Mylar Melodies – Talks With Hands

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

UA Apollo

My UA Apollo interface’s on/off switch – it’s a big silver lever that goes CLACK in an extremely loud and satisfying way. Apparently it’s actually the same on/off switch they use on their LA2A’s, so that switch has royal heritage.

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

I think everyone thinks it’s very easy to improve on gear, or that a manufacturer was daft not to include some simple feature when in fact it’s anything but simple (or cheap) to add just any old feature. Or that that feature is the thing stopping you from making good music. But as for perfect gear – I guess the Juno 60. It’s very simple, it has nothing superfluous, and it always sounds absolutely amazing. If I would change it, I would take presets off (because it’s so direct you don’t really need them – and of course, yes that’s a Juno 6) – and if I added anything, well I DID add the Juno 66 mod to mine, the best thing being, that it turns a precise DCO machine into a aphexy wooze-machine.
The perfect effect is the LA2A. It has two knobs, it’s set and forget, and it never fails, or sounds over the top.

Roland Juno 66

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

My iPhone, running Xynthesizr, pretty much just sequencing one blissy dual VCO with 98% echo patch, that I never modify beyond a few basic parameters. That’s all you need. I actually literally played a set at Moogfest on just my iPhone with this – directly connected to the PA through the headphone jack – I just improvised on Xynthesizr for 45 minutes with a couple of other elements for colour. I worked out the kinks about a day before. I can’t believe I got away with that, but I hope it makes a point. In fairness I had spent over a year solid jamming with that app on trains, planes and automobiles. I am always far more impressed with and weirdly, envious of (for their restraint and focus) musicians that have almost no gear, than ones that have everything. I make videos about gear, so it can’t help but pile up.

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

I wish Xynthesizr was hardware. I wish the Reason PX7 rack extension was hardware. I wish the Casio FZ1 filter was software.

Reason PX7 rack extension

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

I regret selling my second-ever synth, the only synth I’ve ever maxed out every single memory location on with my patches – a Korg MS2000.
I regretted buying the Novation Nova, which was my first synth. It was way, way, way too complicated for me and I had no idea where to start. I directly swapped it for the MS2000. And while I think the person I did the trade with thought they got the better deal, I definitely did. That was the synth that taught me synthesis. I rinsed that MS2000.
I definitely bought or traded stuff for a Cheetah MD16 drum machine at one point which I remember thinking “what the absolute hell am I doing with this grey door stop”. In fairness I probably didn’t know what I was doing and it was fine, but I’m still not convinced.

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

Ableton Live. That’s also all you need, but it’s all too easy to fall into jaded patterns of use and habits with it, which you need to be aware of or you’ll end up spending thousands of pounds on a eurorack habit in a desperate bid to rekindle the feeling of “beginners mind” once again.
But mainly, what has inspired the most music is time. Having the luxury of time in which to make music is harder and harder as life goes on and responsibilities grow, and especially the idea of being a full time musician is incredibly difficult to maintain and I’m amazed people do it at all. It’s interesting to consider that many musicians can only become successful through either being utterly utterly dirt poor, or rich to start with – being the only way one could afford the time to become successful. Is there a middle ground?

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

A Digitakt. That’s also all you need.
[Editor: And a nice doggie for company]

Digitakt and doggie

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

Adobe Premiere. It’s a bug-infested rats nest, it’s stupidly basic with audio… but I need it. If it ever truly falls over, Davinci Resolve is waiting in the wings, and is free.

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

The incredible genre-defining boundary-expanding main spooky string riff in LFO’s “LFO”, clearly the sound that inspired the track (because you wouldn’t just magically find that sound would suddenly fit what you were doing, you fit a track around IT) is a straight preset (melody and all) from the cheap as chips Kawai K1. That’s right, one of the best moments from one of the best British dance tunes of all time is a preset. Presets are not “for the weak”. Making a good tune is hard enough as it is. Having FINISHED a tune BECAUSE you used presets is far cooler than having hundreds of half finished tracks where you synthesized every hihat from scratch.
Guitar bands don’t build new instruments for every song – there’s a balance to be struck. You can separate the processes of sound design and song writing – it’s something I’m mindful I need to do more. Either way I accept inspiration wherever I find it.

[Editor: ‘Accept inspirations wherever you find it’ – that is a nicely turned phrase and great advice]


Artist or Band name?

Mylar Melodies

Genre?

Electro/techno. I’m inspired whenever I think about Aphex, LFO, Boards of Canada, James Stinson, and Kraftwerk. So hopefully I float around in their worlds musically… A bit.

Selfie?

Mr. Mylar Melodies

Where are you from?

An hours drive from where Mark Bell was from.

