Danny Kim – DSKO

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

Modal 008

Favorite knobs would have to be the Modal 008. They are metal, round with a dimple on top. Favorite fader would have to be the Juno 106. Just a couple millimeters makes the filter morph into a different sound. I’ve ridden the cutoff fader for miles. I also like the fader on Roland System 100 Model 101. Old, but sturdy and stylish.

Roland Juno 106

For Eurorack, I’d say my fav knobs are on the Rossum Evolution. They’re kind of similar to the pots on the Dave Smith PolyEvolver.

Dave Smith PolyEvolver

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

Well I guess that would depend on three criteria for me. The character of the sound, depth of synthesis, versatility, intuitiveness of the interface, build quality. I also like a bit of a challenge to learn. But not so complex that it takes forever to get to a sweet spot.

Modal 008

For me, one all-encompassing synth would be the Modal 008. It is the most refined sounding analog poly synth that I’ve played in the past 20 years. It has 15 different filter modes, tons of physical controls at your fingertips. There are no on-board effects but you can dial in some very refined and inspiring sounds without too much difficulty.

Modal 008 with 15 filter modes

Then you have a great sequencer that can trigger notes or modulate almost any parameter with the “Animator” feature. It does have a bit of a wonky menu, that sometimes freezes on a knob turn. I wish I could update the processor to eliminate some of those glitches and give it an OLED touch screen to improve the navigation but nothing’s perfect.
The designer George Hearn moved on from Modal to found a company called UDO. In late 2020, he released the Super 6 binaural synth. It’s a really cool 12 voice polyphonic synth with high resolution digital oscillators. I’m looking forward to diving deep into it this coming year.

Modal 008 Sequencer

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

MPC Live 2

I have a retro MPC Live 2 that is pretty cool because it has a sound bar, is rechargeable and you can produce full tracks on it with some diligence and patience. You can load it up with a ton of samples. It can even be upgraded with an internal SSD drive. I recently got an ASM Hydrasynth Explorer that can take batteries. I think I might bring it next time I travel.

Hydrasynth Explorer

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

I wish there was a hardware version of Absynth. It was one of the most unique sounding synths I’ve ever heard. Sadly, it was announced a few months ago that Native Instruments was going to discontinue its inclusion in their collection.

I think it would be cool to get a software version of the underrated Modor NF-1, since it is all digital and there are ten different forms of synthesis. There are a ton of physical controls but due to its complexity, there’s still a lot under the hood that you have to dive into the menu to find such as the FM operators or formant features.

Modor NF-1

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

I regret selling my big yellow Waldorf Q. I was broke in Hollywood during the actors and writers strikes of 2006. I was a freelance sound editor and had just left the studio I was working at after I had worked on a big feature film called Pathfinder for 20th Century Fox. The strike went on for a long time and eventually I had to let go of one of my first synths. I’ve since owned and sold the Waldorf Microwave XT, original Pulse rack and 2 Pole Filter Pedal.

Conversely, I haven’t been as into the Waldorf Quantum. On paper and visually it looked like most amazing synth ever. But it sounds kind of sterile to me, even with the analog filter. I have a friend who likes the Iridium for its sample playback capabilities, but I generally prefer VCO’s and non-sampled realtime sound sources. I get more of my style of sounds out of synths such as the Moog Matriarch or Cwejman S1 MK2. So I may be limiting myself from the Quantum’s best features. I’ve heard other people get cool results from it. I think I would get more out of the PPG Wave tribute from Groove Synthesis, the Third Wave.

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

Lately, I’ve been really into the Elektron Syntakt. You’ve got 8 digital and 4 analog tracks. Each track can be configured to a different “machine” that is synthesized around conventions such as bass drums, snares, hats, claps, etc. On the synth side, you’ve got an 8-bit SID type of machine, chord generator that can be quantized to different scales, then an analog two oscillator synth. Unfortunately it’s monophonic, but I hope that it gets firmware to allow the combining of tracks allow for 2 to 4 voice polyphony at some point soon. It certainly has the capability with 12 tracks.

