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]


Pablo Ortega – Mellow Cello

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

The volume knob on my monitor controller. It is huge and I am constantly using it when mixing. 

Monitor controller

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

Yellow Cello very Mellow

I think my cello. But like all string instruments, there are days when it sounds better and others when it sounds worse, it is a bit moody depending on the weather. I would want it to always sound the best! But that is just the nature of the instrument.

Prophet Rev2

I also find the Prophet rev2 pretty pretty good. It would really be a dream if it would include a proper analog high pass filter and a better sounding reverb (I find its reverb sadly almost unusable).

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

I usually try not to take any piece of gear when I go on holidays because otherwise it is harder for me to really ‘disconnect’ if I know that I can make music at any time. When going on tour I always have most of my instruments with me anyway, but in most cases my laptop with Ableton Live would be enough to keep creating. When I am away I mostly do sound design or drum loops, witch I can use when back on the studio. 

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

Macbook running Phonec VSTi

I have recently discovered a very special soft synth called Phonec 2. It has lots of character and some very interesting integrated effects, like a random pitch modulator like Shallow Water. On top of that you can randomize all its parameters, which sometimes leads to unexpected patches. It think it sounds more organic than many hardware synths I have played – the problem is that I don’t love to use soft synths, I much prefer to be able to turn every knob with my fingers.
A hardware unit that I would definitely love to see in software is the Moog MuRF.

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

Precisely, I kinda regret selling my Moog MIDI MuRF. It seemed to me like a lot of money for a single effect at the time, and because of that it was difficult to justify keeping it. But it has a very special and lovely sound. Now that they are not being produced anymore they have gotten even more expensive. As of regrets I honestly don’t have many, if buy some gear with which I don’t connect after a while, I sell it rather fast.

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

Probably my piano or the Prophet 08 (and later the rev2).

Schimmel Upright Piano

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

A laptop with Ableton Live. Then, a polyphonic synth and a piano. Also a simple but high quality soundcard interface and a pair of Beyerdynamic 770 or 880. I would have more than enough with that for a long while.

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

I kind of love all pieces of gear I currently have. I have a bit of a minimalistic mentality, so everything I don’t love or use regularly I end up selling. That allows me to get to know more gear, expand my music making approaches and then integrate the instruments and workflows that really suit me.

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

I like to make my synth sounds subtly imperfect, so I love to map a slow random LFO with low amplitude to parameters like filter cutoff, amp envelope, oscillator tuning, amp decay, noise… there is no limits there. I do this all the time with the Prophet rev2.
Another one little trick I discovered a short while ago on Ableton/Mac is to create a custom key combination for freezing and flattening the tracks. That is saving me a ton of time and it allows me to not have to interrupt my workflow that much.


Artist or Band name?

Pablo Ortega

Genre?

Electrónica/Ambient/Classical

Selfie?

Pablo Ortega

Where are you from?

I was born in Spain, but I have been living in Germany for the last 10 years.

How did you get into music?

I started learning to play cello in my city’s conservatory when I was 11 years old, and piano a couple of years later.

What still drives you to make music?

I have a strong need inside to keep creating, it is something I cannot ignore for a long period of time . Maybe it is a bit like an addiction (a good one I hope?). 

How do you most often start a new track?

I usually improvise on the piano till I come across an interesting idea, which then I record and try to develop into a longer sketch. 

How do you know when a track is finished? 

I often come to a point where I feel that if I keep adding or changing things, the track is gonna get worse. I think that is when. Then, if I find it to be good enough, I wait a couple of days/weeks and then I mix it. If the track isn’t that good I just accept the fact that maybe it isn’t meant to be and move forward. I try not to seek perfection with every piece I produce because that way it is easy to get lost into a rabbit hole.

Show us your current studio

Pablo’s studio
A cellist’s pedal board

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t try to make your music perfect every time, just keep creating -this is also kind of my inner mantra when trying to keep myself creative.

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

My last (and also first) EP ‘Still Waters Run Deep’ which I released two months ago:

https://sptfy.com/stillwatersrundeep

Also my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PabloOrtegaMusic


[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…
]


Martha Bahr – Panic Girl

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

That’s a hard question to answer as every instrument is a composition of different knobs, faders and switches, which are only valuable through their interaction between each other. But if I had to choose one it would be the cutoff knob or fader. I tend to like very mellow sounds especially for inspiration.

ARP2600

My favourite cutoff of all times is the one on my ARP2600, especially with the resonance on maximum. I have never heard a more beautiful and eerie sound.

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

Panic Girl Eurorack modular

That would be my modular system. It grows and changes with me as I grow and change as an artist, and it’s the perfect instrument for those “happy little accidents”, for experiments, for getting to that next level sound design wise.
What I would change about it? Maybe it would be great to make them less heavy all in all, especially if you want to travel with it. 

Eurorack and flower

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

As much as fits in my suitcase. I usually take a skiff with me, my OP-1, an iPad and my laptop, just to have some options when in a good flow.

Eurorack skiff as LP cover with an OP-1 and SM57

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

I’d like to have the René by Make Noise as a Plugin, I love that module. It brings that bit of extra spice to my tracks, that I really like. And the Malgorithm, it’s my go to bitcrusher sound that I can’t get enough of so far. 
As for the other way around I would love to have the Fabfilter plugins as a module, especially the Limiter. It gives you the volume you need without colouring the sound too much, I use it on every track I make as well as their EQ. 

