Nathan – Accelerator Jengold

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

In terms of aesthetics and tactility, it has to be the main rotary knob on the ZOIA by Empress Effects. The way it subtly clicks is super satisfying, and the chunky chrome design stands out compared to other pedal knobs. In terms of functionality I’ll go with the D-C-V (Dry-Chorus-Vibrato) knob on the Walrus Audio Julianna.

Dry-Chorus-Vibrato knob on the Walrus Audio Julianna

It controls the stereo spread of the effect and the mix of chorus and vibrato. The Julianna is an ‘always on’ pedal for me – the modulation sounds great and D-C-V knob helps to always find that sweet spot. I typically use the Julianna to make lofi guitar tones using the random LFO setting and a slow vibrato.

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

I’ll have to go with the ZOIA again for this question! It’s one of my favourite pieces of gear and I use it in pretty much all of my music. It’s both dauntingly complex and surprisingly intuitive. It’s mind-blowing how much Empress Effects managed to cram into this small box! I’ve been using it for a couple of years now, but I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do. I use it in all sorts of ways, such as a semi-generative synthesizer, looper, midi controller and of course as a multi-FX unit.

ZOIA by Empress Effects

My only complaint is that because it does so much it’s difficult to know where best to put it in the signal chain. One possible solution would be a set of additional inputs/outputs for an FX loop, and the ability to assign modules either before or after the FX loop. A couple of additional assignable knobs would also make parameter control more immediate.

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

I’m a fan of the Elektron Model:Samples for making music on the go. It’s super portable and I like the directness of the ‘function per knob’ design. It’s perfect for quickly sketching out ideas whilst travelling.

Elektron Model:Samples

Other devices offer more features, like the OP-Z, but I have a soft spot for the Elektron workflow. I don’t use it in my main setup due to the lack of direct sampling, but it’s a fun device to kill some time with.

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

I predominantly use a ‘DAWless’ setup, so I don’t have much experience with software. I only really use my DAW (Studio One 5 to be exact) to record/master and try to do everything else using hardware. Tactility is an integral part of making music for me, I like the physical connection to whatever I’m writing. I don’t have the same drive to write music when I’m working on a laptop. I also find a limited palette of sounds to be quite inspiring, so the inherent limitations of hardware gear can paradoxically be liberating.

Nathan’s pedalboard of tactility

That said, I would love a virtual version of my pedalboard so I could try out different setups without having to tear the whole thing apart!

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

I recently sold my Walrus Audio Slö reverb pedal and replaced it with a Meris Mercury7. Although I really like the expansive stereo sound of the Mercury7, I definitely prefer the modulation on the Slö. It has a unique dreamy quality which is perfect for lo-fi reverbs and woozy textures. I would rebuy it in a heartbeat if they ever made a stereo version with a random LFO mode

Sovtek Big Muff

My biggest gear regret is not looking after my Sovtek Big Muff. Unfortunately it’s been battered from years of gigging and no longer has the original knobs or switch. It’s just too temperamental to use regularly in my setup now.

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

Roland JU-06A

I’ve been really inspired by the Roland JU-06A synth over the past year, it’s the synth I come back to most often. I love the range of sounds, the simplicity of patch design and its compact size. Roland did a great job replicating that classic Juno sound in a small and affordable package. I also get a lot of inspiration from my humble Boss RC202 loop station. I love working with loops and layers, and the RC202 offers a good balance of features and usability. All of my tracks begin as loops, and I wouldn’t know where to start without my RC202.

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

This is a bit of a cop out, but if I had to start over I would probably start with some guitar and piano lessons! I’m completely self-taught, so I sometimes feel a little limited by my technical skills. To answer the question more directly, if I was starting over with electronic music production I would probably begin with an Arturia Microfreak.

Arturia Microfreak

Due to the wide range of features and relatively low price, it’s a great introduction to hardware synthesis. The keybed isn’t for everyone, but the range of synth engines, the intuitive modulation matrix and the analogue filter make it incredibly good value. If it had built-in FX it would be the total package. Although I don’t use mine much anymore, I still consider it to be a modern classic.

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

As much as I love my Elektron Digitakt, it can be a real pain to use sometimes! There are a lot of functions which are not immediately apparent, and it takes time to learn how to use it properly.

Elektron Digitakt

I actually prefer the usability of its little brother, the Model:Samples, but the additional features of the Digitakt make it substantially more powerful. It’s basically the brain of my setup, even though I probably don’t use it to its full potential. Elektron have done a great job with software updates over the years and have added a number of clever features, like the secondary LFO.

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

The Expression Ramper by Old Blood Noise Endeavours is a deceptively versatile pedal, which offers a unique approach to expression control. There are so many ways to use this tiny pedal to drastically change how other pedals work.

Expression Ramper by Old Blood Noise Endeavours

My favourite trick is to use the Expression Ramper to control the pitch parameter on the Red Panda Particle v2. Whilst in reverse mode it creates a fantastic reverse pitch-shift effect which cascades with the delay repeats.


Artist or Band name?

Accelerator Jengold.

