1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?
Oh man. That probably changes daily, but for now I’m going to say the ‘Dimension’ knob on the Meris Polymoon. It is a really great sounding diffusion (smears between delay and reverb-ish sounds) but also interacts with other knobs in a cool way. My favorite way to use it is in the slow phaser mode with the Dimension cranked. It sounds massive on anything. Honorable mention goes to the filter cutoff knob on the Moog Mother 32, because that Moog filter is incredible.
2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
Probably my Jazzmaster. It’s a Squier J Mascis body with a Warmoth neck, Curtis Novak jazzmaster humbuckers, and a swapped out vibrato system and bridge. It feels and sounds great… But, the tuning stability can be wonky when I’m using the vibrato arm heavy. Probably needs a different bridge, but it’s hard to justify spending even MORE money on a guitar that I bought for $300, ha.
3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
Elektron Digitone, Teenage Engineering PO-33 Sampler, and laptop. I like to bring the Digitone if I know I’ll have access to power. It’s a good opportunity to tweak patches and work on sound design. FM Synthesis isn’t always the most fun thing to learn to program, especially when you have a bunch of other gear around that is more immediate, so for me it’s a time where I can focus on just that. The pocket operators are perfect for car rides and down time during the day.
4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
This is a true reverb junkie answer haha, but I’ve really been into the Valhalla Supermassive plug-in lately and I feel like it would make a great pedal. I also find myself wishing I had access to the Strymon Big Sky algorithms in a plug-in format.
5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
This one is still fresh for me. I recently sold my Meris Enzo, because I only ever used it in dry mode as an envelope filter/auto-wah on guitar and it felt like overkill. Only problem is… It sounds great as an envelope filter and now I miss it ha.
I don’t really regret buying anything significant.
6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
Elektron Digitakt, without a doubt. I got it about a year ago and it was my first proper drum machine/sampler. I find that I really jive with the Elektron workflow for whatever reason. I also really started diving into the capabilities of the MIDI tracks when I had a bunch of free time during the quarantine period in my state. Live sequencing other hardware with the Digitakt and controlling functions in the DAW with MIDI has become a staple in my performances.
7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
That’s a great question. Hm… I probably wouldn’t change anything. I started with a lil strat copy. As much time as I spend fiddling with synths, drum machines, and samples, I still think of myself as primarily a guitar player.
8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
Probably the Roland JU-06A. It sounds amazing and I love that it’s so small and can be run on batteries, but the faders are so tiny. It feels a bit flimsy and it can be really frustrating to dial things in just right.
9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
Just about anything on the Empress Zoia. I love the ability to create custom fx with delay lines, micro looping, and just generally messing about with modules and how they can interact with one another. I’m still learning it, but it is inspiring every time I turn it on. It’s such an interesting take on a ‘guitar pedal’. It has a way of being unintentionally educational as well, because you start to realize how these effects are created.
Artist or Band name?
Joshua Dowell (ig – @ttthisisthehaunt)
Dream pop and chill-hop/RnB, mostly.
Where are you from?
How did you get into music?
Mostly through skateboarding. Watching skate videos informed a lot of my early music taste. It was crazy because there was so much variety, but it was all attached to something that I was really passionate about. When you’re a kid and you’re exposed to all these crazy artists (The Velvet Underground, DJ Shadow, John Coltrane, David Bowie, Joy Division, Biggie, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, The Sundays, Nirvana, King Crimson, Nas, AFI, The Ramones, The Cure, as well as tons of hip-hop) it’s sort of mind blowing, ya know?
What still drives you to make music?
It’s just fun. It’s a healthy opportunity to get totally consumed by something.
How do you most often start a new track?
Just randomly picking a few synths and guitar pedals, plugging them all in, and seeing what happens.
How do you know when a track is finished?
When I’m sick of fussing with it, haha.
Show us your current studio
Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Don’t get caught up in how you want your art to be perceived by other people. I find that to be pretty counter intuitive. I just like to make things because I enjoy doing it.
Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
Right now I’m just making little jams for Instagram. More soon though!
[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…]