Sascha Haber – Northern Light Modular

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

That one is easy… the knobs on my Tegeler Audio Manufaktur Schwerkraftmaschine.

Tegeler Audio Manufaktur Schwerkraftmaschine

I don’t have much outboard gear, but the Tegeler gear is simply outstanding.

They spend a good amount of practical engineering on those motorised pots and switches and seeing them turn while using the plugin is just magic.

And then you touch them during a session and they do not resist, but instead write the automation…

Wonderful german engineering 🙂 

Tegeler Audio Manufaktur Schwerkraftmaschine insides

2. What bit of music gear are you particularly proud of?

That is my TTSH/1601 combo… the piece of gear that started my soldering career i would say.
I always dreamt of owning and playing with an ARP 2600, and 6 or 7 years back there was no re-issues like today.

But then I hear about this swedish project that was around for a while and ordered a kit from Jon. Little did I knew what it takes to build an instrument! It took like 3 months and occupied most of the living room space all the time.

But there I started to invest in tools like a proper DMM, my first real soldering iron and a scope. I actually managed to finish the project, got it fully working and learned so much in the process.

So I started the Facebook group called TTSH and at some point I did a group buy and talked Behringer into selling us a few thousand fader caps.

TTSH/1601 combo

3. How do you see your gear in the landscape of music?

Very much as accessories to existing Buchla systems… like Akrapovic makes racing exhausts for Ducati, we make expansions for 4U systems.

When we started Northern Light Modular both Marc and I had a small DIY system.

Well, mine grew at that time as I built each and every kit that i could get my hands on and after a year I had a massive 24U system blinking at me.

But then we looked at things like the Ornaments and Crime, Temps Util or the offerings by Mutable Instruments at the time and thought, that kind of stuff is missing in the 4U world.

And instead of cross patching Euro to 4U we got in contact with Max, and Patrick and of course Emelie and looked into collaborations to port them into 4U.

The 2OC was our first project and at that time in 2017 very much a Euro module behind a 4U panel.

It took another year or two to adapt all the software to work properly in the 1,2V range, revert negative voltages and show proper values on the displays.

But it was a great time, 3D printers allowed us to experiment with front panels and making your own PCBs was exotic and fun.

2OC in 4U

4. What music has inspired you to produce this gear?

I am a sucker for Berlin synth school…Tangerine Dream etc.
The O_c is in my opinion the best multi tool one can add to a rack, even if it takes a bit of learning .

But once you figured out how to cascade the quantizer playing variations of simple shift register notes, it plays generative music that is not just random noise.
And I like that a lot.

5. Most surprising tip or trick or technique that you’ve discovered about your gear?

Haha… the stuff other people do with my gear compared to what I intended it to be used for always amazes me.

Like, we build this massive 3 voice oscillator, spend countless hours to make it track 8 octaves and FM in sync with each other.

Sounds like angels singing and then someone comes and cross modulates the FM with the sync and all hell breaks loose.

So I am just watching and standing in awe, one part of me wants to yank out the cables and the others is like, that is super impressive, bro.

Northern Light Modular Animated Tricillator Model 2AT

6. How did you get into music gear making?

Well, after that TTSH adventure, diverse EuroRack modules that came and went i stumbled upon the 4U crowd and how few options they had.

So we talked to Émelie Gillet (Mutable Instruments) and Max Stadler (Ornaments & Crime, Temps, Utile) about porting some of their designs and they were very helpful sharing and helping us up on the horse.

My lovely girlfriend Katrine, who built many of the SMD designs we have now, also is a wizard with the 3D printer and so we could prototype our new modules very quickly.

Like a great danish philosopher once said : 
Life in plastic, it’s fantastic  🙂

hOChTU

7. How do you most often start a new piece of gear? Where do the ideas come from?

Necessity I want to say, but that’s not quite true.

More often it is actually artists airing out ideas, pointing me to existing gear, or just imagining things.

Though the latest thing we’re making, was born from an idea to have a multi effect that works without any cables.
I have had a handfull of different guitar pedals and it really gets out of hand at some point with power and audio and midi cables.

So I wanted to build something that works straight in the Music Easel and can use its modulation.

We made a Kickstarter to found the project, I learned to program with Max/MSP at Notam/Oslo  over winter and BLAM!… we had a multi effect.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nlm/model-cardme-a-multi-effect-slot-card-for-the-buchla-208

Northern Light Modular – mobile effect engine

8. How do you know when a piece of gear is finished?

Is it ever ?

Most of our modules evolve constantly… either we fix small things here and there or sometimes, when they need a bigger change we made a V2 or V3 like with the Ornaments.
The latest version has input and output attenuators and LEDs indicate the actual level produced…
I think no other O-c in the market has that… and the software still works with that added hardware part.

Every year we also do special edition that we auction off for a good cause, and last year we made one for the international trans fund.

