Martin A. Ottesen – Funkstar De Luxe

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

Mod Wheel on the PolyBrute

Besides a high quality keyboard bed, I love the modulation wheel and assigning it to control various parameters of a patch. I’m a keyboard player of the 80/90’ies, so my left hand is used to working the mod wheel quite a bit. It’s nice and tactile and you can instantly see and feel the position. An important element of breathing life into a sound – to me at least.

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

The latest addition to my setup is the PolyBrute [US, EU] which is really great overall. If import and playback of own samples/waveforms was possible, it would have been perfect.

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

A MacBook Pro and a small controller. I’m a keyboard player so keys are vital to me. How my fingers move around on the keys is a big part of the writing process. I don’t like minikeys, but for travelling it is convenient bringing a small controller such as the Korg Nanokey[US, EU] or a Korg Monologue[US, EU]. I always bring good headphones.

Korg Nanokey and a red Monologue

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

Logic has a Step FX plug-in which I totally dig. Would be cool having complete hardware control over that – a dedicated unit/controller with the same visual layout. I love hardware, so no particular wish for anything to be software. I believe there’s plenty of software solutions out there. 

Logic Step FX plug-in

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

I sold a Roland SH-101 years ago. I would like to have kept it, but then again, I probably wouldn’t use it that much. I bought the microKorg [US. EU] some years ago thinking that it would be a nice travelling companion, but I didn’t really get into it so I sold it again.

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

Definitely samplers, I made my entire debut album ‘Keep On Moving’ with a Yamaha A-3000 before DAWs became the norm. Later on I bought the Native Instruments Maschine [US, EU] when it first came out and that was really a boost for me making more sophisticated drum patterns. Recently I have retired the Maschine and turned to Logic’s samplers, especially the Q-sampler chopping up all kinds of audio. Q for Quick, and it certainly is. 

Native Instruments Maschine

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

Besides a MacBook Pro running Logic, a high quality MIDI controller keyboard. I recently upgraded to the Arturia Keylab 88 mkII [US, EU] which is just brilliant.

Arturia Keylab 88 mkII

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

The analogue and modular synths take so much time to patch up, but I really like having hardware synths in my studio. If I get stuck on a project I usually find some inspiration or new ideas in the synths. They’re also the only instruments I know and then just play.

Eurorack square of Doepfer

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

Sending audio through my little modular system for modulating is great fun and often gives surprisingly interesting results. Even with just a few modules a dull audio track can be transformed into something completely different.
Another technique I find interesting is setting up a patch on a hardware synth (preferably mono modular) and the letting Logic’s auto sampler sample it into a polyphonic patch. It usually turns out different than expected.

Analog corner

Artist or Band name?

Funkstar De Luxe

Genre? House / Electronica

Martin Aulkjaer Ottesen aka. Funkstar De Luxe

Where are you from?

Kerteminde, Denmark

How did you get into music?

My mother was a musician. We had a piano and an electric organ, and I was always fascinated by the knobs and switches on the organ. When I later discovered synthesizers I was hooked and knew that I wanted to get into that. But first my parents arranged for me to get piano lessons.

What still drives you to make music?

Sounds, atmospheres and of course grooves. I find it amazing that you can get so many differents sounds out of even the smallest synth. The big reward for me is when a track really comes together as a unity.

How do you most often start a new track? 

If it’s a remix, I usually start with the bare acapella finding a cool chord progression that fits, then drums and groove. If it’s a track from scratch, I’ll probably program a sound and find some chords or a melody to begin with. Recently I have been getting into just jamming away and see what comes up. That’s a nice contrast to building a track sample by sample in a DAW.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Most often I cycle between mixing and adding new elements but I try not to put too many layers in a production. It’s better having a few that really work, also in order give those layers more room to live in. When everything comes together the right way it just sounds finished.

Show us your current studio

I used to sit in the garage of the house but due to flooding in 2021 I have moved to the attic. I have a minimal setup at the moment but a few pieces of good gear definitely goes a long way.

Home studio – movin’ up in the house to the attic

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Limit your options. If you have a studio full of gear and so many possibilities it might be hard getting anything done. Pick a few pieces of gear and see how far you can go with that. Once you have an idea or direction, you can always use other gear if you are looking for a specific sound or effect. The same goes for software. See how far you can get with just a handful of plug-ins.

