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

Julie Østengaard – RealTime Samplist

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

I like the MORPH on Make Noise Morphagene because magical sounds appear from playing with that knob and getting gene overlapping, random pitch shifting and stereo panning.

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

At the moment I’m very pleased with Make Noise Morphagene. I like the way it expands on classic tape machine splicing techniques in a complex and real-time way. I would like to be able to replace the buffer continuously while being modulated, I love when live sampling another instrument, how the sampling shifts along with the instrument when changing it.

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

A nice compact set-up would be my Zoom H2N and Aquarian Audio H2a hydrophone, Razer laptop and Elektron Octatrack – Then I have the opportunity to both record some new sounds and play around with them, and the computer for Max patching.

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

I would love to run Max/Msp patches on embedded SBC hardware for creating custom abstract musical instruments and self-running sound installations. It has been attempted with ex. Lattepanda that can run Windows, but if Max/Msp would be compatible with Linux for starters, it would be easier. Another way would be to turn to Pure Data -Max’ open source sibling, which has more options on this front.

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

Not really, but I do sometimes regret hacking my Revox A-77. I got it for free a long time ago, because it didn’t work. I fixed it and decided to create a new instrument from it where the motor pulling the reel is dynamically controlled by a Max/Msp sequencer so it sequences the reels playback – It turned out to be a really strange sounding, but cool instrument. Sometimes though, I do wonder why I had to use exactly that machine and not just any tapemachine.

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

My Elektron Machinedrum is one of my first machines, and I have used it for a great deal of projects. Especially using the RAM machines for live sampling, is where it really goes off-grid, using the main input level on the recorder to create gnarly feedback. And sending tracks, machines or instruments through it, to create sampled sequences that interplay with existing sounds.

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

Of course it would be nice to have developed skills like programming and circuits from an early age, or going into hardware synths earlier. But I don’t mind that I didn’t. My initial way of creating music was purely intuitive, not having any theory to lean on made it honest and from within, in a different way than now.

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

Mutable Instruments Braids – Can’t get it to sound perfect, but for some reason I won’t sell it because it has a certain “promise”.

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

Using re-trigger on Machinedrum with a Random LFO on re-trigger modulation and re-trigger gain to create out of sync beat repeats and melodic stuff.
And the “IDM in a box” trick, using the CTR-ALL machines to make crazy glitchy things – thanks to Rui Peixoto for the great video!


Artist or Band name?

Julie Østengaard.

Genre?

Sound Art, Electroacoustic/Acousmatic, Ambient, IDM.

Selfie?

Where are you from?

North Sealand, but I have lived in Copenhagen for about 10 years now

How did you get into music?

I started playing electric guitar with my childhood friend, which turned into acoustic guitar, writing and playing singer/songwriter type music. I soon got an electric bass, some multi effect pedal and I think a pro tools license, which thereafter slowly started the evolution into electronic music – I guess Julie with the acoustic guitar didn’t see this coming.

What still drives you to make music?

Music technology, curiousness and learning new things. The depths of music technology never cease to amaze me, every time I get to know something new, I don’t seem to feel the world of music contracts, but rather it expands and a new world appears, of possibilities and things to grasp. There are so many exciting ways to interact with music, and to express through music. Music is so closely related to both physics and math, but music is also something that you can approach very intuitively, making it possible to unite both thinking and feeling.

How do you most often start a new track?

Often I start by creating limitations, like a specific technology, method, theme, a set of rules, a specific sound or such, and then I seek to push the boundaries of those limitations, which is where I think I’m most creative and inspired. Sometimes, I am more interested in how the sounds are created than how they sound, and I’m not set out to create something that only sounds good, but the journey there must also be interesting.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I compose and record all my pieces by playing them live. I like that it keeps me very present in the music I create, and gives the music a sort of liveliness too, with the small imperfections that can’t be edited away afterwards – at some point I know, that doing another take will not contribute to the artistic nerve, but stifle it – then, the piece must be finished.

Show us your current studio

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

instagram: http://instagram.com/sisterevertone
website: https://www.julieoestengaard.com/
latest live set: https://www.julieoestengaard.com/quarantine-session

[Editor: Do you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? Leave a comment]