Idra – Modular Via Trumpet

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

Novation Summit Noise and Frequency

One of my favorite knobs is without a doubt the Summit cutoff combined with the
noise knob that always adds a lot of depth to the sound.
Other knobs that I find very interesting are the branches and mutation on the Qu-Bit
Bloom, which makes any patch generative and potentially infinite. Sometimes when I’m in the studio (which is also my home) and I’m doing something other than producing music I create a random patch and totally open both knobs, it’s fun.

Branches and Mutation on the Qu-Bit

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

I’m not a pianist even though I studied it a bit during my studies in classical music at
the Conservatory. I think that among all the instruments I own, my grandfather’s piano is my perfect one. Both for an affective value and for the harmonic completeness, it has always been the instrument that allows me to create more, I just sit there and throw down some ideas and then go down to the studio and develop them on my modular system.

Piano

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

Modular (although it’s starting to become huge, in fact I think I will shrink it with a Palette case from Intellijel) headphones and zoom recorder for holidays. But when I have to play live I don’t care too much about comfort and I carry everything and more, including the Summit (my back doesn’t thank me).

Intellijel Palette

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

All Felt instruments plugins on eurorack format would be great, as well as a hardwere version of Ableton, would probably make live performances much more interesting

Felt VSTs and Ableton

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

I’m not a person who sells a lot, but I recently sold my digitakt two days before its new update – that’s all I’ll say.
Joking aside I must say that in the eurorack world there is a lot of buying and selling and you can never lose anything or have too many regrets for having sold something.

Smokin’ hot Elektron Digitakt

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

As I said before certainly the piano is always my starting point for composition, but in the end my main tool today is the modular system, which constantly offers a
continuous sound research avenues and new ways to create sounds from scratch, even using a few modules and always trying to study them in depth. The great thing is that it can be an instrument in continuous evolution and change and the perfect medium to express ourselves even with our personal changes.

Idra’s Eurorack

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

I think I would do the exact same path again that led me to be who I am today. I don’t
know if everyone knows this, but I start my music journey as a classical trumpet player.
Classical music and its study has definitely helped me both in technical knowledge but especially in maximum attention to listening. A sensitivity to sounds and sonorities, I would say. So if I had to start again, I would start with the trumpet again.

Trumpet

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

Endless cables

Cables… nicely organized

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

One of the tricks I use the most is after watching a video of Ricky Tinez based on
understanding how to manipulate LFO phase points and make them free and random in independent points of time.
I highly recommend it, especially to create movement and use LFOs in new ways.
Another “trick” that I often use is to stop listening to an album that is almost finished
for a while before putting the finishing touches on it.


Artist or Band name?

IDRA

Genre?

Ambient

Selfie?

Idra

Where are you from?

Milan, Italy

How did you get into music?

I started playing trumpet when I was nine years old, graduating in classical trumpet.
For a few years I got into jazz and world music, but it was electronic music that I fell in love with and where I found my own spot in the world.

What still drives you to make music?

The sense of freedom and the need to communicate something first to myself and
then to others, is a refuge and a medicine that keeps me alive and allows me to
express myself in the most creative way I can know

How do you most often start a new track?

Whenever I feel the need to enclose and let out my feelings and sensations. I often
have very profitable moments of production, but I also often need silence, I do not
follow a precise path, every time I turn on the machines in the studio and I feel that
something beautiful comes out, it can become a track or simply my soundtrack of the
day.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it makes me smile and gives me a clear picture in my mind, I would say the
moment I think of a title the track is over.

Show us your current studio

Idra Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t be afraid to listen to advice and always be open to change. But the best will always be: keep things simple.

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

seilrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lone-voyagers-lovers-and-lands

(I always take the opportunity to thank Boris aka. Jogginghouse – for this release)


Chris Calvert – Enjoy Scenery

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

Rossum Panharmonium

If we’re talking sensorial tactility, then nothing beats the firm yet liquid luxury of turning any of the knobs on the Rossum Panharmonium (or any Rossum module, for that matter). I don’t think any other manufacturer uses them, but it seems like they really get how important the tactile nature of Eurorack is. 

