Frederico Chiesa – Ooramusic

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

Roland TB-303

For years my main instrument was a Roland 303 and the frequency knob was the thing I used to tweak most. I kinda feel that on every synth my relationship with the filter knob has to be great, or I will not feel comfortable. I have given up on amazing instruments just because the responsiveness of the filter was not what I wanted.
Nowadays I’m way more into ambient, so things changed. Lately I love to play with the portamento switch on my SH-101 to create variations on patterns, it’s kinda funny what comes out of it.

SH101 Portamento

I love when brands uses big knobs, I have huge hands and I need a good grip: Death By Audio is great for that, I love touching their stuff.

Death By Audio Rooms

I love Moog knobs too, with that vintagey vibe.

Moog Subharmonicon

I hate most of the eurorack modules knobs and sliders. It’s damn hard to perform and you need to use a level of care that is not really my thing.

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

I think my mixer is almost a perfect instrument. Its the Play Differently Model-1, and is an instrumental piece for my production and live shows. It is beautifully made, sounds amazing BUT has one thing that was a big compromise for me: no direct outs. Which means that everything I record is always a stereo track, with no possibility of editing later on. It’s kinda good, because forced me to PLAY rather than program, and as a result, I’m finishing way more material. Still sometimes I wish I wish I could mix things better after the fact. Seriously, add direct outs to that mixer and it becomes the best tone shaping tool ever.

Another piece I love to death is the Deluge: that thing can do ANYTHING, it is a brilliant concept, but the decision of not having a screen for such a complex instrument, is sometimes hard to swallow. But I really admire Synthstrom and if their stance is NO DAMN SCREENS, I embrace it. Deluge is at the moment my main brain for live performances.

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

I hate bringing a lot of stuff when I travel or I’m in holiday. Used to bring many things and never use them. So lately i just bring the Teenage engineering OPZ or OP1. They both let you create full arrangements, even if they have two radically different approaches. Opz works better for electronic / techno stuff, while Op1 is more versatile for ambient pieces (imho , of course).
Lately I’m vey interested in small package synths with lot of power, especially if battery operated. Is great to be creative anywhere and anytime.

Op-1 and Opz

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

I would love to have my cassette or tape recorder perfectly emulated in software. That is something that is still really hard to get. The vibe that comes out of real tape is something you need to experience to understand.

Revox Reel to reel

And definitely i would love to have the SoundToys suite as hardware : I use that a lot and I think is brilliant. I can probably mix an entire album only with those plugins.

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

Regret selling …here is the list LOL:
Roland 909, Digitakt, Prophet 6, two Junos 106 (yeah, for a time i had 2…) , the full OTO effects family, my mastering console with the most amazing rack units (API2500, Distressors, Fatso, Bax eq, SSL G comp….)… and so on and on. The list is long and I feel I would cry if I keep remembering…. awh!
Regret buying.. not really, but there is a guy that I bought and sold FIVE times: Elektron Octatrack. I have it at the moment, but it frustrates me so much. Is a brilliant concept and I’m so jealous of people that know how to use it. I’m selling mine right now. Gonna buy again I’m sure.

[Editor: That’s gotta be some sort of record!]

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

For years all the XOX roland vintage synth. I still own them all, except for the 909. They are simple and straight to the point, I love that in an instrument. No menu diving, no hundreds of functions. They do one thing GOOD.
Recently I think Monome Norns and Op1 gave me a great creativity boost, while way more complex than Roland, they keep an user friendly approach and they are beautifully designed.

Grid, Arc and Norns

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

Well, I would buy all the Roland boxes in the 90’s when they were cheap. But probably an SH’101 would have been the right choice to learn the basic of synths. Add a 808 and you are golden 🙂

Roland Ms101

It can be overwhelming starting today : so many things you can buy for cheap. The risk is getting too may synths and never learn to use them in the right way. I have been into modular on and off, and for me that is the most dangerous world: I used to buy lot of modules and then getting lost in them , with very little work done.

