Matt Lowery – Cinematique Tones

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

Easy- the filter cutoff knob on my Moog Subsequent 25. It’s huge, feels great, and what is does sonically is even better.

Moog Subsequent 25 Filter Knob

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

The Vermona PerFOURMer is 99% perfect. I do sometimes wish I could store presets, but I understand why they kept everything completely manual. It’s inspiring to explore and dial in new sounds, but it would also be fantastic to be able to quickly find my way back to a sound I’ve already incorporated in a song (say, if I’m doing pickups in studio

Vermona PerFOURmer

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

My most fun, expressive mobile music tool is the norns. It can almost fit in your back pocket, but its scope is pretty limitless.

Monome Norns

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

I’d sell a kidney to get Sean Costello’s Valhalla Vintage Verb into pedal form. I’d love to see some of Tom Majeski of Cooper FX’s code (particularly the Generation Loss) make its way to plugin land.

Cooper FX Generatioin Loss

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

Oof. This one hurts. When I was 17, I found an old keyboard looking thing in a closet at the local church my family attended. I messed around with it and dismissed it as some kind of work out garbage, and gave it to a friend. It was a Juno 60. That one pains me to this day.

[Editor: Damn!]

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

There are about 100 answers to this question, and the most honest answer I can give is “go check out my instagram”, because that’s where I document my adventures with inspiring gear. Lately, the most inspiring thing I’ve played is the Instruo Arbhar, which is this incredible musical granular processor. It’s really wonderful.

Instruo Arbhar

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

Wouldn’t change a thing! So the official answer is a Squier Stratocaster.

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

My tape decks. There’s always something to clean, maintain, or fix. But working with magnetic tape is something I don’t ever want to give up. The process itself helps me generate better ideas.

Tape Decks

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

Recently I found out I could trigger the gate on my Vongon Paragraphs pedal with midi note data, which lets me set up these super tight rhythmic filter opening sequences. Super cool.

Vongon Paragraphs

Artist or Band name?

Matt Lowery

Genre?

Ambient/Electronic

Selfie?

Where are you from?

Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

How did you get into music?

I picked up guitar when I was 12, and have been at it ever since!

What still drives you to make music?

Music and art are the ways that I process the world. I have to be making something meaningful all the time. When I stop making things, I start having trouble in every area of my life.

How do you most often start a new track?

I try to spend time with music every day. So I’ll usually stumble upon a sound, a vibe, or a progression by accident, and that will be the seed for a track. Sometimes it works out, often it doesn’t. That’s the fun!

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I enjoy it as much as I enjoy other people’s music, I try to just walk away. There’s always more you can do, so it’s more that I put it down, rather than saying it’s done.

Show us your current studio

That would require me to clean my current studio 😀

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Here’s the best advice I’ve ever read, period:

https://sivers.org/balance

[Editor: Spectacularly good advice! If you feel it applies to you? TLDR: Find a balance between income and art by separating the two]

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

You can hear my latest LP “Voyager” as well as my newest single “Nearer Now” at my Bandcamp page (mattlowery.bandcamp.com), as well as on all major streaming platforms.


Per Barfot – Last Norwegian Viking

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

I love the joystick on the Elektron Analog Keys (Freudian interpretation anyone?). It’s made of plastic but has the right feel in terms of resistance. And controlling different parameters with the tip of your finger is simply so much fun. And while we’re on the Analog Keys, the sound selection wheel isn’t too bad either. Sure, it is also plastic and a bit wobbly, but it’s big, and most importantly, it gives audible click-feedback when turned. Satisfying.

Joystick on the Elektron Analog Keys

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

That would be any instrument/module/effect before I buy them. Actually owning and creating music is often a struggle, even though it can be an enjoyable struggle. But some pieces of gear make the struggle easier. I’m talking about gear I can co-create with to produce an environment of happy accidents. Lately I’ve been moving away from precise and controlled sequencers like those in Elektron machines, and towards a more intuitive approach with modular and Monome equipment. And I’m in love with Grid as a sequencer. But, actually, the first one that comes to mind when I think “perfect” is Chase Bliss Thermae. Pair it with anything and it will be an “almost perfect bit of kit”. It’s a magic little box (well, it’s actually an analog pitch shift delay with just the right ratio of control vs surprise). As long as you let it be in control, giving it enough room to express itself freely, the result will often be mind blowing.

Chase Bliss Thermae

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

I’ve changed up my equipment a lot lately, so if I’d go now (well, when the pandemic is over) it’ll probably be Monome Norns with Grid and maybe a tiny modular system. But last time I brought an instrument on vacation was when I took the Analog Keys on a bus trip to a friend in Norway. Let’s just say I won’t do that again (bringing the Keys on vacation that is, Norway is the best).

Monome Norns

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

Soft > hard: I have a 2hp Pluck that emulates a string instrument, which I use a lot. But I don’t know of a module that emulates a piano. Sometimes I can make the Mannequins Mangrove sound a bit like one (well…), but how cool wouldn’t it be if Felt Instruments released their pluggin Lekko in eurorack format?!

