Toto Ronzulli – Trumantic

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

Moog Cutoff filter

I really like the filter “cutoff” knob on my Minimoog Voyager. I love it because it’s so big and easy to use. It’s a pleasure to play with it anytime when you’re looking for the right filtering for your sound.

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

Ah… I think that easily changes over time. Hard to answer, but if I think of a “perfect effects kit” I say the trio Particle, Microcosm and Space. I’m using this combo heavily for my next record. I’m putting everything in it, from guitars to vocals and so on.

Red Panda Particle, Hologram Electronics Microcosm and Eventide Space

Many times I’ll throw in my Boss RE-20 Space Echo as well. Definitely changing over time is natural, so I would never want to have a “definitive kit”, especially when you start working on something new, changing something is a good way to be more creative.

Roland RE-20 Space Echo

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

During vacations I try not to think too much about music, but I always have with me my laptop with many vst, a small two octave midi keyboard by Korg and my Beyerdynamic heaadphones.

MacBook, midi keyboard and Beyerdynamic headphones

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

UAD Plugins

I have an Apollo rack unit from Universal Audio as my audio interface and it’s fantastic the quality of the included plug-ins, they sound so good and the sound is so hardware-like, I couldn’t ask for more in a way. Until a few days ago my dream was to get a Tascam Portastudio 414 MKII and it’s amazing that a soft-synths company called Robotic Bean has reproduced one and at such a low price, it sounds really great and I can’t wait to try it out. 

4 Track Cassette Tape

I love the endless possibilities of virtual instruments and their fidelity compared to hardware, but I would still love to get a Revox B 77 MKll to record anything onto tape and to add some wow/flutter turbulence and saturation to my songs. I love that recorder and will be buying one soon!

Revox B 77 MKll

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

I try to have “the essentials” in the studio, having a lot of equipment would be really nice, but it would confuse me during production and take up too much space. That’s why I choose my gear carefully, but I probably regret buying the Digital Multi Echo RE-1000 by BOSS. It’s a fun and uncontrollable unit because it doesn’t have the “rate” knob, but I use it so rarely and that’s why I think I can do without it. 

Boss Digital Multi Echo RE-1000

I regret selling my Roland Gaia, I didn’t love its “cold sound” but through a few pedals you could make it awesome. I miss its front panel because it was very intuitive, I had the ability to play out wacky sounds in minutes.

Roland Gaia

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

The equipment that has inspired me to write new music are many, but if I had to pick one I would probably say my Minimoog Voyager. 

Minimoog Voyager

Currently though, I’m using the Prophet Rev2 Desktop really heavily for everything, especially on my upcoming album. I love that sound and its polyphony so much.

Prophet Rev2 Desktop

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

UAD Apollo Soundcard

Probably an Apollo interface. It has infinitely improved my mixes, production and recording. I realized that many times it’s just not enough to have great synths or a ’65 guitar, if you don’t have a good audio interface with high definition sound in recording and post-production.

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

Furman M-10x E

The “Furman M-10x E” because it is bulky and has so many cables on the back of the desk! It’s also not fun, it only has an “on/off” switch (it has 2! haha) on the front panel. The reason I can’t do without it is pretty obvious. It saves the life of all my equipment all the time and I feel safer having it. I will be getting another one soon. I’ve always had bad experiences with the unstable electricity in my town, I remember the day after I bought the Voyager, oscillator number 3 had stopped working. It was frustrating to send back and still wait for a replacement. I have since decided to get a stabilizer and “Furman” does the job just fine.

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

Lately I’ve been testing a mixing technique that doesn’t require an acoustically treated room.

Just apply a VU meter to your daw’s master bus, play the kick around – 3 and gradually raise the bass until everything gets to 0, then mix everything else in. It may sound wrong but it sounds really good if you have good EQ on the low end. I also always test my mixes on a very small JBL to get a concrete reference of how the track sounds elsewhere. 

Tiny JBL speaker

I’ll add that I love to dirty some parts of my songs with lots of layers of backing tracks that go into different equipment and pedal combinations to create that “dreamy” atmosphere underneath a melody for example.

Dreamy fx pedals

Artist or Band name?

Truemantic

Genre?

Alternative / Indie / Electronica

Selfie?

Toto Ronzulli aka. Truemantic

Where are you from?

Margherita di Savoia, Puglia, Italy.

How did you get into music?

