Only Ruin- Austin White

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

This is a tough one. I’m a sucker for filter sweeps, and I think currently my favorite filter is on the new Prophet 5 (Rev 4) so I’ll have to go with the cutoff knob on that. Honorable mention to the Dry/Wet on the OTO Bam, though. Fully wet on the Bam in ambient mode is heaven.

Prophet 5

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

There are a few pieces that come to mind where one little thing is missing that would just suit my workflow perfectly, but generally that’s what I love about working with hardware – finding the way around those things. Like the (new Korg) ARP 2600 would be absolutely perfect if it had like 2 or 3 more patch points to sent gate/cv in other places, but not having those makes me think more creatively. Also, that’s one of the things I love about eurorack, if it’s missing just add another module.

Arp 2600 with Make Noise 0-Ctrl

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

For travel in the past it’s been a small eurorack case, like 48 hp or something, and a drum machine – usually the Elektron model cycles. But now it’s the Polyend Tracker. I rarely leave home without it. Touring or gigging can be a bit different, I’ll usually want a bigger eurorack case (usually my MDLR 6u 104 hp) and a sequencer of some sort (Tracker, 0-CTRL). Always my laptop, Ableton is there when all else fails.

PolyEnd Tracker

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

Honestly most of the plug-ins and software I use are based on actual hardware, so there’s not much that comes to mind. Sometimes I wish there was a more “player friendly” granular software, something like the Make Noise Morphagene.
That would make an incredible plug in.

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

It’s a constant process with hardware, so not really. Especially with eurorack, there are modules that I’ve bought and not been able to figure out, sold, and then bought again a year later and loved. The one area I have grown skeptical in is MIDI controllers. I’ve tried a few that I hated, like the Qu-Neo. Anything that requires drivers and software for mapping and all of these additional steps kind of drives me crazy. Especially for something that should be fairly straight forward, like a controller.

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

There have been phases of different gear inspiring a lot of music, but probably the Tracker. It’s just completely changed the way I make music and I love it. I’ve already released one EP of tracks all made with it, and I have at least one more that I’m basically done with. It’s just one of those things that I can’t seem to get bored with, and I’m always finding new stuff that I love about it.

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

Honestly I would probably just get Ableton and really dig in first. I had absolutely no understanding of synthesis when I first started getting in to eurorack, and then eventually other hardware. I think having the understanding of what’s happening lends itself to making better decisions as far as purchasing and adding the tools you want to be creative. But since this is an interview about gear, I’ll say the either the Tracker or a standalone modular system like the ARP 2600 or the Make Noise black and gold system.

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

cables

Cables. Audio and MIDI routing are the two things that are always going to be an issue when working with as much hardware as I do. I have everything set up in my studio now so it’s not an issue, but if I ever want to make a change it’s a whole thing. I moved recently and it was a nightmare reconfiguring my studio from scratch, but I’m happy with it for now.

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

Like I said earlier, when I first started with eurorack I knew nothing about synthesis, and very little about electronic music in general. So every time I become more familiar with a technique, it’s a bit surprising. All of the stuff that I’ve learned in modular synths translates to hardware synths, too. Now I find doing sound design on more traditional synths like the Prophet or the OB-6 to be really fun and challenging. Sometimes I get lost just trying to make good kicks on the OB-6 for a couple of hours. Maybe not the best use of my time, but it’s just a way I’ve found to explore a synth’s capabilities more.

Only Ruin eurorack

Artist or Band name?

Austin White aka Only Ruin

Genre?

Who knows? Genres are silly, and according to Spotify there are like 1000000 of
them. Dark ambient synth and break beat IDM?

Selfie?

Austin White aka. Only Ruin

Where are you from?

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY

How did you get into music?

I’ve been kind of obsessed with music since I was a kid. I started playing bass when I was pretty young, and got serious about it around 15 or so. I studied jazz and went to school for upright bass for a while. Before I got into producing electronic music, I was mainly playing improvised and experimental music.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s just what I do. Outside of my family, music is my entire life. It’s everything to me. I can’t imagine living without a creative output, and I’m eternally grateful that I don’t have to.

How do you most often start a new track?

