Paul Cousins – Reel-in-Vibes

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

The play switch on my Akai X-100D reel-to-reel. It’s extremely sturdy and has a very rewarding click. It’s 56 years old and works perfectly, which just blows my mind. There’s something pleasing about having to use physical energy to make sound happen.

Akai X-100D reel-to-reel

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

Roland Juno 6

A slight cheat on this answer. I thought my Juno 6 was somehow inferior to the Juno 60 (which is what I truly wanted) because it doesn’t have memory patches. That would’ve been my answer, but I’ve grown to love and appreciate the fact that the instrument exists as it is – whatever you want from it you have to make happen. It’s a productive way to learn how to use a synth because there are fewer shortcuts. See also anything pre Prophet-5.

Tape machines

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

On writing trips I just take a laptop and good headphones. So AKG K701s get packed!

AKG K701

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

I’d love a software version of the Empress Echosystem, it’s my favorite pedal. And if there were somehow a rackmount version of the Fabfilter Pro-MB I’d be all over it!

Empress Echosystem

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

I once sold a 1973 Gibson EB0 to the bass player from Showaddywaddy. It was a really beautiful bass, no idea why I did that. And the second synth I ever bought was an Alesis something… which I didn’t gel with at all and regretted pretty quickly.

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

The Roland Space Echo RE-201. It’s just the most amazing piece of engineering, half a century old and it can still create magic from nowhere. I use it any chance I get.

Roland Space Echo RE-201

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

A good set of monitors. I think this is the most valuable piece of equipment you can own. Currently I’m loving the PMC Result 6.

PMC Result 6

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

I’d have to say the amp powering my Yamaha NS10’s, it buzzes slightly but I always need to use them. It’s on my to do list!

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

Watkins Copicat

I think using the pre amps of echo machines is often overlooked. Just driving a guitar or bass through a Copicat or Space Echo is the most awesome tone. Same with reel-to-reel, they can be overloaded to produce amazing results.


Artist or Band name?

Paul Cousins

Genre?

Ambient, Tape, Experimental

Selfie?

Paul Cousins

On tour in Mordor

Where are you from?

London

How did you get into music?

I’d been singing and playing bass in bands for a number of years before I started making electronic music.

What still drives you to make music?

Finding a point of creative satisfaction.

How do you most often start a new track?

I’ve recently got into writing a short piece, transferring it to tape loops, and playing it back through various effects or in some obtuse setup. The original piece comes back like a weird photocopy of its former self. There’s something about transferring music to a physical format that revives it from a potentially anodyne digital state and gives it a different life. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

You stop wanting to mix it.

Show us your current studio

The organized chaos of my studio is frankly an embarrassment. Instead here’s a heavily curated corner featuring my new upright piano and an Akai 4000DS.

Upright piano and an Akai 4000DS

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Music is the silence between the notes. Which Debussy said over a century ago, but has never lost relevance!

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

A recent 20 min ambient reel-to-reel mix: https://youtu.be/_g7Kurux36w

[Editor: Paul also has a quite lovely and lively instagram @paulcousinsmusic which I don’t think you should miss out on]


Mikael Tobias – ResonanTechno

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

After much deliberation, I’m gonna go with the volume knob on my 80’s Japanese Fender Precision Bass. Something about the textured metal just feels so solid and badass.

MIJ Fender P Bass Volume knob

Honourable mention goes to the knobs on the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor for their sheer monstrosity, which I get to use when I work at @SixBitDeep.

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

Every piece of kit is perfect just the way it is =D

VervilleAudio MDC-1

Ok, actually I’ll shout out my homies at @VervilleAudio for their MDC-1 which is a hand-made 2-channel Variable Mu tube compressor on steroids plus 2 preamp channels. I have a Beta version which sounds incredible, but I’ve been in close contact with them discussing some minor improvements (mostly just the interface) and I think the next version will be close to perfect! These guys are developing some amazing gear in Montreal.

VervilleAudio MDC-1

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

The last tour I did was a solo one around Europe and the UK. I was taking planes, trains and busses everywhere, so I needed a really compact setup. Laptop, small RME FF400 interface and Novation Launch Control XL controller (+ some vinyl and extra clothes) in a backpack and my lap steel guitar and a few pedals in a soft gig bag (actually a rifle case!)

