Martin A. Ottesen – Funkstar De Luxe

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

Mod Wheel on the PolyBrute

Besides a high quality keyboard bed, I love the modulation wheel and assigning it to control various parameters of a patch. I’m a keyboard player of the 80/90’ies, so my left hand is used to working the mod wheel quite a bit. It’s nice and tactile and you can instantly see and feel the position. An important element of breathing life into a sound – to me at least.

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

The latest addition to my setup is the PolyBrute [US, EU] which is really great overall. If import and playback of own samples/waveforms was possible, it would have been perfect.

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

A MacBook Pro and a small controller. I’m a keyboard player so keys are vital to me. How my fingers move around on the keys is a big part of the writing process. I don’t like minikeys, but for travelling it is convenient bringing a small controller such as the Korg Nanokey[US, EU] or a Korg Monologue[US, EU]. I always bring good headphones.

Korg Nanokey and a red Monologue

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

Logic has a Step FX plug-in which I totally dig. Would be cool having complete hardware control over that – a dedicated unit/controller with the same visual layout. I love hardware, so no particular wish for anything to be software. I believe there’s plenty of software solutions out there. 

Logic Step FX plug-in

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

I sold a Roland SH-101 years ago. I would like to have kept it, but then again, I probably wouldn’t use it that much. I bought the microKorg [US. EU] some years ago thinking that it would be a nice travelling companion, but I didn’t really get into it so I sold it again.

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

Definitely samplers, I made my entire debut album ‘Keep On Moving’ with a Yamaha A-3000 before DAWs became the norm. Later on I bought the Native Instruments Maschine [US, EU] when it first came out and that was really a boost for me making more sophisticated drum patterns. Recently I have retired the Maschine and turned to Logic’s samplers, especially the Q-sampler chopping up all kinds of audio. Q for Quick, and it certainly is. 

Native Instruments Maschine

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

Besides a MacBook Pro running Logic, a high quality MIDI controller keyboard. I recently upgraded to the Arturia Keylab 88 mkII [US, EU] which is just brilliant.

Arturia Keylab 88 mkII

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

The analogue and modular synths take so much time to patch up, but I really like having hardware synths in my studio. If I get stuck on a project I usually find some inspiration or new ideas in the synths. They’re also the only instruments I know and then just play.

Eurorack square of Doepfer

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

Sending audio through my little modular system for modulating is great fun and often gives surprisingly interesting results. Even with just a few modules a dull audio track can be transformed into something completely different.
Another technique I find interesting is setting up a patch on a hardware synth (preferably mono modular) and the letting Logic’s auto sampler sample it into a polyphonic patch. It usually turns out different than expected.

Analog corner

Artist or Band name?

Funkstar De Luxe

Genre? House / Electronica

Martin Aulkjaer Ottesen aka. Funkstar De Luxe

Where are you from?

Kerteminde, Denmark

How did you get into music?

My mother was a musician. We had a piano and an electric organ, and I was always fascinated by the knobs and switches on the organ. When I later discovered synthesizers I was hooked and knew that I wanted to get into that. But first my parents arranged for me to get piano lessons.

What still drives you to make music?

Sounds, atmospheres and of course grooves. I find it amazing that you can get so many differents sounds out of even the smallest synth. The big reward for me is when a track really comes together as a unity.

How do you most often start a new track? 

If it’s a remix, I usually start with the bare acapella finding a cool chord progression that fits, then drums and groove. If it’s a track from scratch, I’ll probably program a sound and find some chords or a melody to begin with. Recently I have been getting into just jamming away and see what comes up. That’s a nice contrast to building a track sample by sample in a DAW.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Most often I cycle between mixing and adding new elements but I try not to put too many layers in a production. It’s better having a few that really work, also in order give those layers more room to live in. When everything comes together the right way it just sounds finished.

Show us your current studio

I used to sit in the garage of the house but due to flooding in 2021 I have moved to the attic. I have a minimal setup at the moment but a few pieces of good gear definitely goes a long way.