How did you get into music?

A perfect storm of having older brothers to who played me Orbital and RDJ, one of whom had an MC-303 (Yes, MC) which he let me fiddle around with, having access to a stack of Future Music issues in a time before the internet, and being bequeathed several grand from my late great uncle at the age of 16(!) years old.

As you might image I frittered most of that money away on stupid pointless things, but I did spend a massive chunk of it on my first ever music gear and a proper stereo, and I never looked back. That was probably the best imaginable upshot of him leaving me the money, despite me wasting most of it – it’s funny that the right gift at the right time can change someone’s life.

You can see how privileged I was to get that push, and the money, and to be young enough to have the time especially – I lived in the countryside, so there were no friends to see (without a lift) or places to go. It’s good to remind yourself that having access to tools and a relaxed environment and the luxury of time, where you can experiment with them – and to have taste makers like your brothers – is essential to make people who can explore creative pursuits, and I’m lucky I had it.

Ralf and Florian [Editor: Of Kraftwerk fame] were well off, how else would they afford a Minimoog, a Synthi and the time to play it?! Of course now the tools are far cheaper, and the software is free (time is still a luxury). The internet could be like an older brother, but there’s just too much noise. How do you discover your “thing” anymore? I’m encouraged to see that people do discover things like Eurorack, and that’s a route into electronic music for them.

Roland MC303 and Eurorack

What still drives you to make music?

The knowledge that if I sit down and fiddle around, something good will most likely come of it. And about thinking about those people I mentioned before, sat in their personal Kling Klangs, playing around with tools just like the ones I have, and coming up with timeless music. That always makes me want to try as well.

How do you most often start a new track?

Making music is a bit like sculpture, or seeing a dog in a cloud. I NEVER pre-imagine what I’m going to make. I just start turning dials and pushing buttons until something cool pops out and a little light goes on my head, and then I get an idea of what that blob could be further shaped into, and then I zone it in on that, and then other complimentary things suggest themselves.
At the end of it, you end up with a semi coherent thing and wonder… how did this even start out?
Usually, also the first idea is wack, but the second or third thing you make from all the sounds and sequences of the first is far better. The main thing is to just sit down and play, irrespective of whether you feel inspired (that will happen by playing), and not to be concerned whether you will make anything “good” or not (that is – partially – out of your control).

[Editor: Kinda like how it’s useful to separate sound design from composition, I guess it’s equally useful to separate the process of creation from judgement of good vs. bad... Or maybe ‘separate’ is too strict a word? Perhaps ‘compartmentalize’?]

How do you know when a track is finished?

I 100% do not know this, and I fiddle away at things endlessly. So much so, that I’ve been engineering systems, so that I have no choice, but to accept my first or second real-time pass at something as “it”. If I later decide it really is crap, I’ll just have to make something else. Quantity makes quality.

Show us your current studio

Mylar Melodies Studio

This is half plugged in right now, as I’m trying to find a way to have the stupidest amount of gear in the smallest space.
I feel obliged to say there isn’t (so far, for me) a relationship between having loads of gear and making loads of music. Just like having fifty guitars doesn’t make you a brilliant guitarist. I am not in any way proud of having loads of stuff in principle (NB: Although I love all these things, I’ve slowly gathered it all this over decades, it most definitely did not arrive overnight), and most of the things I own are individually pretty cheap bits of gear. I love these individual bits, both for what they are/do (their market value doesn’t correlate to their coolness to me in all cases) and for their place in musical history, I definitely have the curse of being a collector.

Yamaha DX7

Case in point, I own a DX7 – a proper brown old first edition DX7, and I think it’s utterly amazing for both the historical influence and as a synth. It’s such a futuristic beast, yet fuzzy and nostalgic all the same time. FM synths are extraordinary to me and much more like alchemy than subtractive ones.

But the thing I am actually proud of in that studio picture is that in the last three months I have been working to make it all completely accessible and immediate on (3!) patchbays, so I can actually make full use of it, both for impromptu live jams and recording multi-tracks to computer, and variations thereof. About f*king time. Get yourself enough patchbays to have all the I/O of your studio fully plumbed in.

Otherwise you’ll never use it! I didn’t, and I’ve started applying the “build a system” mentality which I’ve learned through Eurorack, to my wider studio. A well organised patchbay system is essential.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

A recent one:
“Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.”

I believe strongly that quality is a byproduct of quantity. Just make the music and try not to care if it’s good – in fact revel in making something terrible, if that will help you not give up, just don’t abandon it. Finish it and then see what you learned from it. And if you need an evil, but effective way to force yourself to finish something – bet a friend a significant amount of money (£100+, or more if you’re doing well) you’ll make an agreed deadline. Always worked for me.

