Caspar Hesselager – Synthful Jebus

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

Mighty Macbeth Vernier knobs

Great question. This matters. 100% the Vernier-dials on my Macbeth Elements. Posh answer, I know, but they’re just so smooth and satisfying to turn!

MacBeth Elements

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

Probably my Sequential OB-6. It’s so damn good. In a perfect world it’d be 8 or 16 voices. But it’s amazing, and especially if you add the GeoSynths Low Frequency expander (which I definitely will) it’s pretty much all the poly-synth you (I) need. The Make Noise Shared System is close to perfect in a way too. I would make the Erbe Verb have a stereo input, if I could change one thing. Best reverb ever.

Sequential OB-6

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

I’ve brought my OP-1 and/or Digitakt on several trips and tours, but I usually never get around to using them much. Right now with this whole Corona-situation I’ve assembled a little spot at home with a DFAM, Vermona RetroVerb and a modest 104hp of Eurorack to pass the time and come up with sounds to use later on.

TE OP-1

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

I wish there was a Soundtoys multi-fx hardware unit of some sort! Like their Effects Rack plugin. That would be fun, especially for live use. I use Soundtoys constantly (like everyone else?).
The other way around is more tricky, I almost feel like we already have everything? Oh, I know, an iPad Make Noise Shared System would be interesting for jamming in the sofa.

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

I regret selling my Prophet 08. I replaced it with the Rev2 because it has some advantages live. But I have to say, the 08 just sounded better. I will be getting a used desktop version at some point again, I think. I usually hold on to things though, since I just know I’ll come back to most things, even if I don’t use them for a while. I don’t really have any buying regrets. Maybe some modules here and there, but hey, that’s part of the journey!

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

Yamaha upright piano

Definitely the good ol’ piano. But I find the Make Noise Shared System (and modular in general) incredibly inspiring too.

Make Noise Shared System

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

Starting out today with synths on a relatively modest budget, and wanting to get into (semi) modular,  I would probably get a 0-coast, Mother 32, or Grandmother. For starting in general, get a laptop and Ableton or Logic. All you need, basically.

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

My computer, by a mile. I kind of hate it, and Logic too (which I the only DAW I use). Don’t get me started on why! And a shout out to my MFB Tanzbär. I use it quite a bit and adore the sound, but man, that interface is something else. Drives you crazy. Good luck getting parameter locks to work, EVER!

MFB Tanzbär

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

More a general piece of advice or tip maybe, but I encourage everyone to get into pedals and hardware effects. It just changes how you approach making sounds, and takes you away from the screen. As much as I love plugins, there’s just no substitution for the hands-on tweaking and interaction on the fly that you get from pedals. And it teaches you to commit to your sounds, because there are no infinite recall and undos. I have this chain that I use very often where every synth I have goes through a small stereo looper, three Eventide pedals + one Strymon, and into a Culture Vulture stereo distortion before hitting the computer. The opportunities with something like that are infinite.


Artist or Band name?

Caspar Hesselager. My Heart the Brave. Palace Winter.

Genre?

Epic widescreen alternative everything.

Selfie

Caspar Hesselager. A man of many knobs!

Where are you from?

Copenhagen.

What still drives you to make music?

Simply discovering new sounds. Infinite options, surprises, and ways to go, even with the same few Legos.

How do you most often start a new track?

Often with a tempo that feels right for that day. After that drum machine and acoustic piano combo, usually. With modular, sort of the same, I have a tempo and a vibe from the beginning that I try to pursue, and then the machine will surprise me along the way.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it sounds KILLER! 😀 At some point it just becomes this little universe that stands on its on feet, and then you leave it there. I can take a week or 2 months though, to get to that place, that’s the tricky part. But I’d say in general, I don’t have a hard time finishing tracks.

Show us your current studio

Caspar’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Hmm, trying to search through all the bad advice I’ve endured to get to some good, hold on. I heard Knud Romer [Editor: Danish author] say recently when asked, how do you write a great book, that “you edit a bad one”. To me that translates to keep writing and recording until it’s good. Stay at it, eventually you will come up with something cool.

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

6 Synthesizer Performances Album:
https://open.spotify.com/album/4YaG8wKDZap9Ge3HF5Snel?si=g0ooOyFCTHGHgq_p4M-5jg

YouTube synth videos:
https://www.youtube.com/c/casparhesselager

[Editor: Do you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? Leave a comment]


A.Trentemøller – Yes! That Trentemøller

1. What is your favourite knob/switch/fader on a piece of gear?

The knobs on my Hohner String Melody II… I just love the colours…

Hohner String Melody 2

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

I really like the sound of the drums on the Volca Beats , especially the kick drum, but I don’t like the snare . I would have loved one which was a bit more aggressive and snappy.

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

Just my laptop, a midi keyboard, my Apogee Duet Duo and the JHS ColorBox v2 for warming up and EQ’ing softsynhs / hardwaresynths or to record bass or guitar through or re-amping . It sounds so great and it has XLR input for mic as well. Perfect!

JHS ColorBox v2

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

I wish my Hughes Retriever could be emulated as a plugin, it has such a unique sound and I love the way it opens up the stereo image.

Hughes Retriever and racked friends

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

A lot I regret buying, ha ha… lately the Yamaha Reface YC. It sounds like plastic and not in the good corny way… don’t know why I bought it.

Yamaha YC

I regret selling my Thermionic Culture Vulture, I didn’t use it enough, but sometimes I have experienced actually missing what it did. The plugin version is not sounding as good at all.

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

I don’t have one specific thing, but it could actually be my upright piano that I have in my studio. It’s where most of my songs have been made. 

Oluf Pedersen upright piano… where the magic is made

I like to NOT sit in front of a computer, but instead using my ears and I love that the sound is coming from the instrument itself , not through speakers. It’s very intimate and I feel more focused on the songwriting rather than the sound. I also use it with the felt on, and I like that intimate sound it produces. 

Upright piano with hammers on felt

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

A Mac not a PC. [Editor: Woah-ho! Easy now everyone. Let’s all be friends, ok?]

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

My wireless Mac mouse . It loses the connection to Bluetooth ALL the time , and I tried different Mac mouses, same problem! And I just got a new MacBook Pro, so it shouldn’t happen… but it does!! It drives me crazy!!

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

Playing with the reels on my Revox while recording. To give it a bit of wow / flutter here and there.

Revox B77 reel-to-reel

I actually had a controller specifically made for that one thing only.

Revox varispeed controller

Artist or Band name?

Trentemøller

Genre?

Indie / electronica

Selfie?

Anders Trentemøller 🤘

Where are you from?

Copenhagen. Denmark.

How did you get into music?

I started playing on all sorts of stuff, from pots and pans to toy pianos, from when I was 3 or 4 years old, and never stopped loving and playing music!!

What still drives you to make music?

I love the playful energy in it and the fact that I can create my own little musical world!

How do you most often start a new track?

At my upright piano.

How do you know when a track is finished?

It’s easier now, it was hard for me earlier. But I need to, still have that spontaneous vibe I had, when I started working on a song. It’s so easy to overproduce or overdo a track.

Show us your current studio

Trentemoller’s studio… knobs galore!
Trentemoller’s studio DAW setup

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Use your ears” and “There is no right or wrong way to do things!“

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

Trentemoller – Obverse [Editor: Go listen now! Really]

[Editor: I gotta say it! I’m stupidly glad that Mr. Trentemøller has answered these ‘9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies’, on my tiny little 1 month old blog. It’s been a real pleasure to read about his gear and creative processes. If you have any of the gear he uses? Then leave a comment below]