A melody or a harmonic progression, sometimes a texture. Usually I’ll start writing on some kind of poly synth like the Prophet or the One, and then build from there. Recently I’ve been doing more writing on eurorack, where I’ll get some kind of semi-generative or evolving patch going and just resample in Ableton for a few minutes, then chop it up and find parts that I like.

Polysynths Moog One and Prophet 5

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t. I get sick of working on it, maybe. I’m terrible for not finishing things, or more accurately for getting a song to a point that I’m happy with it and then never releasing it because I’ve listened to it so much that I hate it. I have probably 3 or 4 full albums worth of material that I’m just sitting on, but it’ll get out there eventually.

Show us your studio

Only Ruin studio
Roland TB303 in blue
Roland TR909 in blue
500 series rack

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I studied with Reggie Workman a bit in college. Reggie is a legendary jazz musician who played with everybody (Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Coltrane), and he had a huge impact on me as a musician. Most of the advice he gave me as a bass player was about space – leaving space for everyone else to exist in the world that you’re creating together. A lot of that thought is just about playing music in a similar way to how you live your day life, drawing parallels between the person you are creatively and otherwise. Producing electronic music alone is a different thing entirely, but I still think about how to be honest with my output and stay connected to my own individual voice.

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

I have a bunch of music (hopefully) coming out soon, but in the meantime here’s some fairly recent stuff I’ve done :

Tracker EP :
https://soundcloud.com/onlyruin/sets/trackerep

Beach EP :
https://onlyruin.bandcamp.com/album/beach-ep

Distant EP :
https://open.spotify.com/album/4cEWslfdXskHswIpF96kTm?si=1TL6-
PowSA2YZRMzecxM6Q

Always posting jams on IG and YouTube as well, find me @onlyruin


[Editor: Do you have a favorite tip, trick or way of working with any of the gear from this interview?
Then throw us a comment below…
]


Frederico Chiesa – Ooramusic

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

Roland TB-303

For years my main instrument was a Roland 303 and the frequency knob was the thing I used to tweak most. I kinda feel that on every synth my relationship with the filter knob has to be great, or I will not feel comfortable. I have given up on amazing instruments just because the responsiveness of the filter was not what I wanted.
Nowadays I’m way more into ambient, so things changed. Lately I love to play with the portamento switch on my SH-101 to create variations on patterns, it’s kinda funny what comes out of it.

SH101 Portamento

I love when brands uses big knobs, I have huge hands and I need a good grip: Death By Audio is great for that, I love touching their stuff.

Death By Audio Rooms

I love Moog knobs too, with that vintagey vibe.

Moog Subharmonicon

I hate most of the eurorack modules knobs and sliders. It’s damn hard to perform and you need to use a level of care that is not really my thing.

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

I think my mixer is almost a perfect instrument. Its the Play Differently Model-1, and is an instrumental piece for my production and live shows. It is beautifully made, sounds amazing BUT has one thing that was a big compromise for me: no direct outs. Which means that everything I record is always a stereo track, with no possibility of editing later on. It’s kinda good, because forced me to PLAY rather than program, and as a result, I’m finishing way more material. Still sometimes I wish I wish I could mix things better after the fact. Seriously, add direct outs to that mixer and it becomes the best tone shaping tool ever.

Another piece I love to death is the Deluge: that thing can do ANYTHING, it is a brilliant concept, but the decision of not having a screen for such a complex instrument, is sometimes hard to swallow. But I really admire Synthstrom and if their stance is NO DAMN SCREENS, I embrace it. Deluge is at the moment my main brain for live performances.

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

I hate bringing a lot of stuff when I travel or I’m in holiday. Used to bring many things and never use them. So lately i just bring the Teenage engineering OPZ or OP1. They both let you create full arrangements, even if they have two radically different approaches. Opz works better for electronic / techno stuff, while Op1 is more versatile for ambient pieces (imho , of course).
Lately I’m vey interested in small package synths with lot of power, especially if battery operated. Is great to be creative anywhere and anytime.

Op-1 and Opz

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

I would love to have my cassette or tape recorder perfectly emulated in software. That is something that is still really hard to get. The vibe that comes out of real tape is something you need to experience to understand.