As for the actual function, the Panharmoium’s ‘Voices’ knob can take you from a close approximation of the input source to an ethereal choir just by reducing the number of oscillators. Less impressive on synth sounds, but plug my Dictaphone in there with some fingerpicked guitar and you’ve got an ambient track right there. almost feels like cheating.

T-Rackonizer

A close second would be any of the knobs on the T-Rackonizer. From “is this thing on?!” to “woah!!!” in about two degrees of turn. Even though I’ve read the fucking manual, I still don’t know what I’m doing, but it sounds amazing. 

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

Sounds weird, but maybe my SQ-1. I’ve had a few sequencers, but none have allowed me to play around so intuitively, and none have resulted in more surprising sounds than that little black, metal brick. I say ‘sounds’ rather than melodies because I often use one channel for pitching the Loquelic Iteritas and one for Rings, run the two channels polyrhythmically and then you get these moments where the two pitches clash to create the grinding, clanging tones. HOWEVER, the fact that Korg uses a different sync standard to everyone else means I always have to mess around with clock dividers and I’d definitely make the battery life better and the battery access less like an ode to Russian military hardware.

[Editor: Ha! Yeah that battery access drove me batty as well]

Korg SQ-1

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

Before COVID, I was traveling from Copenhagen to Stockholm by train every week to see my girlfriend, and so when Intellijel’s Palette Case came out, I felt the planets aligning. Five hours in a comfy seat with mains power and beautiful Swedish countryside flying past your window – is there a better place to get lost in making sound? The nest of patch cables always garnered interesting looks from fellow passengers, though! My plan is to revive the palette this summer with a battery and record some stuff out in the wilderness. 

Intellijel’s Palette Case with buddies

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

This is a tough one, but apart from things like wishing that Spitfire’s Cinematic Piano was a real piano in my actual apartment, I’d have to say some of the Inspired by Nature Max for Live devices like Bouncy Notes. I know there are similar things in hardware, but the graphical visualization feels very accessible and intuitive. I think it’s nice to ‘see’ how generative things work so it doesn’t just feel like a black box with pleasing random shit coming out of it. Conversely, I’d love if there was good Marbles-like plugin for my DAW. VCV Rack has a lot of ports of other MI modules, but not Marbles. I’ve lost count of the number of times Marbles has formed the foundation of a track. 

[Editor: I’ve been informed that Marbles has been added to VCVrack. Thx TimCox … It’s just called Random Sampler]

Mutable Instruments Marbles

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

What I love about Eurorack is that there’s such a great second-hand market, so regrettable purchases can be recycled in no time. Recently, I’ve been regretting selling my Chronoblob 2. I got rid of it when I went over to a hybrid Euroack/DAW setup and figured plugins would handle all my delay needs, but I underestimated the creative, compositional power of a delay. I used to put a fairly mundane beat or melody into the Chronoblob, turn that delay time knob, and suddenly you were transported into a ping-ponging, syncopated kaleidoscope.

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

I know it’s a boring answer, but it has to be the modular. For me it’s the ultimate creative instrument because it’s never just one thing – it evolves. Not just through buying new modules but also the ones you think you know really well. There’s always some way you’ve never thought of using something. I also love that it’s ideally suited to randomness and experimentation. I always feel like I’m guiding this thing rather than playing it – or sometimes it’s even guiding me. You feel like you’re discovering rather than composing. 

Eurorack modular… so many knobs!

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

My journey from first synth (Korg Minlogue) to first Eurorack module was about six months, so I’d probably just cut straight to the modular. However, if I could ‘start again’ but keep everything I already have, then I’d love to try the ‘guitar and bunch of interesting pedals’ route. I’m actually on the lookout for a guitar or lap steel to put through the modular, so I guess it’s kinda happening. 

