Noctopolis – Mattis Hencke

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

Jen SX2000

I’m not that emotionally attached to individual knobs and faders, but there might be a few which have been important. First, the ”Frequency” fader on my first synthesizer, the Jen SX2000, which gave me the first real player experience of an actual filtered analogue synth sound and gave birth to a lifelong fascination.

Korg MS20 Mini

Second, maybe the MS20 Mini Lowpass filter knob which brought me back to analogue synthesis after many years of playing mainly samplers and vst plugins. And finally, any of the SOMA Lyra 8:s VCO tuning knobs which made me listen to sounds in a different way and appreciate imperfection.

SOMA Lyra 8

When it comes to tactility I must say that my Bugbrand banana cables mean a great deal, though. They’re a pleasure to use. Colourful and sturdy fun!

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

The word ”almost” is important here because the perfect bit of kit doesn’t exist, I think. Gut feeling right now whispers about the Ciat-Lonbarde Cocoquantus. It never disappoints and has opened up a vast sound palette to me. Though ”perfect” is certainly not the correct word for any C-L gear. Which is the wonder of it!

Ciat-Lonbarde

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

Always: Field recorder. A pretty crap one, my old Zoom H-1 (the Rec button on that one´s been very important, too). For many years the small holiday setup was Laptop/Cubase, USB audio interface, master keyboard.

Lorre Mill Double Knot

If I ever start travelling again I guess the Cocoquantus or the Plumbutter (or my most recent addition, the Lorre Mill Double Knot) would be great to bring but I’m not sure I’d risk them.

Ciat-Lonbarde Plumbutter

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

I’m not very good at wishing for what isn’t there already. Nowadays I find it really hard wishing for hardware to be anything else. The tactile side of playing electronic instruments has grown extremely important to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like software. There are lots of great fx and instruments which I use a lot. I love the Sketchcassette, Valhalla Supermassive and NI Kontakt, for instance.
Software into hardware… if Soniccouture suddenly turned their Geosonics library in a portable, beautiful little synthesizer I’d probably be curious about it.

Tactile synths

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

I regret selling my second synth ever which was the Roland SH1000. I sold it for very cheap around ’98 when it seemed completely obsolete (and it probably still is, but what a clumsy old beauty!). To be honest, there was some divine justice going on since I sold it to the same guy from who I bought a Yamaha CS5 even cheaper a few years before that.
I kind of regret that I sold my Tascam 388 quarter-inch tape/mixer studio too, but that may be mostly from nostalgia and considering the recent tape hype.
Through the years I’ve bought lots of gear which I’ve sold pretty quickly. I’d say most of the Volcas and a Roland Boutique JX03 were all pretty regrettable purchases. And I didn’t gel with the Eowave Quadrantid Swarm, sadly. Maybe I should have been more patient.

Hyve-Synth

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

Chronologically: my family’s upright piano, my first Porta studio (Fostex 260), the AKAI S2000 sampler, and most recently the Ciat-Lonbarde instruments. All of these have shown new and compelling paths into new territories, or territories looking more and more like the ones I vaguely started dreaming of exploring as a kid. It’s not that different now from what it was back then.

Ciat Lonbarde Deerhorn-Organ

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

Piano, DAW, a nice bass guitar and some assorted percussion. And after that I´d discover touch- and gesture-based synthesizer instruments a bit earlier 🙂 .

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

I usually sell the annoying stuff. One instrument I think will stay with me is the Lyra 8. It changed my listening a lot and I love it but to be honest, those tuning knobs really take some patience. The lower they go, the more mindfulness demanded to get the wanted notes. But having grown into that routine has made tuning of the Ciat-Lonbarde instruments a breeze, so I guess I should be grateful to that sturdy little ”white angel”, annoying as it is.
The Tocante Bistab is on the whole extremely annoying and I could definitely live without it, but it’s a fun curiousity.

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

To my surprise I´ve become a much better bass player through switching to fretless bass. Over all, everything that forces you to listen carefully, instead of having safe routes and measures laid out all the time, is good. As long as we leave the Theremin out of it, of course. And a bunch of other instruments. But – baby steps …

Fretless Squier Jazzbass

Artist or Band name?

Noctopolis and Mattis Hencke.

Genre?

For Noctopolis I guess have to say electronic. And I would hope cinematic and emotional in its better moments. MH is more semi-classic, fairytale music and pop.

Selfie?

Sort of, but not really. A musical portrait 😀 .

Mattis Hencke aka. Noctopolis

Where are you from?

Living in Uppsala, Sweden.

How did you get into music?

Singing, drumming on biscuit tins and making up melodies from early age. Discovering the sound of synthesizers and pop music in general at the age of about 10 was a huge revelation. I took drumming and piano lessons and performed in different orchestras and ensembles but more importantly, I always wrote songs and formed different bands with my brother and schoolmates. Making noise, trying different instruments, dreaming up concepts and bouncing hissy tape recordings between decks with my friend to create full productions became very important, we learned about multitrack recording and from there it really took off. I’ve just never stopped creating and discovering music. Artists like David Sylvian, Trent Reznor, Scott Walker and Fennesz have been huge inspiration sources, as well as numerous neoclassical, ambient and post-metal artists and bands.

