Idra – Modular Via Trumpet

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

Novation Summit Noise and Frequency

One of my favorite knobs is without a doubt the Summit cutoff combined with the
noise knob that always adds a lot of depth to the sound.
Other knobs that I find very interesting are the branches and mutation on the Qu-Bit
Bloom, which makes any patch generative and potentially infinite. Sometimes when I’m in the studio (which is also my home) and I’m doing something other than producing music I create a random patch and totally open both knobs, it’s fun.

Branches and Mutation on the Qu-Bit

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

I’m not a pianist even though I studied it a bit during my studies in classical music at
the Conservatory. I think that among all the instruments I own, my grandfather’s piano is my perfect one. Both for an affective value and for the harmonic completeness, it has always been the instrument that allows me to create more, I just sit there and throw down some ideas and then go down to the studio and develop them on my modular system.

Piano

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

Modular (although it’s starting to become huge, in fact I think I will shrink it with a Palette case from Intellijel) headphones and zoom recorder for holidays. But when I have to play live I don’t care too much about comfort and I carry everything and more, including the Summit (my back doesn’t thank me).

Intellijel Palette

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

All Felt instruments plugins on eurorack format would be great, as well as a hardwere version of Ableton, would probably make live performances much more interesting

Felt VSTs and Ableton

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

I’m not a person who sells a lot, but I recently sold my digitakt two days before its new update – that’s all I’ll say.
Joking aside I must say that in the eurorack world there is a lot of buying and selling and you can never lose anything or have too many regrets for having sold something.

Smokin’ hot Elektron Digitakt

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

As I said before certainly the piano is always my starting point for composition, but in the end my main tool today is the modular system, which constantly offers a
continuous sound research avenues and new ways to create sounds from scratch, even using a few modules and always trying to study them in depth. The great thing is that it can be an instrument in continuous evolution and change and the perfect medium to express ourselves even with our personal changes.

Idra’s Eurorack

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

I think I would do the exact same path again that led me to be who I am today. I don’t
know if everyone knows this, but I start my music journey as a classical trumpet player.
Classical music and its study has definitely helped me both in technical knowledge but especially in maximum attention to listening. A sensitivity to sounds and sonorities, I would say. So if I had to start again, I would start with the trumpet again.

Trumpet

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

Endless cables

Cables… nicely organized

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

One of the tricks I use the most is after watching a video of Ricky Tinez based on
understanding how to manipulate LFO phase points and make them free and random in independent points of time.
I highly recommend it, especially to create movement and use LFOs in new ways.
Another “trick” that I often use is to stop listening to an album that is almost finished
for a while before putting the finishing touches on it.


Artist or Band name?

IDRA

Genre?

Ambient

Selfie?

Idra

Where are you from?

Milan, Italy

How did you get into music?

I started playing trumpet when I was nine years old, graduating in classical trumpet.
For a few years I got into jazz and world music, but it was electronic music that I fell in love with and where I found my own spot in the world.

What still drives you to make music?

The sense of freedom and the need to communicate something first to myself and
then to others, is a refuge and a medicine that keeps me alive and allows me to
express myself in the most creative way I can know

How do you most often start a new track?

Whenever I feel the need to enclose and let out my feelings and sensations. I often
have very profitable moments of production, but I also often need silence, I do not
follow a precise path, every time I turn on the machines in the studio and I feel that
something beautiful comes out, it can become a track or simply my soundtrack of the
day.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it makes me smile and gives me a clear picture in my mind, I would say the
moment I think of a title the track is over.

Show us your current studio

Idra Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t be afraid to listen to advice and always be open to change. But the best will always be: keep things simple.

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

seilrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lone-voyagers-lovers-and-lands

(I always take the opportunity to thank Boris aka. Jogginghouse – for this release)


Colleen – See Silly Shot’s Synth Sounds

[Editor: I remember listening to The Golden Morning Breaks back in the mid 00’s and being completely mesmerized. It was and is for me personally an album that influenced me greatly and expanded the landscape of my musical interests. Therefore it’s with great, great pleasure that I can present this nerdy and odd interview with the artist Colleen]

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

Moogerfooger MF104M – Photo: Cecile Schott


This is a really tough one. I love switching in rhythm the short/long switch of the Moogeerfooger MF-104M analog delay, as it produces a change in tone (darker on the long setting, brighter on the short one) which can really sound amazing (you can hear this effect very clearly on my song “Holding Horses” from my album Captain of None).

