Martin A. Ottesen – Funkstar De Luxe

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

Mod Wheel on the PolyBrute

Besides a high quality keyboard bed, I love the modulation wheel and assigning it to control various parameters of a patch. I’m a keyboard player of the 80/90’ies, so my left hand is used to working the mod wheel quite a bit. It’s nice and tactile and you can instantly see and feel the position. An important element of breathing life into a sound – to me at least.

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

The latest addition to my setup is the PolyBrute [US, EU] which is really great overall. If import and playback of own samples/waveforms was possible, it would have been perfect.

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

A MacBook Pro and a small controller. I’m a keyboard player so keys are vital to me. How my fingers move around on the keys is a big part of the writing process. I don’t like minikeys, but for travelling it is convenient bringing a small controller such as the Korg Nanokey[US, EU] or a Korg Monologue[US, EU]. I always bring good headphones.

Korg Nanokey and a red Monologue

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

Logic has a Step FX plug-in which I totally dig. Would be cool having complete hardware control over that – a dedicated unit/controller with the same visual layout. I love hardware, so no particular wish for anything to be software. I believe there’s plenty of software solutions out there. 

Logic Step FX plug-in

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

I sold a Roland SH-101 years ago. I would like to have kept it, but then again, I probably wouldn’t use it that much. I bought the microKorg [US. EU] some years ago thinking that it would be a nice travelling companion, but I didn’t really get into it so I sold it again.

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

Definitely samplers, I made my entire debut album ‘Keep On Moving’ with a Yamaha A-3000 before DAWs became the norm. Later on I bought the Native Instruments Maschine [US, EU] when it first came out and that was really a boost for me making more sophisticated drum patterns. Recently I have retired the Maschine and turned to Logic’s samplers, especially the Q-sampler chopping up all kinds of audio. Q for Quick, and it certainly is. 

Native Instruments Maschine

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

Besides a MacBook Pro running Logic, a high quality MIDI controller keyboard. I recently upgraded to the Arturia Keylab 88 mkII [US, EU] which is just brilliant.

Arturia Keylab 88 mkII

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

The analogue and modular synths take so much time to patch up, but I really like having hardware synths in my studio. If I get stuck on a project I usually find some inspiration or new ideas in the synths. They’re also the only instruments I know and then just play.

Eurorack square of Doepfer

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

Sending audio through my little modular system for modulating is great fun and often gives surprisingly interesting results. Even with just a few modules a dull audio track can be transformed into something completely different.
Another technique I find interesting is setting up a patch on a hardware synth (preferably mono modular) and the letting Logic’s auto sampler sample it into a polyphonic patch. It usually turns out different than expected.

Analog corner

Artist or Band name?

Funkstar De Luxe

Genre? House / Electronica

Martin Aulkjaer Ottesen aka. Funkstar De Luxe

Where are you from?

Kerteminde, Denmark

How did you get into music?

My mother was a musician. We had a piano and an electric organ, and I was always fascinated by the knobs and switches on the organ. When I later discovered synthesizers I was hooked and knew that I wanted to get into that. But first my parents arranged for me to get piano lessons.

What still drives you to make music?

Sounds, atmospheres and of course grooves. I find it amazing that you can get so many differents sounds out of even the smallest synth. The big reward for me is when a track really comes together as a unity.

How do you most often start a new track? 

If it’s a remix, I usually start with the bare acapella finding a cool chord progression that fits, then drums and groove. If it’s a track from scratch, I’ll probably program a sound and find some chords or a melody to begin with. Recently I have been getting into just jamming away and see what comes up. That’s a nice contrast to building a track sample by sample in a DAW.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Most often I cycle between mixing and adding new elements but I try not to put too many layers in a production. It’s better having a few that really work, also in order give those layers more room to live in. When everything comes together the right way it just sounds finished.

Show us your current studio

I used to sit in the garage of the house but due to flooding in 2021 I have moved to the attic. I have a minimal setup at the moment but a few pieces of good gear definitely goes a long way.

Home studio – movin’ up in the house to the attic

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Limit your options. If you have a studio full of gear and so many possibilities it might be hard getting anything done. Pick a few pieces of gear and see how far you can go with that. Once you have an idea or direction, you can always use other gear if you are looking for a specific sound or effect. The same goes for software. See how far you can get with just a handful of plug-ins.