Genre?

A mix of lofi, synthwave, dreampop and shoegaze.

Selfie?

Nathan

Where are you from?

North Wales, UK.

How did you get into music?

Music has always been an important part of my life; I’m thankful that my parents and brother introduced me to artists like The Cure, Radiohead, Tom Waits, Massive Attack, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Brian Eno. I took up bass when I was a teenager and played in a few post-rock and post-metal bands whilst in University. I later moved into electronic music production using software like Reason, and then got into hardware gear with an Arturia Microbrute (which I sadly no longer own).

What still drives you to make music?

I’ve always enjoyed being creative and having a musical outlet helps me to cope with stress and anxiety. I like having a way to express how I feel, even if I don’t always understand my own thoughts and feelings – which probably explains why most of my music has a downbeat or melancholy vibe. Producing something tangible from my creativity, like a finished song or EP, is a big driver for me.
I think this is linked to my preference for tactile music production; using software feels too ephemeral to me. I love conceptual music and take inspiration from a wide range of books, films and other media when writing. Short-form jams on Instagram are my primary output, so I’m super inspired by other artists with a similar approach like Andrew Black, Joshua Dowell and Simon Von Walbrook. I’m really proud to have had my music featured on microbiology posts by Chloe Savard and Penny Fenton, and I would love to produce more music for other media.

How do you most often start a new track?

I typically start with sound design, either creating a unique guitar sound using various FX or developing a new synth patch. I’ll then loop a simple melody and experiment with different layers until it feels right. Sometimes I focus on the melody, other times I focus more on the overall vibe, it just depends on the individual track. Percussion usually comes last so I can choose samples and rhythms to fit the music. 

How do you know when a track is finished?

Most of my music is based around looping and building layers of melody, so an important skill is knowing when to stop. When I can remove a layer and the track sounds better, it’s probably finished! If I get stuck on a track I’ll take a break for a few days and then come back to it with a fresh perspective. My least favourite part of making music is mastering, so I’ve developed a couple of mastering templates in my DAW to help speed up the process and remove some layers of indecision. For official releases on Spotify (etc.) I rely on my good friend Chris Walker, who always does a great job fixing up my masters.

Show us your current studio

Synths, samplers and loopers

My setup is in a tiny office/walk-in wardrobe in my house, but it has pretty much everything I need. I’m planning to add an analogue synth at some point (like a Pro-1 or Minilogue) and a Colour Palette electronic kalimba by Lottie Canto.

Studio desk

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I’m going to echo what Dev Bhat (Shipwreck Detective) said in his interview for this blog: “keep it simple, stupid!” This really resonates with my own approach to writing music. There’s a skill to communicating an emotion, theme or concept in an honest and direct manner without resorting to cliché. I like to embrace simplicity and try to express myself with a limited number of components.
An important part of being creative is trusting your instincts and not focusing too much on what does or doesn’t work in theory – theory should be used to help us translate and communicate our ideas rather than to provide a rigid framework for them.

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

I regularly post jams on Instagram (@accelerator.jengold), so that’s the best place to keep up to date with what I’m doing. My music is also available on most streaming platforms, just search for Accelerator Jengold. My latest EP, Pyre, came out last year and is full of weirdo synthwave tunes, go check it out! I’m currently working on a new EP and some upcoming collaborations. Thanks!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/accelerator.jengold/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0KrYUaPA2BsqVMiDCVmywM?si=ZJdIN-wDS4-J0UdkHjEWsA

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/acceleratorjengold


Jérémy Hernandez – StuffLandSounds

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

Moog Mother-32

I guess Vcf mod amount from Mother 32. They allow you to make some good movement with this juicy Moog filter.

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

The combo DFAM and mother 32. The only think I would change it’s maybe put them all in eurorack case with some effect and output mixer.

Moog DFAM and Mother 32

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

My three tier rack Moog with Mother 32, DFAM, Malekko voltage block and the Lyra 8 !

Moog and cables

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

I learned how use tracker with Renoise two years ago, it was really fun and now Polyend or Nerdseq is here as hardware. I really hope to integrate this kind of sequencer in my set up one day, but actually I don’t really need them now.

Meris Polymin, Zvex Instant Loop Junky and Earthquaker Devices Afterneath


For software I don’t really use a lot, except plugins for effect and mixing. I recently bought a Polymoon by Meris, very fun. Maybe having Polymoon or Mercury 7 as a plug would be very cool, for use as send effect or something like this.

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

I miss my Moog Minitaur and my Digitakt, but sometimes you have to make choices…

Elektron Digitakt

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

Always DFAM and Mother 32. But Soma Lyra 8 can offer you lot of weird and limitless possibilities, and I really like to use it’s external input for other gear, it’s very exiting.

Soma Lyra 8

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

I bought the Arturia Beatstep Pro a few days ago, and I guess if I have to start over I go directly to my Beatstep Pro and control everything in a eurorack system with it. Two voice synth with complex oscillators for example, drums and lot of cool stuff.

