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…
]


Mylar Melodies – Talks With Hands

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

UA Apollo

My UA Apollo interface’s on/off switch – it’s a big silver lever that goes CLACK in an extremely loud and satisfying way. Apparently it’s actually the same on/off switch they use on their LA2A’s, so that switch has royal heritage.

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

I think everyone thinks it’s very easy to improve on gear, or that a manufacturer was daft not to include some simple feature when in fact it’s anything but simple (or cheap) to add just any old feature. Or that that feature is the thing stopping you from making good music. But as for perfect gear – I guess the Juno 60. It’s very simple, it has nothing superfluous, and it always sounds absolutely amazing. If I would change it, I would take presets off (because it’s so direct you don’t really need them – and of course, yes that’s a Juno 6) – and if I added anything, well I DID add the Juno 66 mod to mine, the best thing being, that it turns a precise DCO machine into a aphexy wooze-machine.
The perfect effect is the LA2A. It has two knobs, it’s set and forget, and it never fails, or sounds over the top.

Roland Juno 66

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

My iPhone, running Xynthesizr, pretty much just sequencing one blissy dual VCO with 98% echo patch, that I never modify beyond a few basic parameters. That’s all you need. I actually literally played a set at Moogfest on just my iPhone with this – directly connected to the PA through the headphone jack – I just improvised on Xynthesizr for 45 minutes with a couple of other elements for colour. I worked out the kinks about a day before. I can’t believe I got away with that, but I hope it makes a point. In fairness I had spent over a year solid jamming with that app on trains, planes and automobiles. I am always far more impressed with and weirdly, envious of (for their restraint and focus) musicians that have almost no gear, than ones that have everything. I make videos about gear, so it can’t help but pile up.

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

I wish Xynthesizr was hardware. I wish the Reason PX7 rack extension was hardware. I wish the Casio FZ1 filter was software.

Reason PX7 rack extension

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

I regret selling my second-ever synth, the only synth I’ve ever maxed out every single memory location on with my patches – a Korg MS2000.
I regretted buying the Novation Nova, which was my first synth. It was way, way, way too complicated for me and I had no idea where to start. I directly swapped it for the MS2000. And while I think the person I did the trade with thought they got the better deal, I definitely did. That was the synth that taught me synthesis. I rinsed that MS2000.
I definitely bought or traded stuff for a Cheetah MD16 drum machine at one point which I remember thinking “what the absolute hell am I doing with this grey door stop”. In fairness I probably didn’t know what I was doing and it was fine, but I’m still not convinced.

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

Ableton Live. That’s also all you need, but it’s all too easy to fall into jaded patterns of use and habits with it, which you need to be aware of or you’ll end up spending thousands of pounds on a eurorack habit in a desperate bid to rekindle the feeling of “beginners mind” once again.
But mainly, what has inspired the most music is time. Having the luxury of time in which to make music is harder and harder as life goes on and responsibilities grow, and especially the idea of being a full time musician is incredibly difficult to maintain and I’m amazed people do it at all. It’s interesting to consider that many musicians can only become successful through either being utterly utterly dirt poor, or rich to start with – being the only way one could afford the time to become successful. Is there a middle ground?

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

A Digitakt. That’s also all you need.
[Editor: And a nice doggie for company]

Digitakt and doggie

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

Adobe Premiere. It’s a bug-infested rats nest, it’s stupidly basic with audio… but I need it. If it ever truly falls over, Davinci Resolve is waiting in the wings, and is free.

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

The incredible genre-defining boundary-expanding main spooky string riff in LFO’s “LFO”, clearly the sound that inspired the track (because you wouldn’t just magically find that sound would suddenly fit what you were doing, you fit a track around IT) is a straight preset (melody and all) from the cheap as chips Kawai K1. That’s right, one of the best moments from one of the best British dance tunes of all time is a preset. Presets are not “for the weak”. Making a good tune is hard enough as it is. Having FINISHED a tune BECAUSE you used presets is far cooler than having hundreds of half finished tracks where you synthesized every hihat from scratch.
Guitar bands don’t build new instruments for every song – there’s a balance to be struck. You can separate the processes of sound design and song writing – it’s something I’m mindful I need to do more. Either way I accept inspiration wherever I find it.

[Editor: ‘Accept inspirations wherever you find it’ – that is a nicely turned phrase and great advice]


Artist or Band name?

Mylar Melodies

Genre?

Electro/techno. I’m inspired whenever I think about Aphex, LFO, Boards of Canada, James Stinson, and Kraftwerk. So hopefully I float around in their worlds musically… A bit.

Selfie?

Mr. Mylar Melodies

Where are you from?

An hours drive from where Mark Bell was from.

How did you get into music?

A perfect storm of having older brothers to who played me Orbital and RDJ, one of whom had an MC-303 (Yes, MC) which he let me fiddle around with, having access to a stack of Future Music issues in a time before the internet, and being bequeathed several grand from my late great uncle at the age of 16(!) years old.

