Søren Lemmike – Russian Corvette

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

The freq fader on the VCF section of my SH-101. Riding the cutoff frequency on that synth is just such nice squelchy acid techno sound that’s been used on many classic records. It was also the first analog synth I got and the one I learned basic synthesis on. Most synths have a big old knob for cutoff control these days, but I like that the SH-101 is all faders.

[Editor: Yeah, I like how faders are easier to read visually too]

Roland SH101

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

The Elektron Digitakt is great, but I would like to see a bandpass filter, an extra LFO and maybe some more sequencer playback options like reverse and random etc. Maybe we will get it a firmware update some day.

Elektron Digitakt

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

On holiday I would bring a Model:Samples – still waiting for that battery handle so I can make beats while I sip drinks in the swimming pool, haha.

Elektron Model:Samples

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

It would be cool to have Madrona Labs Aalto as a hardware synth, preferably Eurorack-compatible. The sound and design of Aalto is inspired by a Buchla synthesizer, so it could actually make sense in hardware form. It’s just a lovely sounding synth and the patchable UI is great fun. Seems like most hardware has been ported to software already whether it be, pre-amps, tape machines, fx units or guitar amps – a lot them sound great.

Madrona Labs Aalto

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

I regret selling my Fostex 280 4-track cassette recorder. I still have a bunch of old tapes in the basement with recordings of songs and demos that would be fun to have a listen to today. I regularly check the market for used ones, but seems like they’re either too expensive or too hard to get a hold of these days. The demand seems to be high so maybe it’s time Fostex, Yamaha or Tascam start up production again?

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

For any genre I would say the electric guitar. Specifically for electronic music I would say a computer with Ableton Live. I switched from Logic to Ableton back in 2003 and from getting ideas down to a final track, I think this setup has led me to produce the most music. I do think it’s healthy to shake things up now and then and try new ways of working. I recently setup a couple of small hardware only workspaces in the corners of my room just to get my eyes away from the computer screen and see what happens. One is based around a modular setup and the other one is based around some drum machines and analog monosynths.

Hardware setup with monosynths and drum machines
Modular setup
Modular setup from a swish angle

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

A computer or maybe a sampler. When I upgraded from the multitrack cassette recorder I bought this Roland VS-1680 harddisk recorder, which I used for a long time. It was ok, but quite clunky and difficult to edit recordings. Looking back I should have just have skipped it and gone with a computer and good soundcard, but computer/software and soundcard solutions were kind a of new thing then and not that stable back then.

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

I have this Roland GI-10 guitar to midi interface which has terrible tracking. You listen back to the recorded midi file of your performance and it has all these random ghost notes that you didn’t even play on the guitar. It’s quite annoying to have to sit and clean up the file afterwards, but it’s also just fun playing synths and triggering samplers from guitar. You just have to kind of embrace the chaos or play really clean with it.

Roland GI-10

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

Generally I am fascinated by distortion and how it can either subtly or radically change the timbre or transients of a sound. Instead of making synth sounds with standard saw/square-waves I like waveshaping a basic sinewave and see what comes out. Instead of grabbing a compressor to treat the transients on drums I might try distorting them instead.  Not really a musical tip, but I was pleasantly surprised that you can twist the voice mode knob while powering on to play a video game on a Korg Minilogue. Easter eggs are cool.

[Editor: WUUUUT?!!!]

Korg Minilogue startup game

Artist or Band name?

Russian Corvette.

Genre?

I try to avoid sticking to genres.

Selfie?

Søren Lemmike aka. Russian Corvette

Where are you from?

Copenhagen, Denmark

How did you get into music?

My dad had a classical guitar hanging on the wall in the house I grew up in. I just picked it up one day and tried to figure out how to play it by playing along to records I liked. I think I was about thirteen years old. The year after I got an electric guitar and a 4-track cassette recorded and started recording my own sounds.

What still drives you to make music?

I just find it exciting, entertaining and fun. I get really restless if I cant make music on a regular basis in some way or form. It’s like stepping into an unknown fantasy world. Especially working with electronic music, there is so still so much new ground to cover and new stuff to learn, it never gets boring.

How do you most often start a new track?

Usually it will be a sound that grabs my attention and that inspires me to build a track up around it. The initial sound or idea can come from anywhere really, but usually it will come from a synth, guitar, field recording or sounds in nature. If it’s a techno/electro track it will usually start with a beat made on a drum machine or Ableton.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I try to trust my intuition to tell me when a track is finished.

If I feel like it’s not getting better when working on it or if I get bored with it, it’s usually a good time to let it sit and come back to it later – lot’s of times it will sound finished after letting it rest a while.

Setting up predefined rules, such as max number of tracks, only live recordings, no overdubs etc. or a deadline can be helpful too.

