Mikael Tobias – ResonanTechno

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

After much deliberation, I’m gonna go with the volume knob on my 80’s Japanese Fender Precision Bass. Something about the textured metal just feels so solid and badass.

MIJ Fender P Bass Volume knob

Honourable mention goes to the knobs on the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor for their sheer monstrosity, which I get to use when I work at @SixBitDeep.

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

Every piece of kit is perfect just the way it is =D

VervilleAudio MDC-1

Ok, actually I’ll shout out my homies at @VervilleAudio for their MDC-1 which is a hand-made 2-channel Variable Mu tube compressor on steroids plus 2 preamp channels. I have a Beta version which sounds incredible, but I’ve been in close contact with them discussing some minor improvements (mostly just the interface) and I think the next version will be close to perfect! These guys are developing some amazing gear in Montreal.

VervilleAudio MDC-1

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

The last tour I did was a solo one around Europe and the UK. I was taking planes, trains and busses everywhere, so I needed a really compact setup. Laptop, small RME FF400 interface and Novation Launch Control XL controller (+ some vinyl and extra clothes) in a backpack and my lap steel guitar and a few pedals in a soft gig bag (actually a rifle case!)

Gibson Lapsteel in a rifle case
Rifle softcase

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

Hardware sequencer Faderfox SC4

I don’t find myself wishing this very often. A lot of the software I love is already great emulations of hardware, and generally when I’m using hardware it’s because I want to have my hands on something other than the mouse. Having rare and expensive hardware reverbs and compressors easily available in the form of plugins is a godsend! And conversely, there are so many software sequencers, but I always seem to get more interesting results when I use a hardware sequencer. So I guess the short answer is no 🙂

Hardware sequencer Akai MPC1000
Hardware sequencer Arturia Beatstep Pro

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

When I moved to Copenhagen from Montreal I had to sell a ton of stuff, and while sometimes it’s nice to do a purge and move on, I sure do miss the amps I had. There was a Traynor YBA-1 head with this awesome old Peavey cabinet that was painted white and that I put a vintage 15” Jensen speaker in. And the love of my life was a Music Man 210HD One Thirty. One of the guys from Arcade Fire once asked if they could buy it from me and I said no. 

Traynor YBA-1 with Peavey cabinet

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

Sennheiser MD211
Electro Voice RE15

Probably getting a new microphone. Whenever I pick up a new mic, I immediately want to hear how it sounds on different sources, and putting myself into that engineer mindset always makes me feel super creative. A new instrument has a similar effect. When I got my Korg Mono/Poly I did a pretty deep dive and got really inspired with the sounds it can make. That thing is all over my new album.

Korg Mono/Poly

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

That’s a tough one because I started with a guitar (a cheap copy of a Gibson Les Paul) then an amp, then a wah pedal, and I don’t think I’d change that course of events. But in the early 2000’s I had a friend who sold all his keyboards. He had a Rhodes MKI, a Roland JX-3P and a Korg MS-10. I bought the Rhodes and 2 of my friends each bought one of the synths… all for dirt cheap. I wish I had taken the MS-10 instead of the Rhodes (I can’t play piano for shit) but synths were such a mystery to me then. My homie still has it though so at least it’s in the family.

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

Getting on the case

CASES! Rack case, road cases, instrument cases etc…It’s such a juggling act to set up a studio that’s ergonomic and makes good use of available space. I feel like I’m on a never-ending quest to find the best compromises between a great setup that’s easy and inspiring to work in, and portability (if I need to take some gear on location or on tour, etc…). And all the seldom-used cases take up so much space, but, like what do I do when I need to take my synth somewhere once every 2 years?!?!

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

It’s not actually about the gear, it’s all about what you do with it.


Artist or Band name?

Mikael Tobias

Genre?

Ambient / Post-Rock / Neo-Classical / Experimental Techno

Selfie?

Mikael Tobias

Where are you from? 

Toronto/Montréal Canada

How did you get into music?

My parents put me in guitar lessons for a year when I was 10, then I essentially taught myself the rest.

What still drives you to make music?

Some kind of burning inner demon, I mean a compulsion to create, to experiment, to push boundaries. Music has given me so many of the most visceral and emotional experiences of my life and I’m very interested in all the ways sound can affect us, both physically and emotionally. So there is a constant quest that I can’t imagine ever coming to completion.

How do you most often start a new track?

Generally with some kind of “play.” If I can lose myself and not worry about how productive I’m being or what I’m doing this “for” that is when I feel like I’m accessing real creativity. So being in the moments and just playing is often how my tracks begin. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

Some kind of combination of utter mental exhaustion, and 1 or 2 re-scheduled self-imposed deadlines.

Show us your current studio

A leopard skin chair is essential…. for those vibes
FX and Pedals
Stacks and Racks
Guitars and Synths living together in harmony

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

If you’re getting stuck, grab an instrument that you don’t know how to play. It breaks you out of the confines of muscle memory and patterns you’ve developed and it opens up creative doors that you probably didn’t know were closed.

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

My new album APERTURE:

https://mikaeltobias.bandcamp.com/album/aperture


Only Ruin- Austin White

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

This is a tough one. I’m a sucker for filter sweeps, and I think currently my favorite filter is on the new Prophet 5 (Rev 4) so I’ll have to go with the cutoff knob on that. Honorable mention to the Dry/Wet on the OTO Bam, though. Fully wet on the Bam in ambient mode is heaven.

