Only Ruin- Austin White

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

This is a tough one. I’m a sucker for filter sweeps, and I think currently my favorite filter is on the new Prophet 5 (Rev 4) so I’ll have to go with the cutoff knob on that. Honorable mention to the Dry/Wet on the OTO Bam, though. Fully wet on the Bam in ambient mode is heaven.

Prophet 5

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

There are a few pieces that come to mind where one little thing is missing that would just suit my workflow perfectly, but generally that’s what I love about working with hardware – finding the way around those things. Like the (new Korg) ARP 2600 would be absolutely perfect if it had like 2 or 3 more patch points to sent gate/cv in other places, but not having those makes me think more creatively. Also, that’s one of the things I love about eurorack, if it’s missing just add another module.

Arp 2600 with Make Noise 0-Ctrl

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

For travel in the past it’s been a small eurorack case, like 48 hp or something, and a drum machine – usually the Elektron model cycles. But now it’s the Polyend Tracker. I rarely leave home without it. Touring or gigging can be a bit different, I’ll usually want a bigger eurorack case (usually my MDLR 6u 104 hp) and a sequencer of some sort (Tracker, 0-CTRL). Always my laptop, Ableton is there when all else fails.

PolyEnd Tracker

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

Honestly most of the plug-ins and software I use are based on actual hardware, so there’s not much that comes to mind. Sometimes I wish there was a more “player friendly” granular software, something like the Make Noise Morphagene.
That would make an incredible plug in.

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

It’s a constant process with hardware, so not really. Especially with eurorack, there are modules that I’ve bought and not been able to figure out, sold, and then bought again a year later and loved. The one area I have grown skeptical in is MIDI controllers. I’ve tried a few that I hated, like the Qu-Neo. Anything that requires drivers and software for mapping and all of these additional steps kind of drives me crazy. Especially for something that should be fairly straight forward, like a controller.

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

There have been phases of different gear inspiring a lot of music, but probably the Tracker. It’s just completely changed the way I make music and I love it. I’ve already released one EP of tracks all made with it, and I have at least one more that I’m basically done with. It’s just one of those things that I can’t seem to get bored with, and I’m always finding new stuff that I love about it.

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

Honestly I would probably just get Ableton and really dig in first. I had absolutely no understanding of synthesis when I first started getting in to eurorack, and then eventually other hardware. I think having the understanding of what’s happening lends itself to making better decisions as far as purchasing and adding the tools you want to be creative. But since this is an interview about gear, I’ll say the either the Tracker or a standalone modular system like the ARP 2600 or the Make Noise black and gold system.

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

cables

Cables. Audio and MIDI routing are the two things that are always going to be an issue when working with as much hardware as I do. I have everything set up in my studio now so it’s not an issue, but if I ever want to make a change it’s a whole thing. I moved recently and it was a nightmare reconfiguring my studio from scratch, but I’m happy with it for now.

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

Like I said earlier, when I first started with eurorack I knew nothing about synthesis, and very little about electronic music in general. So every time I become more familiar with a technique, it’s a bit surprising. All of the stuff that I’ve learned in modular synths translates to hardware synths, too. Now I find doing sound design on more traditional synths like the Prophet or the OB-6 to be really fun and challenging. Sometimes I get lost just trying to make good kicks on the OB-6 for a couple of hours. Maybe not the best use of my time, but it’s just a way I’ve found to explore a synth’s capabilities more.

Only Ruin eurorack

Artist or Band name?

Austin White aka Only Ruin

Genre?

Who knows? Genres are silly, and according to Spotify there are like 1000000 of
them. Dark ambient synth and break beat IDM?

Selfie?

Austin White aka. Only Ruin

Where are you from?

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY

How did you get into music?

I’ve been kind of obsessed with music since I was a kid. I started playing bass when I was pretty young, and got serious about it around 15 or so. I studied jazz and went to school for upright bass for a while. Before I got into producing electronic music, I was mainly playing improvised and experimental music.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s just what I do. Outside of my family, music is my entire life. It’s everything to me. I can’t imagine living without a creative output, and I’m eternally grateful that I don’t have to.

How do you most often start a new track?