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

My album Redemption (out on 21 Oct. 2022) is quite different from my dance remixes. This is more melodic and electronic sounding, not specifically aimed at dancefloors. It’s been very refreshing doing a whole album giving room to different kinds of expression, definitely a very personal piece of work: https://funkstar.lnk.to/album


[Editor: There are affiliate links to the relevant gear throughout the articles. It helps to support this blog. In fact, should you be needing some patch cables or guitar strings. Then clicking on one of the above links and buying any product that you prefer, will help the blog… doesn’t even have to be the ones in the link. Thx]


Stefan Tretau – St Modular

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

Lots of Freq Knobs

First of all, I love every cutoff control. It is just such a powerful and enjoyable part of subtractive synthesis, that it will always be my first and preferred choice when looking for a knob to turn.

Elektron Octatrack

Second, the Elektron Octatrack fader is definitely one of the most powerful controls for a wide range of parameters, be it effects or sample processing. The possibilities are endless and its so easy to use.

Contour – Shuttle Express

Last, but not least, I bought a multimedia editor controller called “Contour – Shuttle Express” that allows me to create shortcuts for certain functions in the Eagle CAD program, which I use to design circuit boards. This has drastically improved my efficiency and speed when designing PCBs.

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

S-CAT Double-Trouble Dual Filtered Distortion

I recently bought the S-CAT Double-Trouble Dual Filtered Distortion and I would immediately call it a perfect device. It has two channels, one optimized for synths and one for drums, and sounds delicious. I started to used it with the Roland TR8-S and the Behringer TD-3-MO and immediately went into an acid-frenzy. Here’s a video snippet where I also used it with the little Roland T-8 Aira compact groovebox.

Fun thing! :-

Blokas Midihub

Also worth mentioning is the Blokas Midihub, an interface and standalone MIDI processor that is as flexible as a midi interface can get. With the included editor, you can configure every midi setting imaginable. The only improvement would be a larger version with at least 8 channels.
Finally, the “GIVE2“ Oscillator I designed is still my favorite and I use it in almost every single patch. The only thing I would change in a future version would be to add faders instead of knobs and VCAs for each waveform at the mix output.

GIVE2 oscillator

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

A couple of years ago I put together a small Eurorack case that would somehow eliminate my GAS for the Buchla Music Easel (I named it “Euro Easel” ;-} ). It’s a small case with quite some limitations, but it has just the right modules to create very interesting sounds…. and it worked, I haven’t bought the Easel yet 🙂 It’s my travel case that I choose to take on vacation. You can find some videos about it here.

Takin’ it Easel

If I can’t take the travel case with me, I like to use an iPad or the three Aira Compact Grooveboxes, which are definitely fun.

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

There are many multi fx vsts available, but there are just few ways to add multi fx with a hardware device that is not a pedal. I currently use the Octatrack to add effects to the main output. But I would like to have a device that looks like one of the Pioneer FX series units and has a functionality like Sugar Bytes Turnado VST, Fabfilter Effects VST or the Ozone Mastering Tools – and nothing less 😉

VCV Rack

If VCV Rack didn’t already exist, I would want to see some sort of modular software to test and review modules. Fortunately, VCV Rack is already the perfect solution for that. It has helped me to come up with new module designs that combine various module functions into one unit. In VCV Rack I tested their practical application in advance before writing schematics and making prototypes.

I can’t think of any other hardware that I would like to see as a software solution.

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

I wish I still had my Korg Electribe R and the Clavia Nord Micro Modular. They were way ahead of their time and I really enjoyed using them.

These were some of the last sounds I made with the Micro Modular, and it breaks my heart not to have it on my desk today.
There are some modules I bought that I didn’t keep for long. But the list would be too long to mention them here.

As for my designs, there are a few modules I have published that I regret creating.
Mostly because my design skills have improved and I wouldn’t design them the way they used to be published. But I won’t tell you which ones they are 🙂

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

The ST Modular Beast

Definitely my modular. Especially the last album „Ostinato Modulare“, released in 2020, is strongly inspired by modular synthesis. But also other releases have their origin in melodies and sequences I created on my modular system.