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

My album Redemption (out on 21 Oct. 2022) is quite different from my dance remixes. This is more melodic and electronic sounding, not specifically aimed at dancefloors. It’s been very refreshing doing a whole album giving room to different kinds of expression, definitely a very personal piece of work: https://funkstar.lnk.to/album


[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]


How I met Mr. Steve Albini

Steve Albini and Martin Yam Moller in Electrical Audio Studio A

Ok, so here’s a wild thing that happened. I got to meet Steve Albini at his studio Electrical Audio in Chicago.… and embarrassingly I got so star-struck meeting him, that I completely forgot to ask all the questions that I would normally do for this blog!

So that’s why this post is a little bit different than the usual ‘9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies’ Interview.

First of all, if you don’t know about Mr. Steve Albini. He’s a producer/engineer who famously recorded Nirvana’s In Utero, but also hundreds of other records that I and millions of others, have listened to since the ‘80’s.

He has got to have one of the heftiest discographies ever!

But more interestingly, he has a particular kind of attitude to recording and music in general. He records all analogue, not just because of the sound and workflow, but because of its importance as an archival medium. He also keeps his rates as low as possible in order to keep working with independent bands/musicians. This attitude is very much reflected in the way that he constructed Electrical Audio, the studio that he built and opened in the late ‘90’s.

Outside Electrical Audio

So I was in Chicago this summer playing a couple of concerts for the release of my debut solo album, and I was talking to my bassist, who mentioned that he’s recorded at Electrical Audio with other bands. He said “Give’em a call and ask if you could come by and take a look at the studio and talk to Steve”. For him, having lived in Chicago for many years, Electrical was simply the local studio that everybody used. For me, it was the holy ground on which Sunn 0))) conjured Pyroclasts, their excellent 9th album from 2019.

It simply didn’t seem possible to just call up the studio… and so for the 14 days that I was in Chicago, I procrastinated and did a whole bunch of other stuff.

Then on the last day before I had to fly back to Denmark. My buddy Anthony, the bassist, reminded me “Just call and go out there”. So I called up Electrical and there was a nice person who answered “Yeah, come on by… There is a session today at noon, but there should be some engineers here to show you around”.

So of course I took a cab out there at 9am! Jumped out and rang on the door.

Electrical Audio Studio Door and Bell

And… the same person on the phone says “Oh, there are no engineers here right now to show you around. Can you come back in an hour?”

“Sure” I say. An hour goes by. Me, loitering outside in the general area.

Ring that bell again. Same thing. So I come back 30 min later.

Receptionist says “Hey, what about if you give me your tlf number and I get someone to call you back when they get here?”

“Perfect” I say, and think ‘Damn, they’ll be busy with that session today and I’m leaving tomorrow’. So a bit disappointed, I walked down the road from the studio that I didn’t even get into, to find lunch somewhere.

I’m just about to order a sandwich at a cafe … and my cellphone rings.

“Hey, this is Steve… you wanted to take a look around the studio?”

“YES! I’ll be there in 2 min”… and I run out of the cafe.


The following is a loose, badly-remembered re-paraphrasing of the hour long tour that Mr. Steve Albini gave me of his wonderful studio and gear. Mainly just photos with whatever I could remember that Steve said.


At Electrical Audio, walking from one live room to the next, seems just like any other studio, but what is not visible, is the fact that each room has it’s own separate foundation, for near total acoustic isolation between rooms.

Walking from Studio A to B

You know how you always hear of studio owners tearing the roof off their house in order to get their massive consoles into the mixing suite? This is the upside down version of this! Buying a building and re-digging it’s foundation, with the building still in place. A pretty intense approach to acoustic control.


The mic collection at EA is a sight to behold. While I was a little too busy salivating over the mics, I barely managed to register that Mr. Albini said something like… ‘Every sound is different and every mic responds to that sound in a different way… so for every recording, you have to try out a lot of mics.’

Headphone tree
Guitars and Pedals

Analog recorders and effects racks play a huge role in the daily recording life at Electrical Audio. These aren’t there for show or the occasional ‘retro band’ that books a session once a year.
They are constantly serviced and maintained by the in-house tech.
Mr. Albini even showed me their service log books, and described the administrative system they use to keep everything up and running. Which means that anything that’s not working, gets pulled out and fixed off-site. Anything you see in the mixing rooms is plugged in and ready to go.