Home studio – movin’ up in the house to the attic

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Limit your options. If you have a studio full of gear and so many possibilities it might be hard getting anything done. Pick a few pieces of gear and see how far you can go with that. Once you have an idea or direction, you can always use other gear if you are looking for a specific sound or effect. The same goes for software. See how far you can get with just a handful of plug-ins.

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

My album Redemption (out on 21 Oct. 2022) is quite different from my dance remixes. This is more melodic and electronic sounding, not specifically aimed at dancefloors. It’s been very refreshing doing a whole album giving room to different kinds of expression, definitely a very personal piece of work: https://funkstar.lnk.to/album


[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]


Shounen Yuki – Dragon Shaped Clouds

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

Strymon Nightsky

It would be the modulation controls/knobs on either a reverb or delay. Most reverbs sound really good in my opinion, but modulation can set them apart and how they implement it. Even different algorithms on the same reverb will often have different modulation characteristics. Take the Cloud algorithm on the Big Sky for example. You start to push the modulation and it goes from huge reverb to something magical.
Same goes with the mechanics knob on the Volante, it goes from great tape delay into a way back machine that sounds like it’s about to start eating your tape loop and spit it on the floor in an act of rebellion of not getting it fixed. And if the effect is super cool you get both depth and speed for modulation like on the Night Sky.

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

Korg Minilogue XD

The Korg Minilogue XD comes to mind. While it is a nice improvement over the original, it removes a full secondary ADSR envelope. If it had that second full ADSR envelope and a mod matrix with assignable parameters and sources past the few “hard wired” sources and destinations, it would be perfect.

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

Novation Circuit Rhythm

Usually a really easy to use groove box. I used the original Circuit from Novation for years and then switched just recently into the Circuit Rhythm, that I load up with ambient and video game samples. It helps me come up with the basic structure of a song that I will translate later using my more at home/not mobile equipment. I tried to use an iPad for a while, but I just open the web browser and get distracted. 

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

I can’t really think of any. I spent a good 2 hours on this question. I hate making music ‘inside the box’ as they say. I’m an IT professional by day and do not want to sit at my computer when making music. I only use Logic to do some simple post production, like compression and the like, of my music work.

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

I can answer both with this, I sold my Novation Circuit Monostation to help buy a Digitone after the prices went insane for a little while on the Monostation. I got the Digitone and hated it. The sounds of the Digitone were not all that hot for what I wanted to do. Which is odd since I love FM. Luckily the opsix came along and it had the FM I liked. I did get maybe 2 good songs out of the Digitone, before I decided to sell it.
I also did not like the way presets were saved and recalled. The Monostation however I used for making faux NES/Master System 8bit style soundtracks and loved it. It really did some cool stuff when you used it in paraphonic mode.

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

The Korg Minilogue XD for sure. It was the OG Minilogue before that but the XD really expanded what I could do quickly. Having a super easy to use sequencer to get the base melody going to play over is so inspiring. That and it is so easy to make patches on, since it has very little menu diving, unless you want to use the 3rd oscillator. You just get something good easily with it without much effort. 

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

A Minilogue XD! I could honestly have that as my only synth if I really needed that to happen.

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

MacBook

It would have to be my desktop/laptop computer. I hate working on the computer when I get home from work, but I like to do my final mastering inside a DAW. This is also the only way I have found to do any sort of decent video editing for my music based Youtube stuff. 

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

The Minilogue XD and OG Minilogue have very limited routing and modulation options, but you can get around some of that by using the sequencer. You can motion sequence almost any knob and have that running as a sequence with or without note data as a pretty neat way to evolve your sound. 


Artist or Band name? 

I have 2 projects at the moment. My ambient project is called “Dragon Shaped Clouds” and my video game style stuff is called “At The Mana Tree”. 

Genre? 

I mostly do ambient and Japanese RPG style game music

Selfie? 

Shounen Yuki

Where are you from? 