A little close on the ST Modular Beast

Also worth mentioning is the “Mopho“ from Dave Smith Instruments, which I used very often in the past. It’s such a great sounding and powerful little instrument when used with a software editor.

Little Mopho hiding there

I also often used the Korg Gadget iOS app to sketch out ideas that eventually found their way into a final track.

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

Any Groovebox (Syntakt, Roland TR8-S, or Roland MC707 or similar)

Elektron Syntakt

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

My soldering iron! I used to love soldering and enjoyed that deep yoga-like relaxation of soldering in repetition and deep concentration. But the solder fumes and flux residue, the time it takes me to solder prototypes and troubleshoot, and the fact that my body doesn’t like sitting in one position for long periods of time are increasingly annoying me.

Soldering iron

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

PCB

I would like to mention the moment when I found out how easy it is to order ready soldered PCBs. I used to solder all SMD components myself and at some point decided to use PCB assembly for prototyping. This dramatically increased the speed at which I could work on my PCB designs. That was both a surprise and a relief.

Closer to the PCB

Apart from that, almost every single unit has some “hidden” features that surprise me – like the ducking functionality with the FX tracks on the Syntakt, the control-all functionality on most Elektron units, or the way you arrange effects in scenes on the Octatrack.

Also, a modular system is an endless source of “happy little accidents,” as Bob Ross would say. There are so many different techniques to use CV. Every time I patch, I’m surprised how musical challenges can be solved with modular control voltages. I remember being overwhelmed by the possibilities offered by a single function generator. Depending on the patching technique you can use it as an oscillator, a filter, a distortion and an envelope with sustain stage.

Not what you think of when you see a module like this, is it?

A single module can be a world in itself, spreading its CV tentacles into an endless modular universe full of surprises.


Artist or Band name?

Stefan Tretau / ST Modular / ST Records

Genre?

From Ambient to Techno

Selfie?

Stefan Tretau

Where are you from?

Oberhausen, Germany

How did you get into music?

Well, it’s not the piano and guitar lessons I used to get, but it was actually a friend’s Roland MC- 303 that I was lucky enough to use in 1999. That was my rabbit hole that I never got out of.
Shortly after that we bought a Roland MC-307, a Future Retro 777, a TB-303, a Micro Modular and a Jomox Xbase 09 and we started playing acid live acts as Complexx303“ in the early 2000s. Some time later it was just a small step to jump into the Eurorack universe. I bought my first Eurorack modules in 2016.

Stefan’s first eurorack case

ST Modular also started with a little push from a friend. He showed me how to build a Schmitt- Trigger oscillator, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to recreate it on a breadboard. That was the second rabbit hole that somehow replaced the synthesizer-hole for some time. So instead of making music, I breadboarded, read books, created magic smoke, and eventually designed a desktop synthesizer, effects pedals, and a first Eurorack module, a passive mult.

Live synth setup

However, before I got into Eurorack designs, I focused on pedal and synthesizer designs. In the video linked here, you can see how I create all sorts of noises with these DIY boxes. You can also see a first logo design there, which is the predecessor of the current ST Modular logo.

Now that I had a foot in the door I could not resist to deal further with concepts and circuit diagrams and spent whole weekends researching on the internet and watching youtube tutorials.

First synth design called Dillen in 2015

When the first working Eurorack module was built (Triple Tom), I didn’t actually intend to offer modules or boards to other builders. It was then the builders themselves who kept asking for boards and finally got me to make a first attempt to offer PCBs in cooperation with pushermanproductions.com in 2018.
And ST Modular was born.

What still drives you to make music?

That moment you surprise yourself.

How do you most often start a new track?

A kick and a bassline or a sound/melody that fascinates me.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I used to be very fast at producing and it wasn’t uncommon to finish a track in one day. I once participated in a remix contest for a label called “Karmarouge” and produced and submitted my remix within a single day. Surprisingly, my track was chosen to appear on the final vinyl release.

So, I’m not a perfectionist I guess and I don’t spend hours working on a snare sound.
If the track conveys a certain vibe, I can’t remove anything superfluous from the mix and nothing else extremely bothers me, it’s done!