Being confined to a set of 8 unique parameters for each synth or percussion machine did a couple things for me: first, it forced me to fully utilize each machine’s sound design capabilities. Since you can quickly settle on a sound relatively quickly with the limitations, you can focus on the writing of notes and beats. The second thing it did was the polar opposite; the limitations drove me to find external/outboard solutions such as polyphonic sound sources that could be sequenced from the Syntakt’s external MIDI machine. The first candidate was an Erica Synths 42hp Pico case. I put a Supercritical Demon Oscillator and Expander with a Pittsburgh Local Florist and a Supercritical Neutron Flux stereo filter in there. So that skiff essentially became the 8th track on my Syntakt.

Eurorack

One of the things that helped me unlock the Syntakt’s capabilities is the Arturia Keystep 37. The Keystep has a great feature which is that you can hold the function button then instantly change the MIDI channel from the keyboard. So you can jump back and forth between tracks in your sequence while you’re writing melodies and parts. You can quantize your notes as they are being played in.

Arturia Keystep Pro (pictured here) and the twin Elektron Syntakts

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

Prophet XL

With my existing knowledge and experience? Maybe a Sequential Prophet XL. It covers a lot of different sounds between the virtual analog waveforms and sample oscillators. If I was starting out, I’d probably get a Juno 106, which was actually the 3rd or 4th synth I first bought.

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

JX-8P

The Roland JX-8P. Big heavy with plywood bottom and plastic ends that have fading metallic paint. Membrane buttons as frustrating as the DX-7. But the pads out of that thing sound beautiful. I was able to get a PG-800 programmer for it, which made it much more useable. The JX-10 is basically two 8P’s and is somewhat strange to program even with a PG-800 since it has two halves. The JX-10 was used by the composer Angelo Badalamenti for the iconic theme song for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which was later sampled by Moby for the house track “Go”. I can’t seem to bring myself to sell it, but it’s so bulky that it’s usually sitting upright until I need it for its lush pads.

Roland PG-800

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

Probably the strangest feature I’ve encountered is the countdown menu in the Modor NF-1. You have to make your selection before it finishes counting down, otherwise it exits on its own.

Modular Eurorack in Black light

Technique-wise, one of the coolest things about modular synths is the ability to chain multiple clock and rhythm modules. For instance, I might use the ALM Pamela’s Workout as an initial tempo generator into Vermona Random Rhythm to create a bunch of multiplied clock signals in different clock divisions. From there it may go into Mutable Instruments Grids or the more recent Mystic Circuits IDUM module. Then finally with the 3rd layer, I’ll patch into the actual sequencer be it WMD Metron or Shakmat’s Four Bricks Rook. My goal is to create rhythmic variations for the sequence that can be globally affected with a relatively simple knob or fader movement, which is ideal for live performances. Trying to achieve some randomness but still enough control to make it sound musical. That’s generally where I like to reside.


Artist or Band name?

It was Psinex, then Distco, Distortion Corporation, now DSKO. My actual company is named Distortion Productions from when I worked full time as a freelance sound editor on films and directed concert and music videos for various local LA electronic music producers, classical Indian musicians and the “Inside” video for Detroit’s ADULT.

Genre?

All over the place: electro, Italo disco, synth wave, techno, dub, electroclash, trip hop, ambient. I try not to think too consciously about genre when I’m writing something.

Selfie?

DSKO

Where are you from?

Was born in Palo Alto and raised in Santa Rosa, Northern California. Have lived in Las Vegas, Hollywood/LA and Seoul, Korea. Now I’m back near where I was born, in Santa Clara and San Jose.

How did you get into music?

I started out as a cellist in the high school orchestra. I took lessons from Corinne Antipa, a cellist in the local Santa Rosa Symphony.
Music-wise I was a big Front 242 and Depeche Mode fan as a kid. I actually just saw Front 242’s final performance at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco recently. It was great show and an emotional moment for them saying goodbye on stage. In college, I was a tech house and trance DJ during college in Las Vegas and in LA during the rave scene.

What still drives you to make music?

I’ve always wanted to see electronic musicians and the synthesizer community properly represented from a cultural and artistic standpoint. I’ve been going to shows for many years, but from 2016, I started putting on my own live synth shows in the SF Bay Area, primarily in downtown San Jose in association with the First Friday monthly street fairs organized by Cherri and Brian from Gallery Anno Domini. I built good relationships with synth companies such as Sequential, Make Noise, Folktek as well as some very talented performers from across the country such as Richard Devine, Patrick O’ Brien, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Lightbath while promoting equally talented locals such as r beny and Haptic Synapses.

