Asymmetric Cut – Davide Bernardi

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

Arturia MicroFreak

One of my favorite knobs are all the Arturia MicroFreak potentiometers, but my fav thing about the MF is the touch sensitive keyboard (I was scared at the beginning, but now I’m totally in love).
Another thing that I like so much, are the wooden and clicky buttons of the OrganelleM.

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

I don’t own many things, I have the Critter & Guitari Organelle M, Norns Shield by Garret Labs (+ Novation Launchpad Mini MK2 as 64 “Grid”), Arturia MicroFreak, Koma Elektronic Field Kit FX, Zoom MS-70CDR pedal and an old Panasonic Dictaphone.

Panasonic Dictaphone

I use an old version of Ableton Live Intro (8), just as multitrack recorder + Audacity and Adobe Audition for “editing” with Zoom U-22 as audio interface.
I would love to start/switch into the modular world, but for now I’m learning/trying this great and awesome world with VCV Rack 2.
Also the Ciat-Lonbarde ecosystem, it fascinates me a lot.

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

Critter & Guitari Organelle M

Organelle M is the perfect companion in combination with the Norns Shield (with external power bank) and Zoom MS-70CDR.

Zoom MS-70CDR

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

Valhalla Supermassive as a real pedal and almost all the Splice VST effects.
I would love to have all the Ciat-Lonbarde (Cocoquantus, Deerhorn Organ, Sidrax Organ, Tocante, etc …) as virtual instruments, to try/learn their workflow.

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

Regret selling, the Boss SP-202 and the Yamaha MT50 4 track cassette recorder.
Regret buying, probably nothing, all the equipment that I’ve had, have in some way either good or bad things about them, that help me to learn something.

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

Norns Shield and Organelle M are my main “brains”, especially with generative scripts / patches.
I like to control them with 2host USB (Midi USB-USB) or sequencing the MicroFreak.
Sometimes I like to record samples / fields recording, with piezo mic on the Koma Field Kit FX or with the Dictaphone.

Norns Shield

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

I’m not consider myself as “musician”, my workflow is about feelings, insights and following the flow, so maybe probably, learn and study music theory and a lot of things that I don’t know, even if I like (perhaps too much) the transportation and philosophy of the generative music.

Arturia MicroFreak and Organelle M

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

Cables and power adapters.

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

I have no real tricks (being self-taught), but I have learned a lot thanks to the various online communities (for Norns and Organelle) and I wanna say thanks to all those who spent time and energy creating new scripts and patches!


Artist or Band name?

Asymmetric Cut

Genre?

Ambient / Soundscape / Drone

Selfie?

Where are you from?

Italy

How did you get into music?

When I was child, I got an xmas gift (Bontempi keyboard) then around 14, playing guitar (hardcore / punk / grunge), then I dive into electronic music with FastTracker 2 on 486 PC.
Later with different gear, such as samplers (E-mu ESI-32 and Boss SP-202) and grooveboxes (Roland MC-303 and MC-505).

What still drives you to make music?

I’m not a professional musician (I’m photographer and teacher), so for me it’s just something to relax, make something (hopefully good) and with the social media, make connections and know nice and talented people (like you and many others).

How do you most often start a new track?

Depends of my mood, but usually I start with the Norns Shield or /with Organelle M and the MicroFreak through the MS 70-CDR, layering some sounds and working on, till I’m ok with the result.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I usually start listening to it many times to understand if I have skipped any steps or made some drafting errors, then I let it settle, like wine and decide if it is usable or not.

Show us your current studio

Desktop Studio

I don’t have studio or studio space in my little apartment, so every time I wanna play I set everything on the living room / work / eating table.

Koma Elektroniks FieldkitFX

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

For me works very well the Samuel Beckett’s quote: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better”.
So this kind of mantra could be … try, try, try, don’t be afraid to fail and then try again, having learned something valuable from your experience.
Eventually it goes without saying, you will achieve success.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asymmetric_cut/
Bandcamp: https://asymmetriccut.bandcamp.com/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/asymmetriccut


Nathan – Accelerator Jengold

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

In terms of aesthetics and tactility, it has to be the main rotary knob on the ZOIA by Empress Effects. The way it subtly clicks is super satisfying, and the chunky chrome design stands out compared to other pedal knobs. In terms of functionality I’ll go with the D-C-V (Dry-Chorus-Vibrato) knob on the Walrus Audio Julianna.

