Paul Talos – Signal Soundlabs

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

Make Noise Morphagene

Lately, it’s been the Vari-Speed knob on the Morphagene. It’s really incredible how something as simple as changing the speed and pitch of a sound can turn it into something completely unrecognizable. Things get even more interesting when you start reversing things too. You really end up discovering all kinds of sounds within sounds that you never really would have thought were there, especially when slowing samples down. Gotta love the wonderful world of microsound.

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

Moog Subsequent 37

The closest thing for me would be my Moog Subsequent 37. It just puts so much sound design power at your fingertips, you almost don’t need anything else. Between having one of my favorite filters, two different kinds of distortion, and plenty of modulation options, there’s enough in there to make a lifetime’s worth of music. It may not be as infinitely versatile as my eurorack setup, but there’s a certain immediacy about it that allows me to get what I need out of it very quickly. The only thing that could possibly make it even better is if it had voltage control over more of the parameters. I actually really regret not jumping on the CV version while they were still making those, as that would have been as close to perfect as you can get.

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

Moog Mother-32

I can’t say I do much traveling with my gear, as my setup wasn’t exactly designed with mobility in mind. But I guess if I were to bring anything, it would be my Moog Mother-32. Not only is it one of my more compact instruments, but I find its limitations to be pretty inspiring. It’s a surprisingly deep instrument and can yield some very unexpected results with a bit of clever patching. I often feel like I’m just scratching the surface of what it can do, so I suppose traveling with it would really force me to get everything I can out of it.

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

Spectrasonics Omnisphere

I really wish there was some kind of hardware version of Spectrasonics Omnisphere. It’s such a useful instrument when scoring for a film, especially for creating cinematic soundscapes. It’s one of the few VST instruments I find myself going back to time and time again. If they made a hardware version with some CV control over the parameters, I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Of course, with the size of the library being what it is, I’m sure it would be incredibly impractical to actually implement in hardware form, much less in eurorack format.

Walrus Audio Descent

On the flip side, I’d love a plugin version of my Walrus Audio Descent reverb pedal. I use the shimmer mode on that pedal quite a bit to add an almost choir-like quality to synths, and would love to have multiple software instances to use throughout a mix. Sure, there are ways of creating a similar sound using other software (the Descent is digital after all) but the pitch shifting on this pedal has a very particular, kind of unnatural sound to it. Hard to describe, but it definitely has a tone and I haven’t really come across anything else that sounds quite like it.

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

Korg MS-20 mini

I sold my Korg MS-20 mini when I first started diving into eurorack. At the time, I figured it didn’t make sense to have a semi-modular synth that didn’t speak Volt per Octave and was looking to get some cash to finance the beginnings of my modular (I believe I ended up buying a Maths with the money I made). But over time I realized just how much I missed those oscillators and filters. It’s such a unique instrument, and much like the Mother-32, it just has a very inspiring set of limitations. So last year, I actually ended up buying it again and will never repeat the mistake of selling it.

Arturia Minibrute 2S

As far as buyer’s remorse on a piece of gear, I bought an Arturia Minibrute 2S when they first came out and had some regrets on that one. The synth voice itself is phenomenal, and the ability to integrate it with eurorack really enhanced the functionality of my existing modular system. But I never got into a good flow with the sequencer. As someone with a background in music theory, I found it really difficult to visualize musical intervals due to its lack of a traditional keyboard. So I eventually ended up selling it and getting the keyboard version instead. Been loving it ever since.

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

Signal SoundLabs Eurorack

Lately, my eurorack rig has been the most consistent source of inspiration. I made some upgrades to it recently, and after about three years of buying and selling modules, I finally feel like I have most of the puzzle pieces in place. Modular synthesis definitely has an element of unpredictability, feels like these modules have a will of their own sometimes and I’m just along for the ride.
It really is a happy accident machine. The downside is it can be a bit difficult to tame, especially when working on music that is synced to visuals. But lately I’ve managed to find a workflow that has been very effective for film music. The key was to start recording everything I did on the modular and then spending some time editing to pick out all the best parts. The editing can be time consuming, but I find myself getting faster and faster with patching so it all evens out. Overall, I just find it more inspiring to capture a bunch of audio from the modular and then work by subtraction rather than addition.