Bremerhaven, Germany but I currently reside in Mesa, Arizona.

How did you get into music? 

I think I have been into music since I was at least 10 or so. Mostly coming from game soundtracks from Japanese RPG’s, especially the Final Fantasy soundtracks from the SNES and Chrono Trigger at that time and oddly enough Enya…
But I do remember going to the World Expo in Hannover Germany in 2000 and hitting up some music shops. I found an album by Tangerine Dream called “Underwater Sunlight ” and it changed me forever. I chased the retro (at the time) but foreign (to me) sounds of that album. It was not even the sounds, it was the overall sequences and progressions. Simplistic but captivating, like a game soundtrack. By that point I started trying to figure out how to make game and electronic music myself. 

What still drives you to make music? 

As odd as it might sound, the fact that I can make something that can be enjoyed by others makes me less depressed. 

How do you most often start a new track? 

I will grab a synth from my collection, some effects pedals, and a looper. Then I will come up with a signal chain based on what I feel like I want to sound like at that moment. At that point I will work on a patch on whatever synth I chose and change the parameters of the effects to get my desired sound. I will then start messing around with different scales to see what works best with the sound I made, lay down a melody or a drone on the looper and start layering sounds. 

How do you know when a track is finished? 

I guess I just go on until I feel the song starts to get repetitive or boring.

Show us your current studio

I use the living room as my studio, so I have a shot of my studio space/computer and my collection in a separate room. I will take stuff from my storage area into the living room to record videos and songs as needed. 

Gear storage
Home studio setup

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard? 

Back in high school I would use a piano at my school after hours and a minidisc recorder with an external microphone to record quite a few tracks of stuff I was working on as my parents could not afford an acoustic piano nor did we have the space. I would then delete them thinking they were garbage. One day the head of the music department noticed I was recording my work and wanted a copy because they thought it was really good. I said I never kept them because I thought they sucked and were just stupid and no one would ever want to listen to them. In shock the teacher assured me the music I was producing was not garbage and I should believe in my ability and I should really hold onto what I make even if I think it’s garbage. This has helped me actually release music past that point and I was shocked to find out people actually like it. Anyway the takeaway on that is: don’t be too overly critical about your music and don’t assume it sucks. 

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

My latest track I’m super proud of …

My youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/YukiTheSynthDragon

My IG: https://www.instagram.com/shounen.yuki/


Ricard Magnusson – Wheel

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

The boring answer is the Cutoff! It’s probably my most used knob after all… If I choose to interpret the question from another angle, and discuss the overall feel of my favourite knobs, I’d say the knobs on my Novation Peak. There is a stiffness to them that makes them feel sturdy and reliable, and a rubberized texture that is really great. The Peak feels like it could survive anything! For me it’s really important to connect with a synth on an aesthetical level, an UI level. It needs to look and feel great and be inspiring. For me that’s the whole point of hardware!

Novation Peak

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

Elektron Model Cycles

There are two pieces of gear that I have recently owned that I liked a lot, but had some shortcomings. First off – The Elektron Model Cycles. Fun, cheap, and almost everything you do on it sounds good. But I really would have liked individual outs on all tracks and the ability to play it like a 6 voice poly. The other thing is the JU-06A, which also is a fantastic piece of kit that just sounds awesome. But why only 4 voices… Bugged me a lot!

Roland JU-06A

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

Since my computer is the only thing I can’t do without when producing, I’d have to start off by saying my Macbook Pro. Just bought the 2020 13” which is a perfect size for me. My Keystep usually tags along as well, it has great feel in the keys and a good size. Add my Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro headphones and I’m all set! All I actually really need, holiday or not!

Macbook Pro and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro

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

There is a piece of software I always dreamed of having in hardware form: The Sonic Charge Microtonic drum synth. I use it all the time and in all my productions. I really like hardware drum machines, and would really enjoy getting hands-on with the Microtonic in a fully analog hardware form. I would really like a software version of the Boss Tera Echo pedal. Maybe there is one that I haven’t found? I mainly use software effects to be able to tempo sync easily, automate parameters etc, and the Tera Echo is the only thing I haven’t really found a software equivalent of.