Make Noise Rene

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

Not yet. I surely bought some gear, especially some modules that didn’t fit my workflow after all. But that’s part of the game with modular synthesizers in my opinion, you try, sell, buy, reconfigure and grow with your system (or the other way around?) like you grow musically and as a person throughout life.

Eurorack and a bit of ARP2600

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

I’d say Logic and my modular system. There is so much to explore in each, so many possibilities to learn new things and so much room for „happy accidents.“ 

I spent a lot of time learning Logic as a rookie, I wanted to know it inside out so I can “play” it like an instrument. And there are several things especially in the beginning you have to figure out before you can produce music without having to think too much, like moving the anchor point in your audio regions or how to get an audio file with a different bpm to fit your track or how to set up the Environment for different purposes and so on. While figuring all that out, I came up with one idea after the other of what I wanted to try and explore musically. Back then I spent every free minute with Logic, it was extremely exciting to unlock all those levels of music creation one by one, it’s actually quite similar like getting addicted to a video game.

And modular instruments are just crazy with all their possibilities, it’s an endless source of inspiration to me for about ten years now. I’ve tried out so many modules by now, I couldn’t count them all. I also got some of them sent to me to write articles about for the german print magazine Sound & Recording, like the Yarns module by Mutable Instruments for example. And now I can’t live without it anymore. They are all very unique and special in their own way, it’s exciting and often eye-opening to make music with them.

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

I think I’m pretty ok with how things went and what equipment I got throughout the years. I started out on a PC, learned Logic, Cubase, ProTools, Fruity Loops and Reason at the SAE Institute back then and finally got a Virus TI as my first synth.

The most important thing to me is to learn how for examples DAWs work in general or how synths work in general, so I can translate that knowledge quickly to any other related gear rather than learning just one DAW or one synthesizer in and out and not knowing how to use similar gear from other companies.

That can be pretty helpful especially if your working as an audio engineer or composer and need to work with different tools from time to time.

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

That would be the computer per se I suppose. Especially moving to a new computer can be quite unnerving or when your current one gets too slow for all the tasks you want to do. 

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

That would be modules with which you can do generative patches, that was a real eye-opener for me. The René module by Make Noise with it’s cartesian sequencer was my first experimental module and I still use it in every patch I make. Being able to set the notes of a scale, but randomizing the order in which those notes are being played can make for some very interesting variations in a patch.


Artist or Band name?

Panic Girl 

Genre?

Electronica, Downtempo, Experimental 

Selfie?

Martha Bahr aka. Panic Girl

Where are you from?

I’m currently living in Munich, Germany.

How did you get into music?

I discovered my passion for music very early on when I was a child. I was utterly fascinated with this invisible medium that still seemed to surround me though I couldn’t touch or see it. I already knew back then that I wanted to spend my life with music, in whatever way possible. 

Panic Girl in a dream of wires

I sang in the school choir for several years, learned how to play the piano and the guitar and was playing in bands when I was a teenager. That’s when I got more and more interested with the equipment that we used like the mixing desk, the effects we applied to our instruments or DI Boxes for example. I just wanted to know how they worked. When a good friend of mine told me about the SAE Institute I knew instantly that this is what I wanted to do. I quit my studies at the university and finally started the Audio Engineering Program at the SAE Munich.

What still drives you to make music?

I just can’t do without it, it has been such a vital part of my being since early childhood. I still have tons of ideas I want to try out and there is always so much exciting equipment out there to explore. And there are also inspiring collaborations with for example Anatol Locker. We make experimental music as Lucid Grain, where we create music with our modular synthesizers that none of us could compose on it’s own. It’s like melting two musical minds into new fresh musical pieces. Inspiration is everywhere I suppose, you just have to learn to see it.

How do you most often start a new track?

I need a sound that inspires me to make a full song out of it. That sound can be literally everything, be it a noise from the coffee machine or birds singing, sounds from my modular system, my ARP2600 or my OP-1 for example. I often seem to navigate towards mellow and dreamy sounds and pads, noisy background sounds like from a vinyl player or field recordings. That initial sound then determines where I go from there, if the track needs drums or if it will be a more experimental one, if I feel like singing to it or if some more field recordings would fit well. 

Arp2600

How do you know when a track is finished?

The composition part of music making is usually done pretty quickly. It’s the mixing that takes up most of my time. I check it on several loudspeakers and headphones and have to adjust it several times, until it sounds equally good on everyone of them. I also find it very useful to not listen to the track for at least one or two weeks, so you actually have forgotten how it sounds. If you then re-listen and still like it, then I guess you’re good to go.

Show us your current studio

Eurorack and Arp2600
Roland Juno-60 and a Casio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

One of the sentences that stuck in my head for years is that you shouldn’t listen too emotionally when you’re working on a track, especially during the mixing stage. That’s something I still can’t fully control, sometimes I just need to crank up the volume, dance around and go back to work after that. You need a clear and calm mind for mixing to make those technical decisions, to make a mix work. I could for example drown everything in reverbs and delays, I just love how they sound. But it’s definitely not good for your mix, it gets muddy very fast. So I need to hold back and work on the mix from an mixing engineers perspective to get the most out of it.

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

I’m very proud of my latest album “Cake On Jupiter” that I released with Modularfield last year:

https://panic-girl.bandcamp.com/album/cake-on-jupiter

[Editor: Beina a musician now a days means taking on many different roles. Which you can see that people such as Ms. Bahr is very adapt at. Do you struggle with the various roles required to be a productive musician these days? And which roles are the most challenging? Leave a comment below.]


[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…
]