Cntr Rndm – Christian Paga

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

I really like the TYPE knob on my NTS-1, because it lets you browse through all the FX programs and oscillators you have installed… and this is what makes the NTS-1 such a valuable synth/FX unit: you can customize the living daylight out of it!

Korg NTS-1

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

Ok, I really love the PO-128 Mega Man and it’s (almost) perfect in every way BUT it would be even more amazing if it had a backup function like the PO-33, the PO-32 or the PO-133! It’s so annoying when you have to delete a song or a pattern you were rather satisfied, with just because you want to make a new one.

PO-128 Mega Man

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

I have this thing called “the Krako” which is just a portmanteau word consisting of the German words “Krach” (noise) and “Koffer” (case). So it’s this super old hairdressing case I got off Ebay for a couple of bucks (way cheaper than an actual flight case) and it literally does what it says on the tin: it’s a case for little noise-makers, preferably pieces of gear that run on batteries or that don’t need batteries at all (like my crappy Kalimba). Usually, there are a bunch of pocket operators in there as well as my NTS-1, my Korg Volca Modular, my Korg Monotron Delay, and both my Koma Elektronik Field Kit and my Field Kit FX.

NTS-1, Korg Volca Modular, Korg Monotron Delay, Koma Elektronik Field Kit and Field Kit FX

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

What a great question! Erm, I would love to see a hardware version of Airwindows’ Galactic which is one of my favorite plugins at the moment. It’s this super amazing “I will turn anything into an ambient atmosphere” monster of a plugin – and the best thing is, it’s freeware! I can’t think of a vice-versa-example so here’s another piece of
software I wish was hardware: Valhalla’s Supermassive! I mean, seriously, isn’t Supermassive just the best Reverb-Delay plugin out there? But hey, basically all Valhalla plugins are amazing – what a great company!

Airwindows’ Galactic

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

Puh, nah, not really! I know this is super boring, but I tend to research a lot before I buy stuff – so I keep my bad-buy-level to a minimum.
However, I have kind of a difficult relationship with my Korg Volca Modular. It’s weird because on paper, we should be BFFs but in reality, meh…

Korg Volca Modular

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

That’s an easy one…pocket operators! I just love pocket operators – they have completely changed the way I approach producing music. Thanks to pocket operators, I can make music EVERYWHERE!

Pocket Operator Office

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

Three words: Ableton Live Suite!

Ableton Live shining brightly

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

Well, I’ll go with the PO-133, as it’s so much fun, that it’s annoyingly hard to put it aside!

PO-133

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

My buddy Pete Prodoehl (@raster on IG) taught me this super awesome Korg Monotron Delay latching trick, hack, whatever you want to call it. So, if you want to create a hands-free drone sound with this tiny dirtbag of a synth, all you have to do is put a nut on the ribbon keyboard and wrap a rubber band around it. This way, the Monotron plays a constant tone and you can tweak the sound with both hands.

Korg Monotron Delay

Artist or Band name?

Controlled Randomness aka CNTR RNDM aka CR aka Uncle CR.

Genre?

Erm…

Selfie?

Kind of…

Christian Paga aka. Cntr Rndm

Where are you from?

Essen, Germany.

How did you get into music?

When I was 14, me and my mates wanted to start a rap group. We had the lyrical skills (nah, we didn’t), we had the looks (nah, we didn’t), we were cool AF (hell no) – the only thing that was missing were beats! So I got a copy of Magix Music Maker and I made the most amazing beats ever created (no, I certainly didn’t).

I decided to become a professional musician after I won a couple of really big remix contests – including Daft Punk’s Technologic remix contest (back in 2005 I think) which was also the door opener to getting a major record deal in the mid-noughties. This was really exciting and all, I really enjoyed this for a while but after some time I realized that there were too many people around me that wanted to have a piece of the pie; who wanted to tell me what music to make, what gigs to play and what clothes to wear (seriously!!!). I didn’t make the music I wanted to make and ultimately I didn’t care about all of this and all of a sudden, making music wasn’t fun anymore! I had lost both the spirit and myself along the way.

