Toto Ronzulli – Trumantic

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

Moog Cutoff filter

I really like the filter “cutoff” knob on my Minimoog Voyager. I love it because it’s so big and easy to use. It’s a pleasure to play with it anytime when you’re looking for the right filtering for your sound.

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

Ah… I think that easily changes over time. Hard to answer, but if I think of a “perfect effects kit” I say the trio Particle, Microcosm and Space. I’m using this combo heavily for my next record. I’m putting everything in it, from guitars to vocals and so on.

Red Panda Particle, Hologram Electronics Microcosm and Eventide Space

Many times I’ll throw in my Boss RE-20 Space Echo as well. Definitely changing over time is natural, so I would never want to have a “definitive kit”, especially when you start working on something new, changing something is a good way to be more creative.

Roland RE-20 Space Echo

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

During vacations I try not to think too much about music, but I always have with me my laptop with many vst, a small two octave midi keyboard by Korg and my Beyerdynamic heaadphones.

MacBook, midi keyboard and Beyerdynamic headphones

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

UAD Plugins

I have an Apollo rack unit from Universal Audio as my audio interface and it’s fantastic the quality of the included plug-ins, they sound so good and the sound is so hardware-like, I couldn’t ask for more in a way. Until a few days ago my dream was to get a Tascam Portastudio 414 MKII and it’s amazing that a soft-synths company called Robotic Bean has reproduced one and at such a low price, it sounds really great and I can’t wait to try it out. 

4 Track Cassette Tape

I love the endless possibilities of virtual instruments and their fidelity compared to hardware, but I would still love to get a Revox B 77 MKll to record anything onto tape and to add some wow/flutter turbulence and saturation to my songs. I love that recorder and will be buying one soon!

Revox B 77 MKll

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

I try to have “the essentials” in the studio, having a lot of equipment would be really nice, but it would confuse me during production and take up too much space. That’s why I choose my gear carefully, but I probably regret buying the Digital Multi Echo RE-1000 by BOSS. It’s a fun and uncontrollable unit because it doesn’t have the “rate” knob, but I use it so rarely and that’s why I think I can do without it. 

Boss Digital Multi Echo RE-1000

I regret selling my Roland Gaia, I didn’t love its “cold sound” but through a few pedals you could make it awesome. I miss its front panel because it was very intuitive, I had the ability to play out wacky sounds in minutes.

Roland Gaia

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

The equipment that has inspired me to write new music are many, but if I had to pick one I would probably say my Minimoog Voyager. 

Minimoog Voyager

Currently though, I’m using the Prophet Rev2 Desktop really heavily for everything, especially on my upcoming album. I love that sound and its polyphony so much.

Prophet Rev2 Desktop

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

UAD Apollo Soundcard

Probably an Apollo interface. It has infinitely improved my mixes, production and recording. I realized that many times it’s just not enough to have great synths or a ’65 guitar, if you don’t have a good audio interface with high definition sound in recording and post-production.

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

Furman M-10x E

The “Furman M-10x E” because it is bulky and has so many cables on the back of the desk! It’s also not fun, it only has an “on/off” switch (it has 2! haha) on the front panel. The reason I can’t do without it is pretty obvious. It saves the life of all my equipment all the time and I feel safer having it. I will be getting another one soon. I’ve always had bad experiences with the unstable electricity in my town, I remember the day after I bought the Voyager, oscillator number 3 had stopped working. It was frustrating to send back and still wait for a replacement. I have since decided to get a stabilizer and “Furman” does the job just fine.

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

Lately I’ve been testing a mixing technique that doesn’t require an acoustically treated room.

Just apply a VU meter to your daw’s master bus, play the kick around – 3 and gradually raise the bass until everything gets to 0, then mix everything else in. It may sound wrong but it sounds really good if you have good EQ on the low end. I also always test my mixes on a very small JBL to get a concrete reference of how the track sounds elsewhere. 

Tiny JBL speaker

I’ll add that I love to dirty some parts of my songs with lots of layers of backing tracks that go into different equipment and pedal combinations to create that “dreamy” atmosphere underneath a melody for example.

Dreamy fx pedals

Artist or Band name?

Truemantic

Genre?

Alternative / Indie / Electronica

Selfie?

Toto Ronzulli aka. Truemantic

Where are you from?

Margherita di Savoia, Puglia, Italy.

How did you get into music?

