, Digitakt, Tempest, and the Launchpad. There’s a lot more that has been moved out of here, but those were unmentioned previously. 

A few things that have entered the studio that I have been enjoying as of late are the Tascam Model 24, Polyend Tracker, Polyend/Dreadbox Medusa, Roland MC 707, Novation Afx Station and Peak. I have been trying to size down quite a bit as a result of tentative future plans. The goal is to have a somewhat sizable and versatile studio that may load into a few separate road cases, if mapped out correctly. Another goal I have set for myself has been becoming more efficient in the producing and recording department hence the acquisition of the Model 24 and replacing the Tempest with an MC 707 and TR8S. Even though the Tempest is hard to part with, I noticed it immensely  slowing down my production speed, which I really can’t afford at the moment. The Tempest is such a powerful device, but it was consuming a lot of my studio time and limiting me from moving around the studio more than I would like. Generating tracks on a fairly quick basis is something that I really value. Maybe one day a Tempest or Rytm will cycle their way into the studio, but as for right now I need to focus on not becoming so attached to devices and the fluidity of a home studio. 


Artist or Band name?

Ikoseveta 

Genre?

Electronica

Selfie?

Ikoseveta

Where are you from?

Middle America

How did you get into music?

My family had encouraged me to take guitar lessons when I was 8 years old. I pursued that until my guitar teacher got arthritis when I was 16. At that point I decided to move on to electronic music by purchasing a Microkorg and the EMX-1 mainly because Rou from Enter Shikari had those. 

What still drives you to make music?

I’m not sure, I am just drawn to producing sound by any means. It’s not a conscious effort, I like picking things up and seeing what they can produce. It’s more fun with synthesizers and drum machines though, especially through monitors with a subwoofer. I don’t see myself as a musician or producer, I am more of a hobbyist. I am fortunate enough to have collected some nice gear and I see them more along the lines of having nice furniture. It is something to have in the room for you to enjoy on a daily basis. These devices just happen to produce noises that are very pleasing to me. 

How do you most often start a new track?

Any random sequence I pull up on a drum machine. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t know what constitutes as finished. I don’t put out much music anyways, most of it is either deleted or just stored in random external hard drives. If on the off chance I decide to put something out I try to finish it as soon as possible and deem it finished when I am tired of listening to it. 

Show us your current studio

Ikoseveta’s home studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I don’t think I have ever received creative advice because I have never really actively seeked it nor have I seriously pursued music. There is that cliche saying that you hear musicians reference in interviews about ‘doing it for yourself’ and whatnot. I think that is the right approach. Music does not have to be for monetary or social value. It can be practical like riding a bike or working out, something you do on a daily basis that you enjoy or something to keep your mind focused. I produce my favorite sounds around 3am when I am about to shut everything down after making 5-7 songs prior to that. So I guess not caring about what is produced or what happens to it and ‘doing it for yourself’ is the move for me. 

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

I have a pretty strict schedule of posting daily beatmaking/performance videos on Instagram and weekly videos on YouTube (different content from Instagram). All of my releases are also on all streaming platforms. I will provide all links below.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ikoseveta/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCit-UuOFYPtdx44cjIaPTUg 

Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/ikoseveta/1455868222 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0EAqN6YKRxw7Hfu0UkTAAC?si=kWR9aO7ITBu3evjm0208jg 


[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…
]