After some time, I decided to quit making music for a while because I wasn’t feeling it anymore. Well, before I knew it, “a while” became 10 years and I only got back into making music when the first lockdown happened…and well, here I am, making music I really want to make; nowadays, after all these years, making music is fun again; and that’s why I strongly believe that music is all about experimenting, having fun, and community!

What still drives you to make music?

If I only knew 😂 but I guess I really love experimenting!

How do you most often start a new track?

It depends, really – if the song includes drums, I’ll probably start with the drums. If it’s an ambient piece, however, I’ll probably have a little piano jam, record it to tape, load it into Ableton and stretch the hell out of it 😁

How do you know when a track is finished?

Tracks are never finished – you just stop working on them 😂

Show us your current studio

I don’t have a studio anymore… just a “Krako” and a laptop 😎

“Krako”

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Do what you love!

Ok, then I’ll shamelessly plug my Partygate PO-33 kit on YouTube… it’s this little jam at the intersection of music and journalism, as it reveals the true (like so true) story behind Boris Johnson’s Partygate scandal 😂


Max Beatwerk – Finger Rabbit

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

Dirtbox by Dr Alien Smith

As a drummer I am not so much of a knob guy, but right now I always enjoy dialing in the amount of distortion with my newly acquired Dirtbox from Dr Alien Smith.
And then there is that light switch in my studio which powers up everything with just one touch. Very satisfying!

The studio switch

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

I think that would be my two Sebatron VMP4000e tube preamps. They are tubey but fast and make me sound better without having to practice, haha! However I wished for a more relaxed output dial knob. You need a calm hand to use them, because it quickly jumps from not enough to way too hot output, at least with loud sources like drums. But that’s a minor issue, I really love these units.

Sebatron VMP4000e tube preamps

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

Compact stage drum kit

Generally I like compact setups. The stuff I bring depends on the music, but it is basically my 20“ aluminum bassdrum, two shallow snares, a cymbal and a floortom. Then an array of sizzlers and dampeners and maybe a sample pad for sounds that are hard to reproduce mechanically in a live setting.

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

Never really thought about that. My tracking room has all the tactile stuff like drums, cymbals and analog gear, whereas my mixing space is at home and strictly software. Perhaps some of the elaborate software I use would be more fun, if it was hardware. But I don’t care because I could not afford it anyway.

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

In today’s used gear internet cycle, it’s easy to sell and rebuy stuff. However, I really regret selling a Noble&Cooley Piccolo Maple snare drum I bought used for cheap. I sold it for another snare and since then I ask myself: Why? Then there was this big Sonor SQ2 high end kit I ordered when that line was first released. It was a great sounding instrument, however the wait was really long and during that time I began switching to smaller kits, so when it finally arrived it felt massively oversized.
Things got even worse, because when I tried to cut the air vent into the resonant head of the bass drum, I slipped off and cut my thumb so badly that I had to drive to the hospital. So I had a brand new, oversized kit, that I could not even play for three weeks.

But I have a story with a happy end, too! A few years ago I regret selling my Pearl Masters drumkit I bought new when I was 16. I contacted the guy who bought it from me back then and he agreed to sell it back to me. After 18 years. That kit sounds so good and I still use it regularly.

Pearl Drums

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

Broken lamp percussion. Not to be played by hand!

That’s a tough question. There certainly is some piece of gear I produced the most beats, with but that might not necessarily be the one that inspires me the most. However there are things that are part of my setup almost all the time. For example that quirky single tension pancake aluminum drum from Sugar Percussion. That’s a funky piece of gear with a stunningly versatile sound – at least for my stuff. Recently I found out that a broken IKEA lamp I accidentally killed with one bash, gives me a lot of inspiration. And that’s true for both the intact and broken condition.

Pancake snare

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

I would probably treat my room with acoustic elements.

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

It’s soft mallets, no matter which brand. I love the broad sound and the tamed transients, but the way I use them (hard hits on cymbals, rimshots etc.) they never hold up well for longer than a few weeks. That’s really annoying…and expensive. But I simply cannot live without them.