What still drives you to make music?

I want to create the sounds and represent feelings and pictures that I carry inside of my head and which are beyond words. I also strive to make the music I want to hear, it´s a way of life by now. Playing and making music is ta great path to get in touch with my core, so to speak. I wouldn´t call it an escape from reality – music and art contains so much more of creative, constructive reality than a lot of other miserable pastimes and preoccupations. Music can be an outlet for emotions and a recalibration of the soul and spirit. And that’s regardless of objective quality and results, as long as it leaves the performer curious and imaginative, I think.

How do you most often start a new track?

That varies a lot. Sometimes with a bassline or a sample, more often with improvising on the piano which turns into fragments of a song. Sometimes with a sung melody. There are plugins which have inspired quite a lot of my music too. The last few years I´ve started to improvise a lot on hardware electronic instruments and nowadays the Ciat-Lonbarde setup is a good starting point for exploring. I’ve got loads of recordings and snippets on the hard drive which sooner or later find their way into more ambient tracks or actual pop songs.

How do you know when a track is finished?

A good sign that I’m on the right track is when I get the sensation ”Wow, did I really create this?”. That, combined with a certain kind of childish happiness when listening to the music in an environment which is not the studio. The most difficult part, when it comes to knowing whether a track is really good or not, is to find the balance between emotional impact and cool or newly found sounds and ideas. That, and also to know that sometimes less is more, but that more is more quite as often!

Show us your current studio

It’s about 1,5 x 2,5 meters with no window. That’s definitely both a blessing and a curse.

Noctopolis home studio
Noctopolis home studio
Noctopolis home studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Spend time away from your music before finishing it. Never mix more than one track at once. Abandon songs that keep annoying you and make you frustrated, they’re probably not that good anyway. Or (quite rarely) they are, but you need more time to grow into them.

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

Recent two track ambient single:

https://noctopolis.bandcamp.com/album/a-year-ending-when-getting-back-home-single

2020 ”Space trilogy” albums:

https://noctopolis.bandcamp.com/album/malacandra-2 and

https://noctopolis.bandcamp.com/album/perelandra

…and a sentimental little something:

https://mattishencke.bandcamp.com/album/everyday-tales-bonus-tracks-version

They´re all at the major streaming platforms as well.


[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…
]


Joseph Holiday – Snakes Of Russia

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

Two way tie: my filter cutoff on my Moog Model D, and the one on the Roland SH101 because they are probably my 2 favorite filters of all time.

Moog Model D
Roland SH101

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

The Lyra 8. It’s absolutely brilliant…but I kind of wish it had more CV control, but I end up using it a lot with my euro rig so absolutely no complaints!

Lyra 8

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

I have a smaller skiff case that I like to bring with me sometimes…either that or a newer piece of gear that I want to go deep with and some headphones.

Small eurorack skiff

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

This is such a great question! Usually stuff that I wish were hardware actually IS hardware, just completely out of reach to me. I love the Arturia Synthi V, and it’s the closest I will probably get to an actual Synthi. Also the Waves Abbey Road Collection…I don’t think I will have access to those plates anytime soon haha. And the other way around…I just got an Overstayer Modular Channel which is incredible on its own as hardware…but being able to automate some of the parameters would be insane.

Overstayer Modular Channel

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

I have way too many string libraries.

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

Definitely my eurorack rig.

Eurorack setup

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

Ableton and a laptop.

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

My Roland RE201 Space Echo. I use it on almost every hardware synth I am tracking to some degree. It is easily the most temperamental piece of gear in here, and completely unpredictable, but I love it.

Roland Space Echo RE210

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

For a long time I never paid attention to the “external instrument in” on a lot of things like the Lyra and Model D. Now I use those all the time, sending kicks or something through them.


Artist or Band name?

Snakes of Russia

Genre? 

Dark electronic 

Selfie?

Snakes Of Russia

Where are you from? 

Born in NYC, raised in NJ, but I have been in LA for 20 years.

How did you get into music?

I’ve always been into music really, I started playing drums at 13 and then into electronic music shortly after when I discovered sampling.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s literally the only thing I can do well.

How do you most often start a new track?

I try to start something new every day…sometimes this will turn into a track..or a sample, preset, or just a fun experiment. I firmly believe there is no such thing as writers block. You just gotta show up. Write every day. 80% of that will be stuff you don’t use, but in that 20% there will be something, even a spark to a bigger idea. And in our world of electronic music, even in the ideas we don’t use…there is a cool patch, sound design element, chord progression or something to pull from so save all of that stuff and revisit it from time to time.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I am a firm believer in both deadlines and proper mastering, and those two work really well together. The day I start a mix, I schedule mastering a week or two out…so it has to be done. Then mix and revise, with usually with a day in between each revision (for perspective) until its feels good. Then I let it go. I learned a long time ago, you have to just walk away at some point…there is always something to tweak and it will drive you insane and you will never finish anything.