A melody or a harmonic progression, sometimes a texture. Usually I’ll start writing on some kind of poly synth like the Prophet or the One, and then build from there. Recently I’ve been doing more writing on eurorack, where I’ll get some kind of semi-generative or evolving patch going and just resample in Ableton for a few minutes, then chop it up and find parts that I like.

Polysynths Moog One and Prophet 5

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t. I get sick of working on it, maybe. I’m terrible for not finishing things, or more accurately for getting a song to a point that I’m happy with it and then never releasing it because I’ve listened to it so much that I hate it. I have probably 3 or 4 full albums worth of material that I’m just sitting on, but it’ll get out there eventually.

Show us your studio

Only Ruin studio
Roland TB303 in blue
Roland TR909 in blue
500 series rack

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I studied with Reggie Workman a bit in college. Reggie is a legendary jazz musician who played with everybody (Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Coltrane), and he had a huge impact on me as a musician. Most of the advice he gave me as a bass player was about space – leaving space for everyone else to exist in the world that you’re creating together. A lot of that thought is just about playing music in a similar way to how you live your day life, drawing parallels between the person you are creatively and otherwise. Producing electronic music alone is a different thing entirely, but I still think about how to be honest with my output and stay connected to my own individual voice.

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

I have a bunch of music (hopefully) coming out soon, but in the meantime here’s some fairly recent stuff I’ve done :

Tracker EP :
https://soundcloud.com/onlyruin/sets/trackerep

Beach EP :
https://onlyruin.bandcamp.com/album/beach-ep

Distant EP :
https://open.spotify.com/album/4cEWslfdXskHswIpF96kTm?si=1TL6-
PowSA2YZRMzecxM6Q

Always posting jams on IG and YouTube as well, find me @onlyruin


[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…
]


Couleurves – Mathieu Lalonde

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

Make Noise Morphagene varispeed knob

Morphagene’s varispeed knob! I’ve got a lot of great feeling knobs, but this one is the only one that has this nice colour window. I used this module a lot lately and I never got bored of that intimate light show. It’s immediate, fun and incredibly inspiring.

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

A square of Eurorack

My first modular setup is as close to perfection as I got with a piece of gear. It went through a few phases, but it’s stayed as it was when it got in that wooden case for years. It’s very limited compared to my Palette setup, but it’s what makes it perfect. It’s an incredibly fun mono synth with a ton of tricks up its sleeves. 

There’s a few things that I’d change still. I had this case built and I asked for a deep bottom section. I didn’t know what I’d put in it at the time, so it’s deep enough to accomodate any module. I think the deepest one in there is the Disting. It’s way deeper than it needs to be which makes it bigger and heavier than I’d like. I also temporarily swapped my uVCAII for a ModDemix. It was a mistake and the uVCAII will come back in its right place. Don’t mess with a perfectly good setup.

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

Elektron Digitone and eurorack

I haven’t toured yet, but I settled on a live setup this past summer. I went and recorded a live version of douzaine with that setup and I found it to be very fun. The Digitone takes care of the sequencing and of the key sounds, while the modular adds another analog voice on top. My guitar is being fed in the Morphagene for some live looping/mangling. 

I also don’t take gear on holidays. Either that vacation time is used to record stuff or it’s used for some time off. I either bring everything or I bring nothing. No half-measures!

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

Tascam Porta-02ii

I don’t own an iOS device, but I’ve been very interested in both Gauss Field Looper and Flip. I’ve been looking for a cheap and immediate way to record ideas. A sketch book of some sorts. I’d love for some kind of device which would run these apps, but with a better physical I/O integration. I’d get rid of the touch screen as well, I don’t like those on music things. The OP1 fits in that sketchbook territory, but I did get to try it and I found out that it’s not exactly my cup of tea.

I’d also like to have a clean and efficient way to record tape loops. I sometimes want to use them on a track, but I switch plans as it takes a bit of time to get right. I’d use a digital version if it did the exact same thing. Messy and dusty places don’t go well with magnetic tape.

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

Yes! Many actually. I cheaped out on my first and only mic stand. I bought a very small kick drum one as I only wanted to record my amp. At its lowest, it sits too high to record an amp that’s on the ground. I have to prop the amp on something to make it work. It’s also too small to record acoustic guitars, I need to get a chair for it and it puts me in a weird position. I borrowed one from my brother (thanks Nicolas!) and I haven’t used this one in a while. I sometimes use my Zoom H4n to record amps as it’s easier than using this mic stand.

