Joel Negus – Synthing Classics

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

Cutoff on the Moog Sub25. Nothing like the ladder filter!

Moog Subsequent 25

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

The Vermona DRM-1 mkiii is amazing, but maaaan I wish the trigger inputs were on the front panel!

Vermona DRM-1 mkiii and Lyra-8

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

OP1 basically lives in my backpack if it’s not out in the studio. I’ll often develop ideas on it that end up staying on a track.

Teenage Engineering OP-1

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

Couldn’t come up with a direct answer to this question 😂 so decided to answer it by saying that the Arturia Polybrute beautifully blends software / hardware as a complete instrument.

A Strymon Zuma trying to hide an Arturia Polybrute

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

I used to own a Korg SV-1 until my dad passed his 1977 Rhodes down to me. I always enjoyed playing the sv-1 and realize I shouldn’t have sold it whenever I see one.

On the Rhodes again… I cain’t wait to get on the Rhodes again!

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

The Moog Subharmonicon!!! More ideas have started on that thing than any other instrument for me (except maybe the piano).

Moog Subharmonicon and friends

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

If I had known just how magical tape echo was, I probably would’ve wanted it sooner… but it probably wouldn’t have been first 😂

Echo Fix EF-X2

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

The helping hand for soldering!!!

A helping hand for soldering

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

I recently learned about the tails mode on the Earthquakes Avalanche Run – haven’t used it yet, but I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about that before I bought it!

An avalanche of eurorack! Run!!!

Artist or Band name?

Joel Negus

Genre?

Various, often in classical / jazz / electro-acoustic worlds

Selfie?

Joel Negus

Where are you from?

Born and raised in Chicago IL, but I’ve been in Cleveland OH for 15 years.

How did you get into music?

Both of my parents are professional musicians. Growing up, I was a boy soprano 🤵 and my dad had me sing on a number of commercials on the jingle scene. Eventually I fell hard into the punk rock scene, which turned to metal – I was a part of starting the band Born of Osiris. Changed directions in high school and focused on classical / jazz upright bass.

What still drives you to make music?

Creativity cannot be severed from relationships. The very act of making itself is collaborative – this connection to others is a constant source of inspiration.

How do you most often start a new track?

Playing an instrument and a spark hits. Recently though, trying to think more in silence before jumping in – starting more in my head. Always looking for different ways to compose!

Korg MS-20

How do you know when a track is finished?

I rarely “feel” that it’s finished, but I suppose it’s when I’m at the height of my excitement over it. I’ve found it best to wrap it up somewhat quickly when I’m really excited about how things are sounding.

Show us your current studio

A solemn of guitars
Bass-synth, bass-ukulele, contra-bass

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

We can’t just think about what we’re making, but the social context in which we’re making.

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

I just released a score I did for a modern dance company in town called Inlet Dance Theater. The piece was called Red Tape and was a total joy to collaborate on. Cheers!

https://joelnegus.bandcamp.com/album/red-tape-original-score


Kristin Hsiao – Show & Tell

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

The switch on my telecaster. Although it only has a 3-position blade, that’s enough for me to do a lot of expressions.

Telecaster

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

I’d say the ZOIA is the most versatile pedal I’ve ever seen. It has a steep learning curve at the beginning though. But I found it opened up so many possibilities for me to design sound effects every time I learned a new trick. I never thought I’d be able to create my own patches so freely.
I wish it had an auto-save function. Because I touch the wrong buttons or knobs by accident once in a while. And the not-yet-saved patch I’ve almost done, just goes blank right away… (oh no!)

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

On holiday I used to bring my acoustic guitar. But I realized that I generally like to immerse myself in nature and rarely play the guitar when I turn on holiday mode. So I don’t do it anymore. Because that’s not fair to my guitar.

Faith FSHG Hi-Gloss Saturn

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

In terms of songwriting, I love using DAWless setup more than software. But when it comes to the production phase, iZotope Ozone 9 is the must-use software every time I do mastering. It rebalances all the sounds that I’ve recorded and gives me the whole picture of my music. So, it would be great if iZotope Ozone 9, became an actual device.

On the other side, I love the control panel on the Strymon Volante, it’s pretty straightforward. But I’m also curious if it turned from hardware into software, how crazy would it be with automation?

Strymon Volante

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

Well, I won’t say it’s a regret. It’s more like a nostalgic feeling. Back in the day, I had participated in lots of live shows mostly with this guitar. It used to be with me for quite a long time.
The reason I sold it is that I wanted to find a characteristic sound that is closer to my personality traits.

Ibanez J custom RG8470

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

I’ll go with Logic Pro X for this question. As there are many stock plug-ins and loops that allow me to play around, it inspires me to generate ideas from them. In addition, I’m able to efficiently organize my thoughts in Logic Pro first. Then practically implement these ideas on my gear. So that I won’t spend extra time cleaning up the mess.

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

I would still choose an acoustic guitar if I had to start over. It’s the handiest instrument to me no matter if I’m writing a song or just having fun with friends.

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

That’s a tough one. Every device has its own traits. As for the annoying parts of devices, I’d tend to consider it as an opportunity of forcing myself to come up with new ideas rather than annoyance.

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

(Not sure if this is surprising.) One day, I was jamming with only the MicroFreak and the ZOIA. Here’s the thing. Although the MicroFreak allows me to play polyphonically, I can’t really play E1 and G5 on the keyboard simultaneously. So I tried to figure this out and then came up with a solution. The tips are written in my Jamming Diary. This can be seen on my YouTube channel – Jamming Diary #44.


Artist or Band name?

葵斯汀

Genre?

Hmmm… Experimental? Psychedelic? Ambient? A bit of chill?

Selfie?

Kristin Hsiao

Where are you from?

Taiwan

How did you get into music?

My sister taught me some guitar chords when I was a junior high student.

What still drives you to make music?

Music is my outlet for expressing inner feelings. So I’ll keep making music as long as I’m not dead inside.

How do you most often start a new track?

Just grab my guitar and randomly play some stuff. Once I find an interesting riff, I’ll record it into a looper or Logic Pro X as a pattern and loop it. Then create my own beat/loops on top of that. Or drag different loops into the project to hear if they’re suitable for the original pattern. Repeat these actions, again and again, until I’m cool with the result.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Honestly, every “finished” track is a regret whenever I listen to the playback. The only way to not fall into this trap is to keep moving on.

Show us your current studio

Desktop with lots of fun FX and synths

It’s not a luxurious space, but I have everything I need. All of my releases were made in this small bedroom studio. The sparrow may be small but it has all the vital organs.
I’m quite satisfied with it.
I also have a small room for instruments and pigs!

Sofa with lots of fun instruments and pigs!

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” — Leonardo Da Vinci

Not just in music, I hope I’m able to keep everything as simple as possible in life.

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kristinhsiao/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/KristinHsiao
Website: https://kristinhsiao.com


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 😂