Tape loop over Norns and Elektron Keys

Hard > soft: I love the way tape color sounds (mostly), but actually working with tape can be annoying. The recorders are old and sometimes malfunctioning, the tape loops break, and hiss can be too loud or too harsh. I’ve tried a number of pretty good tape emulation plugins out there, but it’s not the same as real tape. And maybe will never be?

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

Half a year ago I sold a modified Marantz CP430 (it had a double speed switch). At that time I was tired of tape, and of recorders breaking down. I had bought three Marantz recorders within a pretty short time, but ended up selling two of them. I regret I didn’t sell the unmodified one instead.

Marantz

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

A couple of months ago I got the Monome Grid. Using it with Ansible running Kria is probably the closest I’ve come to “effortless” sequencing (well, learning Kria was a bit of a hassle). I love how it allows me to discover happy accidents within a framework of control.

Monome Grid

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

I started my synth journey with the Analog Keys. I had it for more than two years without any other pedal or additional synth. And I found that to be liberating. Now as I’ve gathered more and more gear I do feel more stress, and maybe a bit of shame, that I’m not using each piece at it’s full potential. So I’m happy I began my journey as I did.

A nest of Eurorack

But I could also see myself staring over with Norns, Grid and a tiny eurorack system based around Crow and a couple of Mannequins modules.

More Eurorack and a wooden egg

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

It could be a number of different answers. I don’t use the Analog Keys so much anymore since getting into modular. It’s a big synth with a small screen. And it doesn’t inspire me very much at the moment. But it can do almost anything. It even has 4 configurable CV outputs for gates, pitches, lfos, envelopes, and even a CV sequencer. And sometimes it’s just feels nice to play on actual keys.

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

It’s been mentioned before, but I’d have to say live-processing anything into a tape loop on my Marantz CP430. It makes almost any sound 100% better, objectively speaking. I’m normally running the sound from my case through the recorder and then back into the case again for delay/reverb processing. I imagine some of the harsher aspects of tape will disappear that way, but I could be mistaken.

Bonus technique: using randomised arpeggios and conditional trigs on the Analog Keys to create unpredictability, and thus turning it into a happy accident machine.


Artist or Band name?

Per Barfot. Might change in the future. Per is my middle name. And Barfot is the name of a Norwegian king (1073-1103). My grandfather studied genealogy and discovered that Magnus Barfot is our common ancestor, supposedly. He is described as the “last viking of the Norwegian kings”. “Barfot” means “barefoot”, a name he (probably) got because he at one point had to flee from Swedish soldiers without shoes on.

[Editor: What a great story! Keep that name]

Genre?

Melodic lo-fi ambient.

Selfie?

Anders aka. Per Barfot

Where are you from?

Kungälv, Sweden.

How did you get into music?

Played guitar as a teenager. Recorded two singer/songwriter albums in my twenties. Discovered experimental synth music maybe five years ago (mostly via Hainbach’s YouTube channel I think).

What still drives you to make music?

Few things touch me as deeply as music does. It’s a crack in the fabric of reality. I want to be a part of that.

How do you most often start a new track?

I turn on the modular system. Press on a number of buttons on Grid without too much thought. Listen. Adjust. Often I record long pieces so I have the opportunity to come back later and continue working with the best parts.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I’m never finished. I started recording a lo-fi indie synth pop EP a year ago. It’s been 90% complete since last fall. But now the songs don’t correspond to where I am at musically, because I’ve moved on. But I also don’t want to let it go because I’ve spent too much time and effort making it. Will it ever be finished? No idea.

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t be afraid to copy from who ever inspires you, and make it your own.

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

I guess, just keep updated on instagram.com/perbarfot, and hopefully some day I’ll confront my insecurities and actually release my EP 🙂


Aldrin – Buzzin’ Bleeps

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


These things always change. But the monome “Series” 64 grid has the most wonderful switches/buttons. Unfortunately, I don’t use it that much these days as I’ve made a DIY 128 grid. But the buttons on the DIY grid are less nice than the 64. Not only do they feel nice, but they represent a blank canvas. No visual cues to pull you in any direction until you load up a script or an app.

Blooper Knobs


Also, Chase Bliss Pedals have knobs that feel great. The traction of these knobs makes them feel sturdy and precise.

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


My fates. Fates runs monome norns, ORAC and soon Organelle patches. I am unfortunately not the most skilled in coding. But the communities based around these ecosystems make this device close to perfect. The amazing sequencers, samplers, loopers etc. that one can use here without having to open a computer is wonderful. There is not much I would change. I just need a device to connect to my Fates that lets me organize how I send/receive midi to all my Midi devices.

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

Opz and Microcassette


OP-Z (for making tunes) + microcassette Dictaphone (for sampling) + iRig1 (to get samples from Dictaphone to the OP-Z easily) + a USB to lightning adaptor to records from the OP-Z to my iDevice. I really love the sound of oversaturated tape samples.