Mallets

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

I once discovered that plastic bottles and metal nut cans are not only great for carrying around water and nuts, but also act as great sound bending tools. Another cool discovery was the doorway to my studio. I found out that it doesn’t only act as a decent doorway, but a very exciting and dirty (and cheap!) reverb device. Pretty cool!

Bottle Phaser
Natural Reverb

Artist or Band name?

Maxbeatwerk

Genre?

Electro pop, hiphop, experimental, industrial, remote work for basically every genre

Selfie?

Max Gebhardt and the rabbit finger

Where are you from?

I am from Bremen, Germany.

How did you get into music?

My parents are both music lovers. When I was a kid my dad played the saxophone in a bebop band. He regularly „ordered“ me in front of my parent’s stereo to listen to Charlie Parker, Don Ellis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, my mom also played classical music to me. Then at age 13, I visited my cousin, whose brother had a drumkit. Although he was not at home at the time my aunt allowed me to try it out. The rest of my stay must have been a nightmare for everyone except for me, because it was impossible to make me stop banging on those drums. After I got home my parents had no choice, I had to have my own kit. It was a beat up Gretsch from the 70s.

What still drives you to make music?

Music!

[Editor: Yes!]

How do you most often start a new track?

I modify parts of my kit until I „hear“ something exciting. Or create something from my little instrument collection. Many drummers play the best when their kits are set up exactly the way they are used to. But at some point I found out that it pushes me when the drums and cymbals are set up somehow weird or odd. This approach is certainly not the best when you have to play a certain routine, but for my work mode it’s great. Sometimes it feels natural from the get go, but often enough I have to really learn my „inventions“. You don’t see it in the videos, but almost any horizontal motion interferes with the physical playing balance because it messes with gravity. The same goes for let’s say a bottle on a bass drum beater. It looks easy, but it changes the feel drastically to the point where my stuff is almost unplayable. These breaking points are where I become creative.

How do you know when a track is finished?

My mix place is at my appartement. At some point I turn up the volume, go to the kitchen and if it still feels good while hearing it from the coffeemaker I know it’s finished.

Show us your current studio

Max Gebhardt Photo:Ben Eichle
A slam of snares

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Be fearless! Sounds easy, but it took me years to listen to my inner voices and apply what they say to what I am doing. Another great advice came from drummer Jojo Mayer who said something like: „don’t aim for perfection, but instead for clarity“. I don’t know if that’s an original quote, but it is powerful.

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

www.maxbeatwerk.com

[Editor: Max also have a lovely Instagram chock full of weird beats and odd noises. Check it out instagram.com/maxbeatwerk]


Shounen Yuki – Dragon Shaped Clouds

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

Strymon Nightsky

It would be the modulation controls/knobs on either a reverb or delay. Most reverbs sound really good in my opinion, but modulation can set them apart and how they implement it. Even different algorithms on the same reverb will often have different modulation characteristics. Take the Cloud algorithm on the Big Sky for example. You start to push the modulation and it goes from huge reverb to something magical.
Same goes with the mechanics knob on the Volante, it goes from great tape delay into a way back machine that sounds like it’s about to start eating your tape loop and spit it on the floor in an act of rebellion of not getting it fixed. And if the effect is super cool you get both depth and speed for modulation like on the Night Sky.

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

Korg Minilogue XD

The Korg Minilogue XD comes to mind. While it is a nice improvement over the original, it removes a full secondary ADSR envelope. If it had that second full ADSR envelope and a mod matrix with assignable parameters and sources past the few “hard wired” sources and destinations, it would be perfect.

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

Novation Circuit Rhythm

Usually a really easy to use groove box. I used the original Circuit from Novation for years and then switched just recently into the Circuit Rhythm, that I load up with ambient and video game samples. It helps me come up with the basic structure of a song that I will translate later using my more at home/not mobile equipment. I tried to use an iPad for a while, but I just open the web browser and get distracted. 

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

I can’t really think of any. I spent a good 2 hours on this question. I hate making music ‘inside the box’ as they say. I’m an IT professional by day and do not want to sit at my computer when making music. I only use Logic to do some simple post production, like compression and the like, of my music work.

