Selsey – Dreamy Synthy Pop

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

The OP-1 crank. It’s just so loveable!

Cranking the OP-1

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

For me, it’s the OP-1. It’s a minimalist’s dream because it can do everything – drums, melody, bass, all the layers – in such an intuitive way. I’d make it fully MIDI compatible so I could integrate it into my Ableton workflow somehow; I’d make the keys touch sensitive; I’d give it 2.5 octaves instead of 1.5; and I’d give it a sustain pedal. Dream machine.

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

On a trip, I try to keep it light:

  • Nuraphones
  • OP-Z
  • OP-1
  • SP-404 (sometimes / for longer trips)
Travel music kit

To play a show, it’s more complicated! I add to that:

  • Yamaha Reface DX
  • TC- Helicon Perform VK
  • Shure Super 55
  • Zoom H6 as a mixer
Live music setup

I don’t have a commute, but if I did, I’d consider just bringing my OP-Z.

Teenage Engineering OPZ

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

Arpeggios are my favorite musical tool. I really wish you could get the superfine arpeggio controls you have in Ableton on a hardware synth. And as a non-drummer, I would love to find a software drum loop maker as intuitive to me as the OP-1’s finger mode.

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

I bought the Midi Fighter Twister in the hopes of using it to make layered live loops with my iPad the way @KelbyKryshak does, which is totally awesome🤘. I soon realized that I don’t like using apps in my workflow – I think it somehow takes me out of the moment. I’m hanging onto it because I haven’t ruled out making a custom setup for it in Ableton, but that might prove to be more of a challenge than I’m willing to take on. Also, I have the Push 2, so I’m not yet sure what function or value the twister would add to that setup.

Midi Fighter Twister and Olympus camera

I’m kind of an aspiring minimalist, so it’s very possible that at some point soon I’ll say goodbye to it.

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

The obvious answer is my OP-1 – it gave me an explosion of creativity around learning basic music production techniques with drums and basslines and everything. However! My Reface DX has been my constant companion and workhorse in songwriting. First of all, it’s a joy to play.  The touch sensitive keys feel great, with smooth action. And as I am working through the hardest parts of identifying and defining melodies and chord progressions,  it is the perfect companion for me because its keyboard is small and manageable, while being big enough to play bass notes and chords at once. And the voices are so evocative and inspiring.

Selsey’s songwriting setup: Reface DX, OP-1, typewriter, and sake

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

It’s between the OP-1 and the Reface DX. The OP-1 for its all-in-oneness, and the DX for its beautiful sounds, relative portability, and space-pianoness.

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

My SP-404. The sticky buttons kill me (the phat pads I want are on backorder!), and sampling loops into it is such a pain. I love it to death, but at some point I wouldn’t rule out upgrading to a more robust modern sampler like the Octatrack.

Rolabnd SP404SX

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

The sequencer on the Casio-PT 30 is amazing. You can program it with a melody, and then push one of two “One Key Play” buttons to activate the notes one by one. So when you play it, it’s like you’re playing a solo, but it’s almost impossible to fuck up. You can see me do this in my cover of White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes, around the 1 minute mark: https://www.instagram.com/tv/Bs3KEAyH3k8/. I wish so hard that the OP-1 could do this.

Casio-PT 30 and OP-1

Artist or Band name?

Selsey

Genre?

Bedroom Synthpop

Selfie?

Selsey herself

Where are you from?

Northern California, but I currently live in Hong Kong.

How did you get into music?

Folk singer songwriters in high school got me inspired to pick up a guitar – Iron and Wine, Feist, Regina Spektor, Bright Eyes, Ray Lamontagne, that type of artist. I also learned classical and a bit of jazz piano in high school. Recently, I got really into making dawless synthpop after falling in love with the OP-1 at the MoMA Design Store in New York. I started making videos for Instagram and, well, here I am!

What drives you to make music?

  1. I relish the challenge of learning songwriting and producing music. Sometimes it’s torture but the payoff is addictive.
  2. The community on Instagram has been really warm and kind. People have created a place you really like to hang around.
  3. I just love singing and making music, so I can’t help but want to do it.

How do you most often start a new track?

I am only now learning how to use Ableton (my first DAW), so I’ll talk about my songwriting process instead. I sit down with my Reface DX, my typewriter or a notebook, and my phone to record snippets. I play chords randomly and vocalize until I hear something I like. Record it. Wash, rinse, repeat. Along the way, I try to get a sense of which snippets are more verselike or more chorus-like. Eventually I will have enough snippets to form a song. Then, I write the words, which is the hardest part.

[Editor: Yeah, lyrics are alwyas a huge pain]

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the words don’t make me cringe too hard; when every section feels like it’s part of the whole; and when the transitions between parts are not too awkward.