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

I used to wish for “Ableton in a Box”. But I can’t imagine having a piece of hardware that would have that many possibilities, when recording I prefer to have some limitations and return to it for editing, mixing, mastering and some overdubs. I’ve felt a strong disconnect to computers as a creative music tool for many years, but recently I discovered the amazing Felt Instrument Lekko and Jasno(and soon Blisko I hope). I have never felt such an immediate connection to software instruments. They both feel amazing and the textures they produce almost feels tangible, but for now I don’t mind using them as software. They have been my main sound source into another piece of software I recently discovered, Fantastic Voyage. It is a software 4 track recorder, looper and creative fx unit with a patch matrix. It is like a magic box; you patch up something, send it some audio and the results are instantly amazing.

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

I traded away my Chase Bliss MOOD for an Empress ZOIA some months back, I really miss the MOOD. But the ZOIA is also wonderful, and it can do almost anything you want. But the MOOD is really unique.

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

Discovering monome grids and Brian Crabtree’s mlr script and all the variations of that changed my whole approach to making music. I am not a person who sits down and write songs, I like to explore sounds and textures by looping and stacking them, trying to keep some sort of harmonic ground. I need something that can capture that, play it back and let me do some mangling of those sounds. And when I got my Fates it enabled me to break away from the computer. The norns ecosystem by monome and all the scripts that are built around the mentality of mlr give me something new to explore every time I sit down and start making sounds and loops.

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

If I had to rethink my whole creative workflow, I might have gotten into modular and built a rig around that. But it would still be based around the same sound sources, guitar and OP-Z, just a free-flowing modular effect skiff. I really like it when equipment becomes something you collaborate with instead of control, and I am trying to “let” my equipment function that way at the moment. But I feel like a modular rig would lend itself more to that approach.

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

Behringer Mixer

My retired Behringer mixer. I used to hate the thing, but it served a purpose. I decided to scale down to a Koma Elektronik Field Kit and live without multiple AUX buses + input/output galore. And I think this makes me happier. Apart from that, if it counts: cables and batteries. All different shapes, forms, sizes and types.

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

The tape track on the OP-Z is a plethora of fun. Sequencing it and then sending live audio into it is a favorite of mine. Connect whatever you use to get audio (or the internal mic), then select the tape track, then hold the shift button to select what tracks are fed into the tape track, select the module track (so that it lights up yellow/orange) and voila, whatever external audio is being sent into the OP-Z is now also sent into the Tape Buffer.


Artist or Band name?

Aldrin, but I also play in the bands Ben Leiper and Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson.

Genre?

Ambient? Organic Electronic? Soundbathism? New Age Guitar Music? Genres are hard.

Selfie?

Oystein

Where are you from?

Rjukan, Norway. But currently living with my partner and infant daughter in Oslo, Norway.

How did you get into music?

I guess it started with mainstream mid to late nineties pop music. But I was introduced to the Beastie Boys and The Chemical Brothers at a young age by a friend. And I remember being fascinated by the rich soundscapes that both of these bands would make. I got into creating music some years later when me and a friend discovered that Mogwai’s album «Happy Songs for Happy People» had a version of Cubase with the stems for one of the songs for remixing. We started messing around with that for a while until we decided to record by ourselves. We made an EP of weird noisy instrumental music based around very unauthorized samples of dialogue from different films we liked. We actually duplicated a bunch of tapes and sold maybe 10 to people on the internet.

What still drives you to make music?

I have a deep urge to create something. Not necessarily for anyone else to consume, but for my own sake. And sitting in my living room listening to some sort of loop I just made over and over again is very comforting. Of course, I love it if someone else likes my reverb drenched sounds, but I am truly happy as long as I like whatever sounds me and my gear make.

How do you most often start a new track?

All my current stuff is improvised, but it normally starts with guitar looped some way. Then I add loops of other stuff like plucked pine cones, field recordings and whatever sound I find interesting on my OP-Z.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I stop the Zoom h4n recorder after sitting around listening to the same intertwining modulating loops for about 30 minutes.

Show us your current studio

Aldrin’s Home Studio Corner

Not really a studio, more like “the corner by the bookshelf of my living room”.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

My parents, and especially my father, taught me that you should not care too much about what other people think, the most important thing is that you are enjoying what you do. Lately I’ve been trying to follow the 12 principles of 12k records, and they feel like a complement to that early advice:

  1. Don’t tell listeners what they want to hear, let them discover that for themselves.
  2. Treat your audience as they are: intelligent, passionate lovers of art and sound.
  3. Evolve constantly, but slowly.
  4. Stay quiet, stay small.
  5. Strive for timelessness.
  6. Never try to be perfect. Beauty is imperfection.
  7. Simplicity. Anti-Design.
  8. Never try to innovate, be true to yourself, and innovation may happen.
  9. Explore sound as art, as a physical phenomenon — with emotion.
  10. Develop community.
  11. Be spontaneous.
  12. Everything will change.

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

I stream on a semi regular basis on twitch.tv/aldrinsound, follow me on Instagram or Facebook for updates.

[Editor: If you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? Then why not share it! Leave a comment below]