Gibson Lapsteel in a rifle case
Rifle softcase

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

Hardware sequencer Faderfox SC4

I don’t find myself wishing this very often. A lot of the software I love is already great emulations of hardware, and generally when I’m using hardware it’s because I want to have my hands on something other than the mouse. Having rare and expensive hardware reverbs and compressors easily available in the form of plugins is a godsend! And conversely, there are so many software sequencers, but I always seem to get more interesting results when I use a hardware sequencer. So I guess the short answer is no 🙂

Hardware sequencer Akai MPC1000
Hardware sequencer Arturia Beatstep Pro

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

When I moved to Copenhagen from Montreal I had to sell a ton of stuff, and while sometimes it’s nice to do a purge and move on, I sure do miss the amps I had. There was a Traynor YBA-1 head with this awesome old Peavey cabinet that was painted white and that I put a vintage 15” Jensen speaker in. And the love of my life was a Music Man 210HD One Thirty. One of the guys from Arcade Fire once asked if they could buy it from me and I said no. 

Traynor YBA-1 with Peavey cabinet

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

Sennheiser MD211
Electro Voice RE15

Probably getting a new microphone. Whenever I pick up a new mic, I immediately want to hear how it sounds on different sources, and putting myself into that engineer mindset always makes me feel super creative. A new instrument has a similar effect. When I got my Korg Mono/Poly I did a pretty deep dive and got really inspired with the sounds it can make. That thing is all over my new album.

Korg Mono/Poly

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

That’s a tough one because I started with a guitar (a cheap copy of a Gibson Les Paul) then an amp, then a wah pedal, and I don’t think I’d change that course of events. But in the early 2000’s I had a friend who sold all his keyboards. He had a Rhodes MKI, a Roland JX-3P and a Korg MS-10. I bought the Rhodes and 2 of my friends each bought one of the synths… all for dirt cheap. I wish I had taken the MS-10 instead of the Rhodes (I can’t play piano for shit) but synths were such a mystery to me then. My homie still has it though so at least it’s in the family.

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

Getting on the case

CASES! Rack case, road cases, instrument cases etc…It’s such a juggling act to set up a studio that’s ergonomic and makes good use of available space. I feel like I’m on a never-ending quest to find the best compromises between a great setup that’s easy and inspiring to work in, and portability (if I need to take some gear on location or on tour, etc…). And all the seldom-used cases take up so much space, but, like what do I do when I need to take my synth somewhere once every 2 years?!?!

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

It’s not actually about the gear, it’s all about what you do with it.


Artist or Band name?

Mikael Tobias

Genre?

Ambient / Post-Rock / Neo-Classical / Experimental Techno

Selfie?

Mikael Tobias

Where are you from? 

Toronto/Montréal Canada

How did you get into music?

My parents put me in guitar lessons for a year when I was 10, then I essentially taught myself the rest.

What still drives you to make music?

Some kind of burning inner demon, I mean a compulsion to create, to experiment, to push boundaries. Music has given me so many of the most visceral and emotional experiences of my life and I’m very interested in all the ways sound can affect us, both physically and emotionally. So there is a constant quest that I can’t imagine ever coming to completion.

How do you most often start a new track?

Generally with some kind of “play.” If I can lose myself and not worry about how productive I’m being or what I’m doing this “for” that is when I feel like I’m accessing real creativity. So being in the moments and just playing is often how my tracks begin. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

Some kind of combination of utter mental exhaustion, and 1 or 2 re-scheduled self-imposed deadlines.

Show us your current studio

A leopard skin chair is essential…. for those vibes
FX and Pedals
Stacks and Racks
Guitars and Synths living together in harmony

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

If you’re getting stuck, grab an instrument that you don’t know how to play. It breaks you out of the confines of muscle memory and patterns you’ve developed and it opens up creative doors that you probably didn’t know were closed.

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

My new album APERTURE:

https://mikaeltobias.bandcamp.com/album/aperture


Gabriel Vinuela – Viñu-Vinu


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

White MoogerFooger RingMod

The knobs on my MoogerFooger RingMod are the best, I think. They have the good resistance, size and shape. They just feel right!

