1. Favourite knob/fader/switch on a piece of gear and why?
Microbrute’s filter. First of all, I believe that this Steiner-Parker filter is one of the best I’ve put my hands on. And since the Brute was my first analog synthesizer it holds a special place in my heart. From the first sweep, I fell in love.
2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
Hmm it’s really difficult to say that something’s perfect. I will be super super boring and give it to the Launchpad. I work in Ableton’s session view all the time and it makes things so much faster. The only thing I would like to see is a 16×16 version to be able to see my whole project at once.
3. What setup do you bring on holiday/tour/commute etc.?
I actually was at my summer house for 3 weeks last month and I decided to bring the things I use the least to get to know them. So it was the Volca FM which I haven’t really used since I got it. Although the tiny knobs are horrible, the sounds are excellent. And with that I also used my iPad a lot. The apps you can find on the iPad are simply mind-blowing and highly underrated.
The DRC synthesizer is my absolute favorite iPad app. Beautiful sounds and super easy to program.
4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
Easy one. All the Valhalla DSP stuff. Best effects out there. If they could make hardware versions of their plugins and stay reasonably priced they would just destroy the whole pedal/ effects market.
I don’t really think I would want something hardware to become software. The physical connection you can have with a piece of gear is unbeatable in my opinion.
5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I don’t sell a lot. Even if I don’t use something it’s hard for me to go on and sell it. So from the things I’ve sold through the years, I regret none. And something I regret buying.. If I leave aside all the cheap stuff I got, I would say the Minilogue. I have a love-hate relationship with this synth. It’s great for the price, no argue with that, but it just leaves you every time wanting a bit more. It sounds “ok” but rarely great. So for anyone who’s looking to buy a poly synth, I would recommend to save and get something much better.
6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
Might sound weird but it’s a dirt-cheap Casio digital piano. Having a 61 keys keyboard with full polyphony unlocked so many possibilities. I only use 2 piano sounds that sound decent, but it’s almost on every track I’ve ever released.
7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
Ableton Live vs FL Studio. I’ve been making music for 15 years. Actually my first DAW was one called Acid Pro 3.0. Only the 80s kids might know this one.. But my first actual DAW was FL studio. Switching to Ableton was life changing for me. For me, its workflow suits me perfectly and it was a catalyst for me to finish songs instead of just struggling with loops.
8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
The 4-track cassette recorder for sure. It’s a Yamaha MT100. It’s big, I’ve repaired three times so far but I love using it. Everything is going through tape so I simply cannot live without it.
9. Most surprising tip/trick/technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
I don’t deep dive to my gear. I want them to be simple and I prefer things that do only one thing really well. A nice technique I use for drums is the LFO assigned to sample slot on the Digitakt. I create a project with very few samples on it (10-16) and besides the kick I apply the LFO to the other tracks to come up with new patterns every time. That way you can make cool variations and you also audition sounds for your drum patterns.
Artist or Band name?
Ambient, IDM, Downtempo
Where are you from?
How did you get into music?
I’m drawn to all kinds of art. I take photos, I make videos, I draw, I sculpt.. Music is just another way to express my creative side. And besides that, as a kid I’ve always dreamt to become a rock star but never got into a band. So I’ve decided to have this one man – band thing going on nowadays.
What still drives you to make music?
I don’t really know. I just can’t wait to get to my studio and start playing around and create something. It is something that relaxes me and I deeply enjoy it.
How do you most often start a new track?
It always starts with the piano. I write some chords, a melody and start building from there.
How do you know when a track is finished?
Oh that’s so hard.. Once I finish arranging (and this is the hardest part for me) I know I’m really close to call it finished. So when I start mastering and then run it through tape I simply commit and call it a day.
Show us your current studio
My beautiful mess
Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
My dad, who is also an artist, always told me that you have to put “meraki” to your art. Meraki is a Greek word that means: “To do something with soul, creativity, or love.”
Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
My Spotify where I release all my music: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5MPLFK5gfmmo0Tm0EiTnqP?si=cDwtSJ05QXC91wlElXzAAA
I also use Bandcamp a lot and there you can also find the Sample Packs that I create every month: https://alexandristaken.bandcamp.com/music
[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…]