ST modular System

As for the ST modular designs, each new prototype has to go through several weeks of extensive testing in my case. I design modules primarily for my personal use. If I don’t like the experience of playing with it, it doesn’t get released. I have a whole case full of finished prototypes that I have never published. They work technically fine, but they somehow didn’t turn out the way I had imagined.

Show us your current studio

Attic home studio
To the left of the Attic home studio
Center of the home stuio
Left side with the modular beast

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Just sit down and start!

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

ST Records – Latest Release „Ostinato Modulare“
https://www.st-rec.de/

ST Modular – Euphoria (DIY Semi-Modular Synthesizer)
https://www.st-modular.com/euphoria/

ST Modular – Eurorack DIY
https://www.st-modular.com/

Follow me on Instagram
@stefan_st_modular

[Editor: There are affiliate links to the relevant gear throughout the articles. It helps to support this blog. In fact, should you be needing some patch cables or guitar strings. Then clicking on one of the above links and buying any product that you prefer, will help the blog… doesn’t even have to be the ones in the link. Thx]


Nick Lisher – LesjaMusic

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

The filter modulation (as opposed to filter cutoff) knob on my Oberheim OB-Xa. The slightest circular movement can change the character of the sound from fluid and subtle to a punchy and brassy.

Oberheim OB-Xa

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

Impossible to answer with one!

1. Oberheim OB-Xa. I have had this synth for about 12 years, and I just love everything about it. I wish you could have more precise mix control over the two oscillators, and cross modulation like on the OBX, but otherwise what other piece of gear makes you sound like both Prince and Boards of Canada?

Oberheim OB-Xa

2. Vongon Ultrasheer [US]. An almost perfect reverb/vibrato pedal. Add a wet-dry mix and it would be even-more-almost-perfect.

Vongon Ultrasheer

3. Schippmann PHS-28 16 stage dual super phaser module, to give it its full name. It’s a beautiful phaser but also capable of utterly feral behavior with the right kind of modulation. 

Schippmann PHS-28 16 stage dual super phaser module

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

Polyend Tracker! [US]

Polyend Tracker

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

I’d love AudioThing, Valhalla or SoundToys to make some hardware, though I think Valhalla reverbs are available on the TipTop DSP module. As I work almost 100% in hardware (computers are for my day job!), the second half of the question is too difficult to answer.

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

I bought a Roland Juno 6 for £50 in 2000. The seller even drove it round to my house. It was such a lovely, lovely synth. I sold it to a friend to help fund my Oberheim.

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

Akai Headrush V1

I adore looping pedals and modules. In the early 2000s I bought an Akai Headrush V1 and used to just create layers upon layers of guitars on top of one another. Here’s a couple of tracks I made under my old moniker Ecce that used this very specific technique, one of which is even called Headrush! One, Two, Three. Nowadays I use the excellent Chase Bliss Blooper in a similar way.

Chase Bliss Blooper

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

A guitar and a looping pedal!

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

I’m gonna say my electronic drum kit, in that I wish it was a real kit, but I am not sure my family would put up with the noise of an acoustic kit.

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

On the Juno-6 I sold – if you pressed both Chorus buttons at once gave a wild chorus effect. 


Artist or Band name?

I relaunched myself as LesjaMusic last year, but I am yet to release anything under that moniker except short Instagram / Youtube clips

Genre?

Nautical fiction

Selfie?

As much as I hate to…

Nick Lisher

Where are you from?

Kent, UK

How did you get into music?

I played the saxophone when I was 9. Sax was cool in the 80s!

What still drives you to make music?

Fun! I have near-to-zero ambition for my music achieving any sort of popularity – I feel that ship has sailed – but it’s nice when a few folks listen to my stuff on social media.

How do you most often start a new track?

Either by playing the drums or by messing around with a looping pedal

How do you know when a track is finished?

It never is. Ship it.

Show us your current studio

Happily.

Nick Lisher Home Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t be afraid to have a method – a repeatable creative process. I used to mix it up a lot, but came back to my favourite techniques, and these help form a signature sound.

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

Follow me on Instagram! http://instagram.com/lesjamusic


[Editor: There are affiliate links to the relevant gear throughout the articles. It helps to support this blog. In fact, should you be needing some patch cables or guitar strings. Then clicking on one of the above links and buying any product that you prefer, will help the blog… doesn’t even have to be the ones in the link. Thx]