Moogerfooger Grandmother – Photo: Cecile Schott

But I am also madly in love with opening and closing the cutoff knob on the filter of both the Moogerfooger Lowpass Filter and the Moog Grandmother: I love that this can be the subtlest, slowest rise to build tension and suspense (“Hidden in the Current” on my last album The Tunnel and the Clearing) or totally wild and angry (middle section of “Implosion-Explosion”, also on my last album). The expressive capacity of the Moog filters really leaves me speechless.

Moogerfooger MF 101 – Cecile Schott

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

Roland Space Echo Re201 and furry buddy – Cecile Schott

The Roland RE-201 Space Echo transforms sound in a truly magical way (when I first started using mine in December 2019, two images came to my mind: sending the sound on a space rocket into outer space, or having stardust sprinkled on the sounds). If it could magically be made to be 100% reliable for years without the need for revision, that would be incredible – then again, it goes against the very nature of its mechanism, so I know that this is a bit like asking for the weather to be perfect all the time: not possible.

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

Concert in Chiquita Room 23 May 2021 – Photo LiLINTERNA

Since I have decided to stop playing live for the foreseeable future and have only one last show planned abroad (Kingsplace, London), I will not have to think too much – except for that one show – about the conundrum of travelling internationally with heavy, fragile, vintage – and even super rare in the case of the Elka Drummer One – gear. Fully-working Drummer Ones for sale are so rare that you need to be on a waiting list if you are hoping to buy one, so if your unit is damaged, delayed, lost or stolen during travel, it would be impossible to find a replacement (in fact, had I decided to go on tour for this album, my plan was to order a digital custom replica of the Drummer One – which would also have been its own challenge to make).

Studio and cat buddy – Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo: Luis Torroja

For the last two albums, I had found a sweet spot in terms of making albums that were voluntarily restricted in terms of gear, but didn’t feel restrictive at all in terms of musical and sound possibilities, which meant I could go on tour on my own with all the necessary gear and play the albums live (something that was much harder to do, or even impossible, for my earlier work).

For Captain of None: treble viola da gamba + an array of various looping, delay and octaver pedals.

For A Flame my Love, a Frequency: 2 Critter and Guitari synth + 2 Moogerfoogers + Soundcraft mixing desk. However, that was hard to do physically, with me carrying more than half of my body weight across the world, and you’re never safe from delayed luggage, failing gear, etc.

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

Assembly in the DAW – Acid. Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo: Luis Torroja

Not really a software person myself: I must be one of very few professional musicians who are still using the Acid software to record their music, and these days I am using it purely as a recording and mixing device. On the last album I don’t use a single plugin, everything is played and recorded live through either my Soundcraft mixing desk or my Scarlett 18i20 Focusrite soundcard or both, with only a couple of minor edits where takes needed to be joined. The only exception to this very pure recording process is vocals, where I still need to join takes.

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

Not really: I always think and research for a really long time before buying anything, so usually I don’t have any bad surprises, and the opposite even happens: I’m so happy with my purchase that I wonder why I thought about it for so long! And because of this I usually don’t have to sell anything.

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

Impossible for me to reply to that, as truly every album I’ve made has been so different in terms of instrumentation. My 3rd and 4th album couldn’t have existed without my bass viola da gamba, my 4th and 5th without my treble viola da gamba. The Moogerfooger pedals – which I started to add from Captain of None onwards – were a real game changer for me, and in terms of electronics were my introduction to analogue gear, and that was a game changer.

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

I started making music with a simple classical guitar, and honestly, if I were to start over, I probably wouldn’t change anything: there is something humble and honest about an acoustic guitar that still resonates with me, even if I haven’t played one in years. It’s also beautiful that it doesn’t need electricity: should the planet get even worse than it is right now, I think that acoustic instruments and the human voice would play a great role in maintaining music-making alive.

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

Can’t think of any annoying piece of gear of mine, I love them all.

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

Not sure if it’s “surprising” as such, but Soundgas – from whom I bought both my Elka Drummer One and my Space Echo – give this tip of inserting a blank plug in the “from PA” input on the Space Echo in order to get a 100% wet signal, and that is so much better than just getting the mixed mono output, since you can then play with panning between your original dry sound source and the 100% wet signal, giving you a beautiful stereo field.

Elka Drummer One and Roland Space Echo – Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo Luis Torroja

Artist or Band name?

Colleen

Genre?

Proudly genreless. I honestly have no clue what my music is supposed to be called. It’s too pop to be experimental, too experimental to be pop; when I used only acoustic instruments but processed them, it was labelled “electronica”, but now that I truly make electronic music, I still think what I do doesn’t sound especially like “electronic music”. One thing I do know is that I make songs. So sometimes I just say “I make weird songs”.

Selfie?

Thanks but no thanks.

Workshop in Chiquita Room 23 May 2021 – Photo: LiLINTERNA

Where are you from?