Northern Light Modular – Dual CV Polymorpher

9. What is the best creative or production advice that you’ve ever heard?

Go with the flow ! 

Turn off Facebook, put the phone on silent and jam… just record what you are doing, maybe you strike gold, maybe not 🙂


Selfie

Sascha Haber

Where are you from? Where are you based?

From Germany…the south…and based in Copenhagen since 2006 and Northern Light Modular has been operating since may of 2017, for six years now.

Show us your current studio/workshop!

Sascha Haber studio
Sascha Habers Studio

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

Northern Light Modular – http://northernlightmodular.com/
Modular Grid – https://bit.ly/2No5sus


Mark Verbos – Verbos Electronics

At SuperBooth 2023, I had a wonderfully long chat with Mark Verbos, founder of Verbos Electronics. He talked about his eurorack synth gear and the philisophy behind it, as well as how he go into making music gear via mentorship via legend such as Grant Richter (Wiard Electronics) and Don Buchla.

Check out some of the Verbos Eurorack Modules:

Verbos Electronics Harmonic Oscillator https://redir.love/NobeW9hU Verbos Electronics Polyphonic Envelope https://redir.love/Edl7dXdk Verbos Electronics Bark Filter Processor https://redir.love/aQ7e5kff

Daniel Nayberg – Blip of Blop

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

I love knobs and switches, so that’s a tough question. Maybe the volume knob on my Coleman monitor controller. It has these delicious steps (every one of the 47 steps is a separate set of matched resistors), and when you have proper monitoring, it’s such a powerful feeling to fire up the volume.

Coleman monitor controller

An honorable mention (and shameless plug) would be the EAO switches on the M/S insert processor ‘VARMS’ that I designed with Elberg-ELT. They’re the same swiss-made switches used on SSL desks, they feel/look awesome, and they last for two million presses.

‘VARMS’ Elberg-Nayberg

Another favorite (functionally speaking) would be the cutoff knob on my AJH MiniMod Transistor Ladder Filter (vintage Moog Model D filter clone) – that sweep never gets old.

AJH MiniMod Transistor Ladder Filter

I also have an old Urei-designed JBL 6-channel rack-mixer (Model 5306) that I modded with direct outs myself. It has some very cool and chunky aluminium knobs. Still very much a sleeper I think – get one if you can! Sorry that was four. I did my best.

Urei-designed JBL 6-channel rack-mixer Model 5306

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

Well, depends on the context. If anything, my eurorack modular, since it’s a very flexible instrument – it just sounds incredible, and nothing beats that workflow for me (so far). I also really like improvising with it live. It’s not the easiest thing to improvise on, but it sort of makes you work to solve problems with the relatively basic and limited components that you have available, which often lead to new ideas.

Eurorack Improvisation

It’s always changing. At the moment I want to add a quad lowpass gate because I really bought into the whole Buchla thing recently, but I ran out of rack-space and promised myself I wouldn’t get more cases. It’s so easy to just get more gear, but I often find that I make better stuff when I’m more limited.

Daniels Eurorack

Another answer would be my U47 clone. That mic sounds crazy good. It’s based on the (sadly no longer available) Max Kircher (ioaudio) diy kit with handwound custom transformer and only top shelf components. It has a BeesNeez M7 capsule. I also got the equivalent U67 with a Heiserman HK67 in it.

U47 clone

My only gripe is that it’s really difficult to find high quality Neumann-style mic body housings, so they feel much cheaper than real Neumanns. I would change that if I could, but I’m not ready to shell out for the insanely-priced Neumann replacement parts.

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

If anything, I bring a laptop with Ableton Live and a controller – I love my Push 2. If I’m going away with my family, we mostly just bring a cheap ukulele. I really want to be that cool Zoom-recorder-found-sound kinda guy, but I’m really not (yet!).

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

I recently made a dynamic multiband clipper with a few cool features with stock Ableton Live devices, that I’m pretty excited about. That would be really cool as a hardware unit, but it’s probably going to be pretty expensive to build, and it would also be a different beast. I put the effect rack up for free download at our studio’s website if anyone wants to try it out:

https://www.blipblopstudio.dk/abletonracks

Nayberg CrosscOMPressionEQ

I guess I also wish someone would emulate the Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water in software (and make it stereo!). That pedal is an instant vibe machine and nothing else does what it does. I love it to death. It’s also one of the only places I have ever encountered a lowpass gate outside of the synth-world.

I actually tried approximating it with Ableton Live devices myself, but I really just wish for a stereo hardware version.

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

Yes a lot of things. I often buy and sell stuff when some idea hit me or I get caught up in the GAS hype. I once had a really cool japanese Fender Jaguar that I refinished and modded myself. I really regret selling that. It sounded amazing.