Prophet 5

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

There are a few pieces that come to mind where one little thing is missing that would just suit my workflow perfectly, but generally that’s what I love about working with hardware – finding the way around those things. Like the (new Korg) ARP 2600 would be absolutely perfect if it had like 2 or 3 more patch points to sent gate/cv in other places, but not having those makes me think more creatively. Also, that’s one of the things I love about eurorack, if it’s missing just add another module.

Arp 2600 with Make Noise 0-Ctrl

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

For travel in the past it’s been a small eurorack case, like 48 hp or something, and a drum machine – usually the Elektron model cycles. But now it’s the Polyend Tracker. I rarely leave home without it. Touring or gigging can be a bit different, I’ll usually want a bigger eurorack case (usually my MDLR 6u 104 hp) and a sequencer of some sort (Tracker, 0-CTRL). Always my laptop, Ableton is there when all else fails.

PolyEnd Tracker

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

Honestly most of the plug-ins and software I use are based on actual hardware, so there’s not much that comes to mind. Sometimes I wish there was a more “player friendly” granular software, something like the Make Noise Morphagene.
That would make an incredible plug in.

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

It’s a constant process with hardware, so not really. Especially with eurorack, there are modules that I’ve bought and not been able to figure out, sold, and then bought again a year later and loved. The one area I have grown skeptical in is MIDI controllers. I’ve tried a few that I hated, like the Qu-Neo. Anything that requires drivers and software for mapping and all of these additional steps kind of drives me crazy. Especially for something that should be fairly straight forward, like a controller.

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

There have been phases of different gear inspiring a lot of music, but probably the Tracker. It’s just completely changed the way I make music and I love it. I’ve already released one EP of tracks all made with it, and I have at least one more that I’m basically done with. It’s just one of those things that I can’t seem to get bored with, and I’m always finding new stuff that I love about it.

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

Honestly I would probably just get Ableton and really dig in first. I had absolutely no understanding of synthesis when I first started getting in to eurorack, and then eventually other hardware. I think having the understanding of what’s happening lends itself to making better decisions as far as purchasing and adding the tools you want to be creative. But since this is an interview about gear, I’ll say the either the Tracker or a standalone modular system like the ARP 2600 or the Make Noise black and gold system.

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

cables

Cables. Audio and MIDI routing are the two things that are always going to be an issue when working with as much hardware as I do. I have everything set up in my studio now so it’s not an issue, but if I ever want to make a change it’s a whole thing. I moved recently and it was a nightmare reconfiguring my studio from scratch, but I’m happy with it for now.

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

Like I said earlier, when I first started with eurorack I knew nothing about synthesis, and very little about electronic music in general. So every time I become more familiar with a technique, it’s a bit surprising. All of the stuff that I’ve learned in modular synths translates to hardware synths, too. Now I find doing sound design on more traditional synths like the Prophet or the OB-6 to be really fun and challenging. Sometimes I get lost just trying to make good kicks on the OB-6 for a couple of hours. Maybe not the best use of my time, but it’s just a way I’ve found to explore a synth’s capabilities more.

Only Ruin eurorack

Artist or Band name?

Austin White aka Only Ruin

Genre?

Who knows? Genres are silly, and according to Spotify there are like 1000000 of
them. Dark ambient synth and break beat IDM?

Selfie?

Austin White aka. Only Ruin

Where are you from?

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY

How did you get into music?

I’ve been kind of obsessed with music since I was a kid. I started playing bass when I was pretty young, and got serious about it around 15 or so. I studied jazz and went to school for upright bass for a while. Before I got into producing electronic music, I was mainly playing improvised and experimental music.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s just what I do. Outside of my family, music is my entire life. It’s everything to me. I can’t imagine living without a creative output, and I’m eternally grateful that I don’t have to.

How do you most often start a new track?

A melody or a harmonic progression, sometimes a texture. Usually I’ll start writing on some kind of poly synth like the Prophet or the One, and then build from there. Recently I’ve been doing more writing on eurorack, where I’ll get some kind of semi-generative or evolving patch going and just resample in Ableton for a few minutes, then chop it up and find parts that I like.

Polysynths Moog One and Prophet 5

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t. I get sick of working on it, maybe. I’m terrible for not finishing things, or more accurately for getting a song to a point that I’m happy with it and then never releasing it because I’ve listened to it so much that I hate it. I have probably 3 or 4 full albums worth of material that I’m just sitting on, but it’ll get out there eventually.

Show us your studio

Only Ruin studio
Roland TB303 in blue
Roland TR909 in blue
500 series rack

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I studied with Reggie Workman a bit in college. Reggie is a legendary jazz musician who played with everybody (Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Coltrane), and he had a huge impact on me as a musician. Most of the advice he gave me as a bass player was about space – leaving space for everyone else to exist in the world that you’re creating together. A lot of that thought is just about playing music in a similar way to how you live your day life, drawing parallels between the person you are creatively and otherwise. Producing electronic music alone is a different thing entirely, but I still think about how to be honest with my output and stay connected to my own individual voice.

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

I have a bunch of music (hopefully) coming out soon, but in the meantime here’s some fairly recent stuff I’ve done :

Tracker EP :
https://soundcloud.com/onlyruin/sets/trackerep

Beach EP :
https://onlyruin.bandcamp.com/album/beach-ep

Distant EP :
https://open.spotify.com/album/4cEWslfdXskHswIpF96kTm?si=1TL6-
PowSA2YZRMzecxM6Q

Always posting jams on IG and YouTube as well, find me @onlyruin


[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…
]