Select – Sounds Soul Soothing

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

The best knob I know is the Cutoff of my Mother 32, its feedback is not even close to be equaled by any knob I own! In general, when I touch a synth, I try the Filter (Cutoff/Resonance). If the vibe is not here, the synth is not for me.

The Moogiest Knob known to humankind

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

I think u-he Diva is really huge, but it’s soooo CPU expansive! I wish I could load tons of Diva tracks for my Live session, but I can’t 🙁

U-He Diva

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

I always bring my OP-1 on holidays, but I never use it, because it’s the only time I do other things than music!

Teenage Engineering OP-1

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

I wish I could have a universal VST hardware, some sort of box on which we could load VSTs with generic knobs or something like that. I can’t even imagine making music without a computer if I can’t use VSTs.
And I really dream of a solid Korg Trident VST. I want to get the true Trident someday, but it’s a lot of money, so I’m waiting for the good Trident emulation.

Korg Trident

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

I bought the Behringer Deepmind 12D, and I quickly regretted it. The thing was completely soulless, it had no punch whatsoever, so I sold it.

Behringer Deepmind 12D

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

By far Ableton Live on my computer. If I had to keep one single thing to produce music: Ableton Live, even just with stock plugins, without VSTs. For real.

Ableton Live

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

Well, a computer with Ableton Live! Seriously, I always want to tell young producers to just stop buying gear! If you are not able to make something decent with a tool as powerful and simple as Ableton Live (or any DAW), you won’t with any piece of hardware. So stop with your GAS thing, and try to make actual music!

[Editor: I have to say, I kinda disagree. I always used to feel bad about GAS (gear aquisition syndrome)… but I’ve started to accept it. Even to the point of telling myself- “It’s fine. Buy a pedal. Make some music. Sell it again, whenever.” It’s all just… colors for a painter. Who are you really hurting? No need to feel bad about buying gear
But Benjamin also has a point too. So go ahead, make some tunes... and feel good]

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

The Doepfer A-190-5! It’s a simple midi to CV interface, but sometimes it completely freezes/bugs, and the thing has to be reloaded. So my whole modular has to be powered off. The real problem is that my live setup is based on the Expert Sleepers ES8 audio interface which is in the modular synth! So if I power off the synth, my whole setup is down, and Ableton output is offline… It’s kind of a big deal during live sets.

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

I think the most important trick I discovered is the ability to create sync tracks in every setup. Making a hard sync ping in a stereo channel is a very simple trick to do and it opens a large panel of possibilities, like playing with a Nintendo Switch and a modular in sync!

Nintendo Switch

Artist or Band name?

Select

Genre?

Electro

Selfie?

Benjamin aka. Select

Where are you from?

Paris, France.

How did you get into music?

I used to play some flute and piano when I was a kid, but I quickly gave up since I was way more hyped by video games!
I’ve always been more or less in computer music, since early 2000’s, I’ve been playing around with Fruity Loops, then Reason, then Live. But nothing serious.
Then I became a software engineer, and it was so boring, I wanted my life not to be that pointless anymore, so I started music production seriously when I was 30 (never too late).

[Editor: Whole-heartedly agree]

What still drives you to make music?

To be honest, I don’t really know. Music production is a lot of pain, I spend 99% of my time just complaining, suffering and finding myself completely useless. But, I don’t know why, I’m addicted to it. The 1% left is just pure happiness and it heals all the pain of the process!

How do you most often start a new track?

1. Open Ableton Live.
2. Load the crappiest synth (like, it has to be awful or extremely basic).
3. Try to write something catchy with it.
4. Try until something beautiful comes out.

This process forces me to actually write something I want to listen to before having any sound design research.
When I got my chord progression, I start to actually produce.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I’m bored enough to stop!

Show us your current studio

Here it is (actually, it’s in the middle of my living room)

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“You have to make every single sound special”.

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

I recently have been live for the Bpm Contest on ClubbingTV, so here’s me playing a 30 min DJ set with an APC40 controller and eurorack modular.

[Editor: Benjamin also has an instagram with some lovely visuals for his tasty tunes]



Pedal Friends – Friends With Pedals

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

Empress Zoia

The grid buttons on my Empress ZOIA are little works of wonder. I use ZOIA on every single song and the buttons are the living force that represent the amazing sounds. Some people have created literal works of art using the buttons by editing the colors AND they are functionally great since they can give you real-time feedback of levels/tempo/other stuff. They also feel real nice and make me feel like I’m plugged directly into the sounds themselves.

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

Elektron Model:Samples

My Elektron Model:Samples is the piece of gear I daydream about when I’m at my day job and I begin all sessions with it. I wish it had the ability to program user-created scales to the 16 step sequencer for simpler live-playing. The 16 specific note value for more fluid playing.

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

I crafted my tabletop electronic board specifically for this purpose! My performance gear fits on a Pedaltrain Classic Pro and it’s been a breeze to pack into my tiny Honda and go play. If I were going on vacation I’d probably be fine just bringing the Model:Samples and ZOIA; last summer I actually brought ZOIA alone on a beach trip and got lots of quality-time in.