Montargis, small French town 100 km south of Paris.

How did you get into music?

The Beatles’ “A day in the life” changed my life forever. I was about 13.

What still drives you to make music?

Undying love for it. The desire to see if I can still surprise myself. The desire to learn. Feeling like I actually contribute something useful to people other than myself, even if music is not really recognized as socially useful (I think that’s a mistake, and that music globally contributes to our mental health).

How do you most often start a new track?

Putting my hands on the instruments or gear.

Moogerfoogers – Photo: Cecile Schott

How do you know when a track is finished?

A combination of 3 inputs: one that is purely musical, the other two are: intellectual and emotional.

Show us your current studio

Colleen Studio – Photo: Cecile Schott

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Not creative advice as such, but more an analysis of the difficulties faced by artists, this 1927 quote by Brancusi: “It is not the work itself, it is to keep oneself in condition to do it, that is difficult.” So true at every level: emotional, physical, mental.

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

My 7th album The Tunnel and the Clearing, out on Thrill Jockey Records.

colleenplays.org
instagram.com/colleenplays
facebook.com/colleenplays

bandcamp.com/colleen


[Editor: Which artist has been a huge influence or inspiration to you? Answers in the comments]

Tyler Cassidy – Studbagl

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

Sequential Mopho X4

My favorite knob is actually a combination of knobs; cutoff frequency (LPF in particular) and Resonance. Coming from a jazz saxophonist background, I did not have any interest in gear until my mid 20’s when I was at a music store with a good friend of mine. We sat down at the synths, found my way to a Microkorg XL, again with no real interest in them, and then I somehow managed to play around with the filter knob. I was mind-blown how cool sweeping a filter was! It was so space-sounding and magical and a sound I didn’t expect to find. I sat there for 30 minutes just playing a chord, letting it sustain while I swept the filter/resonance to get the dreamy space sound. The picture is of my Mopho x4, which has a stunning LPF Cutoff and Resonance combo.

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

Pedalboard

I love my pedalboard! Again, as a saxophonist, there was no clear tutorial I could find on YouTube to figure out how to get the sounds I wanted to now achieve using a saxophone. I started experimenting with pedals in 2017, and have found a great balance between in-home solo ambient jamming and live performance utility. At home and by yourself, you can try any pedal/combination for anything, but playing with a live band, especially in a jazz setting, it becomes difficult to find the right pedals. The saxophone is a very difficult instrument to use with pedals live because most of the sound still will come acoustically. Therefore, I had to choose effects that would compliment my sound rather than change it. Looping makes a cool background in live settings, delay/reverb always nice because it lingers in the spaces of your playing, and the right kind of pitch shifting will add depth to your playing. No dirt here because it doesn’t really work well live because you’ll basically only hear the acoustic sound.

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

Recording setup – saxophone with pedals

With the pandemic going on, there has not been much opportunity to travel for musical reasons however, I was able to go and record my dream album in Washington D.C. back in December. It is an all-original music album of mine where I utilize the same pedalboard in the picture above in combination with my saxophone. When traveling home for holidays, I usually only bring the saxophone. I don’t end up playing much but will sometimes get some practicing/noodling in to try and stay in shape. The picture is of my set up from the album recording back in December

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

To be honest, I don’t use too much software as far as instruments/effects are concerned. I mostly just use Ableton to record my solo-ambient music and lightly mix/master it there. I prefer the hardware due to my tactile way of approaching music. I learn best through my sense of touch and it is crucial for me when playing/writing music. This is probably why I am so bad at vocals, but also why “button” oriented instruments like saxophone, piano/synth, pedals are my instruments that I use the most.

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

Earthquaker Devices Avalanche Run and Meris Hedra

There is nothing that I regret buying. I take a very long time thinking about what gear I want and why I want it so I never really have impulse purchases that I regret later. I do have a few pedals that I don’t often use; for example, the Avalanche Run and Hedra. However, they are not regrets as I still will pull them out from time to time to create a song or two. They are just not as crucial for most of the things I do with my music. I also have never sold a piece of gear so I can’t really say I regret selling anything, ha!

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

Meris Polymoon

Finally, an easy question to answer! The Polymoon by Meris is ABSOLUTELY 100% the gear that has inspired me to produce the most music. It has so much to offer, especially when you run it at the end of your chain. It can do the simple delay stuff, but also has a gorgeous phaser-verb when you crank the dimension. Putting it 100% wet mix will give what I consider the most beautiful sound a piece of gear can offer to this day. Not only that, but it has a wealth of modulation options that I use in so much of my music. Most notably, the octave up/down pitch shifted delays add such a beautiful space-cruising sound to your song. Being in the end of the chain, after my loopers and everything else, you can manipulate your loops by doing any of those things mentioned above and it will really dynamically change your composition/jam.