Show us your current studio

Snakes of Russia Studio
Snakes of Russia Studio
Knas Ekdahl Moisturizer
vocal booth
Snakes of Russia Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

It’s a ridiculous one…”write drunk, edit sober”…I think it’s been incorrectly associated to Hemingway all these years. The way I interpret it is… just get it all out while it’s happening…then go back and refine it with fresh ears and perspective and fine tune things.

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

I’ve just released a 3 song single on Errorgrid called “Carried to California In A Swarm of Bees”. You can stream it or purchase with the link below! 

https://fanlink.to/Bees


[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…
]


Gard Osen – Tilde Elektriske

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

The Davies 1600 on my spring reverb drive/recovery box. It’s a clone of the large knobs used on the old buchla modules. Great size and grip. 

A sweet Davies 1600 perfect for a spring reverb

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

My Les Paul is my favorite instrument. It’s got a 50’s style round neck, which is just the best thing I ever played. It’s hard to keep in tune and makes weird ground noises sometimes, but I have no plans to change anything on it except the knobs which I switch out at least once a month.

Gibson Les Paul

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

This summer holiday I brought a mic, mixer, reverb, looper and a recorder. I’m staying at my parents house for a few weeks and there are a lot of instruments here, so I only brought “utilities”. 

TC Ditto X4 and an Shure SM57

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

I have a lot of digital recreations of classic compressors that would be great to have in real life. Of course they are all crazy expensive so that’s never gonna happen, but generally I wish I had more hardware compressors, both pedals and rack gear.

A crappy speaker

For software I would love a “crappy speaker” simulator type thing. Like a combination of eq, distortion, compression, noise and whatever else. Maybe with an overdrive or a “slash the speaker with a knife” option. 

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

I think both apply for my Lyra 8. I don’t really regret buying it, it’s great and sounds amazing, but I never found a way to use it in any of my setups. I was convinced it would be perfect for me, but I never really became friends with it. It’s been with me for a year now and I think it’s time to let it go soon, but I know I’ll regret selling it. Buying the wrong gear isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you’ll learn about what fits you and what doesn’t. 

Lyra-8

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

Loopers. Ditto x4 is my main one at the moment. 

TC Electronics Ditto X4

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

Guitar, amp and a DD-7, just like the first time around! 

Boss DD7

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

The entry level Acer I’ve been mixing on for the last 8 years. The amount of hardware errors and lack of processing power justified switching it out maybe 5 years ago, but I’ve made it a challenge for myself to keep old computers alive. I can spend money on more creative equipment and as long as it does not slow me down too much and I’m still outputting a fair amount of music, I’ll use whatever switches on. That said, I plan to build a proper production computer this fall. 

Acer PC

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

Relating to the previous question, mixing with very little resources teaches you a lot of tricks. E.g mixing vocals and music for one song in different project files. I do a hip hop project on the side with my friends and it’s just not possible on my crappy computer to mix all the tracks of a hip hop song in one project. What I do is mix in parallel in two different project files, so I do the beat in one project and the vocals in another. Once I have a rough mix of the vocals I export that as one track into the beat project, then do adjustments to the beat, export just the beat and put it in the vocal project, then do adjustments to vocals based on the new beat. And I go back and forth like that several times. 

Bonus: I just discovered a new stereo spread mode on my DD-7 after having owned it for maybe 15 years. 


Artist or Band name? 

Gard Osen 

Genre? 

Experimental and Ambient 

Selfie? 

Gard Osen

Where are you from? 

Bergen, Norway 

How did you get into music? 

Started with guitar when I was 13, playing rock. 

What still drives you to make music? 

The reasons to make stuff change all the time but I still get the same feelings now when I’m making something new as when I first started writing songs. 

How do you most often start a new track? 

Practically, it’s different every time. Sometimes it’s inspiration and sometimes it’s necessity. 

If a sound is inspiring, I start from that. If something just needs to be made, I usually come at it from a mixing perspective, probably starting with drums. 

How do you know when a track is finished? 

Depends on the project. I’m usually happy when there is no element in the mix that can distract you or take you out of the experience, and there is a distinct sound and atmosphere. 

If I do deep and long mixing processes it’s mostly for the learning experience, but that’s a luxury I rarely afford myself. 

Show us your current studio 

My 30m2 apartment functions as both workshop and recording studio. A lot of stuff gets packed up and down from storage boxes on a daily basis, so I don’t have a permanent setup. This is my current writing/playing stand: 

Gerd Olsens Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard? 

Something that television creator Dan Harmon said in an interview really resonated with me. 

It’s about writing for television but it can definitely apply for music as well. He talks about how one source of procrastination can be that you have too high expectations of yourself and on which level you should be able to produce. Working a lot with music but creating very little output was definitely a problem for me for a long time and I think he hits on some great points that I have thought about a lot. 

Listen to it here: https://youtu.be/u6DDCA0GwU4?t=292 

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

Besides making music I also make music equipment under the name Tilde Elektriske Kretser. I’ve made a lot of guitar pedals, but the latest thing is the Fjærlett – an audio feedback instrument using reverb springs. Check it out here: 

https://tilde-elektriske.com/fjaerlett


[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…
]