I was born in a club! At the end of the 80’s my father opened one and later in the 90’s it became very influential in southern Italy. Artists like “Afrika Bambaataa” were performing. I was born in ’94 and all this pushed me towards this direction. I remember when I was 4 years old my parents bought a toy drum set and I broke it by banging on the drums! Ahahah.
In the mid-nineties the club closed and reopened in 2006. All my teenage years were spent at the console with resident DJs and international guest artists like “Tony Humphries”. That’s why I started as a DJ and later as a musician, studying theory, solfeggio and practicing piano for years.

What still drives you to make music?

I realize that every time I sit in my room I feel so fascinated by the creative process. In a way I can’t describe the feeling I get, it may simply be an emotional state that drives me to create something new. Some days it’s frustrating to spend hours in the studio, other times it’s all I want. It’s like something you have inside that needs to be released!

How do you most often start a new track?

I hum and record with my smartphone a melody I have in my mind. Next, I sit in the studio and try to develop the theme. I think a film or book can influence my stylistic choices, but I also think the production is more of a “try and try again” in my studio.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I add final texture elements and not additional “tool track”.

Show us your current studio

Truemantic studio

It’s not a real studio really, but something like a room.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Create your own sound! It doesn’t matter how… Just do it!

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

https://truemantic.bandcamp.com/album/truemantic

https://margueriterecords.bandcamp.com/track/truemantic-destruction

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbws5Iz5TcKjS3iN7O_tMiw

My last two releases were 4 years ago and a lot has changed since then, from production to my setup! My first album ‘Truemantic’ came out in 2018 and my single ‘Destruction’ came out a year later. I’m currently working on my new album, concretely for about a year. There are so many amazing collaborations on it! I can’t wait to share it and play it live. I hope to stop by Copenhagen too!


Navin Kala – Pastoral Electronics

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

Roland RS-09

Right now, the RS09 Tuning knob. I like the little struggle that happens inside our brain when a note is slowly approaching the “tuned” area.
Five months ago, was the Grandmother cutoff filter, it’s addictive, I guess they know it and that’s why they made it so big.

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

Gibson EH150 lap steel

My Gibson EH150 lap steel, from 1937. It’s 84 years old and sounds like it has always been here and always will. I feel inspired just by looking at her. And I’m not a guitar player myself, just an aficionado. It makes me wonder how my Digitakt is going to look in 84, by the year 2104.

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

If I have to leave home, I’ll take the iRig2, the reface CP, and the garage band on my phone. It’s a frustrating experience though, it reminds me how little is needed to make music technically acceptable nowadays.

iRig, Yamaha Reface and cat

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

Studio desk and racks

I don’t use software. Two months ago, I bought Reaper, but I’m using it strictly as a multitrack recorder. Paired with the Softube Fader, so I can have a more tactile experience.
Don’t get me wrong, plugins and VST are as good, and many times better than the real thing. But when I see my studio with all the gadgets, I feel inspired to play. If instead, I see a computer screen, I don’t feel the call at all.
It’s like masturbating versus having sex, you’ll reach the same level of satisfaction. But you’ll miss the joy of the process. Although it will be less tiring, that’s true.

[Editor: Literally I laughed out loud at this comparison…. it’s so true]

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

TC Electronic Finalizer

Due to logistics, I can’t sell anything. The post office is 100 km away and parcel companies are few, and they never find our house. If I was living in a city, I would definitely be selling stuff.
I do regret buying several things, one of them the TC finalizer, I still don’t know what it does. But there’s a small revelation in buying the wrong gear, you slowly find what is adequate for yourself, by elimination.

[Editor: I totally agree, this kinda process is also an essential part of learning and growing. The only thing, is that people get so bummed out by their regrets. Enjoy your regrets! You’ve learned something and it means you’re willing to take creative risk, so it’s all good (I actually just picked up a Finalizer too 🙂 haha)]

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

Piano and pussy

Just like others already answered on your blog, the piano. I sit in front of this massive primitive device, and there’s an instant communion. It’s like the whole mechanism is holding plenty of new songs, waiting for someone to take them out. It is an utter physical experience. And this is something I exclusively feel with the piano.

[Editor: Yup, I got that with the acoustic guitar]

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

I started years ago with Cakewalk and a Dx7, I don’t wish this on anybody. I suffered so much with the membrane buttons, and the menu written in extraterrestrial code. That was a huge technological wall between electronic music and me. And actually, that’s why I completely stopped making music in my first reincarnation. And also why choosing the right tools, for oneself, is pivotal in the engagement with music.
Today, I would buy the Korg Minilogue, functional, intuitive, and with a great sound. I don’t have one though.

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

Cables and patchbays

The Patchbay, but not the front side, the backside of course. It was a pain to set all the cables, but once it’s done, it makes everything much easier. Until you need to change some routing.