I was born in a club! At the end of the 80’s my father opened one and later in the 90’s it became very influential in southern Italy. Artists like “Afrika Bambaataa” were performing. I was born in ’94 and all this pushed me towards this direction. I remember when I was 4 years old my parents bought a toy drum set and I broke it by banging on the drums! Ahahah.
In the mid-nineties the club closed and reopened in 2006. All my teenage years were spent at the console with resident DJs and international guest artists like “Tony Humphries”. That’s why I started as a DJ and later as a musician, studying theory, solfeggio and practicing piano for years.

What still drives you to make music?

I realize that every time I sit in my room I feel so fascinated by the creative process. In a way I can’t describe the feeling I get, it may simply be an emotional state that drives me to create something new. Some days it’s frustrating to spend hours in the studio, other times it’s all I want. It’s like something you have inside that needs to be released!

How do you most often start a new track?

I hum and record with my smartphone a melody I have in my mind. Next, I sit in the studio and try to develop the theme. I think a film or book can influence my stylistic choices, but I also think the production is more of a “try and try again” in my studio.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I add final texture elements and not additional “tool track”.

Show us your current studio

Truemantic studio

It’s not a real studio really, but something like a room.

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Create your own sound! It doesn’t matter how… Just do it!

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

https://truemantic.bandcamp.com/album/truemantic

https://margueriterecords.bandcamp.com/track/truemantic-destruction

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbws5Iz5TcKjS3iN7O_tMiw

My last two releases were 4 years ago and a lot has changed since then, from production to my setup! My first album ‘Truemantic’ came out in 2018 and my single ‘Destruction’ came out a year later. I’m currently working on my new album, concretely for about a year. There are so many amazing collaborations on it! I can’t wait to share it and play it live. I hope to stop by Copenhagen too!


Caspar Hesselager – Synthful Jebus

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

Mighty Macbeth Vernier knobs

Great question. This matters. 100% the Vernier-dials on my Macbeth Elements. Posh answer, I know, but they’re just so smooth and satisfying to turn!

MacBeth Elements

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

Probably my Sequential OB-6. It’s so damn good. In a perfect world it’d be 8 or 16 voices. But it’s amazing, and especially if you add the GeoSynths Low Frequency expander (which I definitely will) it’s pretty much all the poly-synth you (I) need. The Make Noise Shared System is close to perfect in a way too. I would make the Erbe Verb have a stereo input, if I could change one thing. Best reverb ever.

Sequential OB-6

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

I’ve brought my OP-1 and/or Digitakt on several trips and tours, but I usually never get around to using them much. Right now with this whole Corona-situation I’ve assembled a little spot at home with a DFAM, Vermona RetroVerb and a modest 104hp of Eurorack to pass the time and come up with sounds to use later on.

TE OP-1

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

I wish there was a Soundtoys multi-fx hardware unit of some sort! Like their Effects Rack plugin. That would be fun, especially for live use. I use Soundtoys constantly (like everyone else?).
The other way around is more tricky, I almost feel like we already have everything? Oh, I know, an iPad Make Noise Shared System would be interesting for jamming in the sofa.

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

I regret selling my Prophet 08. I replaced it with the Rev2 because it has some advantages live. But I have to say, the 08 just sounded better. I will be getting a used desktop version at some point again, I think. I usually hold on to things though, since I just know I’ll come back to most things, even if I don’t use them for a while. I don’t really have any buying regrets. Maybe some modules here and there, but hey, that’s part of the journey!

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

Yamaha upright piano

Definitely the good ol’ piano. But I find the Make Noise Shared System (and modular in general) incredibly inspiring too.

Make Noise Shared System

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

Starting out today with synths on a relatively modest budget, and wanting to get into (semi) modular,  I would probably get a 0-coast, Mother 32, or Grandmother. For starting in general, get a laptop and Ableton or Logic. All you need, basically.

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

My computer, by a mile. I kind of hate it, and Logic too (which I the only DAW I use). Don’t get me started on why! And a shout out to my MFB Tanzbär. I use it quite a bit and adore the sound, but man, that interface is something else. Drives you crazy. Good luck getting parameter locks to work, EVER!

MFB Tanzbär

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

More a general piece of advice or tip maybe, but I encourage everyone to get into pedals and hardware effects. It just changes how you approach making sounds, and takes you away from the screen. As much as I love plugins, there’s just no substitution for the hands-on tweaking and interaction on the fly that you get from pedals. And it teaches you to commit to your sounds, because there are no infinite recall and undos. I have this chain that I use very often where every synth I have goes through a small stereo looper, three Eventide pedals + one Strymon, and into a Culture Vulture stereo distortion before hitting the computer. The opportunities with something like that are infinite.


Artist or Band name?

Caspar Hesselager. My Heart the Brave. Palace Winter.

Genre?