Boss Tera Echo TE-2

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

This is a hard one… I have a complicated relation to hardware (even wrote an editorial about it: https://producerhive.com/editorial/confessions-of-a-compulsive-gear-flipper/). I constantly buy and sell stuff. Basically, I regret buying almost everything. I kind of regret selling the Sequential Circuits Pro One I used to own in my 20’s (by the start of the millennium). I owned early on, when I was just getting into synthesizers. I have realized that I didn’t appreciate it enough when I had it… Would love to turn back time an own it again, a beautiful and fun machine! The only synth by Dave Smith that hasn’t failed me… I had a Prophet rev 2 that I had to replace the main controller board on, even though I bought it brand new. Had a Tetra recently with a dead sub oscillator and bad LCD-display. Also owned a Prophet 08 Desktop with encoders that had a life of their own…

Guts of a Prophet rev 2

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

I’d have to say Omnisphere. I keep coming back to it. It has a preset library that never ends, and great modulation options. It always leads me to exciting places I didn’t know existed. When it comes to hardware it’s probably my Novation Peak. It has a perfect balance between complexity and easy tweakability.

Novation Peak and Arturia Keystep

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

Nothing. Well, not really, but I would try to not get too hung up on getting the “right stuff”. Give me a Mac laptop and I’m good to go. I started out with nothing but my computer, not even a midi keyboard. I just entered notes in the Piano roll (in Cakewalk, at the time).

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

I’m trying really hard to live by the code “Don’t get stuff you can’t do without”. But I guess it’s my computer. Can’t do without it when it comes to music making. It’s also many times a source of frustration. I have a new computer now, but the one before it was a real pain. I accidentally poured a cup of coffee (my biggest addiction) over the keyboard, which made it act really irrational. Had it like that for like 6 months before I gave up and got myself a new computer! Computers have historically been a big source of annoyance for me, mostly due to failed hard drives. Nowadays I have a rigorous backup solution, so nothing gets lost.

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

Maybe not that surprising, but at the moment I’m really into random waveform LFO’s, that are key synced. I really like making sequences where each note played gets a random modulation of some parameter. On the Peak you can modulate just about everything which is great fun!


Artist or Band name?

Wheel

Genre?

Electronic music, mostly quite chill. A reviewer once called it Chill-glitch, which kind of sums it up quite well!

Selfie?

Ricard Magnusson aka. Wheel

Where are you from?

Sweden

How did you get into music?

Started playing a nylon string guitar, inspired by my grandfather who played classical guitar. My dad and brother also played a little, so there were always guitars around. Moved on to playing with a progressive death metal band in the mid-nineties. Kind of slowly digressed to synth driven, electronic music from there… How did that happen?

What still drives you to make music?

I need to have a creative outlet that is not about demands or goals, just about being creative and reaching a flow state.

How do you most often start a new track?

I’d say with a pad sound. Most of the time it doesn’t stay in the production, but I’ve always been a sucker for pads, and I use them to set the mood of the production and get some basic chord progressions going.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I can listen to a track and not instantly come up with things I would like to change, it’s probably close to finished. If I feel the same after not listening to it for a day or two, it’s probably done!

Show us your current studio

It’s constantly changing, and I change up my gear all the time. But the pic shows the current state!

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Wow, there are lots of advice floating around and I’m guilty of a few myself… But the one thing I try to remember is to not overthink my productions. Let go of the fear and just release stuff!

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

Sure thing! Make sure to check out my editorials at producerhive.com, where I write about the connection between the mind and music production/creativity. You find it all here: https://producerhive.com/author/ricardm/

The latest single I released is found here:

https://open.spotify.com/album/17HQRNPSGUIJRMS4W3yuFa?si=u_SeC-tbQVqGwza_b9J4sg


[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…
]