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

Korg Monologue

I like to use the Korg Monologue as an analog drum machine. I started diving into this thanks to Oscillator Sink’s rhythm collection on Korg’s site.


Artist or Band name?

Navin Kala

Genre?

I’m still experimenting and trying to find a comfortable place. Right now, this place must be somewhere between electronica with ambient and a bit of experimental.

Selfie?

Navin Kala

Where are you from?

Brazil, with mixed blood.

How did you get into music?

I began piano lessons as a child, it was either that or karate.
But it is extremely frustrating, learning with music you don’t like or feel. Stuff like “What Mozart composed when he was 5”. And I was 10, so it was like saying, you are retarded.

What still drives you to make music?

It makes me feel good, I know that without music I don’t feel fulfilled. Creativity, of any sort, sublimates our existence. This and the fact that I have a 70% of hearing loss, since a child, and at some point, I might lose it completely. I want to play as much music as I can before my only working ear falls under a functional threshold. Funny fact, Stereo does not exist in my universe.

[Editor: Damn good reason!]

How do you most often start a new track?

With Instagram, I force myself to make a post, like an exercise, a few every week. Each time with a different instrument. Something comes up. I see people’s reaction, and from there I decide if I keep working on the idea. Is like a focus group.
This first idea narrows down how the next instrument will interact, and so on. Limiting each time your options. I call it the Funnel Paradox. You begin with a universe of options, and as you add layers, these options decrease.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t have a rational answer to this. I have a big folder with tracks I’ve started. Some go a few years back. And I certainly know that they are not finished. But I don’t know what it takes for them to be completed. Paradoxically, when they are finished, I know they are. I suppose is easier when you work with a client, let’s say making a soundtrack. The deadlines will tell you when something is finished.

Show us your current studio

Navins Studio with a couch, patio doors and a hammock!

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I was thirteen years old, my piano teacher was pissed with me, again, because I wasn’t able to prepare the lessons before the class. Instead, I was procrastinating playing popular music (the concept of procrastination didn’t exist back then). He asked me eventually; “When you wake up every day, do you feel a compelling need to play the piano?” I said “Nope”.
And he replied; “Then you must find, quickly, something that you feel like doing daily. You’ll be a realized person.”
I quit piano lessons the next day. He was relieved.

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

My second album, Horse. Few months old. I hope you like it.

Navin Kala – Horse album

[Editor: Also check out Navins IG… it’s lovely. C’mon join the funnel paradox]


Colleen – See Silly Shot’s Synth Sounds

[Editor: I remember listening to The Golden Morning Breaks back in the mid 00’s and being completely mesmerized. It was and is for me personally an album that influenced me greatly and expanded the landscape of my musical interests. Therefore it’s with great, great pleasure that I can present this nerdy and odd interview with the artist Colleen]

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

Moogerfooger MF104M – Photo: Cecile Schott


This is a really tough one. I love switching in rhythm the short/long switch of the Moogeerfooger MF-104M analog delay, as it produces a change in tone (darker on the long setting, brighter on the short one) which can really sound amazing (you can hear this effect very clearly on my song “Holding Horses” from my album Captain of None).

Moogerfooger Grandmother – Photo: Cecile Schott

But I am also madly in love with opening and closing the cutoff knob on the filter of both the Moogerfooger Lowpass Filter and the Moog Grandmother: I love that this can be the subtlest, slowest rise to build tension and suspense (“Hidden in the Current” on my last album The Tunnel and the Clearing) or totally wild and angry (middle section of “Implosion-Explosion”, also on my last album). The expressive capacity of the Moog filters really leaves me speechless.

Moogerfooger MF 101 – Cecile Schott

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

Roland Space Echo Re201 and furry buddy – Cecile Schott

The Roland RE-201 Space Echo transforms sound in a truly magical way (when I first started using mine in December 2019, two images came to my mind: sending the sound on a space rocket into outer space, or having stardust sprinkled on the sounds). If it could magically be made to be 100% reliable for years without the need for revision, that would be incredible – then again, it goes against the very nature of its mechanism, so I know that this is a bit like asking for the weather to be perfect all the time: not possible.

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

Concert in Chiquita Room 23 May 2021 – Photo LiLINTERNA

Since I have decided to stop playing live for the foreseeable future and have only one last show planned abroad (Kingsplace, London), I will not have to think too much – except for that one show – about the conundrum of travelling internationally with heavy, fragile, vintage – and even super rare in the case of the Elka Drummer One – gear. Fully-working Drummer Ones for sale are so rare that you need to be on a waiting list if you are hoping to buy one, so if your unit is damaged, delayed, lost or stolen during travel, it would be impossible to find a replacement (in fact, had I decided to go on tour for this album, my plan was to order a digital custom replica of the Drummer One – which would also have been its own challenge to make).