Studio stuff

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

Clocks. Since I went partly back ‘in the box’, the most frustrating time I’ve had is syncing things up. I’ve got all my midi set up through the Poly 2, but I always end up with some Morphagene loop I’ve mangled, or some distorted thing that seems to have no beginning or end that I want to put some sample strings on in Logic, but then I can spend hours trying to get it to behave. 

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

I’m not sure if it’s surprising, but maybe using Rings as a resonator to process audio rather than a voice on its own. The problem is that plucking Rings makes such a seductive sound, it’s easy to forget what Emilie Gillet’s original intention was. I like to put a really nasty VCO through it, like the Loquelic or Manis Iteritas, and then play the pitch of that and Rings like I mentioned before. You discover sounds that you couldn’t conceive of without just playing around.  

Rings and Manis Iteritas

Artist or Band name?

Scenery

Genre?

Ambient? Soundtracks from imagined movies? Elevator music for extremely tall buildings? 

Selfie?

Chris Calvert

Where are you from?

Born in England, lived in Copenhagen for 14 years, and currently in Stockholm.

How did you get into music?

Played all sorts of instruments for five minutes at school, then discovered the bass and played that in school bands. Then guitar in a few bands in London. Then nothing but bedroom strumming for years until I figured something was missing and bought that Korg Minilogue. 

What still drives you to make music?

Music so immediate and powerful. Everything else in life feels so tangled and overthought – nothing’s just what it is anymore. Music isn’t like that. You hear it and you feel something. And the great thing about making it is that you get to experience it as you’re creating it and you can use the feelings it elicits to fuel the music. I have a terrible attention span for everything else, but with music I can go deep and long without needing to come up for air. 

How do you most often start a new track?

I like to start with something random, often just to have some kind of melody to drive a VCO for the purposes of sound design. Then I just try to follow that – maybe it’s nothing but maybe it’s something, and even if it is, it’s never the thing I thought it would be. 

I often just record track after track of some kind of texture or melody in Logic, trying not to be too precious. Then I’ll go back another day and listen again and if something feels good, I’ll try and add something to it that steers it in a particular direction. I remember reading once about how jade sculptors would just look at a solid block of jade and decide what they would carve based on the swirls and patterns they saw inside it. I try and think like that. The music is already in there, I just need to be open to it and carve away. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

At the end of any work session, I bounce down a mix and upload it to SoundCloud. Then I live with it for a bit on walks and make mental notes about the bits that I feel are off or that I stumble over, and then I go back and change them. I know it’s done when nothing breaks the ‘spell’ of the track when I listen. 

Show us your current studio

Chris Calverts Studio
Chris Calverts Studio with plants and daylight

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Something my girlfriend said when she was getting into her ceramic work. She was talking about how she often fell into the trap of getting obsessed with the end product: what was it for? Was it good enough? Was is it finished? She would snap herself out of it by focusing on how much she enjoyed just having her fingers in the clay. So, whenever I get obsessed with results, I just remember that sometimes I just need to get my fingers in the clay.  

DIY resonator. Fingers right down there in the clay.

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

Just released my second album:

Confabulations by Scenery


Kevin Paul Cahay – EuroGuitaRacker

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

Teisco Rack Delay

My favorite knob is the volume knob on my old Teisco delay rack, you can be really precise with a knob of that size.

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

Fender Jaguar

With years spent playing music I never felt the feeling of perfection, I always change and so does my instruments/gear. Yesterday was my lovely Fender Jaguar, today is my modular synthesizer, tomorrow… I don’t know yet. It’s difficult for me to focus on one genre/project, I want to know and to do everything. And my modular synthesizer is the proof, at the beginning I wanted a sort of a west coast synthesizer, after focusing on textures and now a little bit of everything. But now I’m more confident, so I’ll say my modular synthesizer, because I can change a little thing to do utterly beautiful things.

Suitcase Eurorack Modular

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

ID700 Buchla iOS app

Either I go on holiday or for a walk (even at work, but don’t tell anyone) I always bring a tape recorder with me.