Show us your current studio

Home studio desk

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Not sure if it was meant as creative advice, but as Da Vinci said, art is never finished, only abandoned.

I think what he is saying is to don’t expect everything you do to be a masterpiece and remember to enjoy the process of creating, as least that’s how I interpret it.

Some other good ones: think outside the box, challenge your ideals and try to do things the wrong way once in a while.

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

Here’s an ambient thing I did with the Neutron synth while I was beta-testing Aaltoverb

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


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]


Shawn Jimmerson – Nice Noise Blaster

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

Tasty Chips GR-1

I recently acquired a Tasty Chips GR-1 granular synthesizer for the very reasons that it is standalone, has tactile controls, and great visual feedback. I was at Perfect Circuit here in the Los Angeles area checking out a bunch of new synths and couldn’t stop playing with the GR-1. I fell in love with it. The fader that moves the playhead across the sample is extremely satisfying to use and is a current favourite.

Some others worth mentioning are:
The Gamechanger Audio Plus pedal, which has a giant piano-style sustain foot pedal. It is great for quiet ambient stuff especially because there’s no physical ‘click’ when you engage it. It just feels cool to use and the pedal is great. Very intuitive.

Game Changer Audio Plus Pedal

The main control on this old Westinghouse portable reel-to-reel is beautiful and feels great.

Westinghouse portable reel-to-reel

I’m also a big fan of the Flight of Harmony Choices joystick, which is a eurorack modular synth module. I use it all the time for sound design work.

Flight of Harmony Choices joystick

2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
The GR-1 kind of falls into this description because for all it has going for it (which is a lot!) the sample/bank/patch/performance loading and saving scheme for me was not very intuitive and is still taking me a while to get the hang of. That said, I really hate to nitpick. As someone who is friends with many small synth manufacturers, I completely understand that this thing is a product of passion created as a kickstarter project without the resources of a synth giant like Roland or Korg, so hats off to Tasty Chips for making something so great. It takes me a while to get patches and performances set up, but I can work with that because, once those are in place it is super fun to use.

3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
I have a Cordoba Mini which is a nylon string travel guitar, which satisfies the musical urge when away from home.

Cordoba Mini

I also sometimes will bring one of my briefcase modular synths. I’ve converted a few old Samsonite slim briefcases into very portable synths.
If anyone is interested, I did a whole guest blog post about them for my friends at Noise Engineering here.

Noise Engineering Briefcase Eurorack Modular

This thing is thin!

A very thin briefcase modular

I also really love the T. Chordstrum, which is a DIY kit made by Johan Berglund
(https://www.instagram.com/trasselfrisyr) that uses a Teensy board. It is like a tiny Omnichord. It has Korg Mini Pops  drum samples, chord, bass and two sounds for the strum strips. It’s an absolutely fantastic device. It’s my absolute favorite airplane travel instrument.

T. Chordstrum DIY kit

4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s when all I had was a Yamaha cassette 4-track and a handful of instruments I recorded tons of music. Now, with the incredible technology of a studio on my laptop, I strangely don’t finish as much music. (To be fair to myself, I had a lot more free time then!)
While I absolutely love the capabilities of a modern DAW, there is something about using the computer to record music that hinders me, and I’m not even sure what it is about it. It seems like such a lame thing to say, as I know I am a lucky human being to even have the luxury of owning such equipment, but there’s something about the computer that repels me from even getting started sometimes. I don’t subscribe to the ‘Analog vs. Digital’ mindset, so it’s not that. They are both fantastic for different reasons. (War is over, if you want it!) As a sound designer and musician, I love and use both analog and digital gear.
So I guess what I would really want is something like a standalone Reaper device. A hardware box that I can just turn on and has all the inputs/outputs I need, a few faders and knobs, and a large decent screen. I’ve looked into some of the standalone digital multitrack recorders, but so far nothing has the right appeal. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at what’s available, so maybe I should look into it again.

5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I regret that I traded my first ‘real’ guitar that I ever owned for a Rhodes piano around 2002. It was a 1972 green Fender Mustang with the mint racing stripe (it was actually a blue finish that turns a lovely green over time as the clear coat yellows). I got it in the mid ‘80s for $200. Nirvana hit big a few years later and after that, everybody would see me with this guitar and say, “oh, doing the Nirvana thing, eh?” which was a drag because as much as I liked them, I’d had the guitar for years before the Teen Spirit video. At the time I traded it, I didn’t have the money to get it re-fretted and I wanted a Rhodes, so away it went.
That said, I have always had incredible luck with finding musical equipment at yard sales, swap meets, and thrift stores, for which I am grateful. I have amassed quite a great collection of gear, so I really can’t complain.

