1. Favourite knob or fader or switch on a piece of gear and why?
You want a gateway to all possible multiverses of music? The RANDOMISE button on the Korg Opsix will take you there.
Maybe you just want to go to the universe next door. Korg has got you covered: You can set the level of randomisation, giving you everywhere from the tiniest variation on your current sound too.
2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
Chase Bliss Dark World. It’s an ugly/beautiful reverb that makes anything sound cool. But … I want it in stereo.
DARK on the left. WORLD on the right. Let ‘em twist and twirl together. Let them have babies with two heads and two dark hearts . I digress…
PS. An adjustable loop length on the Chase Bliss Habit would be dope too…
3. What setup do you bring on holiday or tour or commute etc.?
If I need to be agile/mobile/hostile I stick with this: Korg Volca Keys paired with a Zoom G1 Four. The Keys was my first synth, and it was cheap. The Zoom has pretty much every standard effect under the sun – and a 30 second looper. I’ve recently added the Arturia Keystep as a keyboard, because the patented Volca keyboard is a flaming trash heap.
Give it another couple of weeks and it might be the Volca FM2 instead though…
4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
If Puremagnetik’s Driftmaker delay was a pedal I’d pay a ridiculous amount of money for it without a second thought. It adds such a gritty, messed up ambience to whatever it touches. Blankfor.ms had a hand in it, so you know the lofi is legit.
I don’t wish any of my hardware was a software plugin* This is not to say that I’m dismissing the digital side of music making in any way, shape or form. Plenty of great artists use it to great effect.
I don’t use these tools because I just don’t have much time to play music.
Booting up a computer, opening up Ableton, selecting one of an infinite array of software synths, worrying about CPU usage or RAM – all of this takes time and energy to deal with. I ain’t in a headspace (or a techspace) where I can do any of that quickly or efficiently currently.
My hardware setup can go from POWER OFF to ready to play in about 10 seconds. Maybe a minute if I’ve got some super crazy stereo stuff I want to dial in.
If I had a small, always on computer with enormous processing power next to my synth setup, then I’d definitely be integrating more.
*although I am intrigued by plugins that work in tandem with my hardware pedals. When I have world enough, and time, I’ll be doing some weird n’ wild stuff with the Chase Bliss Plugin for Gen Loss 2 , as well as a user created plugin for HABIT…
5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
Moog Mavis is the perennial underdog of my setup. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful as a single module in a larger modular setup. Oora Music gets a ton of mileage out of it as part of his suitcase of modules. On its own… you don’t have much to work with and I’m not fully ready to commit to it.
In retrospect, I wish I’d saved an extra couple of weeks and grabbed a Make Noise Strega instead. Alas, currently Mavis is a humble lowpass filter for my drum machine.
6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
I refuse to read the manual for Matt Bradshaw’s Drumkid because I wanna believe that it has a mind of its own. Sure, it’s supremely limited, but everything it does it nails. I randomise a drum pattern, and now I have a drummer that will flick in a little something extra from time to time. It’s a true collaborator – spitting its endless rhythmic ideas my way to play off. I need a good collaborator with an excellent brain to get my fingers working. Drumkid is both.
Heck, a lot of the time I mute the drum channel – all I need is the groove that the Drumkid thoughtfully provides.
7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
I started off many a year ago with just a Korg Volca Keys and nothing else for like 5 years. Please note that the Keys sounds like a squealing pig until you grease it with heavy reverb.
Can you blame me? I was seduced by that wonderful word: ANALOG.
Now I just want a usable sound that I can dial in quickly.
If I could turn back time I’d grab a Volca FM instead and have every DX7 preset ever made loaded onto it. Who needs to properly learn FM synthesis if you’ve got some great presets, right?
Also I’d get a MIDI keyboard for the thing because no-one deserves to be punished with the standard Volca ribbon keyboard.
8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
I love the Chase Bliss Mood. I still don’t know what I’m doing with it half the time. I just did a session where it seemed like all the settings were reversed and maybe the thing is trying to gaslight me. I dunno man…
But when it hits, it breaks through the fabric of reality. Even that basic reverb sounds so weird and warped and wonderful. To say nothing of its DELAY or SLIP modes.
9. The Most surprising tip or trick or technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
Treat it right and Chase Bliss Habit can be a mono synth.
Firstly you need:
⦁ A constant(ish) sound source/tone.
⦁ Chase Bliss Habit.
Here’s how you do it:
⦁ Set the MODIFY switches to A1. You are now in pitch delay mood. Twisting between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock will pitch your echoes down. Twisting it further either side will pitch your echoes up to the heavens.
⦁ Set the DRY KILL dipswitch up to ON. Now you have no dry signal. This is very important.
⦁ Set SIZE and SPREAD to minimum.
⦁ Set LEVEL to maximum.
⦁ Run your signal through HABIT.
⦁ I like dragging my input cable over a surface for extra loftiness. Radio static is also cool.
⦁ Twist the MODIFY knob to get your note of choice.
Artist or Band name?
… in retrospect, this name makes me incredibly difficult to search google for. But hey, it’s mine now.
Lo-fi ambient. Lofi is a fine way to hide my (currently) novice playing skills.
[immediately before an exorcism]
Where are you from?
The land I live on was called Boorloo before colonisation. Nowadays it’s called Perth.
How did you get into music?
My parents played me stuff that blew my mind*. My sister played me stuff that blew my mind. My friends played me stuff that blew my mind. I feel obliged to return the favour.
*specifically, in no particular order: Elton John. Frank Zappa. Queens of the Stone Age. King Crimson. Heather Nova. Foo Fighters. South Park: Chef Aid. The Goon Show. Tom Waits. Goreki. Massive Attack. Godspeed You! Black Emperor. David Holmes. After Dinner.
What still drives you to make music?
Vanity. I like that people like my work. Shouting into the silent abyss can get dispiriting.
Progress. Seeing improvement today over yesterday and the day before is awfully gratifying.
Meditation. It’s been a strange few months. I’ve been keeping too much in my mind. The act of creation wipes things away, if only briefly…
How do you most often start a new track?
I’ll hear something on my way to work from tybo_ambientsky or shimmery.mp3 or kaicarsonwest do something cool with a piece of gear that I have. I’ll spend the day consumed by the thought. I crib the settings in the margins of my workbook. I imagine all the ways that I can take this and break it and then go ham with distortion and layers until I have an ungainly tower of grain and fuzz. Then I go do it.
How do you know when a track is finished?
When my darling tells me to go to bed.
Show us your current studio
Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
Create incessantly and with intention. Be like Prince – record all the damn time, release only the gems. And release gems all the darn time. You are an iceberg; you are a vault. The little that the public sees is supported by the vast volume of work that you toiled on out of sight. Constant introspection and evaluation will make your work better. But only if you make your work.
I’m paraphrasing Father Bronques here. His advice took me from an unemployed student to a photographer charging $200 an hour in the space of a year.
Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
I have a YouTube that would love a few more followers. Feeling like long, long lofi ambient pieces to sleep to? Do you need to hear tape loops looping forever? This is the place to go.
Also @royriverswhite is a good mate of mine doing fabulous art on an early 1980’s Apple MacIntosh. We’re gonna be doing something weird. Together. Soon.
[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]