Studio and cat buddy – Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo: Luis Torroja

For the last two albums, I had found a sweet spot in terms of making albums that were voluntarily restricted in terms of gear, but didn’t feel restrictive at all in terms of musical and sound possibilities, which meant I could go on tour on my own with all the necessary gear and play the albums live (something that was much harder to do, or even impossible, for my earlier work).

For Captain of None: treble viola da gamba + an array of various looping, delay and octaver pedals.

For A Flame my Love, a Frequency: 2 Critter and Guitari synth + 2 Moogerfoogers + Soundcraft mixing desk. However, that was hard to do physically, with me carrying more than half of my body weight across the world, and you’re never safe from delayed luggage, failing gear, etc.

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

Assembly in the DAW – Acid. Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo: Luis Torroja

Not really a software person myself: I must be one of very few professional musicians who are still using the Acid software to record their music, and these days I am using it purely as a recording and mixing device. On the last album I don’t use a single plugin, everything is played and recorded live through either my Soundcraft mixing desk or my Scarlett 18i20 Focusrite soundcard or both, with only a couple of minor edits where takes needed to be joined. The only exception to this very pure recording process is vocals, where I still need to join takes.

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

Not really: I always think and research for a really long time before buying anything, so usually I don’t have any bad surprises, and the opposite even happens: I’m so happy with my purchase that I wonder why I thought about it for so long! And because of this I usually don’t have to sell anything.

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

Impossible for me to reply to that, as truly every album I’ve made has been so different in terms of instrumentation. My 3rd and 4th album couldn’t have existed without my bass viola da gamba, my 4th and 5th without my treble viola da gamba. The Moogerfooger pedals – which I started to add from Captain of None onwards – were a real game changer for me, and in terms of electronics were my introduction to analogue gear, and that was a game changer.

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

I started making music with a simple classical guitar, and honestly, if I were to start over, I probably wouldn’t change anything: there is something humble and honest about an acoustic guitar that still resonates with me, even if I haven’t played one in years. It’s also beautiful that it doesn’t need electricity: should the planet get even worse than it is right now, I think that acoustic instruments and the human voice would play a great role in maintaining music-making alive.

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

Can’t think of any annoying piece of gear of mine, I love them all.

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

Not sure if it’s “surprising” as such, but Soundgas – from whom I bought both my Elka Drummer One and my Space Echo – give this tip of inserting a blank plug in the “from PA” input on the Space Echo in order to get a 100% wet signal, and that is so much better than just getting the mixed mono output, since you can then play with panning between your original dry sound source and the 100% wet signal, giving you a beautiful stereo field.

Elka Drummer One and Roland Space Echo – Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo Luis Torroja

Artist or Band name?

Colleen

Genre?

Proudly genreless. I honestly have no clue what my music is supposed to be called. It’s too pop to be experimental, too experimental to be pop; when I used only acoustic instruments but processed them, it was labelled “electronica”, but now that I truly make electronic music, I still think what I do doesn’t sound especially like “electronic music”. One thing I do know is that I make songs. So sometimes I just say “I make weird songs”.

Selfie?

Thanks but no thanks.

Workshop in Chiquita Room 23 May 2021 – Photo: LiLINTERNA

Where are you from?

Montargis, small French town 100 km south of Paris.

How did you get into music?

The Beatles’ “A day in the life” changed my life forever. I was about 13.

What still drives you to make music?

Undying love for it. The desire to see if I can still surprise myself. The desire to learn. Feeling like I actually contribute something useful to people other than myself, even if music is not really recognized as socially useful (I think that’s a mistake, and that music globally contributes to our mental health).

How do you most often start a new track?

Putting my hands on the instruments or gear.

Moogerfoogers – Photo: Cecile Schott

How do you know when a track is finished?

A combination of 3 inputs: one that is purely musical, the other two are: intellectual and emotional.

Show us your current studio

Colleen Studio – Photo: Cecile Schott

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Not creative advice as such, but more an analysis of the difficulties faced by artists, this 1927 quote by Brancusi: “It is not the work itself, it is to keep oneself in condition to do it, that is difficult.” So true at every level: emotional, physical, mental.

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

My 7th album The Tunnel and the Clearing, out on Thrill Jockey Records.

colleenplays.org
instagram.com/colleenplays
facebook.com/colleenplays

bandcamp.com/colleen


[Editor: Which artist has been a huge influence or inspiration to you? Answers in the comments]