Studer A 820 MCH 24 Tape Recorder
Studer A 820 MCH 24 Tracking Recorder
Ampex ATR-102 2-Track
Ampex ATR-102 2-Track Master Tape Recorder

Electrical Audio even make their own brand of equipment. Their in-house studio tech has plenty of work to do, in order to maintain all that juicy analog equipment. But somehow they make time to produce a lovely EA preamp and shelving EQ (the bi-colored LED lit logo is a signature).

EA’s preamp and EQ

EA also make a passive direct box, which Mr. Albini say is a workhorse and gets used a lot, both for re-amping and sending mic level signals to guitar pedals. Since it’s a passive design, it is bi-directional.

Check out the super high ceilings in Studio B. There’s lots of natural light, which is very lovely, but quite unusual for a live room, there’s also tons of diffusion in the ceilings.
It was really funny to clap in this room, coz I could easily recognize the distinctive reverb, from countless albums with recordings of snare drums in this room. Strange to experience such familiar early reflections, in real life.

Studio B with very high ceilings and natural light

Steve took particular pride in describing the non-parallel walls made from Adobe mudbricks that were used inside the studio live rooms. They are unfired and have the odd properties of both reflecting sound in a diffuse way, but also absorbing it over a ‘pleasant’ spectrum.


Lastly… yes, I did remember to ask him what his favorite knob/fader or switch was….

Penny & Giles Motorised Faders on the Neotek Console

Thanks Mr. Albini for graciously taking me through your awesome studio!


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Clicking one of these links and buying any product that you need, will help support this blog… doesn’t even have to be the ones in the link. Thx]


Joel Negus – Synthing Classics

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

Cutoff on the Moog Sub25. Nothing like the ladder filter!

Moog Subsequent 25

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

The Vermona DRM-1 mkiii is amazing, but maaaan I wish the trigger inputs were on the front panel!

Vermona DRM-1 mkiii and Lyra-8

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

OP1 basically lives in my backpack if it’s not out in the studio. I’ll often develop ideas on it that end up staying on a track.

Teenage Engineering OP-1

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

Couldn’t come up with a direct answer to this question 😂 so decided to answer it by saying that the Arturia Polybrute beautifully blends software / hardware as a complete instrument.

A Strymon Zuma trying to hide an Arturia Polybrute

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

I used to own a Korg SV-1 until my dad passed his 1977 Rhodes down to me. I always enjoyed playing the sv-1 and realize I shouldn’t have sold it whenever I see one.

On the Rhodes again… I cain’t wait to get on the Rhodes again!

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

The Moog Subharmonicon!!! More ideas have started on that thing than any other instrument for me (except maybe the piano).

Moog Subharmonicon and friends

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

If I had known just how magical tape echo was, I probably would’ve wanted it sooner… but it probably wouldn’t have been first 😂

Echo Fix EF-X2

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

The helping hand for soldering!!!

A helping hand for soldering

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

I recently learned about the tails mode on the Earthquakes Avalanche Run – haven’t used it yet, but I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about that before I bought it!

An avalanche of eurorack! Run!!!

Artist or Band name?

Joel Negus

Genre?

Various, often in classical / jazz / electro-acoustic worlds

Selfie?

Joel Negus

Where are you from?

Born and raised in Chicago IL, but I’ve been in Cleveland OH for 15 years.

How did you get into music?

Both of my parents are professional musicians. Growing up, I was a boy soprano 🤵 and my dad had me sing on a number of commercials on the jingle scene. Eventually I fell hard into the punk rock scene, which turned to metal – I was a part of starting the band Born of Osiris. Changed directions in high school and focused on classical / jazz upright bass.

What still drives you to make music?

Creativity cannot be severed from relationships. The very act of making itself is collaborative – this connection to others is a constant source of inspiration.

How do you most often start a new track?

Playing an instrument and a spark hits. Recently though, trying to think more in silence before jumping in – starting more in my head. Always looking for different ways to compose!

Korg MS-20

How do you know when a track is finished?

I rarely “feel” that it’s finished, but I suppose it’s when I’m at the height of my excitement over it. I’ve found it best to wrap it up somewhat quickly when I’m really excited about how things are sounding.

Show us your current studio

A solemn of guitars
Bass-synth, bass-ukulele, contra-bass

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

We can’t just think about what we’re making, but the social context in which we’re making.

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

I just released a score I did for a modern dance company in town called Inlet Dance Theater. The piece was called Red Tape and was a total joy to collaborate on. Cheers!

https://joelnegus.bandcamp.com/album/red-tape-original-score