Dry-Chorus-Vibrato knob on the Walrus Audio Julianna

It controls the stereo spread of the effect and the mix of chorus and vibrato. The Julianna is an ‘always on’ pedal for me – the modulation sounds great and D-C-V knob helps to always find that sweet spot. I typically use the Julianna to make lofi guitar tones using the random LFO setting and a slow vibrato.

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

I’ll have to go with the ZOIA again for this question! It’s one of my favourite pieces of gear and I use it in pretty much all of my music. It’s both dauntingly complex and surprisingly intuitive. It’s mind-blowing how much Empress Effects managed to cram into this small box! I’ve been using it for a couple of years now, but I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do. I use it in all sorts of ways, such as a semi-generative synthesizer, looper, midi controller and of course as a multi-FX unit.

ZOIA by Empress Effects

My only complaint is that because it does so much it’s difficult to know where best to put it in the signal chain. One possible solution would be a set of additional inputs/outputs for an FX loop, and the ability to assign modules either before or after the FX loop. A couple of additional assignable knobs would also make parameter control more immediate.

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

I’m a fan of the Elektron Model:Samples for making music on the go. It’s super portable and I like the directness of the ‘function per knob’ design. It’s perfect for quickly sketching out ideas whilst travelling.

Elektron Model:Samples

Other devices offer more features, like the OP-Z, but I have a soft spot for the Elektron workflow. I don’t use it in my main setup due to the lack of direct sampling, but it’s a fun device to kill some time with.

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

I predominantly use a ‘DAWless’ setup, so I don’t have much experience with software. I only really use my DAW (Studio One 5 to be exact) to record/master and try to do everything else using hardware. Tactility is an integral part of making music for me, I like the physical connection to whatever I’m writing. I don’t have the same drive to write music when I’m working on a laptop. I also find a limited palette of sounds to be quite inspiring, so the inherent limitations of hardware gear can paradoxically be liberating.

Nathan’s pedalboard of tactility

That said, I would love a virtual version of my pedalboard so I could try out different setups without having to tear the whole thing apart!

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

I recently sold my Walrus Audio Slö reverb pedal and replaced it with a Meris Mercury7. Although I really like the expansive stereo sound of the Mercury7, I definitely prefer the modulation on the Slö. It has a unique dreamy quality which is perfect for lo-fi reverbs and woozy textures. I would rebuy it in a heartbeat if they ever made a stereo version with a random LFO mode

Sovtek Big Muff

My biggest gear regret is not looking after my Sovtek Big Muff. Unfortunately it’s been battered from years of gigging and no longer has the original knobs or switch. It’s just too temperamental to use regularly in my setup now.

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

Roland JU-06A

I’ve been really inspired by the Roland JU-06A synth over the past year, it’s the synth I come back to most often. I love the range of sounds, the simplicity of patch design and its compact size. Roland did a great job replicating that classic Juno sound in a small and affordable package. I also get a lot of inspiration from my humble Boss RC202 loop station. I love working with loops and layers, and the RC202 offers a good balance of features and usability. All of my tracks begin as loops, and I wouldn’t know where to start without my RC202.

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

This is a bit of a cop out, but if I had to start over I would probably start with some guitar and piano lessons! I’m completely self-taught, so I sometimes feel a little limited by my technical skills. To answer the question more directly, if I was starting over with electronic music production I would probably begin with an Arturia Microfreak.

Arturia Microfreak

Due to the wide range of features and relatively low price, it’s a great introduction to hardware synthesis. The keybed isn’t for everyone, but the range of synth engines, the intuitive modulation matrix and the analogue filter make it incredibly good value. If it had built-in FX it would be the total package. Although I don’t use mine much anymore, I still consider it to be a modern classic.

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

As much as I love my Elektron Digitakt, it can be a real pain to use sometimes! There are a lot of functions which are not immediately apparent, and it takes time to learn how to use it properly.

Elektron Digitakt

I actually prefer the usability of its little brother, the Model:Samples, but the additional features of the Digitakt make it substantially more powerful. It’s basically the brain of my setup, even though I probably don’t use it to its full potential. Elektron have done a great job with software updates over the years and have added a number of clever features, like the secondary LFO.

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

The Expression Ramper by Old Blood Noise Endeavours is a deceptively versatile pedal, which offers a unique approach to expression control. There are so many ways to use this tiny pedal to drastically change how other pedals work.

Expression Ramper by Old Blood Noise Endeavours

My favourite trick is to use the Expression Ramper to control the pitch parameter on the Red Panda Particle v2. Whilst in reverse mode it creates a fantastic reverse pitch-shift effect which cascades with the delay repeats.