My interests tend to pull me towards their origins and pioneers. It was a sort of pilgrimage traveling to the Detroit Movement Festival in 2006 and 2008 and hearing Octave One, Scan 7, Model 500, and many others there. I also had a chance to go to the 2012 Moogfest when it was still in Asheville, North Carolina. It was great to see the Voyagers on the Moog factory line along with the showroom. Those trips were a big inspiration to me as a promoter and artist. I feel like I’ve carried those experiences with me in spirit in all the events that I have held.

How do you most often start a new track?

I used to make a new track every month. Lately, it’s become either a new modular patch video on my Youtube or Instagram. I would definitely like to get back to writing full tracks and albums.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Usually when I can listen to a track repeatedly without getting tired of hearing it. I’d imagine that’s how a sculptor feels by the time they decide when to stop chipping away at the stone. I suppose the difference being that you can’t add back what you remove to a stone. With a track, it’s certainly possible to overembellish it with too many elements.

Show us your current studio

Neon Dragon
A desktop of synths
Studio Rack
Studio Buddies

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

It’s a fairly common piece of advice, but particularly important for someone as easily distracted as I am. Finish your project and don’t try to make it too perfect. Allow for mistakes and imperfections. The pursuit of perfection can lead to becoming discouraged and eventually abandoning something that might actually be much better than you might think. Like many artists, I tend to be very hard on myself.

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

I’ll be performing at SynthPlex in LA/Burbank on the evening of October 29th, 2022. It’s been three years since the last event so I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got a laser show planned to go with my live synth set.

I’m also putting out the follow-up to the 2019 synth and arts print-only journal called Open Source. It’s taken the better part of 3 years to put it together. One of the most difficult projects I’ve ever worked on because of the ever-increasing scope of it.
It started from around 80 pages and now up to around 130 with original articles, artwork and interviews from artists I admire from around the world such as Robert Henke and Nonotak. By the time the project is finally completed, I think it will be worth the effort. I’m aiming to get it done in time to show at Superbooth next May in Berlin.


[Editor: There are affiliate links to the relevant gear throughout the articles. It helps to support this blog. In fact, should you be needing some patch cables or guitar strings. Then clicking on one of the above links and buying any product that you prefer, will help the blog… doesn’t even have to be the ones in the link. Thx]


Megan Leber – Modular Mist

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

Lots, but one of them is the “Tone” knob on the Desmodus Versio. Try turning that reeeaaally slowly 😉 Also every fader from Gaz’ modules (Big T Music LTD), they just feel so sturdy and smooth!

Rangoon and Monsoon from Big T Music LTD  eurorack module
Rangoon and Monsoon from Big T Music LTD

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

This is such a hard question! Well, a bit unexpected maybe, but I’m going for a VST here: Cycles by Slate & Ash. It’s just spot on for me, I could create an entire album using just that. The atmospheres you can get out of there, the subtle movements, the gorgeous effects, the sequencer, the granular part. It’s still so inspiring after 2 years of using it. I also love the Xone 96 by Allen & Heath, this mixer is perfect for my live performances.

Xone 96 by Allen & Heath
Xone 96 by Allen & Heath

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

If I have to bring as little as possible I’d bring my Digitone or Tasty Chips GR-1 and Octatrack. But if I’d do a tour I’d probably add something.

Tasty Chips GR-1
Tasty Chips GR-1

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

Paulstretch and definitely Cycles + Landforms from Slate & Ash. Their software is mindblowing! And vice versa: Intellijel Rainmaker.

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

No! 🙂 You can learn something from every piece of gear. If something doesn’t spark joy anymore or stops inspiring you, just let it go. For instance I recently sold my Mannequins Mangrove and Three Sisters and I think many people would have kept them because they’re so hard to obtain nowadays. But that’s no reason for me to keep stuff.

Three Sisters Module
Three Sisters Module

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

All of my granular modules (Arbhar, Morphagene, Monsoon)! And I’d say that Cycles by Slate & Ash inspired me so much, that it really got me to produce regularly again and to feel creative. It even got me looking into modular again until I couldn’t stop myself from buying the first modules. Since I started with modular I got more and more inspired, especially by the granular modules mentioned above. With these modules, combined with a nice reverb/delay, you can create otherworldly soundscapes which can really carry you away and make you lose track of time. Love that!

Make Noise Morphagene
Make Noise Morphagene

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

I don’t think I would have done anything differently, other than getting into modular earlier on. The creativity I get out of that is unbelievable. Oh and I would have put my music out there earlier too.