Tabletop electronic board

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

I’m not a big software user and typically only use REAPER as a recorder. I have some aspiration to track down a reasonably priced Tascam tape recorder someday to remove myself from the computer entirely, but it’s not something I need. The Arturia V Collection seems like it’d be pretty neat and I’d happily take anything from there in hardware form!

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

I try my best not to dwell on what I’ve moved on from but I do miss the Casiotone 401 I traded when I last switched apartments due to its size. I’m Casiotone-obsessed and it was a dream to own and play after years of wanting one. I’m a firm believer that every piece of gear has a place somewhere and never regret anything I buy. If it isn’t right for me or the moment, that isn’t anything to fret over. I relish being flummoxed by something new.

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

Boss RC-202 Loopstation

Probably the Boss RC-202 and soon the Chase Bliss Blooper. The 202 is so functionally in-step with my brain and provides exactly as much control over loops as I’ve needed. Blooper is a recent addition and is reminding me of my first few months with the 202; it’s already inspired tons of new sounds and experiments and I use it every time I play these days.

Chase Bliss Blooper

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

A Roland MC-101 & ZOIA. The 101 seems to be a perfect mix of stuff I already have in a smaller package with top notch sounds and performance functionality while not skimming on experimental options. ZOIA is the perfect companion to any piece of gear and the huge community of users paired with its deep functionality have made it essential to me.

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

My Casiotone MT-100 has the scratchiest volume slider and is generally inconsistent volume-wise, but I am so enamored of the sounds inside. I always find a place for it when I’m working on new tracks and it’s not going anywhere until it dies. My Ibanez DMD-2000 rack delay doesn’t get used enough because the jacks are on the back and it won’t save presets after being unplugged, but GOSH it sounds so good. I’ll probably sell it, but may miss it once I do.

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

The Novation Circuit Mono Station is not-so-secretly the coolest mono synth, but also the best drum machine I’ve ever owned. It has the ability to flip patches per step and record motion sequencing; pair it with a looper and you can put have bass, lead, drums, and harmonies with this monophonic beast.


Artist or Band name?

On YouTube & Instagram I’m Pedal Friends. When releasing my solo music, I’m iff. You can always call me Bryan.

Genre?

I like the phrase “Experimental Pop” because my songs are all based in pop-song structure but I like to explore ambient, lo-fi, cartoon/8-bit music, and shoegaze.

Selfie?

Where are you from?

I live in Philadelphia, PA and originally hail from New Jersey.

How did you get into music?

I was a choir kid in high school and wanted to play the guitar since my brother got a black Stratocaster when he was a teenager. Reading “Please Kill Me” by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain cemented the notion that anyone could make music and I formed my first (awful) punk band when I was 14. Electronic music is a recent expansion for me fueled by a lack of inspiration from the guitar-based music I’d previously been making. I’ve found it to be an inspiring and fun form to create in.

What still drives you to make music?

I find making music very freeing and liberating. It’s constantly on my mind and I’m always coming up with new EP ideas or album themes or song titles that need music to go with them! The community I’ve found online also deeply inspires me and I cherish the friendships I’ve formed with people all over the globe. I make for me and I make for them.

How do you most often start a new track?

9 times out of 10 I have no idea what’s going to come out when I sit down and I’ll choose a key and start programming a basic rhythm into the M:S.

For the EP I just put out I set simple rules for each track like “no long decay”, “focus on polyrhythms”, “just make it pretty” and global rules of no percussion or vocals. This was particularly hard because I love crafting percussion and the Model:Samples makes it so easy to get really fun with drums but it was really informative and fulfilling to focus on the more melodic/harmonic aspect of that machine in particular.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When stacking more sounds into the mix isn’t adding anything. I view my setup as “maximally minimalist” in that I only have so many sound sources with a limited number of tracks that I can manipulate in infinite ways via effects and creative sequencing and looping. It usually gets to a point where I’ve either maxed out the number of available sound sources or when I notice that a track feels bloated when adding in another sound. It’s a sense I’ve worked to refine over the years.

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I see it online from time to time and it’s the idea that practicing for 2-5 minutes every day is better for your brain than 20-30 minutes every other day. I sometimes take long breaks between sessions and find that it never comes out the right way the first few sessions after. When I set aside even 2 minutes to strum a guitar or ukulele every single day it all flows so much better the next time I sit down. 

Telecaster and Mustang

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

I released my first full-length album back in March and have a new EP out in April on my bandcamp (or any streaming service):

iffpa.bandcamp.com

You can also always catch up with me on Instagram and Youtube:

@pedal.friends

Youtube.com/pedalfriends


[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…
]


Anna-Karin Berglund – Deeply Diving Droner

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

New Korg MS-20

All of the knobs, faders, switches and wires of my Korg MS-20. I got the remake (couldn’t find a decent vintage one) just recently and it is my absolute favorite gear to play around with a the moment. The MS-20 paired with the modern classic Strymon Big Sky, set to 50 sec decay, and I’m home. Not a real answer to this question, but close enough.