Artist or Band name?

Accelerator Jengold.

Genre?

A mix of lofi, synthwave, dreampop and shoegaze.

Selfie?

Nathan

Where are you from?

North Wales, UK.

How did you get into music?

Music has always been an important part of my life; I’m thankful that my parents and brother introduced me to artists like The Cure, Radiohead, Tom Waits, Massive Attack, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Brian Eno. I took up bass when I was a teenager and played in a few post-rock and post-metal bands whilst in University. I later moved into electronic music production using software like Reason, and then got into hardware gear with an Arturia Microbrute (which I sadly no longer own).

What still drives you to make music?

I’ve always enjoyed being creative and having a musical outlet helps me to cope with stress and anxiety. I like having a way to express how I feel, even if I don’t always understand my own thoughts and feelings – which probably explains why most of my music has a downbeat or melancholy vibe. Producing something tangible from my creativity, like a finished song or EP, is a big driver for me.
I think this is linked to my preference for tactile music production; using software feels too ephemeral to me. I love conceptual music and take inspiration from a wide range of books, films and other media when writing. Short-form jams on Instagram are my primary output, so I’m super inspired by other artists with a similar approach like Andrew Black, Joshua Dowell and Simon Von Walbrook. I’m really proud to have had my music featured on microbiology posts by Chloe Savard and Penny Fenton, and I would love to produce more music for other media.

How do you most often start a new track?

I typically start with sound design, either creating a unique guitar sound using various FX or developing a new synth patch. I’ll then loop a simple melody and experiment with different layers until it feels right. Sometimes I focus on the melody, other times I focus more on the overall vibe, it just depends on the individual track. Percussion usually comes last so I can choose samples and rhythms to fit the music. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

Most of my music is based around looping and building layers of melody, so an important skill is knowing when to stop. When I can remove a layer and the track sounds better, it’s probably finished! If I get stuck on a track I’ll take a break for a few days and then come back to it with a fresh perspective. My least favourite part of making music is mastering, so I’ve developed a couple of mastering templates in my DAW to help speed up the process and remove some layers of indecision. For official releases on Spotify (etc.) I rely on my good friend Chris Walker, who always does a great job fixing up my masters.

Show us your current studio

Synths, samplers and loopers

My setup is in a tiny office/walk-in wardrobe in my house, but it has pretty much everything I need. I’m planning to add an analogue synth at some point (like a Pro-1 or Minilogue) and a Colour Palette electronic kalimba by Lottie Canto.

Studio desk

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I’m going to echo what Dev Bhat (Shipwreck Detective) said in his interview for this blog: “keep it simple, stupid!” This really resonates with my own approach to writing music. There’s a skill to communicating an emotion, theme or concept in an honest and direct manner without resorting to cliché. I like to embrace simplicity and try to express myself with a limited number of components.
An important part of being creative is trusting your instincts and not focusing too much on what does or doesn’t work in theory – theory should be used to help us translate and communicate our ideas rather than to provide a rigid framework for them.

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

I regularly post jams on Instagram (@accelerator.jengold), so that’s the best place to keep up to date with what I’m doing. My music is also available on most streaming platforms, just search for Accelerator Jengold. My latest EP, Pyre, came out last year and is full of weirdo synthwave tunes, go check it out! I’m currently working on a new EP and some upcoming collaborations. Thanks!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/accelerator.jengold/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0KrYUaPA2BsqVMiDCVmywM?si=ZJdIN-wDS4-J0UdkHjEWsA

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/acceleratorjengold


Søren Lemmike – Russian Corvette

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

The freq fader on the VCF section of my SH-101. Riding the cutoff frequency on that synth is just such nice squelchy acid techno sound that’s been used on many classic records. It was also the first analog synth I got and the one I learned basic synthesis on. Most synths have a big old knob for cutoff control these days, but I like that the SH-101 is all faders.

[Editor: Yeah, I like how faders are easier to read visually too]

Roland SH101

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

The Elektron Digitakt is great, but I would like to see a bandpass filter, an extra LFO and maybe some more sequencer playback options like reverse and random etc. Maybe we will get it a firmware update some day.

Elektron Digitakt

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

On holiday I would bring a Model:Samples – still waiting for that battery handle so I can make beats while I sip drinks in the swimming pool, haha.