Life’s too short for a short mic stand

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

Definitely the Korg Monologue. It’s heavily featured on two releases of mine and it’s been used on many demos as well. I’m still doing the Monologue + looper jams, the last one being my 37th one. I love it very much and I hope it’ll stay with me for ever.

Korg Monologue

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

I’d get a decent looper pedal. I used a garbage one for so long and it ruined many early recordings I did. They’re great to experiment with if you’re on a budget but I tried to save a few jams and it’s just too messy. I had the chance to use many great loopers from Electro-Harmonix (22500, 45000, 95000) over the years and I realize now that one of those would have made everything so much smoother.

EHX 22500

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

Tascam

Tascam Porta02 MKII. The power cord I have is a foot long, the headphone knob is scratchy and it hurts my ears when it moves, it uses RCA cables for the output, etc. There’s so many things I don’t like about it, but it’s still the only running tape machine I have. Tape loops became pretty much necessary for my workflow and I can’t see this one going away soon.

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


I recently shared the secret fuzz I found hidden in my Optomix. Running the audio signal through the strike input (or through the CTRL input for a different flavour) crunches the signal in a weird and pleasing way. Messing with the knobs alters the tone as well. It has a nice bit-crush/gated fuzz type of sound. It’s surprising for a module that’s known for its smooth and organic character.


Artist or Band name?

Couleurves

Genre?

Ambient/New age

Selfie?

Couleurves

Where are you from?

Curently living in Montréal, Québec! I’m originally from the surrounding countryside.

How did you get into music?

I played guitar when I was around 14 years old, but I quit as my brother got way better than I did and I felt discouraged. I didn’t practice so that didn’t help.

Records like Plantasia and Oxygene piqued my interest in late high school. I got hooked on that whole thing when I bought a Volca Keys in college. I got into the music that people like Jogging House and R Beny did back then and jumped straight from the Volca to my first modular setup.

What still drives you to make music?

Finding new sounds and trying new things. I dug deep in Sounds of the Dawn‘s YouTube channel over the last year and now I’m really excited to try a new direction. The mixer is the newest addition to the setup and it makes everything fun and easier to handle.

Right now, I’m excited to work with more acoustic instruments. I’m trying to distance myself from sequences to keep it organic and free-flowing.

How do you most often start a new track?

It starts with a riff or with a single loop. It usually flows pretty easily after the first part is layed down. If the rest doesn’t follow, it’s just not meant to be.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t know! I stop working on a track when I can’t add anything else to it or if it feels done. I almost never rework half-finished things. It’s very spontaneous!

Show us your current studio

Couleurves ome studio
Couleurves home studio recorder
Couleurves home studio floor and pedal board
Couleurves studio desk
Couleurves guitars
Couleurves mixer


Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I’ve been told to just show up. You can’t do something good if you don’t do anything. Just being there, without any idea of what to do, is a great start. 

“I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”
― Dale Cooper

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

I self-released fils and douzaine over the last few months. They’re available on Bandcamp, on my YouTube channel as well as on a few streaming sites. I also recorded a live session featuring tracks from douzaine which can be watched on my YouTube channel! 

I’m currently working on a new album which, I hope, should be out next year. https://couleurves.bandcamp.com/

I’ll be posting a few behind-the-scenes on Instagram until then! https://www.instagram.com/couleurves


[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…
]


Prole Volt – Contrl mAh

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

Pittsburgh Modular

I love big quality knobs, due to my clunky fingers. I enjoy Pittsburgh Modular’s knobs, they turn smoothly and feel secured so well. The knob on the Morphagene’s Vari-Speed control is housed off-center, so when you turn it in the dark, you can feel it dip down and away. That’s superb.

Make Noise Morphagene

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

What would you change? I love old tape machines. Reel to reels, cassette players, microcassettes… but they all seize up or break so easily. They are very fragile, and when played with too much, they turn into duds. With big reel to reels, these are heavy lemons laying around. I have a couple that just “look really pretty” at the moment and need costly repair. I wish there were more knowledgeable repair people in my area.