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

I imagine that my Elektron Digitakt is almost perfect, if I hade the patience to actually really understand it, cause I think it is a really cool machine and that it can do so much more than what I use it for. I am quarantining with it, so I’m hoping it will turn out to be time well spent in the end.

Elektron Digitakt

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

This is probably a boring answer for this interview, but I usually just bring my laptop and a pair of good headphones and start rummaging around in Logic to get something going. I always have a lot of unfinished projects that I can piece together and make a new one of, it’s kind of like working with a collage. Pitch a few things here, add some reverb or weird effects there, and usually that’s enough to make a drone to get started from.

MacBook and Headphones

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

I have the complete Waves plugin for Logic and I use it extensively when mixing and for processing sounds, both field recordings and hardware recordings. It would have been cool to have some of those effects as hardware too, for performing live and the tactile feel of turning the knobs as I record.

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

I am pretty strict when buying gear and I always do some pretty extensive research before buying something. This means that I buy few things and sell even fewer and also rarely regret anything. I did buy the aforementioned Digitakt on a whim last summer and it is not until these quarantine days, that I’ve picked it up and feel like it may be a great buy, if I get to know it more.

[Editor: I had the same thing with the Digitakt. It felt like a really great and deep machine. But I seldom got around to using it… Until I stuck a rechargeable battery in it. Now I use it all the time on the couch. My laziness knows no bounds!]

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

I was going for a second tour in China with a folk pop band that I was playing with ages ago. In that band I played a Nord Electro 2. The first time we went to China I brought the 73 keys Nord with me and instantly regretted it, since we were traveling by train across the country for four weeks and together with my luggage, this was a logistical nightmare. When we went back the next year I bought a Nord Rack 2X and the smallest MIDI-keyboard I could find, just to not get stuck on train platforms and elevators in rush hour commute with a monster keyboard flight case. Little did I know then that this Nord Rack was the love of my life, when I got into experimental art music and ambient a few years later. Most of my first release under my own name, a digital EP and my debut album is made with this little red machine. Combined with a shimmer reverb, slow attack, long release and filter sweeps – this is the perfect ambient gear!

Nord Rack 2X

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

I don’t know if would change anything really. All I know is, that I feel like I am late in the game and that I should have started earlier. It would have been cool to be a modular genius though, but kind of hard to start with i guess.

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

The Moog Mother 32 has a super annoying and tedious learning curve and it is an intricate labyrinth, when it comes to navigating the sequencer, but when I take the time and have patience there’s some really cool stuff coming out of it.

Moog Mother 32

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

Nothing that comes to mind. Mostly trying to get tips and tricks from everywhere else, scavenging the back allies of different forums and keeping the gems.


Artist or Band name?

AKB

Genre?

Ambient

Selfie?

Where are you from?

Gävle, Sweden.

How did you get into music?

I started out playing the clarinet at 6 years old in various marching bands and symphonic quartets. I remember wanting to quit during my teen years, cause this was definitely not the coolest way to spend evenings, weekends and summers of course. But when high school came along, I applied for the music program and ended up studying jazz. I met a lot of great people during that time and played in a few bands, one of which I spent a decade touring the world with. It is not until the last five or six years that I have been producing my own stuff and getting really into all things synthesizer.

What still drives you to make music?

Even though I started playing music a such a young age and have in periods made my living out of playing and going on tour, I never thought of it as a need or a drive to keep going and playing. It was always the context that was important; being on stage, going on tour, seeing new cities, going on an adventure. And when the time was up with the band I played with, I realized I’d miss it too much and was forced, more or less, to make music of my own to be able to keep going. It’s the adrenaline of doing something new, pushing the boundaries for what I think I am capable of doing and then working hard to complete it. Whether it is to conquer a new machine, a new plug-in or composing a track. It’s become part of my identity and I think I wouldn’t know who I am if I stopped at this point.

How do you most often start a new track?

I usually start around ten different Logic projects and start to either aimlessly search my software synths or equally aimlessly making noises on my gear, recording bits and pieces with no pre-existing thoughts. After a while I usually either reach a deadline for some project I’ve agreed to, a remix that needs to be finished or something else and then I start to piece all of these different Logic projects together. It’s a lengthy process and it’s not really ideal, but I feel like if I set out to make something ”real” from the get go, I usually tend to end up in a creative limbo.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the deadline is up and it needs to be done. Otherwise it won’t be.

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

To not work in a linear way when making a track. It’s better to just start somewhere and explore from there, don’t try and write a song from start to finish, make it random. And also don’t be afraid to get theoretical when making music, especially electronic music. There is a lot to be found in classical theories for composing which can be inspirational, and also surprisingly fun.

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

My debut album Marianergraven was released on February 28th and it was a huge milestone for me to be able to release it as an actual physical album, on vinyl. Immersive, melodic, oceanic ambient inspired by the Pacific abyss and its unexplored secrets!

Get it here:

AKB-marianergraven-lp-limited-coloured-edition-incl-7

or on bandcamp here:

https://lamourrecords.bandcamp.com/album/marianergraven

And follow me on instagram here:

https://www.instagram.com/akberglund/


[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…
]