[Editor: It’s kinda nice to hear. I’m totally infatuated with Eurorack stuff. But I fear that I’d never get anything done]

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

CABLES? I fkn hate cables. I spend a lot of my studio time cleaning and organizing.
Then I hate the need for a computer to record things. Sometime I wish I’d be brave enough to switch to a full on tape-style production.
All of the instruments I use need to have at least one characteristic: do not frustrate me. I only keep things that are easy to understand and give me instant gratifications. I love fiddling with stuff, before reading the manual. If I manage to get something cool, then the instrument is suitable for me.

[Editor: Do not frustrate! That sounds like a good rule]

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

Lately I’ve been blown away by using the tape recorder on the OP1 creatively. Sometime i put the tape speed 2x, record stuff and then slow it down 1/2. You drop the pitch 2 octaves and you get into ambient territory instantly. It’s super fun and easy.
Another great trick I’m using is sequencing a 4 voice synth (like the Roland sh01a) with 4 different patterns that have different lengths. you get really interesting pieces that are always evolving.


Artist or Band name?

OORA / Federico Chiesa.

Genre?

Ambient, Dub Techno.

Selfie?

Frederico Chesia

Where are you from?

Italy.

How did you get into music?

When i was a teenager, playing guitar and singing in a Nirvana tribute band.

What still drives you to make music?

I guess music is my favorite language, and the best way i can express myself. The more I learn and create, the more i feel complete. Many other things make the process worth it, not least finding some appreciation from your peers. The final dream would be to make a living only with music, and that idea keeps me focused.

How do you most often start a new track?

I try to record a new idea every day. Not all of them are good, though.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I never know. I put strict rules on the time I spend on a track and after the time is done, I embrace what i got. I like spontaneity and avoid trying to post produce perfection.

[Editor: That is a really interesting approach to finishing stuff and getting music DONE]

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard? Less is more. As basic as it might seem i feel that the real evolution for any creative is embracing limitations ad create art with the least amount of clutter possible. Try to say one thing clearly and use the best tool to do that in the simplest way.

OoraMusic Studio

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

My latest album is called “The Subharmonicon EP”. Made only with the Moog Subharmonicon and pedal effects, is a study on simplicity: how, in a time of turmoil, the clarity of a minimal approach can convey the message of beauty.

https://oora.bandcamp.com/album/the-subharmonicon-ep


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.


Stefan Fast – from The Pedal Zone

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

Well, generally I’m a fan of the Mix knob on pedals. That’s where the magic begins. Endless sonic shades, textures, tones and timbres can be found within the pure level and balance of a wet and a dry sound.

Mix Knob Magic

But I would like to give a big shout-out to Death By Audio. I think they are masters at making knobs an integral part of their pedal layouts, mixing knob sizes and designs in order to give the players a more organic, intuitive and playful user experience. I especially like the design of their Evil Filter, where the huge Filter knob instantly catches your attention, so you know the main purpose of this pedal is to freaking rock that filter frequency with every fiber in your body!

[Editor: And it’s got that Moog girth!]

Death By Audio Evil Filter

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

I think every piece of gear is “almost” perfect. That’s what makes them perfect. A piece of gear is a distillation of the designer’s mindset and skill set at a certain moment in time, and it’s the fact that you get the ability to figuratively experience and step into that moment when you play the gear that makes it inspiring.

Hence I always experience “Wow! I would never have thought of that!” moments more than “Why didn’t they do that instead?” moments, whenever I play a pedal, guitar or synthesizer. I know that’s probably just me over-romanticizing gear and the narrative behind them, but that’s just who I am and what I do. Plus, I see a big creative benefit in embracing limitations. A product’s small quirks and weird limits is often what prompts you to create something unique with it.

[Editor: Gear as a narrative story. That’s a beautiful way to think about it]

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

I’m currently not in any touring bands, so I haven’t dragged around my rig from venue to venue in a long time. But I’m currently in two newly started bands, so let’s see if that changes in the near future.