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

Hmm, I would say the Octatrack? No, I think I could live without that (if I have to). Unanswered!

Elektron Octatrack
Elektron Octatrack

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

My D.O.MIXX (5-channel mixer module by Blood Cells Audio) has 1 aux send. I just recently found out you can switch between pre/post aux per channel, so if you choose pre aux you can cue your channel with headphones. I’ve now routed that aux send to my Xone 96 mixer (on send D) so I can cue every channel of my modular on there and this is huge to me for my live improvs!

D.O.MIXX (5-channel mixer module by Blood Cells Audio)
D.O.MIXX

Artist or Band name?

Megan Leber

Genre?

Techno and ambient/electronic (if I have to put a label on it).

Selfie?

I rarely take selfies! 

Where are you from?

Rotterdam, Netherlands. 

How did you get into music?

I remember I was always drawn to instruments from a very young age. When I was 10 my teacher put a piano (and later a guitar) in the classroom and I was instantly hooked. He taught me some stuff about chords and intervals and let me play after school. Later my parents let me buy my own keyboard from my savings and after that I got my first electric guitar. Never took any lessons, I always played by ear.
When I was 16/17 I got into electronic music production, when I put Reason on my laptop and a whole new world opened up! Soon after that Ableton followed and I got more and more obsessed. Got a few MIDI controllers and my first synth: a Yamaha AN1x. A year of studying Electronic Music Production, a few drum computers, synths and modules later: here I am!

What still drives you to make music?

I just HAVE to, it’s this thing I can’t stop doing. It’s what I love to do most and which will never bore me. As soon as I open my eyes I’m thinking about making music. When it comes to making music I’m a sponge. I always want to know and try more. My mind can be quite chaotic sometimes, but when I’m making music I’m at ease. It gives me this weird (the positive weird) feeling I can’t really explain, like all these endorphins are floating around inside of me. Endless possibilities!

How do you most often start a new track?

It sometimes starts with an idea or feeling in my head, something I want to try out, “what would happen if I do this?”. Sometimes I create a soundscape first, other times I start with a sequence on the Atlantis. What’s important to me is that I can completely lose myself in the sound design and slowly build a “mood”. But I also start without any idea/expectation and just jam.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Intuition. It’s just a feeling of being satisfied with the result. And to be honest there are always things that could have been changed after a track is “finished”. I also have to admit I’m bad at finishing tracks! I’m more of a creator and that’s what makes me happy. As soon as I have to stop creating and start mixing etc, I get bored or distracted and want to make new things… haha. 

Show us your current studio

It’s constantly changing! Here’s one of my most recent pictures, just before I hooked everything up again (cables cables cables):

Megan Lebers every changing setup
Megan Lebers every changing setup

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Can I also put my own advice here? 😀 Do exactly what you want to do and not what you think others might expect from you. Don’t follow any ‘hype’ because you think you’ll get noticed. Stay true to yourself! 

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

Check out Mystery Circles’ BandCamp on the 5th of June for a nice surprise! 😉 https://mysterycircles.bandcamp.com

[Editor: Megan’s IG can also be found here: https://www.instagram.com/meganleber]


Yukes – White Ghost beyond the Great Firewall

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

Yamaha MT44 cassette tape recorder
Yamaha MT44 cassette tape recorder

If I’m being honest, the “feather touch technology” buttons on my Yamaha MT44 4-track cassette machine are just… something else entirely.

Back in the 80’s when buttons n’ switches were more mechanical and clicky, a lot of different “options” were lost to the more common ones. What we have here is a thin ribbon beneath a plastic cover with no click. Sounds bad right?

But when you press the button, it causes whatever mechanical function you triggered in the machine to violently come to life somewhere deep within the machine, causing an almost distant haptic shake, despite the button feeling almost unresponsive.

There’s a creative satisfaction to the physical start of a cassette session, of course, but my monkey brain finds some deep satisfaction in how the button feels.

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

Bamboo Xiao and reel-to-reel recorder
Bamboo Xiao and reel-to-reel recorder

My bamboo Xiao, in key of F. We really figured this stuff out 38,000 years ago, didn’t we?

I needed to buy a new xiao when I arrived in Chengdu a few months ago, and got one at a shop that sounded the nicest. I realized it sounded so nice because I bought one in the key of F, not G, so it’s lower with a substantially deeper, woodier sound.