Show us your current studio

Selsey Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

You’ll suck at first. Keep going.

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

I have a few things in the works. But for now, head to my Instagram to see some of the stuff I’ve done!

https://www.instagram.com/selsey._/


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.


Morten Wagner – PopGoblin

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

I think its the ON switch of my power-distribution rack… It’s distributing the power to my whole studio, eurorack gear, outboard, speakers, and keyboards. When I switch that on, the air in the studio is ripe with possibility and promise. Sometimes, all the options are too much and I dive into crazy module-housekeeping, firmware updating, or somehow just bounce icons around on my computer desktop, and after a few hours, I have to switch off the system with nothing to show for it. Other times, I’ve managed to explore sonic avenues and great musical adventures – which, mostly, I just keep to myself and stash away on some hard drive…

Studio on and off switch

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

What would you change?I know it is a boring answer – but it’s my laptop… (which is also, funny enough, maybe the most horrible piece of kit). It’s the central control hub in my studio – and it would be immensely more challenging to record, learn about, integrate all the other stuff in the studio without it. I grew up in “the dark ages” and spend an awful amount of time on tape decks, 4-tracks, etc. – and had to save up to go to a studio to record something, often at bad hours and under strict time constraints. The laptop solves all that. On the other hand, though, it removes a lot of the more tangible and analog parts of music-making; it always needs some update and seems to get slow and chunky after just a few years. And it’s a constant fight to keep it from distracting you from where you wanna go… (Yeah, so, with great power comes great responsibility – and the problem with computers, is they take no responsibility – you have to do that yourself ;o) ). If I could change anything, I think it ought to be much easier (or in Apple’s case, simply **possible**) to update processors, memory, and disk drives on laptops.

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

I’ve brought my OP-1 and Deluge a couple of times – both devices really great all-round sound and composition machines. I’ve recently traded my Deluge for an AKAI Force though, because I kept forgetting and had to relearn the interface for the Deluge. Also, I always bring some small recording gear (recently a Zoom HN6 or at least good external smartphone microphone like the SHURE MV88) traveling or commuting. If nothing else, I always bring home some “ambient” field recordings if I’ve been traveling to new places. Often, recordings like that, seem to come in handy… 

IMG_0952.jpg
Shure phone mic

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

I would love for the ORCA live-coding environment to be available in a eurorack module. It’s running on the Monome NORNS, which is pretty close, but to me, it seems a eurorack version would be perfect. The other way around; I use simple Max for Live LFO’s a lot to map out to different parameters in Ableton. It would be great to have a Mutable Instruments “Marbles” available in Ableton also…

IMG_0953.jpg
Orca live coding

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

Back in the day – maybe mid 90’ies – I bought a German soundcard (i forget the name) for my windows-based rig. It was pretty expensive for me at the time – and I think I spend years getting it to work properly and wasted a lot of precious time and creative energy on it. So, I think I mostly regret NOT selling enough gear…

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

It might be my Squarp Pyramid sequencer and Eurorack combination. It’s limited enough, that I don’t get overwhelmed by choices like sometimes in computer-based DAW’s – but it’s also advanced enough to inspire and get deep into.   

IMG_0955.jpg
Pyramid Squarp

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

I would switch to Mac WAY sooner.

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

It’s my Eurorack setup. It’s a time-wasting, out-of-tune, where-is-that-noise-coming-from gigantic energy-suck of a brilliant magical sound and inspirational theme park of creativity…

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

I’m diving into different live-coding environments – mostly for straight fun and not “serious composition” – but find it very inspiring. Orca is a great source of inspiration – and I recently discovered the visuals-tool “Hydra”, which is a great and accessible tool for visualization.


Artist or Band name?

The last few years, I’ve been using the alias PopGoblin.

Genre?

I have no idea. Pop-minimal-electro-chill?

Selfie?

Morten aka. PopGoblin

Where are you from?

Copenhagen. Denmark.

How did you get into music?

I’ve been into music since childhood – playing around with tape-recorders, pianos, etc.

What still drives you to make music?

I don’t know why – making music is just something that is an integral part of me. I’m very much into how making music can throw me into flow-states and how pieces of music and sounds from way back, immediately brings back memories and even feelings across time. Music is a great storyteller and a time machine in that way.

How do you most often start a new track?

I fiddle around with gear. Record stuff. Throw it away. Pick it back up. Procrastinate. Sometimes, all of a sudden, something is taking shape, and I follow where it leads.

How do you know when a track is finished?

A track is never finished – just either abandoned or “put aside” to maybe evolve on its own…

Show us your current studio

Popgoblin’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Austin Kleon’s series of books, starting with Steal Like an Artist, is great. They contain a lot of great advice!

Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us link

soundcloud.com/popgoblinpopgoblin.com