Ricard Magnusson – Wheel

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

The boring answer is the Cutoff! It’s probably my most used knob after all… If I choose to interpret the question from another angle, and discuss the overall feel of my favourite knobs, I’d say the knobs on my Novation Peak. There is a stiffness to them that makes them feel sturdy and reliable, and a rubberized texture that is really great. The Peak feels like it could survive anything! For me it’s really important to connect with a synth on an aesthetical level, an UI level. It needs to look and feel great and be inspiring. For me that’s the whole point of hardware!

Novation Peak

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

Elektron Model Cycles

There are two pieces of gear that I have recently owned that I liked a lot, but had some shortcomings. First off – The Elektron Model Cycles. Fun, cheap, and almost everything you do on it sounds good. But I really would have liked individual outs on all tracks and the ability to play it like a 6 voice poly. The other thing is the JU-06A, which also is a fantastic piece of kit that just sounds awesome. But why only 4 voices… Bugged me a lot!

Roland JU-06A

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

Since my computer is the only thing I can’t do without when producing, I’d have to start off by saying my Macbook Pro. Just bought the 2020 13” which is a perfect size for me. My Keystep usually tags along as well, it has great feel in the keys and a good size. Add my Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro headphones and I’m all set! All I actually really need, holiday or not!

Macbook Pro and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro

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

There is a piece of software I always dreamed of having in hardware form: The Sonic Charge Microtonic drum synth. I use it all the time and in all my productions. I really like hardware drum machines, and would really enjoy getting hands-on with the Microtonic in a fully analog hardware form. I would really like a software version of the Boss Tera Echo pedal. Maybe there is one that I haven’t found? I mainly use software effects to be able to tempo sync easily, automate parameters etc, and the Tera Echo is the only thing I haven’t really found a software equivalent of.

Boss Tera Echo TE-2

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

This is a hard one… I have a complicated relation to hardware (even wrote an editorial about it: https://producerhive.com/editorial/confessions-of-a-compulsive-gear-flipper/). I constantly buy and sell stuff. Basically, I regret buying almost everything. I kind of regret selling the Sequential Circuits Pro One I used to own in my 20’s (by the start of the millennium). I owned early on, when I was just getting into synthesizers. I have realized that I didn’t appreciate it enough when I had it… Would love to turn back time an own it again, a beautiful and fun machine! The only synth by Dave Smith that hasn’t failed me… I had a Prophet rev 2 that I had to replace the main controller board on, even though I bought it brand new. Had a Tetra recently with a dead sub oscillator and bad LCD-display. Also owned a Prophet 08 Desktop with encoders that had a life of their own…

Guts of a Prophet rev 2

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

I’d have to say Omnisphere. I keep coming back to it. It has a preset library that never ends, and great modulation options. It always leads me to exciting places I didn’t know existed. When it comes to hardware it’s probably my Novation Peak. It has a perfect balance between complexity and easy tweakability.

Novation Peak and Arturia Keystep

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

Nothing. Well, not really, but I would try to not get too hung up on getting the “right stuff”. Give me a Mac laptop and I’m good to go. I started out with nothing but my computer, not even a midi keyboard. I just entered notes in the Piano roll (in Cakewalk, at the time).

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

I’m trying really hard to live by the code “Don’t get stuff you can’t do without”. But I guess it’s my computer. Can’t do without it when it comes to music making. It’s also many times a source of frustration. I have a new computer now, but the one before it was a real pain. I accidentally poured a cup of coffee (my biggest addiction) over the keyboard, which made it act really irrational. Had it like that for like 6 months before I gave up and got myself a new computer! Computers have historically been a big source of annoyance for me, mostly due to failed hard drives. Nowadays I have a rigorous backup solution, so nothing gets lost.

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

Maybe not that surprising, but at the moment I’m really into random waveform LFO’s, that are key synced. I really like making sequences where each note played gets a random modulation of some parameter. On the Peak you can modulate just about everything which is great fun!


Artist or Band name?

Wheel

Genre?

Electronic music, mostly quite chill. A reviewer once called it Chill-glitch, which kind of sums it up quite well!

Selfie?

Ricard Magnusson aka. Wheel

Where are you from?

Sweden

How did you get into music?

Started playing a nylon string guitar, inspired by my grandfather who played classical guitar. My dad and brother also played a little, so there were always guitars around. Moved on to playing with a progressive death metal band in the mid-nineties. Kind of slowly digressed to synth driven, electronic music from there… How did that happen?

What still drives you to make music?

I need to have a creative outlet that is not about demands or goals, just about being creative and reaching a flow state.

How do you most often start a new track?

I’d say with a pad sound. Most of the time it doesn’t stay in the production, but I’ve always been a sucker for pads, and I use them to set the mood of the production and get some basic chord progressions going.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I can listen to a track and not instantly come up with things I would like to change, it’s probably close to finished. If I feel the same after not listening to it for a day or two, it’s probably done!

Show us your current studio

It’s constantly changing, and I change up my gear all the time. But the pic shows the current state!

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Wow, there are lots of advice floating around and I’m guilty of a few myself… But the one thing I try to remember is to not overthink my productions. Let go of the fear and just release stuff!