Reel to reel

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

Before the pandemic I was doing a lot of traveling for work and staying in hotel rooms across the state. I started bringing a micro cassette player to do field recordings, a handful of pedals like a Chase Bliss Mood, a Hall Of Fame 2 reverb and a Ditto looper, to make drones. I was really into lonely hotel room serenades for myself. Sometimes I would bring a Bastl Kastle and an Arturia Microlab midi controller to play on a laptop. Finally, you can’t go wrong with apps like MiRack, Quanta, Synthone and Ripplemaker on an iPad.

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

Audio Damage Quanta iOS granular sampler app

If Quanta, a software app by Audio Damage, were a hardware synth, I’d purchase that. I used to want test equipment in software form, but I just saw a Hainbach advertisement that solved that problem with the new Fundamental program by sonicLAB. I have yet to download, because I know I will need to plan to lose a week straight of my life.

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

I do not regret much. Most of the duds that I bought, have been thrift store purchases for very little risk. if I buy a child’s keyboard and it doesn’t end up working, it’s a few dollars. I simply paid for the adrenaline of the find. It’s like playing the lottery. I don’t regret selling anything, because I like to tell myself that the person that bought gear from me is going to make wonderful music with it and be inspired by it, and that makes me feel very good inside. I do miss my my guitar gear from 20 years ago though. I sold it all to move across the country.

Toy Keyboards

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

I’m a gear junkie, I like to nerd out to new programs and hardware, so what inspires me the most is the discovery phase of a new vehicle for sound. I do like to just switch on a VCO and sit with the unadulterated pure sine for a minute or two, and just soak it up. Pgh Modular’s Primary Oscillator is a common go-to for breaking the silence.

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

A second job to afford more gear! Haha, jokes aside – I wish I had gotten into synthesizers earlier. I have been a guitar and bass player since I was 13, and before that a clarinetist. I have always loved electronic music, but I hadn’t bought synth gear for a couple decades. To this day, I’m not sure why, but I would have loved to have jammed on some Korgs in the 90s.

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

Vintage test equipment, by far. Gigantic, heavy, smelly old things. they’re a pain in the ass, and they put other gear at risk. I would never give them up, however, and they inspire me to want to get more pieces.

Eico Test Equipment

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

With modular synthesis, it’s endless fun learning how to manipulate signals, it never gets old. I learned that there’s always a new and different way to use them. Using an envelope pulse as a sound source, using a VCO to rapidly CV a switch, or side chaining a side chain. A world of discovery always awaits!

Eurorack synth with fx pedals

Artist or Band name?

Prole Volt

Genre?

“Experimental Acoustic Electronic” is probably the most accurate.

Prole Volt

Where are you from?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

How did you get into music?

I sang along to Motown hits on the radio as a child, and I ended up in the church choir. My mother thought a clarinet might satisfy my instrumental thirst. Thanks mom, wink wink.

What still drives you to make music?

It relieves the tension of the world burning. Most nights I cannot sleep unless I patch up a tune. It’s therapy for me. It’s the only time that I can focus entirely on something else beside thinking about pain and suffering and injustice. I know that sounds cliché, but for me it feels very true and real. It’s a raw escape.

How do you most often start a new track?

I get an urge, I’m angry or sad about something in life and I make a beeline for the gear. I hit a few piano keys or just start plugging patch cables in and fooling around. Sometimes I hear a sound I like and I sample it and work around a sample.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Is it ever? Sometimes I think it’s done and then I hear another part in my head, and return to it. I have one of those brains that can hear all the parts of a song simultaneously. Sometimes I’ll listen back to a recorded track and my mind will play a part that isn’t there.

Show us your current studio

Prole Volt Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

To never make music for the purpose of “gaining a following.” If people like your music, then they will come and listen. Make music that you actually love and makes you feel good.

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

I’d like to give a shoutout to all my wonderful musical comrades from @internationaloscillators – building musical community and raising up fellow independent artists is very important to me. I have a collaboration LP called “Half Speed Heathache,” with the very talented artist from Copenhagen @SongsFromTinAlley

http://prolevolt.bandcamp.com/album/half-speed-heartache.

My latest album, “Spoilers: We All Live, We All Die,” is available now on Bandcamp. An entirely modular synth and vocal storytelling experience of drone ambience and noise for your deathbed. 
https://prolevolt.bandcamp.com/album/spoilers-we-all-live-we-all-die


[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…
]