As you might image I frittered most of that money away on stupid pointless things, but I did spend a massive chunk of it on my first ever music gear and a proper stereo, and I never looked back. That was probably the best imaginable upshot of him leaving me the money, despite me wasting most of it – it’s funny that the right gift at the right time can change someone’s life.

You can see how privileged I was to get that push, and the money, and to be young enough to have the time especially – I lived in the countryside, so there were no friends to see (without a lift) or places to go. It’s good to remind yourself that having access to tools and a relaxed environment and the luxury of time, where you can experiment with them – and to have taste makers like your brothers – is essential to make people who can explore creative pursuits, and I’m lucky I had it.

Ralf and Florian [Editor: Of Kraftwerk fame] were well off, how else would they afford a Minimoog, a Synthi and the time to play it?! Of course now the tools are far cheaper, and the software is free (time is still a luxury). The internet could be like an older brother, but there’s just too much noise. How do you discover your “thing” anymore? I’m encouraged to see that people do discover things like Eurorack, and that’s a route into electronic music for them.

Roland MC303 and Eurorack

What still drives you to make music?

The knowledge that if I sit down and fiddle around, something good will most likely come of it. And about thinking about those people I mentioned before, sat in their personal Kling Klangs, playing around with tools just like the ones I have, and coming up with timeless music. That always makes me want to try as well.

How do you most often start a new track?

Making music is a bit like sculpture, or seeing a dog in a cloud. I NEVER pre-imagine what I’m going to make. I just start turning dials and pushing buttons until something cool pops out and a little light goes on my head, and then I get an idea of what that blob could be further shaped into, and then I zone it in on that, and then other complimentary things suggest themselves.
At the end of it, you end up with a semi coherent thing and wonder… how did this even start out?
Usually, also the first idea is wack, but the second or third thing you make from all the sounds and sequences of the first is far better. The main thing is to just sit down and play, irrespective of whether you feel inspired (that will happen by playing), and not to be concerned whether you will make anything “good” or not (that is – partially – out of your control).

[Editor: Kinda like how it’s useful to separate sound design from composition, I guess it’s equally useful to separate the process of creation from judgement of good vs. bad... Or maybe ‘separate’ is too strict a word? Perhaps ‘compartmentalize’?]

How do you know when a track is finished?

I 100% do not know this, and I fiddle away at things endlessly. So much so, that I’ve been engineering systems, so that I have no choice, but to accept my first or second real-time pass at something as “it”. If I later decide it really is crap, I’ll just have to make something else. Quantity makes quality.

Show us your current studio

Mylar Melodies Studio

This is half plugged in right now, as I’m trying to find a way to have the stupidest amount of gear in the smallest space.
I feel obliged to say there isn’t (so far, for me) a relationship between having loads of gear and making loads of music. Just like having fifty guitars doesn’t make you a brilliant guitarist. I am not in any way proud of having loads of stuff in principle (NB: Although I love all these things, I’ve slowly gathered it all this over decades, it most definitely did not arrive overnight), and most of the things I own are individually pretty cheap bits of gear. I love these individual bits, both for what they are/do (their market value doesn’t correlate to their coolness to me in all cases) and for their place in musical history, I definitely have the curse of being a collector.

Yamaha DX7

Case in point, I own a DX7 – a proper brown old first edition DX7, and I think it’s utterly amazing for both the historical influence and as a synth. It’s such a futuristic beast, yet fuzzy and nostalgic all the same time. FM synths are extraordinary to me and much more like alchemy than subtractive ones.

But the thing I am actually proud of in that studio picture is that in the last three months I have been working to make it all completely accessible and immediate on (3!) patchbays, so I can actually make full use of it, both for impromptu live jams and recording multi-tracks to computer, and variations thereof. About f*king time. Get yourself enough patchbays to have all the I/O of your studio fully plumbed in.

Otherwise you’ll never use it! I didn’t, and I’ve started applying the “build a system” mentality which I’ve learned through Eurorack, to my wider studio. A well organised patchbay system is essential.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

A recent one:
“Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.”

I believe strongly that quality is a byproduct of quantity. Just make the music and try not to care if it’s good – in fact revel in making something terrible, if that will help you not give up, just don’t abandon it. Finish it and then see what you learned from it. And if you need an evil, but effective way to force yourself to finish something – bet a friend a significant amount of money (£100+, or more if you’re doing well) you’ll make an agreed deadline. Always worked for me.

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

Here’s a video I made about how to recreate a Buchla Music Easel in only 62HP of Eurorack modules. I’m making a whole series of these little mini “Suggested Systems”. Go on and subscribe to the channel if you like nerdy chats about synths and gear? Go on. Go on now:

https://youtu.be/B40AizE6i2g

Also I have a podcast talking to electronic musicians and gear makers, including chats with Scanner, Tom Furse from the Horrors and the wonderful Adrian Utley so far.

http://www.whywebleep.com

Am I allowed three?! Here’s that Moogfest I did on an iPhone:
https://youtu.be/7xhWLtRQ6Aw


[Editor: I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Mylar’s videos and his podcast WhyWeBleep is especially good. Have you stumbled across his videos yet? He’s made so many, which ones standout for you? Leave a comment below]