Revox Reel to reel

And definitely i would love to have the SoundToys suite as hardware : I use that a lot and I think is brilliant. I can probably mix an entire album only with those plugins.

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

Regret selling …here is the list LOL:
Roland 909, Digitakt, Prophet 6, two Junos 106 (yeah, for a time i had 2…) , the full OTO effects family, my mastering console with the most amazing rack units (API2500, Distressors, Fatso, Bax eq, SSL G comp….)… and so on and on. The list is long and I feel I would cry if I keep remembering…. awh!
Regret buying.. not really, but there is a guy that I bought and sold FIVE times: Elektron Octatrack. I have it at the moment, but it frustrates me so much. Is a brilliant concept and I’m so jealous of people that know how to use it. I’m selling mine right now. Gonna buy again I’m sure.

[Editor: That’s gotta be some sort of record!]

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

For years all the XOX roland vintage synth. I still own them all, except for the 909. They are simple and straight to the point, I love that in an instrument. No menu diving, no hundreds of functions. They do one thing GOOD.
Recently I think Monome Norns and Op1 gave me a great creativity boost, while way more complex than Roland, they keep an user friendly approach and they are beautifully designed.

Grid, Arc and Norns

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

Well, I would buy all the Roland boxes in the 90’s when they were cheap. But probably an SH’101 would have been the right choice to learn the basic of synths. Add a 808 and you are golden 🙂

Roland Ms101

It can be overwhelming starting today : so many things you can buy for cheap. The risk is getting too may synths and never learn to use them in the right way. I have been into modular on and off, and for me that is the most dangerous world: I used to buy lot of modules and then getting lost in them , with very little work done.

[Editor: It’s kinda nice to hear. I’m totally infatuated with Eurorack stuff. But I fear that I’d never get anything done]

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

CABLES? I fkn hate cables. I spend a lot of my studio time cleaning and organizing.
Then I hate the need for a computer to record things. Sometime I wish I’d be brave enough to switch to a full on tape-style production.
All of the instruments I use need to have at least one characteristic: do not frustrate me. I only keep things that are easy to understand and give me instant gratifications. I love fiddling with stuff, before reading the manual. If I manage to get something cool, then the instrument is suitable for me.

[Editor: Do not frustrate! That sounds like a good rule]

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

Lately I’ve been blown away by using the tape recorder on the OP1 creatively. Sometime i put the tape speed 2x, record stuff and then slow it down 1/2. You drop the pitch 2 octaves and you get into ambient territory instantly. It’s super fun and easy.
Another great trick I’m using is sequencing a 4 voice synth (like the Roland sh01a) with 4 different patterns that have different lengths. you get really interesting pieces that are always evolving.


Artist or Band name?

OORA / Federico Chiesa.

Genre?

Ambient, Dub Techno.

Selfie?

Frederico Chesia

Where are you from?

Italy.

How did you get into music?

When i was a teenager, playing guitar and singing in a Nirvana tribute band.

What still drives you to make music?

I guess music is my favorite language, and the best way i can express myself. The more I learn and create, the more i feel complete. Many other things make the process worth it, not least finding some appreciation from your peers. The final dream would be to make a living only with music, and that idea keeps me focused.

How do you most often start a new track?

I try to record a new idea every day. Not all of them are good, though.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I never know. I put strict rules on the time I spend on a track and after the time is done, I embrace what i got. I like spontaneity and avoid trying to post produce perfection.

[Editor: That is a really interesting approach to finishing stuff and getting music DONE]

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard? Less is more. As basic as it might seem i feel that the real evolution for any creative is embracing limitations ad create art with the least amount of clutter possible. Try to say one thing clearly and use the best tool to do that in the simplest way.

OoraMusic Studio

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

My latest album is called “The Subharmonicon EP”. Made only with the Moog Subharmonicon and pedal effects, is a study on simplicity: how, in a time of turmoil, the clarity of a minimal approach can convey the message of beauty.

https://oora.bandcamp.com/album/the-subharmonicon-ep


[Editor: Do you have a favorite tip, trick or way of working with any of the gear from this interview?
Then throw a comment below…
]