1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?
I have a weird fixation with the data wheels on Akai’s MPC 500 and MPC 1000. They’re not really high quality components or feel nice to the touch, but they’re essential to operating those devices efficiently and in my opinion the designers did a great job of integrating them into the software and general MPC workflow. They’re just so quick and easy to rotate and the software reacts so snappily to their motion … it’s a delight.
2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
This always depends on the situation or musical context, but I’ve been very impressed by the AE Modular synth format and how it developed over the past two years. It’s a fully featured modular synthesizer, which is relatively small and portable and costs only a fraction of a Eurorack system. I’ve dreamed of a system like this ever since I delved into the modular synth rabbit hole ten years ago and it seems that it has finally become reality … at least for my tastes and requirements.
3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
I love making music while on vacation or when commuting. The iPad has worked for me greatly as a mobile music workhorse ever since its inception and I always carry it with me and do something musical with it. Sometimes it’s too much like a computer though, meaning that it can distract me with its internet access, notifications, etc. So, especially for vacations, I like to bring other pieces of gear as well, which run on USB power bank power, which is easy nowadays, even for devices requiring a 12V supply, thanks to cheap and efficient step-up adapter cables. Last year I re-bought the aforementioned MPC 500 and created a full album with it during a three week camping vacation. For this year I’m planning to take my freshly modded TI-82 calculator with Houston Tracker 2 and maybe even a Gotharman Little Deformer 3. I have also enjoyed Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 (obviously), the Bastl Microgranny 2 and BitRanger, a Gameboy Advance Micro with LSDJ and various other bits. Somehow, I can concentrate on music best when I’m on vacation and I get the most finished tracks out of those periods of time.
4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
Lumen! It’s a really cool analog-style video synth for macOS with MIDI control, which I would really love to have as a standalone and affordable hardware device. Maybe I can snag a Critter & Guitari ETC at some point, which seems close.
5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I’m not into vintage synths or rare gear, so I’ve not regretted selling stuff so far, because I could always just buy it again if I wanted to. However, I’m in the heaviest music studio downsizing phase I’ve ever had right now and I might run the risk of finally regretting a thoughtless sale after all. I sometimes get this “reverse GAS”, which makes me feel unattached to all my gear, so I end up selling things left and right. After those phases though, there has always been something new to be acquired and tried out with the new funds. It’s a journey and I enjoy it.
6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
While it was not the “most” music I made, my recent foray into Ciat Lonbarde instruments, like the Cocoquantus, Sidrax Organ and Plumbutter, very much inspired me. Those instruments are incredibly well designed for spontaneous, electric forest ambient music live-patching sessions.
Apart from that, I also like to play an MPE synth with the Linnstrument and have the Bastl Thyme or Mooer Ocean Machine attached as audio effects. Somehow this simple setup is an instant relaxation tool for me. I could press, slide and wiggle my fingers for hours on this rubbery control surface and drown in the looping ambient delay and reverb sounds coming through my headphones.
7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
I think I might try a larger hardware music workstation, like the MPC X and then get some cheap and small gadgets to sample.
8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
I’ve kept a few of my DIY synths for way too long. They took too much space and I hardly used them anymore, yet I couldn’t let go of them. Especially the Axoloti platform is like a drug to me sometimes. It’s so easy to prototype and build synth, sampler and sequencer ideas with it, but all of the sudden you have eight of those DSP boards and a drawer full of wooden boxes which might work as enclosures, electric components and cheap USB MIDI controllers. Still, the Axoloti is one of the most empowering electronic music experiences for me. Making your own hardware instruments from scratch is incredibly satisfying, especially when it’s that easy.
9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
Reading Ken Stone’s CGS Serge circuit diagrams made me discover the power and versatility of the 4051 analog multiplexer IC, which is a 3 bit, binary-addressed eight-way switch, perfect as a basic building block for analog sequencers. This has furthered my DIY endeavors tremendously and if everything goes as planned, it will result in my first commercially available modular synth module later this year. [Editor: Cool, I look forward to hearing and seeing what these do. Will insert link when it comes out]
Artist or Band name?
The Tuesday Night Machines
All over the place. It’s not good to cultivate an audience for my music like this I guess, but I like jumping between genres. I’ve made chiptunes, a beat tape, harsh noise, ambient drones and I’m currently dabbling in Acid. Oh well.
Sure, but I’m writing this on the couch and it’s Sunday, so I look the part.
Where are you from?
My family moved a lot, so I’m not “from” somewhere really. I currently live in Köln, Germany for over a decade though, so it looks as if I like this city.
How did you get into music?
I had classic piano lessons and some electric keyboard lessons as a child, which I didn’t like too much back then. I’m glad that I got some basic music theory from it though. Later, I learned to play the guitar during university to play my favorite punk rock songs. Electronic music came some time after I started working then, beginning just with a copy of Ableton Live Lite, which seemed like a fun and easy way to make music. Apparently it wasn’t though, as it led me to DAWless hardware setups quickly.
What still drives you to make music?
I work in visual media, so music is basically the counterpiece to my day job. It’s a great way to relax for me, more or less away from the computer.
How do you most often start a new track?
Mostly with a certain sound or melody. Depending on the workflow of the device I’m playing with, I sometimes even just create one single long audio track for that one sound and then layer drums and other instruments on top afterwards.
How do you know when a track is finished?
When I get past the 3 minute mark.
Show us your current studio
The current state of my studio downsizing craze:
.. and how it was before, neatly constructed inside an inconspicuous IKEA PAX wardrobe:
Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
That limitation thing which everyone mentions. Limitations are great for music.
Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
Thicket Whispers, a Ciat Lonbarde album:
[Editor: You seen any of TuesdayNightMachines youtube tutorials? Leave a comment]
[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…]