Alexandr – With Meraki

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

Microbrute’s filter. First of all, I believe that this Steiner-Parker filter is one of the best I’ve put my hands on. And since the Brute was my first analog synthesizer it holds a special place in my heart. From the first sweep, I fell in love.

Arturia Microbrute

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

Hmm it’s really difficult to say that something’s perfect. I will be super super boring and give it to the Launchpad. I work in Ableton’s session view all the time and it makes things so much faster. The only thing I would like to see is a 16×16 version to be able to see my whole project at once. 

Novation Launchpad

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

I actually was at my summer house for 3 weeks last month and I decided to bring the things I use the least to get to know them. So it was the Volca FM which I haven’t really used since I got it. Although the tiny knobs are horrible, the sounds are excellent. And with that I also used my iPad a lot. The apps you can find on the iPad are simply mind-blowing and highly underrated.

The DRC synthesizer is my absolute favorite iPad app. Beautiful sounds and super easy to program.

DRC Synth iOS app

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

Easy one. All the Valhalla DSP stuff. Best effects out there. If they could make hardware versions of their plugins and stay reasonably priced they would just destroy the whole pedal/ effects market. 

Valhalla DSP Vintage Verb

I don’t really think I would want something hardware to become software. The physical connection you can have with a piece of gear is unbeatable in my opinion. 

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

Korg Minilogue

I don’t sell a lot. Even if I don’t use something it’s hard for me to go on and sell it. So from the things I’ve sold through the years, I regret none. And something I regret buying.. If I leave aside all the cheap stuff I got, I would say the Minilogue. I have a love-hate relationship with this synth. It’s great for the price, no argue with that, but it just leaves you every time wanting a bit more. It sounds “ok” but rarely great. So for anyone who’s looking to buy a poly synth, I would recommend to save and get something much better.

Korg Minilogue VCO

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

Might sound weird but it’s a dirt-cheap Casio digital piano. Having a 61 keys keyboard with full polyphony unlocked so many possibilities. I only use 2 piano sounds that sound decent, but it’s almost on every track I’ve ever released.

Casio digital piano

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

Acid Pro 3.0

Ableton Live vs FL Studio. I’ve been making music for 15 years. Actually my first DAW was one called Acid Pro 3.0. Only the 80s kids might know this one.. But my first actual DAW was FL studio. Switching to Ableton was life changing for me. For me, its workflow suits me perfectly and it was a catalyst for me to finish songs instead of just struggling with loops. 

Acid Pro 3.0

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

The 4-track cassette recorder for sure. It’s a Yamaha MT100. It’s big, I’ve repaired three times so far but I love using it. Everything is going through tape so I simply cannot live without it.

Yamaha MT100

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

Elektron Digitakt screen

I don’t deep dive to my gear. I want them to be simple and I prefer things that do only one thing really well. A nice technique I use for drums is the LFO assigned to sample slot on the Digitakt. I create a project with very few samples on it (10-16) and besides the kick I apply the LFO to the other tracks to come up with new patterns every time. That way you can make cool variations and you also audition sounds for your drum patterns. 

Elektron Digitakt

Artist or Band name?

Alexandr

Genre?

Ambient, IDM, Downtempo

Selfie?

Alexander Voulgaris

Where are you from?

Athens, Greece 

How did you get into music?

I’m drawn to all kinds of art. I take photos, I make videos, I draw, I sculpt.. Music is just another way to express my creative side. And besides that, as a kid I’ve always dreamt to become a rock star but never got into a band. So I’ve decided to have this one man – band thing going on nowadays. 

What still drives you to make music?

I don’t really know. I just can’t wait to get to my studio and start playing around and create something. It is something that relaxes me and I deeply enjoy it. 

How do you most often start a new track?

It always starts with the piano. I write some chords, a melody and start building from there.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Oh that’s so hard.. Once I finish arranging (and this is the hardest part for me) I know I’m really close to call it finished. So when I start mastering and then run it through tape I simply commit and call it a day. 

Show us your current studio

My beautiful mess

Home studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

My dad, who is also an artist, always told me that you have to put “meraki” to your art. Meraki is a Greek word that means: “To do something with soul, creativity, or love.”

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

My Spotify where I release all my music: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5MPLFK5gfmmo0Tm0EiTnqP?si=cDwtSJ05QXC91wlElXzAAA

I also use Bandcamp a lot and there you can also find the Sample Packs that I create every month: https://alexandristaken.bandcamp.com/music


Per Hansen – SongsFromTinPanAlley

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

Definitely the structure-knob on the Rings-module in Sympathetic strings-mode. I just love turning it and hear the subtle changes of harmonics! And it’s bigger than any of the other modular knobs I have.

