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]

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 😉 ]


Vincent Ligny – Analog Gr’ Owl

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

Moog Filter Knobs

It’s more emotional than technical. My first machine was the MOOG Mother-32. Experiencing the Moog sound in such a small object, put me in a certain state. The first knob turned was the cutOFF (not boring at all) and resonance. Discovering this sound palette, its depth confirmed to me, the idea that musically and emotionally, I had made the right choice.

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

Moog Matriarch

I recently acquired the Moog Matriarch which to my eyes represents the perfect synth. A sublime musicality, a grain that is both historic and modern and semi-modular! Accessibility is total. The stereo mode, combined with spacing, stereo delay and modulations, allows you to create beautiful sweeping effects without external effects.
A rediscovery every time.

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

For the holidays, OP-Z, OP-1 and my Master and Dynamic MH40. Travel light for a maximum of possibilities. 

OP-Z, OP-1 and Master and Dynamic MH40

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

I fantasize about the Valhalla VST in a physical multi-effect box. We know their precision, but aesthetically, putting steel around these effects would be magical.
Surely the OTO Biscuit as digital software would be great! Unique ability to mute or invert each of the 8-bit converters, not to mention the effects sections: Waveshaper, Delay, Pitch Shifter and Step Filter … a beast.

[Editor: I’ve just been told on instagram that there is in fact a software version of the Biscuit by Softube … All hail ye great internet brain!]

Oto Biscuit

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

I sold a few years ago a Fender Coronado 2 Rosewood Sunburst from 1966. Ultra thin neck and a fantastic clarity in sound, crystalline even. A twinge of heart every time I cross paths with a photo. I’m trying to find one in lake placid blue.

Fender Coronado 2

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

My Moog Matriarch and modular system. It is just easy to get lost with these two machines and I easily arrive at hypnotic sequences, percussive arps, pads without necessarily messing around. I like it to be instant and not overly thought out. The best often happens through mistakes, little misses.

Eurorack modular

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

I think I would turn to the Korg Minilogue (XD).
An easy to understand deck, a clean, polyphonic look.The pleasure is immediate.
The OLED oscilloscope shows you, in real time, how your waveform changes as parameters change, giving you visual feedback on how to shape your sound. Perfect for beginners.
Considering all of its features, this synth alone unites all the advantages of a vintage synth, but with an elegant and practical interface that is decidedly modern. The price is also within the budget of a musician today (very affordable).

Korg Minilogue XD

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

The Yamaha Portasound PS-1, piano, organ, clarinet, sustain > (deplorable) but coupled with a Microcosm (Hologram Electronics) and / or an OTO BAM reverb, you get to draw sublime ambient pads. I love it, I bought it for my son, I hope he will love it too.

Yamaha Portasound PS-1, Oto Bam and Hologram Electronic Microcosm

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

The Midi/config Shiftmode allowing onto to completely destroy the pattern and do lots of soundscaping, press then FUNC + No to reload pattern and we are back to the original. The ultimate live combo, but it’s also just an ergonomic pleasure. Thank you Elektron.

Elektron Digitone

Artist or Band name?

Vincent Ligny

Genre?

Ambient / Cinematic atmospheres

Selfie?

Vincent Ligny

Where are you from?

France. Bois-colombes, small town next to Paris.

How did you get into music?

My grandfather played classic guitar, my father played folk. I naturally started bass and guitar.
I listened to a very wide spectrum, different musical genres, but I crossed into electronic music and started to experiment with that, about 6 years ago now.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s just inexplicable. It is inseparable from my way of living or rhythm of my daily life. It is a need. Electronic music opened me up to wider fields. There are no limits.

How do you most often start a new track?

There is nothing written, nothing parameterized. The first notes are imperfect. I ask myself, I run a sequence, then I develop, I make mistakes. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it’s a wonderful surprise.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I hesitate to bid, to drown. Now is the time to stop.

Show us your current studio

Home Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

It is not necessary to know the music, only to feel it.

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

I appeared on a vinyl compilation from a young german independent label Deeptape Records: 
Deeptracks Vol1
Vincent Ligny – Velvet
https://deeptaperecords.bandcamp.com/album/deeptracks-1-2
 
I’m working on a 3 track EP – Pio’s journey which should be released normally at the start of 2021.


[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…
]