Michael Hell – Minimalist Conjuring

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

I think this is a toss up between the fader on the Octatrack and the magnetic encoders on the OP-Z, they both feel great on their own terms so I would say both.

Octatrack Fader and OPZ encoders

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

The OP-Z is great and I think it is almost perfect. The big one is of course the hardware itself. I am currently having lots of issues with miss triggering and double triggers and it’s getting a bit annoying tbh and of course I hear people having issues with warpage of the OP-Z itself and popping encoders. On a lighter note, I would love to have the tonic drum engine (from PO-32) in the OP-Z as well, then it would be perfect.

Teenage Engineering OPZ

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

I think it might be obvious by now…. OP-Z.

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

I would love to have OrcΛ in hardware form, I just dreamt of a hardware device similar to Polyend tracker, but instead of a tracker for sequencing it’s OrcΛ.

PolyEnd Tracker

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

I miss my Moog Minitaur a lot actually, the bass that thing churns out is staggering. I also miss the MPC Live at times, it was a really nice partner with the OP-Z. But I found the workflow really boring tbh

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

OP-Z for sure. I love how you can twist and bend a sequence with it.

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

Octatrack, It’s just a stream filled with possibilities.

Elektron Octatrack

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

The SP-404 I love the thought of it, but I hate using it, but I don’t want to sell it. One day I will truly master it! and I also feel like i should enjoy Eurorack a lot more, but I’m actually on the fence about selling all my Eurorack. I’m really down with minimalism. Ohh and the keys on the Arturia Keystep are atrocious, but that little thing is so damn handy.

[Editor: I had the SP404 years ago and sold it coz I just didn’t use it enough. Then I just got the SP404sx model with sd card. It’s strangely a lot more useful. Dunno why]

Roland SP404

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

Octatrack and QY70 go really well together. The standard midi template on the Octatrack corresponds with the midi implementation of the QY70. So basically you just have to connect them via midi and then start p-locking parameters without even setting up the CC’s. Also realizing that the midi implementation on the MPC Live is actually fantastic once you connect the devices with both midi in and out. the MPC reads all the midi CC settings so you can automate everything on the machine. its pretty incredible tbh.

Octatrack with Yamaha QY70

Artist or Band name?

Grååskala or Graaskala for you non nordics Genre? IDM…. i guess… Glitch… Maybe?

Micheal Hell

Where are you from?

Märsta outside of Stockholm. Currently living in the north of Sweden with wife and family.

How did you get into music?

Played piano and violin as a kid (briefly) but really connected with music through a friend who was doing troubadour gigs at the age of 21. Learned to play guitar and sang to that. Then I went on to study music as a vocalist for two years. Played in bands and such as a vocalist. Got into the electronic hardware thing just a couple of years back, when I wanted to get back into music, but didn’t have anyone to play with… so basically I made a one man band.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s a stress relief thing, I just love disappearing into music. Plus I have a primal need for creating stuff, I guess that’s why i became an engineer by trade so that i can always be in the process of creation.

How do you most often start a new track?

Drums. Almost always drums.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Through my work I’ve learned to adapt to the phrase “good enough”. I know a track is ready when I feel like I have a structure in it or rather a story, there’s almost always imperfections in my recordings, but I chose to honor it instead of shunning it.

Show us your current studio

I’m not a collector in any sense. I have a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy and I strive towards having a streamlined workflow and most importantly FUN. So this is what I’m playing with currently.

Michael’s studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

On the subject of writer’s block Björk stated something in her Reddit AMA that really resonated with me. TL;DR don’t force your creativity.

“I think creativity always lives somewhere in everyone, but its nature is quite pranksterish and slippery and every time u grab its tail, it’s found a new corner to thrive in. Perhaps the trick is not to force it and put it up against a wall and want it to be in a particular area. But rather with a lot of kindness sniff it out and wonder where it has gone to this time around. If its in sauce recipes , writing theater plays , paper-mache improv with nephews, discovering new hiking routes or simply trying to figure out a family members sense of humour . I definetly don’t succeed in this all the time, but feel overall things have been more fertile when I trust this creatures instincts and follow it, rather than me willfully reforming it into a circus animal colouring by numbers”.

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

Well it’s not new by any sense, but it is my latest, my OP-Z only album released on Golfshoe Music. Straight stereo recordings of performances, with imperfections and all.

Thanks for having me! Stay safe and creative folks!!


Victor Öberg – Urba Doloro

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

Right now I’m crushing hard on the faders of the Verbos Harmonic Oscillator. But in a longer perspective I’ve got to say the Octave and Waveform switches on the Vermona Perfourmer, the resistance and “click” is true perfection.

Vermona Perfourmer

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

That would be my analog noise machine, aka my cat, Frasse. He  makes all kinds of inspiring noises. But he would benefit a lot from a gain knob.

Frasse Cat

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

My laptop and, if not completely impossible, my trusty eurorack case!

Urba Doloro’s Eurorack

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

The blisko cello kit from felt instruments. I absolutely love it, but I would love it even more if I could have a small(ish) stand alone device with knob per function.

Blisko VSTi

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

I once bought and later sold the Waldorf Streichfett. Then I bought it again, and sold it again. Give me another year and I’ll probably have bought it a third time..

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

My Hammond SK-1. Right now I use it as part time Hammond organ and part time midi keyboard for using the Spitfire felt piano.

Hammond SK-1

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

I would, as last time, get a piano first. Learning the piano and music theory is really the staple of how I approach writing music. I find it very enjoyable to compose on the piano and then arrange it for eurorack, strings and piano.

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

My laptop. I can’t say I enjoy working on the computer when making music, but I can’t see myself managing without a computer at this moment.

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

Not really a trick, but I recently was surprised by how much I love the distortion you can create with Mutable instruments Veils just by pushing it towards the exponential mode. There are like a million sweetspots there when using it with various sound sources!


Artist or Band name?

Urba Doloro

Genre?

Somewhere between electronic minimalism and classical music maybe?

Where are you from?

Sweden, currently living in Västerås. It’s basically in the middle of Sweden, close by Stockholm.

How did you get into music?

I often went to a small record store called Jay’s records to buy a bunch of Bob Dylan albums when I was like 16 or 17 years old. One day the store owner told me he had put away something special for me. It was The Brown Album from The Band. It 100% blew me away and for the first time I understood why people love both playing and listening to music. I spent all summer learning the songs on piano. To this day the track King Harvest is still one of my absolute favorite songs of all time.

The Band

What still drives you to make music?

It’s a combination of doing it for myself because I feel a need to, but also to be able to communicate views on human society that I feel is not the most focused on in music. Urban alienation being the main theme I try to work with.

How do you most often start a new track?

It’s twofold. The creative process is generally started with reading scientific articles/books within my line of work, urban planning, to find topics to composer over. The actual writing of the music is almost always starts at the piano. I tend to start out with a few rules of limitations and then improvise over them for an hour or two. Then I try to find pieces of the improvisation I like and start arranging them.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I really don’t. I’ve had serious problems finishing projects the last few years. However, I’m really trying to find some kind of middle road right now by letting friends listen to my tracks. Based on their reactions (and of course my own judgement) I decide when things are finished.

Show us your current studio

I’m waiting for a new grand piano, which will spice up my “studio”. So for now it’s just my eurorack case, my laptop, and my hammond. I tend to try to move it around a lot in my apartment to stay inspired, here is a summer-version of my studio!

Eurorack and cat

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I’m going to go with something Todd Barton recently told me when discussing what to buy/not to buy and how to stay creative, he told me to “Follow the sound”.

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

My instagram always loves some support.


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 🙂