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

I can answer both with this, I sold my Novation Circuit Monostation to help buy a Digitone after the prices went insane for a little while on the Monostation. I got the Digitone and hated it. The sounds of the Digitone were not all that hot for what I wanted to do. Which is odd since I love FM. Luckily the opsix came along and it had the FM I liked. I did get maybe 2 good songs out of the Digitone, before I decided to sell it.
I also did not like the way presets were saved and recalled. The Monostation however I used for making faux NES/Master System 8bit style soundtracks and loved it. It really did some cool stuff when you used it in paraphonic mode.

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

The Korg Minilogue XD for sure. It was the OG Minilogue before that but the XD really expanded what I could do quickly. Having a super easy to use sequencer to get the base melody going to play over is so inspiring. That and it is so easy to make patches on, since it has very little menu diving, unless you want to use the 3rd oscillator. You just get something good easily with it without much effort. 

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

A Minilogue XD! I could honestly have that as my only synth if I really needed that to happen.

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

MacBook

It would have to be my desktop/laptop computer. I hate working on the computer when I get home from work, but I like to do my final mastering inside a DAW. This is also the only way I have found to do any sort of decent video editing for my music based Youtube stuff. 

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

The Minilogue XD and OG Minilogue have very limited routing and modulation options, but you can get around some of that by using the sequencer. You can motion sequence almost any knob and have that running as a sequence with or without note data as a pretty neat way to evolve your sound. 


Artist or Band name? 

I have 2 projects at the moment. My ambient project is called “Dragon Shaped Clouds” and my video game style stuff is called “At The Mana Tree”. 

Genre? 

I mostly do ambient and Japanese RPG style game music

Selfie? 

Shounen Yuki

Where are you from? 

Bremerhaven, Germany but I currently reside in Mesa, Arizona.

How did you get into music? 

I think I have been into music since I was at least 10 or so. Mostly coming from game soundtracks from Japanese RPG’s, especially the Final Fantasy soundtracks from the SNES and Chrono Trigger at that time and oddly enough Enya…
But I do remember going to the World Expo in Hannover Germany in 2000 and hitting up some music shops. I found an album by Tangerine Dream called “Underwater Sunlight ” and it changed me forever. I chased the retro (at the time) but foreign (to me) sounds of that album. It was not even the sounds, it was the overall sequences and progressions. Simplistic but captivating, like a game soundtrack. By that point I started trying to figure out how to make game and electronic music myself. 

What still drives you to make music? 

As odd as it might sound, the fact that I can make something that can be enjoyed by others makes me less depressed. 

How do you most often start a new track? 

I will grab a synth from my collection, some effects pedals, and a looper. Then I will come up with a signal chain based on what I feel like I want to sound like at that moment. At that point I will work on a patch on whatever synth I chose and change the parameters of the effects to get my desired sound. I will then start messing around with different scales to see what works best with the sound I made, lay down a melody or a drone on the looper and start layering sounds. 

How do you know when a track is finished? 

I guess I just go on until I feel the song starts to get repetitive or boring.

Show us your current studio

I use the living room as my studio, so I have a shot of my studio space/computer and my collection in a separate room. I will take stuff from my storage area into the living room to record videos and songs as needed. 

Gear storage
Home studio setup

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard? 

Back in high school I would use a piano at my school after hours and a minidisc recorder with an external microphone to record quite a few tracks of stuff I was working on as my parents could not afford an acoustic piano nor did we have the space. I would then delete them thinking they were garbage. One day the head of the music department noticed I was recording my work and wanted a copy because they thought it was really good. I said I never kept them because I thought they sucked and were just stupid and no one would ever want to listen to them. In shock the teacher assured me the music I was producing was not garbage and I should believe in my ability and I should really hold onto what I make even if I think it’s garbage. This has helped me actually release music past that point and I was shocked to find out people actually like it. Anyway the takeaway on that is: don’t be too overly critical about your music and don’t assume it sucks. 

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

My latest track I’m super proud of …

My youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/YukiTheSynthDragon

My IG: https://www.instagram.com/shounen.yuki/