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

If I had to start again, I’d probably get the most powerful computer I could afford, along with a copy of Cubase, a Universal Audio Apollo Twin, and some kind of semi-modular synth like the Minibrute 2. A basic rig like this would cover pretty much all the essentials, while combining a tactile hardware workflow with plenty of digital flexibility.

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

Mutable Instruments Clouds

Hard to say, but I guess I kind of have a love/hate relationship with my Mutable Instruments Clouds module. I rely on it pretty heavily when it comes to making any kind of ambient drone patch, but I find it rather annoying having to remember what all the controls do in its various different modes. Having installed the Parasite firmware really didn’t help with that either. That said, I came across an iOS app called Modes that acts as a nice cheat sheet for some multi-function modules, so I’m definitely not pulling my hair out as much as before. As much as I have a few gripes with Clouds, it really brings a lot to the table and has become pretty much irreplaceable in my rack.

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

Chase Bliss MOOD

I’ve recently been getting more and more into processing audio from Cubase using effects pedals. Plug-ins can be great, particularly for utility functions like EQ, but nowadays there are so many unique pedals out there, it feels like a shame not to use them to process in-the-box sounds as well. I’ve been doing this a lot with my Chase Bliss MOOD pedal in particular, which lets me grab a short slice of audio from the DAW and transform it in all kinds of quirky and interesting ways. Lately, whenever I get stuck on a track, I’ll start feeding random audio into MOOD (unused takes from the modular work particularly well) just to see what happens. It’s a great way to get myself out of a creative rut.


Artist or Band name?

Paul Talos

Genre?

Cinematic Electronica. I’ve never been sure how to categorize my music exactly, so eventually I just made something up. I think it sums things up pretty nicely.

Selfie?

Paul Talos

Where are you from?

Born in Germany, grew up in Boston, MA. Currently living in Philadelphia, PA.

How did you get into music?

I started playing electric guitar around the age of ten and started experimenting with home recording on a laptop when I was a teenager. After high school, I spent some time at Berklee College of Music studying guitar and discovered a love of synthesis and all things electronic music shortly after that.

What still drives you to make music?

Music’s become my job over the last few years, so a paycheck is definitely one thing that drives me. But more importantly, I constantly find myself inspired by just listening to other people’s music and trying to deconstruct what I’m hearing. I’ve come across some very interesting synthesis and production techniques just by trying (and usually failing) to emulate something I heard somewhere else.

How do you most often start a new track?

As a film composer, the answer to that question really varies from project to project. Production timelines and deadlines can be vastly different from one film to the next, so sometimes it might be starting a new track every day, other times I’ll write two or three a week. I do try to spend some time every day just to make some kind of noise though, usually on the modular. I find that synthesis is a skill that really needs to be maintained, otherwise it just gets harder the longer you are away from it. So regardless of what I’m working on, I try to squeeze in some synth time at least once a day, so I don’t get too rusty.

How do you know when a track is finished?

It really never is, but once the deadline hits it’s usually good enough. Honestly, if I didn’t have deadlines of some sort, I’m not sure I would ever finish anything. 

Show us your current studio

Signal SoundLabs studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

This one kind of relates to one of the other questions about finishing tracks. I took this music production class in college, and the professor said something one day that really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of this: A mix is never done, you just stop working on it eventually. To hear that from a professional in the industry was incredibly reassuring at the time. I think it’s something that applies not only to a mix, but to music making in general. Nothing is ever truly finished and that’s okay.

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

Back in July, I released my score for a short thriller film called ‘Just Like You.’ The score is available on all streaming platforms. Links below.

Just Like You (Spotify)

https://music.apple.com/us/album/just-like-you-original-score-ep/1521324795

https://paultalos.bandcamp.com/releases


[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…
]


Andreas Hald – Playful Filmic Composer

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

Roland Space Echo RE-201

Ahh, that’s a tough one – there are so many! But – I like big knobs and I can not lie – so I’ll have to go with the Mode Selector on my Space Echo RE-201. It’s big and clicky, and it sits on one of my absolute favorite piece of gear. Sometimes I just turn it on so that I can hear the tape whistling around in there. So great.

[Editor: Possibly the greatest knob on the greatest fx ever]

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

I don’t think so. What comes the closest, is my old trusty Juno-60. To me, it’s the most musical sounding synth I know of. It’s perfect with all its imperfections. Warm and noisy – “brown- and round-sounding” to be cliche, it so inspiring to turn on. Instant greatness. It would be fun to add some of the features from a modern synth like the Prophet 6, but again – the limitations that this (and others) instrument has, is what I like about it and keeps my fluids going. In my line of work I need limitations, so I welcome them.