Also my iPad, with some granular devices, Quanta or the new emulation of the Buchla 700.

4 track and walkman

I like compact gear, recording sounds in the daytime and processing them at night time.

Night time processing

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

I’d really like the Music Mouse from Laurie Spiegel in a hardware form for sure, it’s easy enough to program something lovely and yet complex enough to explore a lot of different paths. 

Music Mouse from Laurie Spiegel

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

« Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention » 

All gear eventually fades to bokeh

I don’t regret any purchase or sale, it was the right time for every separation or acquisition. But who knows ?

Kalimba and Big Muff

There is an adaptation time for everything, especially electronic devices, you see a video or test it for fifteen minutes, and then at home it’s not the same. So you have to delve into it and learn it better to find out if you really like it. Not taking enough time is a common mistake that I made several times…

But don’t feel ashamed or guilty, it’s the right path. Once you know, what you don’t like, it gets easier.

A glutton of gear from above

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

I think it’s my newly acquired Akai tape recorder, I’ve been messing around with cassettes for quite a long time, but to have a bigger tape to work with, cutting, editing, staring at, is absolutely marvelous.

Akai Reel to Reel tape recorder

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

Korg Kaossilator

I think a kaossilator and a cassette tape recorder. You can do plenty of things with the kaossilator. Also if you fool your tape recorder to do it, it’s possible to overdub without erasing anything. So yes, with these two you have a lot of different sounds in your pocket.

Cassette tape recorders

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

I think it’s my MicroKorg, it was my second synth (the first one was a Yamaha CS15 that broke). It has a peculiar sound, not the best keys, but I love it anyway.

Korg MicroKorg

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

A very long tape loop, I saw someone doing those kind of things on Instagram (hello, @robotmammal) and I tried for several days. After a lot of effort and moaning, I finally managed to do it ! And… it broke.

Cassette Tape Loops

Artist or Band name?

Kevin Paul Cahay.

Genre?

Free jazz ? I always wanted to say free jazz.

Selfie?

The many faces of Kevin Paul Cahay

Where are you from?

I’m from Paris/France.

How did you get into music?

Since I was born, my parents were listening to music loudly, and I remember dancing and jumping everywhere to Rage Against The Machine and Weezer.

But at the age of ten I told myself that rather than listening to music I could play it ! So I asked for an electric guitar on my birthday and began to compose some songs and record them with my phone or on Audacity (via the computer microphone…) After that I created my artist name « tomorrow massacre » (tomorrow because one of my favorite song is called tomorrow by The Human Instinct, and massacre because of the Brian Jonestown Massacre) and had a band for a couple of years going on tour, recording albums.

After we broke up, I was alone and wanted to do something else, so I began to have an urge to play modular synthesizer, explore new sounds and embrace experimentation without the intro/verse/chorus thing.

I did my first EP at the beginning of 2021 and I’m planning to have another one out this year as well.

What still drives you to make music?

Everything.

Grundig EN3 Dictaphone… shaving the sky

How do you most often start a new track?

Nothing is really planned, I always want to try a lot of things (like a video I did with 5 delay pedals) and then something that I like appears (and sometimes not).

How do you know when a track is finished?

Nothing left to add

When I want to add something, but it doesn’t sound good at all.

Show us your current studio

Analog goodies
…and eurorack buddies

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

My French teacher in high school always told me « when there are three words there are two too many » , and I apply this to my music.

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

For the moment it’s my EP called « Ruina Sequenti » : https://music-is-kevinpaulcahay.bandcamp.com/album/ruina-sequenti

… but check my personal Bandcamp soon enough:

https://kevinpaulcahay.bandcamp.com


[Hey YOU my dear Reader, it’s Martin the Editor here: I gotta ask, coz it’s been bothering me for a while… how would you suggest that I could encourage more commenting on the this blog? There’s like zilch happening and it’s kinda bumming me, as well as the google search algorithm, out 😉 ]