Kim Bjorn – The Knobfather

[Editor: I’m very pleased to present to you this interview with a very inspiring person: Kim Bjørn, the author of the wonderful gear books – Patch&Tweak, Push Turn Move and Pedal Crush]

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

The mighty On/Off Button

The on/off button. It’s the portal to creativity. Seeing those gear-lights turning on catapults me into an adventurous state of exploration. But I love all knobs so much I could tweak them all day – and my old Sequential Pro-2 had these really nice and interactive pressure-sensitive touch strips.

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

The Moog Grandmother – I’d just replace the spring reverb with a shimmer reverb or a stereo delay. Actually, I did that, but using pedals. Then there’s the Teenage Engineering OP-1. I’ve had it for 8 years now. Add velocity sensitivity and aftertouch, 4 more tracks, multiple FX slots, and better in- and output options, and it’s a winner. However, imperfect bits of kit make for limitations, which usually spark creative thinking – or annoyance if you haven’t been eating for a while.

Moog Grandmother and Teenage Engineering OP-1

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

My OP-1, a book, iPad and/or laptop – I can cover any work or music gig – and it fits in my backpack. I never commute, go on holiday or tour – and I really can’t make music when I’m on an airplane. I’m usually traveling to a music tech convention, where I then bring my Intellijel 7U travel case with a selection of modules and a couple of pedals, for demonstration and maybe performance.

Kim’s Eurorack Modular

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

Spectrasonics Omnisphere as a hardware synth would be amazing. The Sequential Prophet-X is somewhat there, and with a built-in 8-track sequencer/recorder and multitimbrality, it would be amazing. There’s also a lot of VCV-Rack modules that are far more experimental than current Eurorack modules, and would be nice to have as hardware. I’ve never really wanted any hardware in software-form, but having vintage and/or expensive synths in a software version is a really nice option if you can’t afford the real thing (what is “real” anyway?).

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

I miss my old Elektron Octatrack, but the mkII version is not enough to make me re-purchase – I’ll wait for a MkIII miracle. But like Amy Winehouse and William Shatner, I usually don’t regret anything. 

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

It really depends on how you define the concepts of producing and music. I get inspired by almost every piece of gear to at least produce a squeaky noise. Of course, there’s some that invite towards more jamming, like my TR-8S drum machine, or noodling and creating evolving soundscapes and sequences, like with the modular system. The Elektron sequencing interface has always been a favorite of mine – and even more so with the probability options. The Furthrrr Generator, Squarp Hermod modular sequencer, Arturia Microfreak, Moog Grandmother, and the Chase Bliss Audio Blooper pedal, are among my top-inspiring friends at the moment though.

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

A job. That’s what I did back then. After that, I’d get a Moog One and an 8-track tape recorder. You’d never see me again.

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

Snyderphonics Manta
Snyderphonics Manta

I think I sold it – so apparently I can live without it. However, I love my Snyderphonics Manta, but can never remember which hexagons hold what. I guess it leads to what some call improvisation.

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

Teenage Engineering OP-1

I don’t know if it’s surprising, but the first time I ran notes from the OP-1’s Tombola sequencer into a reverb 100% wet to create an evolving soundscape/pad, I got so excited I went out and bought myself a Snickers bar.

Artist or Band name?
Kim Bjørn / Dreamhub


Can’t find my selfie-stick.

Where are you from?
Copenhagen, Denmark

How did you get into music?
Took piano lessons from age 7, then got an organ and a 4-track tape recorder. The rest is unclear. 

What still drives you to make music?
Curiosity. “What if..?”

How do you most often start a new track?
Dabbling around with no purpose, then grabs a line, sound or sequence. 

How do you know when a track is finished?
When there’s nothing left to take away. Or if I fall asleep while re-listening – it’s ambient after all.

Show us your current studio
I don’t really have one – but there’s some stuff on a table:

Kim Bjørn

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera”.
Translate this to the musical world, and lo and behold…

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

Pedal Crush – The wonderful book by Kim Bjørn and Scott Harper

[Editor: Kim, in his humble way, simply offered one link to his latest book Pedal Crush. But trust me, his other books Patch&Tweak and Push Turn Move are equally excellent. Go get’em here.
Kim’s ambient music can be found here on bandcamp

[Editor: Do you have one of Kim’s books? Which one and why? Leave a comment]