Roland Juno-60

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

Well, back in the days I always towed a guitar, amp and ALL of my pedals to any vacation, but ending up not really playing it. So I don’t bring that much anymore. It’s more than often an instrument or synth of a kind that I want to check out further and haven’t had the time to do so. On my last holiday I ended up bringing my cello and a drum machine. I have this weird sickness, that I can only do proper work in my studio, so I try to avoid working elsewhere and don’t bring computer or anything. I need too much hardware to do my work.

Prophet 6 and Juno-60

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

In software to hardware – Xils 4, an “Analog Matrix Modular Synthesizer” from Xils Lab. Would love to have that as an enormous beast in the studio. I love that plugin, but mainly use my (hardware)modular synth now. But that plugin tickled me in all the right places. I’m really a big fan of hardware, so I wish that all software was hardware and that we from birth learned to write music on paper and record on tape ;-). That being said, I’m obviously a slave of the modern world.

Xils 4 VSTi

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

I only think I’ve sold three pieces of gear actually, and I regret all three. A Fender Hot Rod Deville 4×10 amplifier. A Bogner Shiva head amplifier and a Custom made Fender Stratocaster. Especially selling the Fender amp is a regret. I’ve listened to some recordings from back in the days when I had that, and it sounded awesome. I sold it to buy the much more expensive Bogner, which I then also sold. So because of that, I’m never selling anything again. I still have a Bogner amp though, and I’ll post a picture of it – just because it’s so cool looking. Can’t think of any regrets in buying.

Bogner amp

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

Pianos. There’s something incredibly satisfying in playing a real piano. Hard to beat. Instantly something sounds as proper music. I haven’t always had a piano at a studio, but I have now – and I would love to get a Grand Piano one day. But for now, I’m really digging the intimate and noisy sound from this upright. Just got it serviced, and it’s so good now.

Upright piano

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

Hmm. Good one. A cello or a pedal steel guitar. I want to be good at those and would (now) have loved to have played something else, that every kid on the block didn’t also play (guitar). I would also tell myself to buy the best equipment. Quality over quantity. I have a pedal steel with humbucker now and love the sound of it.

Cello

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

Maybe my Kemper Profiler. I use it all the time and love and adore it, even though I should record amps instead. I do both, but the Kemper is just so convenient. It just looks cheap – like it jumped out of the 90’s – and the menu scrolling is horrific. But sound and work-wise: Love it. I could add my computer to the list. Love/hate relationship – but I just can’t live without it.

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

Hardly a trick – but making my monophonic Korg MS-20 sound like an awesome stereo synth by using the headphone out in the external signal processor and then having two outputs from it, to plug into a mixer with panning possibilities and adding effects. Great revolution for me personally. I used that synth ALL THE TIME on a feature Netflix movie.


Artist or Band name?

Andreas Hald, composer for film and media. NBrigade – music teams for film, television and games.

Genre?

Filmmusic (which means all kind of weird genre-less music).

Selfie?

I don’t do selfies, but here’s a picture of me playing the pedalsteel!

Pedal Steel and film composer Andreas Hald’s silhouette

Where are you from?

Skagen, the very top of Denmark. Very small town.

How did you get into music?

Started playing rock music with a buddy when we’re 10, renting our own rehearsal space when we were 13 (one where we could do parties, drink beers and skip school without our parents noticing).We discovered and experimented with music together, and I’ve never let go of it. 

What still drives you to make music?

The moments with zen-like qualities that you can’t get elsewhere. They don’t occur daily, but when they do – it all makes sense. 

How do you most often start a new track?

With a weird sound created on a synth. Other times at the piano.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I’m passed deadline. I need the deadlines.

[Editor: I also like the wooshing sound they make as they go by]

Show us your current studio

Here you go, a few pictures of studio and gear. My modular synth setup is connected with my guitar pedals most of the time, and i use Intellijell modules to do that. I didn’t have a 1 unit space in my rack, so I drilled them into a plate myself.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“No matter how good you get, there’s alway ten Swedes better than you”.

[Editor: Ha!]

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

I’m currently working on two tv-series, one called Friheden ll (Pros and Cons) – which is the second season of a Viaplay Original series, and a series for DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) currently untitled.

Andreashald.com


[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…
]