6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
As I mentioned earlier, My old Yamaha cassette 4-track was really inspiring and was my training ground that led to me being a professional sound designer and musician. When I first got that and a Midiverb II I was so thrilled. I made music with that set up for years. I still have over 150 cassettes (all numbered and labeled!) from that long period of my life.

7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
If I could start over, I would have the same gear, but I would embrace music theory and would try harder to learn to read music. I am now, much later in life, getting into studying theory. When I was younger, I avoided music theory because I thought it would just make me sound like everybody else, plus it made that magical musical world I used to intuitively explore feel like more academia. I think there was some merit to exploring on my own, as I came up with some weird cool voicing and songs, etc., but I now feel in the long run, having that knowledge just adds to one’s musical vocabulary.
As far as reading music goes, I may be missing part of my brain because I have a real hard time with it, even though I’ve tried to get into it in earnest many times. I do think the system is pretty terrible though, with the weird staff layouts, sharps and flats, different names for the same notes, and don’t get me started on instruments you have to transpose!

8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
My iPhone. I use it to record videos and for posting stuff to social media. I use a Roland Go:Mixer Pro to get the audio into it, and randomly the sound will have all these clicks in it, or be super garbled. It’s not the mixer. I’ve found that if I quit all apps, reboot the phone, plug in the mixer, THEN open video app it generally won’t do it.
It’s not lost on me that smart phones are absolutely amazing technology and in the ‘80s these things would have seemed amazing, impossible and alien. It is truly incredible to be alive at a time when you can walk around with a wireless pocket computer with access to all your friends and a global database. But it is funny how frustrating modern technology can be at times!

9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
Back around 2001 my home ‘studio’ was pretty humble. I was using minidiscs quite a lot (which I still sort of love, as a format). I discovered with just my Sony MBS-JD920 minidisc deck that not only could you edit tracks, but you could seamlessly loop tracks, and you could program track lists that would play them all without gaps. It was like a primitive DAW! An example of what this enabled would be: recording some drums with my portable minidisc unit with the stereo mic (which had a great compression to it), chopping it up in the deck into the various parts of the song (verse, chorus, etc. ) and then programing the structure (repeating ‘tracks’ as needed), then running the entire full drum track out to the 4-track (to build the rest of the song from there). I also did this with long jams; I would edit them down into more concise songs just using the deck. It was like building a ship in a bottle, but it worked!

[Editor: Cool use of a minidisc. I wonder if the Sony MBS-JD920 has a shuffle mode too?…Glitch generator]


Artist or Band name?
Von Doog

Genre?
All that will have me 🙂

Selfie?

Clark Nova

Where are you from?
I grew up in Michigan and I have lived in California since 1996.

How did you get into music?
I have always loved music and sound. My dad brought home a tape recorder and a 3-pack of blank cassettes from K-Mart and gave it to me when I was five years old. It was the first thing I owned that wasn’t a kid’s toy. I revered it and recorded everything with it.
I got my first guitar when I was eight years old. It was a Kay electric guitar my dad bought for $15 from a classified ad. I plugged it into my stereo. By the time I was 15 I was in a band playing bars in Detroit and Ypsilanti.

What still drives you to make music?
I play music every single day just for personal sanity and enjoyment. For me, music is one of the things that makes life worth living. It’s meditative, too. Sometimes while I’m just playing I’ll start remembering dreams from the night before. I imagine this has something to do with the state I get in while playing is in the similar brainwave range as dreaming, but that’s just a guess. If I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d be making instruments out of coconut shells and anything else I could find just for my own well being.

How do you most often start a new track?
For me, musical ideas usually show up on their own and boss me around. I think of them like children. If you have a kid, you just want to help them be the best version of themselves, not make a mini version of you and project too much onto them. I let songs tell me what they want, even if that means following the muse off a cliff.

How do you know when a track is finished?
I wouldn’t know, I never finish them! Seriously though, when I can listen to the whole track in the car and nothing jumps out at me as needing attention, it’s good to go.

Show us your current studio

The Pyraphonic Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Thank you for asking me to participate, Martin. At the time of answering these questions, the Corona virus pandemic is happening, so it is a very strange time. I’ve seen people questioning the importance of artistic endeavors while something so heavy is going on, but it is often art and entertainment that can lift us up, and get us through, so my advice is to keep creating.

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
My Instagram accounts are where I’m currently most active and will link out to any other stuff I have going on:

Main IG account (Pyraphonic):
https://www.instagram.com/pyraphonic

Music account (Von Doog):
https://www.instagram.com/von_doog/

[Editor: Well said Shawn, with regards to the corona pandemic. It would be interesting to hear how other creatives (:you the reader) responds to the “art isn’t important during times like these” argument? Leave a comment]