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

Afterneath by Earthquaker Devices

If I had to start over… this is a tough question to answer. My first purchase was the Afterneath by Earthquaker Devices, and it was probably the best thing I could buy to get into this stuff. I really wanted to find a way to stack multiple notes on saxophone as it is a monophonic instrument. Afterneath having the capabilities of having a really long/pronounced sustain, it was perfect for what I was trying to do. The only issue I ran into was when I would stack a chord of some sort, playing over the top of it would get added into the Afterneath. So going back, I would probably get the NS-2 by Boss and run it in conjunction with it. That way, I could stack my chords, then essentially mute my microphone so I could, acoustically, improvise/play over the top of my new chord. Also, I would buy a phaser, because as Stefan from the Pedal Zone has shown, running a phaser after the Afterneath is just beautiful and has that sweeping motion that first got me hooked in the first place.

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

Boss NS-2

I don’t know if I would call it annoying per say, but I have found that the NS-2 by boss is absolutely necessary for probably any player who relies mostly on their acoustic sound. When playing live with a band, especially the louder bands, your microphone is going to bleed in all those drums, guitars, whatever. The NS-2 is SO useful with its gate function so it will only pick up whatever is directly in front of the mic. Not only that, but it cancels any feedback that I would get in those live settings which playing with a microphone will almost always give you (especially when using noisy effects). The only reason I would consider it slightly annoying is that because it takes up real estate (in my pedalboard picture you can see that I taped it to the side of the board) for something that I use basically as a one-trick always-on effect. However, it must be said that the NS-2 is a live-setting modified saxophonist’s biggest buddy.

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

I think the best trick I have learned about gear in terms of using gear as part of the compositional process is to experiment with your signal path and definitely put effects AFTER your loops. For example, having the Polymoon after my looper lets me change the composition so drastically that you almost wouldn’t believe it’s the same exact loop if I showed them separately. That is a very powerful thing to have at your disposal for those live gigs when a solo interlude to start the second set is warranted. Another idea is to put a pitch shifter after your loops so you can modulate to a different chord/key center to give you something new to play over the top of (this might require more parallel signal paths but I have done before and is very cool).


Artist Name

Tyler Cassidy (studbagl on youtube, Instagram, etc)

Genre

Adventure music, jazz, ambient.

Selfie

Tyler Cassidy

Where are you from?

I am originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, now living in Boston, Massachusetts.

How did you get into music

I played saxophone in middle school and was very neutral about it; it wasn’t fun or boring. But then my first day in high school in 2006, my grandad picked me up, who was the only other musician in the family. He had the music of Richie Cole and Charlie Parker playing on his CD’s and I couldn’t believe my ears. I didn’t know these things were possible on a saxophone. So when I got home, I opened up YouTube and listened to everything I could. It all spiraled from there.

What still drives you to make music?

I love writing music! As I said previously, I wrote an album and got to record it with a bunch of my friends and some new people back in December. The feeling of writing songs and then having them come to life is nothing less than fulfilling; you feel proud, happy, and satisfied all at the same time. This particular album was special for me because I got the chance to record live with a huge band. It was 10 people, myself on saxophone/effects, an electric guitarist, nylon/steel-string/electric guitarist, pianist, bassist, drummer, string trio and person conducting the string trio. It was magical and I can’t wait to write more and bring them to life.

How do you know when a track is finished?

So this question is better answered for my solo ambient stuff. Being a live-oriented musician, I usually one-take all of my compositions. So whatever you are listening to was all done live and in one track. It basically boils down to if I was satisfied with it or not and that’s how I will know if it is finished. Most of these compositions are live jams, some have a little more planning, but never usually that much.

Show us your current studio

I call it the LazerMaze

Tyler’s home studio

Best creative advice I have ever heard?

Trust your ears. If your ears say it’s good, it is good. Sometimes it’s easy to let your brain get in the way when it says, “No, this definitely shouldn’t work” or “This wouldn’t make sense to go from this chord to this chord”. Your ears should always be trust! We are musicians after all.

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

The latest thing I have out is “Gentle Shore” which is a solo ambient album of mine. On my studbagl.bandcamp.com you can find 3 of my solo ambient albums as well as an album I did as a bandleader back in 2017 in Washington D.C. Definitely want to look out for the new album coming out in summer 2021 that I just recorded though; it blends all the jazz, ambient, post-rock, romantic adventure music that makes up my imagination into one.


[Editor: Do you have a favorite tip, trick or way of working with any of the gear from this interview?
Then throw us a comment below…
]