Fender Jaguar

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

My eurorack modular for sure! I rarely get anything done in the DAW if I’m making my own music. I love how the process feels way more “iterative” on the modular. You patch something, and the machine responds. Then you are inspired to do something else, and the machine reacts again etc. It feels more like a conversation than executing an idea, especially If you experiment a lot. Building the modular (choosing/arranging modules etc.) is a way of setting the scene of what can happen. This is an approach to writing music that really resonates with the gear-enthusiast in me.

Something else that was really important for me was to build my studio away from home. We built it during Covid lockdown. I simply don’t get squat done at home, I’m not disciplined enough and there are too many distractions. I need a place to go to work, where everything is always set up and ready to roll.

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

I do everything from production to mastering, so it depends. First of all a laptop with Ableton Live Suite. Probably then a decently treated room and some good monitors. Being able to hear properly and feel awesome is everything. I still want to upgrade my setup to something better. From there I guess a good interface, a versatile mic (maybe a Sennheiser MD441) and a dual preamp like the Gyraf GIX. I love that thing, I got two of them. Just running tracks through them makes everything sound better.

Gyraf Gear

Then I would start getting into hardware instruments – maybe some semi modular synth like a Make Noise 0-coast or Strega, a Pittsburgh Taiga, or a Arturia Minibrute. Modular for the rest…

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

I kind of want to say my laptop. I hate lugging it around, needing it, and being forced to rely on it, especially for playing live. But Ableton Live is just so amazingly flexible and powerful, it would require a truckload of gear to replace the functionality, if even possible. I’ve been eyeing the new standalone Push 3, but it has some major limitations.

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

I’m not sure if it’s surprising, but I really like one particular idea that I had for my live setup for my band. I have an amazing MIDI controller called Touché by Expressive E. It’s a very sensitive touch controller that translates gestures into MIDI – it has three “dimensions” or axes that can be mapped to control basically anything. It’s mainly made for organic control of softsynths, but I use it to control effect sends in Ableton from the lead vocal channel out to different guitar pedal chains.
It allows me to “play” the vocal effects in real time (one hand on Touché, one hand tweaking the pedals), and it creates this very dynamic underlying effect-layer supporting and “following” the lead singer. I cannot recommend that thing enough. For our kind of music, it really adds something, and I think doing this live is pretty unique.

Also just generally running anything through guitar pedals. Pedals are awesome.

Artist or Band name?

Solo: Daniel Nayberg
Band: Meejah

Genre?

I always feel weird about putting genre labels on what I do, but probably ambient, electro, techno, and “weird stuff” would suffice.

Selfie?

Daniel Nayberg and electronic buddy

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Roskilde and still very involved in the music scene there, but I live in Copenhagen now.

How did you get into music?

I started playing electric guitar when I was 18, and quickly got fascinated by pedals. Pedals are a total gateway drug to synths, so here we are… A bit later I built and started a small underground venue and planned a few festivals with some friends, and someone had to take care of sound, so that ended up being me. Those years was a flaming crash course in live sound and mixing for me, but I learned a lot by trial and error this way! Nothing teaches you to mix quick like live sound. Sorry to those who suffered underway…

What still drives you to make music?

It’s simply a ton of fun. Moreover, what I’m really passionate about is creating physical and social platforms for young producers to learn about music tech, so we don’t all have YouTube and other online spaces as our only way of learning. It has a tendency to lead to a quick-fixy and superficial understanding of and approach to music creation, especially for beginners. This is why we host a lot of free community events/masterclasses/workshops at my studio. To bring people out of the bedroom studios, to meet others, and to have access to experimenting with pro facilities.

We are also working on (and have secured funding to) opening Denmark’s first inclusive electronic music/tech hub in central Roskilde with studios, venue, and educational facilities. You can read about it here:

https://www.inspsound.dk/kedelcentralen

How do you most often start a new track?

I typically sit in front of the modular with no plan whatsoever – or with an intention of trying to mimic someone’s style/sound or way of working.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I really don’t. What has worked the best for me so far is setting very specific boundaries or simple challenges for myself. For instance, I challenged myself to do one piece of music every week for half a year. It had to be released every Friday, so I set up a YouTube account to feel like I would let others down if I didn’t deliver. Some weeks were better than others, but I always finished something.

I also really subscribe to the idea that you should leave stuff you’re working on a few weeks and then return to it. If it’s still good, it’s probably pretty done. If not, you will often hear what it needs with fresh ears.

Show us your current studio

Blip Blop Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Try to maintain a playful approach to music making. Don’t do it because you have to, but also force yourself to at least try, even when the motivation isn’t really there, just for a short while.
Get off of YouTube and get going.

Also, creativity isn’t a “skill”. In my experience it has way more to do with creating the right framework, mindset and prerequisites (physical or otherwise) for you to thrive creatively and to make you WANT to do something. That can be hooking all the gear up, so that it’s ready to go, as much as setting rules for yourself on how/when to work.

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

My band Meejah released our debut album in 2021 and it got nominated for a Steppeulv (danish music critics award). I’m really proud of it:

https://meejah.bandcamp.com/album/queen-of-spring