Epic widescreen alternative everything.

Selfie

Caspar Hesselager. A man of many knobs!

Where are you from?

Copenhagen.

What still drives you to make music?

Simply discovering new sounds. Infinite options, surprises, and ways to go, even with the same few Legos.

How do you most often start a new track?

Often with a tempo that feels right for that day. After that drum machine and acoustic piano combo, usually. With modular, sort of the same, I have a tempo and a vibe from the beginning that I try to pursue, and then the machine will surprise me along the way.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it sounds KILLER! 😀 At some point it just becomes this little universe that stands on its on feet, and then you leave it there. I can take a week or 2 months though, to get to that place, that’s the tricky part. But I’d say in general, I don’t have a hard time finishing tracks.

Show us your current studio

Caspar’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Hmm, trying to search through all the bad advice I’ve endured to get to some good, hold on. I heard Knud Romer [Editor: Danish author] say recently when asked, how do you write a great book, that “you edit a bad one”. To me that translates to keep writing and recording until it’s good. Stay at it, eventually you will come up with something cool.

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

6 Synthesizer Performances Album:
https://open.spotify.com/album/4YaG8wKDZap9Ge3HF5Snel?si=g0ooOyFCTHGHgq_p4M-5jg

YouTube synth videos:
https://www.youtube.com/c/casparhesselager


[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…
]


A.Trentemøller – Yes! That Trentemøller

1. What is your favourite knob/switch/fader on a piece of gear?

The knobs on my Hohner String Melody II… I just love the colours…

Hohner String Melody 2

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

I really like the sound of the drums on the Volca Beats , especially the kick drum, but I don’t like the snare . I would have loved one which was a bit more aggressive and snappy.

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

Just my laptop, a midi keyboard, my Apogee Duet Duo and the JHS ColorBox v2 for warming up and EQ’ing softsynhs / hardwaresynths or to record bass or guitar through or re-amping . It sounds so great and it has XLR input for mic as well. Perfect!

JHS ColorBox v2

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

I wish my Hughes Retriever could be emulated as a plugin, it has such a unique sound and I love the way it opens up the stereo image.

Hughes Retriever and racked friends

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

A lot I regret buying, ha ha… lately the Yamaha Reface YC. It sounds like plastic and not in the good corny way… don’t know why I bought it.

Yamaha YC

I regret selling my Thermionic Culture Vulture, I didn’t use it enough, but sometimes I have experienced actually missing what it did. The plugin version is not sounding as good at all.

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

I don’t have one specific thing, but it could actually be my upright piano that I have in my studio. It’s where most of my songs have been made. 

Oluf Pedersen upright piano… where the magic is made

I like to NOT sit in front of a computer, but instead using my ears and I love that the sound is coming from the instrument itself , not through speakers. It’s very intimate and I feel more focused on the songwriting rather than the sound. I also use it with the felt on, and I like that intimate sound it produces. 

Upright piano with hammers on felt

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

A Mac not a PC. [Editor: Woah-ho! Easy now everyone. Let’s all be friends, ok?]

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

My wireless Mac mouse . It loses the connection to Bluetooth ALL the time , and I tried different Mac mouses, same problem! And I just got a new MacBook Pro, so it shouldn’t happen… but it does!! It drives me crazy!!

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

Playing with the reels on my Revox while recording. To give it a bit of wow / flutter here and there.

Revox B77 reel-to-reel

I actually had a controller specifically made for that one thing only.

Revox varispeed controller

Artist or Band name?

Trentemøller

Genre?

Indie / electronica

Selfie?

Anders Trentemøller 🤘

Where are you from?

Copenhagen. Denmark.

How did you get into music?

I started playing on all sorts of stuff, from pots and pans to toy pianos, from when I was 3 or 4 years old, and never stopped loving and playing music!!

What still drives you to make music?

I love the playful energy in it and the fact that I can create my own little musical world!

How do you most often start a new track?

At my upright piano.

How do you know when a track is finished?

It’s easier now, it was hard for me earlier. But I need to, still have that spontaneous vibe I had, when I started working on a song. It’s so easy to overproduce or overdo a track.

Show us your current studio

Trentemoller’s studio… knobs galore!
Trentemoller’s studio DAW setup

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Use your ears” and “There is no right or wrong way to do things!“

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

Trentemoller – Obverse [Editor: Go listen now! Really]

[Editor: I gotta say it! I’m stupidly glad that Mr. Trentemøller has answered these ‘9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies’, on my tiny little 1 month old blog. It’s been a real pleasure to read about his gear and creative processes. If you have any of the gear he uses? Then leave a comment below]