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

Elektron Digitakt

The Elektron Digitakt is almost perfect for me. I love the workflow, its limitations, the sequencer, the size and the sound. That box sounds so good and has such unbelievable headroom! I guess I would like to have a slot for an SD card for more storage and easier sample transfers.

Digitakt and friends

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

I always bring my Zoom H4N everywhere to record field recordings which I really enjoy doing. For a minimal holiday setup, I would add to that my OP-1. Not super original here, but you can do so much on the OP-1 alone, it wins for a minimal setup!

OP1 and Zoom H4N

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

I think having PaulXStretch in an effect pedal format would be pretty cool! Freeze, stretch the signal to immense drone with frequency shift, filters etc…
For a while, I was wishing for the Digitakt sequencer to be available as a software, but with overbridge it’s almost the case now. Also, Ableton 11 implementing randomisation in the sequencer totally fills that gap now for me.

Paul Stretch

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

I don’t really sell gear, cause I’m always afraid I’ll regret it later and that I might need it for a project. To be fair I’m also really cautious of the gear I buy and I don’t have a lot. I sold my first electric piano which was a Yamaha S90 a while back. I kind of regret selling now, because it had a pretty good keybed and I think I could use it now as master midi keyboard. Therefore, reinforcing that I should not sell gear! haha

Yamaha S90

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

I know it’s not a hardware piece, but I need to say Ableton Live. It’s definitely “the piece of kit” that got me started and I can still find endless inspiration within. I like that there’s so much different workflows possible, different ways of doing things and it’s such a modular environment to make music. No two person use it exactly in the same way!

Ableton

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

Something like the Minilogue I think. A synth with almost all the functions on the front panel is way better to start learning about synthesis.

Korg Minilogue

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

Cables!!! We absolutely need them, but there are too much cables around everywhere in the studio: xlr, 1/4, usb, dongles. It never ends OMG.

Cables

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

A surprising trick I learned watching a Dave Meck tutorial was that you can create FM tones by setting a really fast bpm multiply on the LFO and modulating the sample tune. Better to check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wsu7CB1SSI

Digitakt FM tones

Artist or Band name?

Viñu-Vinu

Genre?

Electronic music, ambient, downtempo, experimental, melodic, beats (I guess??)

Selfie?

I’m cheating here… That’s a photo taken by my friend Mathieu Lalonde (Couleurves)

Gabriel Vinuela aka. Viñu-Vinu

Where are you from?

Montréal, Canada.

How did you get into music?

I started taking piano lessons when I was 10 years old and continued studying music and classical piano performance all through college and University. I completed a Bachelor degree in both classical and jazz piano performance at University of Montreal. Around 2013-14 a friend showed me Ableton and I started experimenting more with sounds and textures and started doing electronic music and music production more seriously around 2016. And here we are!

What still drives you to make music?

I think what still drives me is the infinite quest, exploration and learning experience that music is for me. I’m always looking for something new to make or to learn.

How do you most often start a new track?

Most of the time I fire Ableton Live and then it so much depends on the day! I generally like to establish and think about a process first. For example: explore this new plugin, today granular stuff, starting with a hardware synth, work with that new sequencer. The process gets me going at first and then I can go where ever from there and a new track or idea start emerging from that.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it’s released and I’m listening to it on the Bandcamp or another platform stream. It’s really the only way you’re sure the track is fully finished… haha. Joke aside, that’s such a hard question to answer. For me it’s really a gut feeling, a sense that all the pieces of the puzzle are together, like I almost see the whole thing visually. Sometimes it happens really quickly and sometimes it takes for ever to get there.

Show us your current studio

Studio
Studio
Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

See your art as a practice and practice it everyday. Even for a really short amount of time. Blankfr.ms posted something in those lines a few days ago in an Instagram caption. It’s something that I always tell my piano student, but it kind of reaffirmed it for myself reading it. You’re better practicing 10 min a day, than an hour once in a while. Getting that sense of daily creation is such a good and rewarding feeling too.

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

I just released my new album Exilio Transitorio:
Vinyl + download:

Exilio Transitorio

https://vinu-vinu-music.bandcamp.com/album/exilio-transitorio

Streaming: https://album.link/i/1557425920