Mutable Instruments Rings-module Structure knob

I also recently got the Microcosm from Hologram and the filter knob is turning out to be a favorite too. Turning it all the way clockwise and the reverb cranked nearly all the way up results in such beautiful and musical textures.

Microcosm from Hologram Electronics

But to be totally honest, then I’m more of a fader-man. I actually think knobs tend to be tedious and not so expressive and musical as faders. Just purchased the Sweet 16 from Tesseract Modular and I love being able to control my Disting ex and especially parameters on my Norns with it. I feel more focused and in control with faders.

Tesseract Modular

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

The Deluge is the mothership of my setup. Even though it has some flaws, like its lack of a decent file structure where you have to scroll through all the synths till you find the one you need, killing the flow, I cannot live without it. In an almost dawless environment, it is essential!

Synthstrom Deluge

And of course, I cannot live without my feelings. I consider feelings my main instrument and 100% my most perfect kit. All compositions start and flourish from the state of mind I’m in and it’s important for me to embrace it and let it unfold without any dogmas and restrictions.

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

My Oscar Teller guitar and the Deluge! Used to own the OP-Z, but unfortunately had to let it go to finance other gear. The Zed has a more handy size compared to the Deluge, but the Deluge has some other aces up its sleeve, like the fact that you are able to record very long samples on it and its ability to create an endless amount of tracks.

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

I’m actually trying to spend the least time possible with software. I get impatient behind a computer screen. What I love about making music is the tactile experience. Tuning “knobs” and “faders” with a mouse doesn’t give me that 😉

Audio Damage Quanta

It could be cool, though, to have the Qaunta by Audio Damage in a hardware eurorack- or synth version, with all the matrix possibilities.

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

Went down the eurorack-rabbit-hole and had to let go of my OP-1. I miss it every day, but they’re too expensive compared to what they can do!

I also sold my two polysynths – Digitone and Novation Peak. Miss them dearly every day. Maybe I have to buy a new secondhand Peak in the near future.

I usually don’t regret buying anything. Cause every purchase is a new adventure for me.

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

Definitely the Rings module. Whenever I send a sequence to it, it turns out to be a keeper.

I also get very inspired when looping random objects and instruments using the Cheat Codes script on my Norns.

Norns and Grid

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

A Grand piano in my own giant palace. Joke. It’s just a dreamers mind speaking, living with four kids in a relative small apartment.

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

My mini Mac!

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

Marantz PMD 222

Thanks to @perbarfot I discovered how cool it is to run an instrument through the Marantz PMD 222, while giving the loop tape a good scratching massage. Love the wow and flutter effect it gives. Also tried it on my Revox B77 using the tension arm with very good results.

ReVox B77

Artist or Band name?

Songs From Tin Pan Ally

Genre?

Ambient

Selfie?

Per Hansen

Where are you from?

Denmark, Copenhagen

How did you get into music?

When I was 15, I got a worn-out classical guitar from my grandmother and my first step was to learn every GNR song from a tabs book! Must have sounded pretty bad because I didn’t know how to tune a guitar 😉

But I really loved it and after learning the basics a friend of mine and I started a band and from there I began writing my own songs.

What still drives you to make music?

I’m always striving for music of chance. That’s my drive. Love the way a simple melody or a sound of any kind of music instrument can turn into something totally mind-blowing! And you end up asking yourself… Did I really do this?

How do you most often start a new track?

I often start a new track while patching my modular stuff and turning knobs. It can be a sound, a melody or just a drone-kind-of-sound that express a feeling or a mood. That’s the foundation. From there, I just try to add different layers to that foundation.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I press stop rec 😉

I listen to it many times the following days and if it still blows my mind, it’s a keeper.

Show us your current studio

Per Hansen’s Home Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t think too much. Just play and make a lot of mistakes!

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

I’ve just released ‘tænkeRUM’ on bandcamp and not long before that ‘Time’, which is also available on any streaming platform. In a couple of months, my first physical release is a reality. I’m planning on releasing it on cassette. At the moment, I’m calling it ‘autumn lullabies’

https://songsfromtinpanalley.bandcamp.com/album/t-nkerum

https://songsfromtinpanalley.bandcamp.com/album/time

Close your Eyes – Wide Open

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

Feedback knob on my Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo. I like balancing on the edge of a wild totally uncontrollable feedback. Or even crossing this edge sometimes 🙂

Strymon El Capistan

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

Red Panda Particle 2.  For me it’s a perfect granular delay pedal. It can go from gentle reversed echoes to the wall of glitch and chaos in sound. And it’s stereo! It is important, as I use to process synths, drum machines or even groups of tracks through it.