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

Here’s a video I made about how to recreate a Buchla Music Easel in only 62HP of Eurorack modules. I’m making a whole series of these little mini “Suggested Systems”. Go on and subscribe to the channel if you like nerdy chats about synths and gear? Go on. Go on now:

https://youtu.be/B40AizE6i2g

Also I have a podcast talking to electronic musicians and gear makers, including chats with Scanner, Tom Furse from the Horrors and the wonderful Adrian Utley so far.

http://www.whywebleep.com

Am I allowed three?! Here’s that Moogfest I did on an iPhone:
https://youtu.be/7xhWLtRQ6Aw

[Editor: I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Mylar’s videos and his podcast WhyWeBleep is especially good. Have you stumbled across his videos yet? He’s made so many, which ones standout for you? Leave a comment below]


Julia Bondar – Fearless One-Taker

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

Endorphin.es Furthrrrr Generator Mood index knob

If you’ve ever heard the metallic scream from Endorphin.es Furthrrrr Generator Mood index knob, it will not be difficult to recognize that I am a fan of it and even more during live performances.
MOOD INDEX knob allows thru-zero job by modulator or FG modulating the carrier that plays the lead melody and unite both sounds in one. Especially I love using it with the additional Furthrrrrr wavefolder and that particular metallic sound is achieved with the Strong Zero VCO core. I do use Mood index knob gently during my studio recordings, but I do not shy to put it on maximum at peak hour on my live performances. People tend to love more crazy, dynamic, untamed and raw sounds at the concerts. This trick became my signature sound at some point.

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

It was a long way of trials and errors to build my live system I have now (left on the picture below), which I feel like it is ‘almost’ perfect.

The only thing I would change is the size of some particular modules. The features they give for my set up are not that significant and I still love and need them but the size and weight make me want to get rid of some particular modules. I also try to avoid thru-hole built DIY modules and they add a lot in the final weight of the case. I think with modern DSP powers manufacturers have to rethink the formats of previous editions to make them more ergonomic and at the same time reduce the use and waste of components needed to produce new gear.

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

It might sound offbeat, but I would not bring any set up on holidays for a number of reasons.

First, if it is not a laptop, it will add a few more kilos to your luggage and will make you dependent on belongings. When I travel, I prefer to have a minimum of things with me to move around and discover new places. It is also related to my main job as I am dealing with modular gear on a daily basis, which I am happy about. In those rare vacations moments, I want to disconnect from the electronic world.

Another reason, I have a hard time focusing unless I am in my studio. Maybe it will change one day. But if I would have, lets say a month of vacation, then I would bring with me my 6kg live system… which I still plan to reduce to at least 0.5kg less weight. I could still make sketches, rehearse and advance the live program and train on better transitions and will still be able to give occasional live concerts.

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

It is impossible for me to answer this question, as I never ever used any software for producing my music. I mean of course we all use DAWs for multitrack recording and with plugins for mixing/mastering, but every track of mine you have heard was recorded live in one take. I love real interaction with the instrument.
I know many musicians want to have more modular gear available in VCV rack, as it brings more opportunities at less expense. The fact of interaction with real instrument and aesthetic pleasure is immense. Moreover, the musician can reproduce his/her work on stage with real raw sound, instead of playing your own track as a DJ.  

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

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

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

Endorphin.es Shuttle system and Roland system 1M.

The Shuttle System was the first, it’s where I started my journey. As it has all the  double blocks and lots of controls, I found out a way to make a two-voice patch.
I’ve used one part for the bass and another for the lead. I added a drum kit from iPad’s Patterning and voilà – I had everything I needed to make a proper minimal composition. With this approach, I recorded my whole album Blck Noir.
Later, Andreas, my boyfriend brought me a Roland System-1M and I did not like it at the beginning, as it was not easy for me to get used to new a interface. It always takes a long time to integrate new gear into my music. Once I took a risk and brought the System-1M to a performance and it worked out super well in a club. It is a dedicated bass voice, so it can do its job, while I can advance the Shuttle System patch.
Since then these two pieces have become the skeleton for my music.

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

A better studio layout.
A comfortable setting is what every artist has to have to be productive.

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

Strymon Magneto

Magneto from Strymon. It is too big for my travel case, but it creates this perfect, moody rumble, that I just can’t get rid of.

9. What is the most surprising tip/trick/techniques that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?? 

Eurorack is all about surprises, but you have to be a real gear junkie to find the easter eggs.
Manufacturers usually hide many nice utility features in the modules and the more you work with it, the more you discover. We did a hidden noise generator in our Godspeed+ module and even described that feature on the first page of the manual, but still received many support emails, why sometimes there a noise coming out.