On a commute, I just bring my phone. There’s so many great music apps out there, and they give me all the creative outlet I need when I’m on the go. I really like the Moog Model D and Moog Animoog synth apps, the granular synthetic sample playground in Spacecraft, as well as the simple, yet immersive and calming generative ambiance of Bloom: 10 Worlds.

Moog iOS apps

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

I really like the Valhalla DSP plugins. I wish their reverbs and delays were available in pedal format. They just sound divine! Going the other way, I think any pedal by Meris would become a freaking mind-blowing VST plugin. Their devices are equally adept as standard guitar pedals, synth enhancers and transcendant studio tools that can take drums, vocals or an entire mix to the next level. So being able to call them up whenever I wanted on my computer would be cool as hell.

Meris Pedals

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

Not really. I try to keep regret as far away from my life as possible, even though that’s easier said than done… That being said, I recently did re-purchase a Line 6 Echo Park. I didn’t buy it because I regretted selling my old one, but because I felt like I didn’t give the pedal a proper chance when I had it the first time around. I’m very happy that I acquired it again. It’s a highly underrated delay pedal. Way ahead of its time. I really enjoy its swell mode and reverse delay, they just sound super organic, and its multi-tap and ping-pong modes sound unreal in stereo.

But the real kicker about this pedal is that every mode can take on the characteristics of either a Digital, Analog or Tape delay. Reverse Tape Delay is the beez neez. A fun story about it, is that the algorithms are designed by Angelo Mazzocco of Meris, during his time at Line 6.

[Editor: I think I gotta check out the EchoPark again!]

Line6 Echo Park

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

My music very often starts with a mood. Hence it’s never really a specific instrument that inspires it, but instead my pedals that inspire me to play a certain way on my instrument.

Reverb and rhythmic Delay always gets me going, and my EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master or Avalanche Run always deliver inviting and inspiring ambience in spades. So they have definitely initiated a lot of my compositions. Also have to give a big shout out to my Meris Enzo, which is basically 4 instruments in one pedal (mono synth, poly synth, arpeggiator and pitch-shifter). Its swelling synth pads, amazing filters and bouncy arp sequences always puts me in the mood to create.

Loop pedals also help me flesh out possible ideas on the fly quickly, or capture samples, textures and drones that later turn into full compositions. That being said, you of course need instruments to trigger the pedals, so a nice open major chord tuning on either my Telecaster or Jazzmaster always inspires me to create.

EarthQuaker Devices and Meris

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

A decent single-coil equipped guitar (probably a Telecaster… No, most definitely a Telecaster 😀 ), a great clean amp, a dreamy expansive reverb pedal, a versatile delay pedal, some sort of fun pitch-shifting textural tool and a looper.

[Editor: Sounds like a good time]

Fender Telecaster and Revv amp with Engl cabinet

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

That would probably have to be my Chase Bliss Audio Thermae. It can do the most amazing analog pitch-shifted delay sequences, but it’s not envelope triggered and there’s no visual indicator for where you are in the pitch sequence, meaning it’s extremely difficult to recreate the moments in time where you’re perfectly in sync with the sequence.

But I’ve also really learned to appreciate the randomness and “chaotic” nature of it, and I often use it to add a bit of unpredictability and “whimsy” underneath my playing. A texture I can react to. Like having an invisible improvising collaborator, that’s constantly pushing you to creative places you would never have thought of.

Thermae has really taught me that everything in life doesn’t need to be controlled and predictable. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow and see where it takes you. On top of that, when you turn off the pitch sequencing, it becomes one of the best analog delays I’ve ever played, if not the best.