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

Sure thing! Make sure to check out my editorials at producerhive.com, where I write about the connection between the mind and music production/creativity. You find it all here: https://producerhive.com/author/ricardm/

The latest single I released is found here:

https://open.spotify.com/album/17HQRNPSGUIJRMS4W3yuFa?si=u_SeC-tbQVqGwza_b9J4sg

Josh Semans – Ode To The Martenot

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

Ondes Martenot

Maybe a cheeky/tenuous answer but – the ribbon of my ondes Martenot. It’s essentially a knob. You wear the metal ring on your right index finger, and it is attached to a string which is wrapped around a drum inside the machine. As you move the ring, the drum spins, a potentiometer is turned, and the pitch is altered. The amount of expression offered by this simple mechanism is unparalleled. My alternative answer would be another tenuous one – the touche d’intensité of my ondes. It is the volume control, and it’s name doesn’t translate exceptionally well into English. It is very tactile and very sensitive. It really is the soul of the ondes, and all your articulation comes from this wonderful key. The further you depress it, the louder the sound gets – simple! 

Empress Zoia

(Honourable mention to the silver knob/button on the ZOIA! The satisfying *clunk* of clicking that button is both mine and my wife’s favourite thing about the ZOIA!)

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

I’ve loved the DSI/Sequential Prophet sound for ages, and I think the Rev2 is a super workhorse that manages to avoid being the typical jack-of-all-trades that some synths aspire to be. For my purposes it is practically perfect, but I would personally want to add a few things; an analog hi-pass filter (instead of relying on the digital one in the effects), an extra effects slot, polyphonic aftertouch, and more noise types…probably other things, too. It hasn’t let me down so far, and I’ve always managed to get the sound out of it, that’s in my head.

Dave Smith Instruments Prophet

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

I don’t know if you’d call it a ‘setup’, but I always have my phone with me, and it is a vital tool in my music making. Most of the pieces on my new album started life as voice memos, and I think I have another two or three albums worth of material on my phone, going back years. I also like to record rivers and birds, etc. Some photographer or cinematographer said that “the best camera is the one you have with you” and I think, for me, my phone is the equivalent for music. I have recordings of a sweet little piano in a BnB in Huddersfield, a few harmoniums in a schoolhouse in Iceland, a violinist in an reverberant underpass in Berlin…but mostly the piano under my stairs or sketches of new ideas on the ondes. I also try to take a notebook with me when I go away on holiday or when I am sojourned in a studio somewhere. It helps me get ideas out of my head to make room for others. I do get twitchy and a bit miserable when I’m away from my ondes for too long but there isn’t really a remedy for that, unfortunately! 

[Editor: ‘Getting ideas out of ones head, to make room for others’ is a great way to think about a sketch pad]

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

I used Max/MSP a lot in college and university, and always wished there was a way to package my patches up into hardware. I haven’t used Max as much in the past few years, but the ZOIA is certainly scratching that particular itch for me, though it isn’t quite the hardware version of Max/MSP. I don’t think I would wish ‘being software’ on any piece of hardware, to be honest. I really value tactility. I don’t particularly hate software, though.

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

I traded an ex-BBC ReVox A77 tape machine for a banjo. If you can’t sense the regret in that sentence, then trust me – I regret it. The banjo sits in my kitchen and haunts me daily.

A Banjo

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

The ondes Martenot. I’d be hesitant to brand it as ‘gear’ but, ultimately, it is a tool that allows us to make heard our own waves. It is an instrument, sure, but Maurice Martenot said “the instrument is first and foremost ourselves”. The ondes has taught me this lesson over and over again in many different ways so far. The ondes and has really become a part of who I am, physically and musically. All of my musical ideas revolve around the ondes Martenot now, and it has inspired me to release music moreso than any other instrument, piece of equipment/gear etc. 

Ondes Martenot

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

First thing I’d get is an ondes. Mine was built for me by Jean-Loup Dierstein in Paris and I wouldn’t hesitate to have him build me one if I was starting over again.

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

My computer. I just think computers are one of those “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” sort of things. I hate that it has to be there, but nothing is as convenient and practical for the music I make. A necessary evil! I don’t hate the process of making music on a computer, though, it makes sense.

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

I have this big old Soundtracs 16 – 8 – 16 that I sometimes run things through to get some of that saturation and drive that you can only really get from older analogue preamps. I remember running a drum pattern through it, along with the prophet, a function generator, and some ondes Martenot loops. Driving the preamps hard would make the whole mix pump and breathe with the drum pattern. Lovely.


Artist or Band name?

Josh Semans

Genre?

Hard to say, maybe experimental/electronic/alternative/classical. That sort of thing, I suppose!

Selfie?

If I must! (Attached!)

Josh Semans

Where are you from?

The north of England!

How did you get into music?

I’ve always been around recorded music, and I’ve loved musical instruments for as long as I can remember. Piano and guitar were my first instruments as a child, then I really got into drums and synthesisers. The drums where my main instrument for a while, now it is the ondes Martenot. I still love synthesisers, and do play the piano a lot. 

Upright Piano

What still drives you to make music?

I can’t not do it.

How do you most often start a new track?

I come up with new ideas most days, and I usually record them onto my phone or an Ableton session to be worked on at a later date. I’m currently working on about 5 or 6 new pieces. I like having multiple pieces on the go, so I can work on something else when I’m a bit worn out from another.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the endless tweaking becomes pointless. 

Show us your current studio

Ondes Martenot
Josh’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Something that James Murphy said about why he reformed LCD Soundsystem made me dig around to find this quote from David Bowie; “Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

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

My debut album, “…And the Birds Will Sing at Sunrise” is out now.

Also here’s my website joshsemans.com