Elektron Model:Samples

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

It would be cool to have Madrona Labs Aalto as a hardware synth, preferably Eurorack-compatible. The sound and design of Aalto is inspired by a Buchla synthesizer, so it could actually make sense in hardware form. It’s just a lovely sounding synth and the patchable UI is great fun. Seems like most hardware has been ported to software already whether it be, pre-amps, tape machines, fx units or guitar amps – a lot them sound great.

Madrona Labs Aalto

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

I regret selling my Fostex 280 4-track cassette recorder. I still have a bunch of old tapes in the basement with recordings of songs and demos that would be fun to have a listen to today. I regularly check the market for used ones, but seems like they’re either too expensive or too hard to get a hold of these days. The demand seems to be high so maybe it’s time Fostex, Yamaha or Tascam start up production again?

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

For any genre I would say the electric guitar. Specifically for electronic music I would say a computer with Ableton Live. I switched from Logic to Ableton back in 2003 and from getting ideas down to a final track, I think this setup has led me to produce the most music. I do think it’s healthy to shake things up now and then and try new ways of working. I recently setup a couple of small hardware only workspaces in the corners of my room just to get my eyes away from the computer screen and see what happens. One is based around a modular setup and the other one is based around some drum machines and analog monosynths.

Hardware setup with monosynths and drum machines
Modular setup
Modular setup from a swish angle

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

A computer or maybe a sampler. When I upgraded from the multitrack cassette recorder I bought this Roland VS-1680 harddisk recorder, which I used for a long time. It was ok, but quite clunky and difficult to edit recordings. Looking back I should have just have skipped it and gone with a computer and good soundcard, but computer/software and soundcard solutions were kind a of new thing then and not that stable back then.

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

I have this Roland GI-10 guitar to midi interface which has terrible tracking. You listen back to the recorded midi file of your performance and it has all these random ghost notes that you didn’t even play on the guitar. It’s quite annoying to have to sit and clean up the file afterwards, but it’s also just fun playing synths and triggering samplers from guitar. You just have to kind of embrace the chaos or play really clean with it.

Roland GI-10

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

Generally I am fascinated by distortion and how it can either subtly or radically change the timbre or transients of a sound. Instead of making synth sounds with standard saw/square-waves I like waveshaping a basic sinewave and see what comes out. Instead of grabbing a compressor to treat the transients on drums I might try distorting them instead.  Not really a musical tip, but I was pleasantly surprised that you can twist the voice mode knob while powering on to play a video game on a Korg Minilogue. Easter eggs are cool.

[Editor: WUUUUT?!!!]

Korg Minilogue startup game

Artist or Band name?

Russian Corvette.

Genre?

I try to avoid sticking to genres.

Selfie?

Søren Lemmike aka. Russian Corvette

Where are you from?

Copenhagen, Denmark

How did you get into music?

My dad had a classical guitar hanging on the wall in the house I grew up in. I just picked it up one day and tried to figure out how to play it by playing along to records I liked. I think I was about thirteen years old. The year after I got an electric guitar and a 4-track cassette recorded and started recording my own sounds.

What still drives you to make music?

I just find it exciting, entertaining and fun. I get really restless if I cant make music on a regular basis in some way or form. It’s like stepping into an unknown fantasy world. Especially working with electronic music, there is so still so much new ground to cover and new stuff to learn, it never gets boring.

How do you most often start a new track?

Usually it will be a sound that grabs my attention and that inspires me to build a track up around it. The initial sound or idea can come from anywhere really, but usually it will come from a synth, guitar, field recording or sounds in nature. If it’s a techno/electro track it will usually start with a beat made on a drum machine or Ableton.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I try to trust my intuition to tell me when a track is finished.

If I feel like it’s not getting better when working on it or if I get bored with it, it’s usually a good time to let it sit and come back to it later – lot’s of times it will sound finished after letting it rest a while.

Setting up predefined rules, such as max number of tracks, only live recordings, no overdubs etc. or a deadline can be helpful too.

Show us your current studio

Home studio desk

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Not sure if it was meant as creative advice, but as Da Vinci said, art is never finished, only abandoned.

I think what he is saying is to don’t expect everything you do to be a masterpiece and remember to enjoy the process of creating, as least that’s how I interpret it.

Some other good ones: think outside the box, challenge your ideals and try to do things the wrong way once in a while.

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

Here’s an ambient thing I did with the Neutron synth while I was beta-testing Aaltoverb

[Editor: Do you have any tips, tricks or fun techniques with any of the gear mentioned in this interview? 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…
]