I don’t have any electric gear I consider perfect. I’m a big optimist and love all the gear I have, but there’s always something frustrating, missing, or something lacking that causes desire. Not enough inputs. Too much menu diving. Too complex. Not complex enough.

But the Xiao? Thousands of years of technological advancement and this baby’s not going anywhere.

The only improvement I could ask for is a pickup mic that’s easier to install and doesn’t require a button battery. Those things are so unpredictable.

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

Roland SP404a
Roland SP404a

Gotta go with a classic. My SP404a’s been going with me everywhere. Lightweight, not too big, runs off AA’s, and swappable storage means I can switch between a dozen projects within seconds. If I’m playing a live set, I’m already committed to bringing a zither around that’s 1m, or 1.6m. the rest of my gear is gigantic and heavy; but with this lil’ guy I could feasibly run an internal mic in, throw on some simple reverb, and have as many backing tracks as I want, all with performance effects… Even without making beats on the go, this thing is a workhorse. 
It’s a shame the new one is so hard to get.

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

Software to Hardware: I adore Output – Portal. Its interface, it’s complexity, everything about this plugin suits me and the sort of ambience I share with my audience here. If I could get this into a little box with an XLR input, oh man. Feels like game over. I’ve genuinely considered buying a micro-PC with a 7in’ touch screen, programming an auto-launch and building it myself.

Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal with Guzheng
Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal with Guzheng

Hardware to software: To me there’s nothing more immediately satisfying than how Gamechanger Audio has mastered minimal granular synthesis with the Plus Pedal. I’d love to find some function within a DAW that let me capture the last few moments of audio and mess around with the grain, in such an instantaneous way.

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

Guzheng and pedal board live setup
Live setup and pedal board

I’m not ashamed to admit that my music gear affixation was preceded by nearly 10 years of struggling to know what was right for me. When I was experimenting with a custom electric ukulele in college, I wanted something to make ambience with. I don’t know how on earth I settled on the Electro-Harmonix Ravish Sitar. That’s… like a $300, very specific pedal which they say ‘is an instrument in its own right.’ A sort of synth pedal. I was fascinated by the concept of generating sympathetic drones based on what note i played. In retrospect what I actually wanted was shimmer and freeze. 
I never got the hang of it. I still try.
I also had a Line6 DL4 back in the day. I really never got a sound out of it that I liked, but I spent way too much of what little money I had back then, to get it. 
Forgive the photo; it’s the only pic I have of both pedals together on my makeshift pedalboard.  

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

Novation Circuit and little buddy keyboard
Novation Circuit and little buddy keyboard

The sheer number of micro beats I’ve made on the original Novation Circuit I just got is perplexing. Right now my social media strategy in China is based on quantity, so as much as I want to craft bigger and better songs, posting something new every day is more important for growth. And this thing just churns out ideas and concepts.

I can sit with it far away from my desk, run it off batteries, and even use its internal speaker, and get a little beat together in less than 5 minutes.

Omnisphere may have been what opened me up to the most tangible productivity and hours put in, but as for sheer number of songs, nothing comes close to what the circuit could do for me.

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

Given the nature of being an expat, this is a far more tangible and realistic question than normal. I try not to get too attached to my gear because realistically I may need to leave it all behind someday. But I don’t let that stop me from acquiring (mostly second hand) gear that doesn’t fit inside a suitcase. Don’t let international politics ruin your interests. 

Elektron Digitone and Marshall Speaker
Elektron Digitone

If I sold it all and started fresh somewhere else, I’d probably start with a Microcosm as my main effect processor, and stick to ambient music for a while. After that, I’d probably start fresh with Elektron, starting with a Digitone. My friend loaned me this beast for the weekend and I’m in love. Then a 404mkII as a hardware unit, and finally pick a keyboard. Novation Summit if I could afford it. Otherwise maybe a Komplete keyboard, A49 I reckon. But honestly I’d be fine with just a Digitone and Microcosm. As long as I can find a dope instrument shop nearby.

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

White Native Instruments Maschine
Native Instruments Maschine

Native Instruments Maschine. Putting 9 hours into tutorials on LinkedIn Learning (of all places) was unarguably the biggest leap forward in my music production skills, but it set me up in a music production environment which is sort of toxic in how un-intuitively it works with other software. No hotkeys, terrible mouse navigation… it’s like I’ve been cursed.