My new live performance patch involves many of my own pre-recorded sampled loops, layered along with drums, all synchronized by CV. It is probably a few per track, so around 15-20 samples per program to be triggered at the proper moment. I have decided to automatically change them according to CV retrieved from velocity of the note that triggers the sample start. That immediately brought the problem, as samples triggered immediately and only afterwards, did they change under CV. Some research and an update of Erica Sample Drum introduced trigger delay. Just a random 20ms delay immediately solved the issue.
This was a big revelation for me to discover this. I could not even imagine it was possible and I spent a week researching and programming it to make it automatically played with the change of each pattern.


Artist or Band name?

Julia Bondar.

Genre?

Techno, Electro, EBM.

Selfie?

Where are you from?

Ukrainian-born, based in Barcelona.

How did you get into making music?

Desire to make creative friends.

What still drives you to make music?

Feedback.

How do you most often start at new track?

By finding a nice groove between bass and drums.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it starts to be annoying. [Editor: Ha!]

Show us your current studio

Julia’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Learn by doing © David Lynch.

Promote your latest thing… go ahead, throw us a link

EP “I Want Forbidden”

For more, go to: http://www.juliabondar.com


Dr. Sauce – Rollin’ in Roland

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

Moog Minitaur Frequency Cutoff

Moog’s Minitaur holds a big spot in my heart, this analog bass synth is the perfect size, vintage looking giving them a classy look and smooth travel; not to mention a phenomenal FILTER CUTOFF KNOB, with freaks ranging from 20Hz to 20KHz allowing me to reach deep down underground and talk to HERMES.

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

With all these fantastic magic boxes out for purchase it’s difficult to come to a point of satisfaction. I go weak in the knees for gear, specially gear that is portable and gear that allows me to play without the need of a DAW. I’d agree that my synth collection is ‘almost’ perfect, the couple of things I’m lacking is a polyphonic keyboard synth to lay down proper pads and keys.

Arturia DrumBrute and MicroFreak

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

The portable synth that I take with me on Holidays/Tours/ & Commutes is non other than Teenage Engineerings OP-Z. The OP-Z is a powerhouse, this synth allows me to arrange and create complex tracks within five minutes time. The foot print is of minimum real estate, generously leaving space for other gear and nonsense in my backpack.

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

I’m a DAWLESS Artist, all my gear is physical, no need for software.

Korg Electribe and Volcas

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

I’m not one to sell my gear, but I have some regret of not buying a Subsequent 37, the DFAM and Mother-32

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

The gear which inspired me to produce the most music has been the Roland’s MC-707, SH-01a, and TR-09.

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

Roland’s TR8s, MC-707 and Korg’s Monologue DX

Roland Grooveboxes

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

Roland TR-9

My most annoying piece of gear is Roland’s Boutique TR-09, this has ben the most challenging piece of gear to learn and operate, the manner in which the synth is programmed to delete patterns in step mode is a pain in the ass, not to mention laying down the steps for the track write mode is alien when you try and learn to use this part of the synth. Even though it gives me headaches when I don’t play it for a while and forget the procedure to delete patterns and tracks, I just can’t live without it, this machine holds the classic clap and hats sounds of house and techno.

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

Teenage Engineerings OPZ along with the Pocket Operators have a sort of subtractive synthesis when applying effects to patterns, I really like this, stimulates creativity, but it can be a double edge sword, once you move on its nearly impossible to reproduce the same sounds.


Artist or Band name?

DR.SAUCE

Genre?

Techno, Deep House and House Music

Dr. Sauce

Where are you from?

Currently I reside in San Diego, California – Born in Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico.

How did you get into music?

In 2004 depression preceded by a night out to a famous night club in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico called La Serata, Dj Carlos Elizondo laid down a phenomenal set that pulled me out of the depression instantaneously; that night the Dj and his underground electronic music saved my life. Days following that night I purchased a pair of Pioneer 200 CDj’s and a Djm 400mixer, this was the start to my Dj career. [Editor: the healing power of music is the closest to real-life magic]

What still drives you to make music?

Currently I’m finishing up a medical degree, soon to graduate this June I’ll become a full fledged Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine; Balance is why I make music, it allows for me to engage the artistic side of my brain allowing for a break and disconnect from the more analytical/logical side.

How do you most often start a new track?

Four to the Floor

How do you know when a track is finished?

Around minute six after the second drop past the last break, all layers removed allowing for a kick solo without the bass.

Show us your current studio

1222_Records Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Limitations lead to enhanced creativity

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

Follow me on IG @1222_records for updates

[Editor: Anyone else experience the healing power of music? Leave a comment]