[Editor: …And GOLD knobs! I feel that isn’t said enough]

Chase Bliss Themae

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

If we’re talking a specific pedal, then it’s probably my cascading octave-delay trick on the Meris Polymoon. If you hold down the Tap Tempo switch on it, it momentarily turns on a half-speed effect, which technically just makes your delay time twice as long, as long as you hold down the switch. So the trick is to hold down the switch, and play a quick melody pattern before you transition to the next chord in your progression, and the second you transition to the chord, you release the switch creating a beautiful flurry of cascading octave up delays. You can hear that exact trick in action here in my Meris Polymoon demo at 06:17, if you want to.

Meris Polymoon

If we’re talking in general, then it’s the importance of the volume and tone knobs on a guitar. This is definitely a no-brainer and not surprising at all for a lot of people, but it really took me a long time to understand and appreciate them.

When you start out on guitar, you (or at least I) just want to go full blast all the time. Why would want to turn down your guitar? and why would you want to kill the lovely clear high-end of your guitar with the tone knob? If I could, I would honestly have removed the volume and tone knob on my guitars long into my guitar journey.

But over the last 4-5 years I’ve discovered how important they are for finding your place in a mix, especially if you do a lot of loop compositions, like I do. If everything is full blast and full frequency all the time, then things will begin to sound un-dynamic and lifeless really quick.

On top of that, the volume and tone knobs are so pivotal for unlocking new tonal nuances when using dirt. I really like to use a very sharp and biting square-wave fuzz, and then roll back the tone on my guitar for rounder synth-like tones. It’s basically the same concept as subtractive synthesis. You have a wave-shape, and then you remove harmonic content via the tone knob to change that wave-shape. So guitarists, start rocking those controls closest to you!

Vol and Tone knobs

Artist or Band name?

Stefan Fast – Ambient noise-maker and host of YouTube channel, The Pedal Zone.

Genre?

Ambient/Post-rock.

Selfie?

Stefan Fast from The Pedal Zone

Where are you from?

⦁ Currently I reside in Aarhus, Denmark.
⦁ Born in Randers, Denmark.

How did you get into music?

It’s a long journey, I guess. I’ve always loved music. I have fond childhood memories of me laying on my parents’ couch reading comics and listening to Bryan Adams and Michael Jackson. I really cherished those moments, and somehow the music just augmented the reading experience. But I didn’t really get into playing music before I was 17-18 years old. I picked up a guitar in high-school because some of my class-mates played, and I thought they were cool, and I wanted to be cool.

When I discovered it wasn’t enough to just have the guitar to be cool, I decided I might as well learn to play it. So I learned some Metallica, System of a Down, Kashmir and Radiohead, and had fun with that.

But it wasn’t until a local post-rock band played at our high-school that my musical path was revealed to me. I had never heard anything like it. How so much emotion could be conveyed solely through instrumental music. I had never experienced music as dynamic and touching. I bought a delay pedal the next day, a Boss DD-6, and quickly discovered that the pedal could self-oscillate, effectively transforming my guitar into a synthetic instrument of doom and chaos. I haven’t looked back since!

What still drives you to make music?

When I make/play music on my own, it’s in order to reach a state of zen and calmness. Just strumming a guitar or listening to a 20sec reverb trail decay is pure meditation for me. It’s not a means for escape, but a means to create or restore balance within myself. When I play with others, it’s in order to be inspired by them, go new sonic places I would never travel on my own and to reach a heightened sense of unity and togetherness through the music we create.

How do you most often start a new track?

Often with a texture or a mood created by a slew of pedals. Other than that, plenty of reverb, delay and slowly played guitar arpeggios will always open doors to new tunes.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I start to just drift away and let myself live inside the music, instead of thinking about EQ’ing or if tracks need to be added or taken away.

Show us your current studio

The Pedal Zone Desktop Studio
The Pedal Zone Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

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

I upload new pedal demos or tutorials almost every week on my YouTube channel The Pedal Zone. So if you’re interested in ambient/post-rock/indie-rock applications of pedals, then it would be an honor if you stopped by and checked out some of the videos here -> www.youtube.com/thepedalzone.

[Editor: The Pedal Zone is a fave channel. Definitely worth a gander and a subscribe]