Red Panda Particle

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

I’ll go with Digitakt and Hokema Electro Kalimba. Digitakt is an in-a-box workstation which allows sketching, playing jams on my own or with fellow musicians, and almost to do a finished track, while this kalimba is just tiny magic.

Elektron Digitakt and Hokema Electro Kalimba

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

It’s a tricky question, because all of my favorite plugins already have hardware prototypes. At the same time, I’m not a big fan of software to wish anything hardware turned into soft.
Nonetheless, recently I discovered amazing plugins by Puremagnetik. Although they obviously have some hardware inspiration, the plugins are truly unique and have strong personality in sound and usability. So yes, I wish I could have these in hardware.

Puremagnetik Plugins

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

The only thing I got rid of without any doubt was an AKAI MPK249. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing midi controller which is perfect for its purposes, it just doesn’t work for me personally, cause I’m not really a controller-kind person. In this case I clearly realised that I cannot rely on computers in creating music. With this MPK249 in setup, I had an almighty controller and a laptop with awesome software, but I couldn’t come up with any idea for weeks.  Being honest, I actually don’t regret buying it, because it helped me finally to understand that midi-controllers are not my thing, speaking on composing workflows.
Talking about selling, I didn’t sell that much to regret something.

APC Key25 (the midi controller that stuck around)

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

Definitely my piano. If you’d do me the favour to call it “gear” 🙂

Piano money shot

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

No surprises — a piano! 🙂

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

Definitely any computer. Now I set myself a goal to reduce the computer part in my music production and live sets. However, I’m far from this right now, the computer still does lots of work. I don’t like endless possibilities which computers give, preferring a simple gear which is capable of very limited things — but does it perfectly.

MacBook

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

Turning a three-headed cassette recorder into a tape echo by creating a feedback loop on a mixer. I do it with my Marantz PMD 222, it sounds lovely.

Marantz PMD222

Artist or Band name?

closeyoureyes

Genre?

electronic

Selfie?

Close Your Eyes wide open

Where are you from?

Saint Petersburg, Russia

How did you get into music?

Melodica, Ukulele and Xylophone

I was obsessed with the idea of playing guitar in high school, so I tried to self educate. I played several bands, something like indie/funk/rock, we all know this good old story. Then I realized that composing music with the band doesn’t work for me personally, and no matter how awesome the band is. So I quitted all bands and started to search how I can do music on my own. This led me to electronic music — as a field where I can compose and perform alone. Nonetheless I still love acoustic instruments, therefore I use a lot of them in my production. Like ukulele, melodica, kalimba, flute, toy pianos, obviously not to mention guitar and piano. So the outcome is an electronic music filled with tricky processed acoustic instruments.

Pedals and Toy Pianos

What still drives you to make music?

A conviction that for me it’s the very best way to communicate with the world and to release feelings and ideas that I carry inside.

How do you most often start a new track?

I start with a piano or polyphonic synth mostly. The very first thing is the sound. Usually, I need to prepare my  piano with felt because a quiet sound with a lot of rustle going on is what I really like, and also do some experiments with mics positioning. At the same time I may apply some effects like delay or granular stuff because these effects  drastically change the way I will play the piano. When the sound is ready, the next step is to come up with a nice chord progression or/and melody. At this stage I try to catch the idea of the whole track with all its changes and turning points, and then use other instruments to amplify the emotions which are already included in the piano part.

Behringer DeepMind 12

How do you know when a track is finished?

I listen to it a lot. Mostly while walking in the streets, I listen and ask if I want to add something or get rid of it. When everything’s fine, it’s finished.

Show us your current studio

Close Your Eyes Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

There were two actually.
1) Listen to your most inner voice. You have a lot of inner voices, but there’s one that always was there since your early childhood. Find it and listen to it.
2) Start to compose with the opposite of what you used to associate with yourself. You will add all this to your common features later, but the start should be far far away from your familiar territory.

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

Well it’s been a while since I released new music, but something new  is coming really soon, so I’ll leave these links in case you want to stay in touch:
instagram.com/closeyoureyesmusic
(here I share most recent news, studio sketches and some daily music related routine)
youtube.com/closeyoureyesmusic
(here I share live sets, both electronic or acoustic, gear demos, tutorials and all this YouTube stuff 🙂
And if you want to support what I do, you are always welcome to my bandcamp
closeyoureyes.bandcamp.com