If you’ve ever tried to work with Maschine as a VST within Ableton or Logic you’d know what I mean. It’s great on its own, but my god, it’ll choke anything but the strongest computers.

I’ve tried working without it. Tried learning the drum rack on Ableton, session view… but nothing is as fast and intuitive to me.

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

Using the SP404 sampler as a synth
Using the SP404 sampler as a synth

I made a video recently about using a sampler as a synthesizer, using only its internal multi-effects. It was a simple idea that I had, which really blew up into an incredibly complex and wonderful challenge in makeshift synthesis.

I designed the technique as a means of exploring and internalizing what effects truly sound like (what does a bit crash do to a sine wave?) but now realize it’s a great way to really understand what effects can do. I’d encourage anyone with a fancy pedal or getting into magnetic tape recording to try dropping basic waveshapes through it and listening to what comes out.


Artist or Band name?

Yukes玉刻

Genre?

Ambient / Chinawave

Selfie?

Yukes aka. Justin Scholar
Yukes

Where are you from?

New York, New York, currently based in Chengdu, China.

How did you get into music?

Trained in jazz & classic trombone throughout school. I tried music so many times as a kid and never really enjoyed it until I tried ukulele, which led me to mandolin, mountain dulcimer, banjo, then all sorts of folk instruments. While studying abroad I fell in love with the Chinese Zither (Guzheng) and came back several years later to make a career out of playing traditional Chinese instruments in Shanghai. It’s started working out quite well recently.

What still drives you to make music?

I found something that works for me. I discovered a niche with wide public appeal, which is proving to be very lucrative and creatively liberating. Breathing new life into traditional instruments has given me a lifetime of new territory to explore, and my relatively new fixation on gear adds the geeky satisfaction as well. Cassette tapes are scratching the lofi / esoteric itch, and all the brand sponsorships (Eventide, Focusrite, Novation, NI) are offering some real sense of authenticity.

How do you most often start a new track?

I leave my acoustic instruments strewn about the studio. I’ll pick it up, fingerpick til I find a strange new chord, strike up a simple rhythm on a sampled CR-78, and try to record it simply. From there it’ll likely become a demo; if not, I’ll record a video of my fingers while I play, then save it for later. My muscle memory is terrible.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the call of everything else I’m working on grows too loud to ignore, I anxiously polish up whatever I’m working on, wherever it’s at, and ship it out.

It’s… really not ideal, but it’s better than perfectionism and never finishing.

Show us your studio?

Yukes Studio. Novation Circuit. Sp404a. Yamaha 4-track. Launchpad. MicroKorg. Eventide H9.
Yukes Studio

My girlfriend and I have been artists-in-residence for nearly a year now, so we’ve been sort of living out of a few flight cases. Our studio’s nothing to write home about, but the environment outside is unreasonably beautiful. 

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Always be ready to entertain.

It was a practical piece of advice, given to me by a seasoned acoustic musician who was dabbling in electronics. The basic nature of the idea is that you need to be able to make music anytime, with anything, if only your voice, or with any instrument you’re handed.

One time I was the guest of honor for a government project in Wuxi, China, the governer walked in and asked me to play something from my home country. I didn’t have any instrument on me, so I immediately started singing “I Wish My Baby Was Born” by Tim Eriksen. I would’ve liked some accompaniment, but it was what I had on me, and what was in my head at the time.

But the lesson goes deeper than that. Learn to learn, don’t learn to master. Be ready to try any instrument that’s put in front of you. As a left-handed musician, I’ve come to terms with the fact that no one will ever hand me a left-handed guitar at a party and ask for a song. So I’ve learned upside down.

John Lennon said, “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.” Whatever situation you’re given in life, be the artist and make the best out of it.

You’re never gonna cure your GAS. You’re never going to have every piece of gear you desire, and even if you could, you couldn’t reach it all from one place. And you won’t always have a big enough table. More than half my gear is sitting in a basement in a terribly locked-down Shanghai, I don’t know when I’ll get it back. But I’m making great use of what I have.

So whatever your lot in life is, make the most out of it.  

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

After years and years, I’ll finally release my single this month. Search up Yukes玉刻 on Spotify and follow meet_yukes on Instagram for a look into life as a musician in China. Good stuff, lots of chillout, ambience and fun stuff.