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

Maybe my Minilogue, because I don’t really use a lot actually, but sometimes I just plug it into an effect pedal, play with my own hand and I can trip out for a long time. So I keep it…

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

Yeah, I have a some good patches, I used this for my video BuGzZ. It’s on the Mother 32:

noise out in vco lin fm.

Lfo tri out in mix 2

Pitch out (DFAM) in mix 1

KB out in vc mix ctrl

And vc mix out in vcf cut off.

Recently I also used pitch output of DFAM to control Lyra 8 hold gate input. It’s mad! 


Artist or Band name?

Stufflandsounds

Genre?

Electronic, experimental, happymess.

Selfie?

Jeremy Hernandez

Where are you from?

From France, in a little countryside town around Tarbes and Lourdes. I live in Bordeaux now.

How did you get into music?

I guess it was when I was child, I took headphones of my uncle to listen some CDs, and I found in his room the album Bjork Homogenic, Massive Attack Mezzanine, MTV Unplugged Nirvana. My mind blow up !

What still drives you to make music?

She always opens my mind to a new infinite world and it’s about shared creativity with other people. I can’t do without, even just listening music.

How do you most often start a new track?

Most of time, I’m thinking in my room, I see my gear, and I feel when it’s a good moment to have fun with it.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I never know… haha. 

Filming can help me to say « it’s done », and next I keep my project to have some post production, edit, mixing, etc.

Show us your current studio

jeremy Hernandez’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Stay yourself, stay daydreamer.

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

IG: Stufflandsounds

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQwEHYMzHlKQy6yw1l1zAEQ


Emily Hopkins – Harpedalist

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

Meris Enzo

This is definitely the little button on the Meris Enzo that puts it in “Arp” mode. It essentially turns the chords you play into sequenced patterns at whatever tempo you set. It was such an amazing experience interacting with that mode for the first time, because I heard Enzo go from doing my bidding, to it having some thoughts of its own and playing alongside me. If you split your signal so one is dry (or going through a separate pedal chain) and the other one is through Enzo on arp mode, the sequences create a wonderful foundation for improvisation. I wouldn’t depend on being able to recreate some of those moments easily; but that’s why I love Enzo. Meris pedals are like people.

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

EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V3

I’d say the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V3 is near-perfect for me. The reverb pairs perfectly with the harp, and pretty much every other instrument (especially voice)! It would work well in any piece I play. The only improvement I can think of is an upgrade to stereo output.

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

Out and about with a Harp

Unfortunately my electroacoustic Camac harp is too large and too sensitive to the weather/humidity to bring on vacation; I’d just be worrying about it the whole time and not be able to enjoy myself! On vacation or long car rides, I usually bring my Harpsicle; it’s a tiny budget lever harp that I don’t have to worry about as much. If I want to bring a few effects pedals for fun, I’ll bring whichever pedals I got recently, with my tiny travel amp and either my Organelle or keyboard to play through them. I just got my new Lottie Canto Colour Palette electric kalimba, which will now be a vacation staple. My wedding gig schedule doesn’t usually allow me to tour, or perform far from my home state, but I’d love to consider it after the pandemic! 
If you’re wondering how I transport my harp to gigs:

https://youtu.be/1SAcSHNpTvE

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

I wish I had Fab-Filter Pro-Q 3 in a pedal box, with the same spectrum analyzer graphic display on a screen, complete with dynamic EQ. I know, it’s a lot to ask for. I’ll keep dreaming.

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

Cooper FX/Chase Bliss Audio Generation Loss limited edition pedal, hands down. The pandemic hit me really hard. I’m primarily a wedding musician, and at the start of the pandemic, I had so many gigs being cancelled/postponed and the uncertain future forced me to sell the majority of the pedals I owned at the time. I’d have to pay an insane price to get one now due to the limited availability/price inflation. I’m hoping Cooper FX decides to make a Generation Loss V2 so the amazing sounds of Gen Loss can be more available to everyone!

Cooper FX/Chase Bliss Audio Generation Loss

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

Chase Bliss Audio’s Thermae has such insane chemistry with the harp and my playing style. Whenever I plug into it and improvise some sketches, I create some of my best music. That pedal has resonated with me above most others over the past few months. It’s not so much direct inspiration from understanding the gear or thinking about it; more so the dialogue between Thermae and the harp in real-time has brought my improvisation to a higher level. The first time I used it, I was recording a demo with it for my YouTube channel, and I’ve used pretty much every sound made in that demo for original music releases, or background music across my YouTube channel. The foundation for my new single, Backyard Spaceship, is actually directly from my Thermae YouTube demo! It was such an amazing moment that I couldn’t recreate in the studio, so I just decided to use that audio as the starting point for that project.

Chase Bliss Audio’s Thermae

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

If I could go back, I’d definitely get a higher quality amplifier than the one I started with! I was playing my brand new electric harp through a very small $150 amp; it was like putting a bumper sticker on a Ferrari. I was new to gear at the time, and didn’t understand my options and the importance of investing in a higher quality amp.

Harp with PA

I also probably would have got an EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath right away, which is an amazing device to help introduce yourself to more out-of-the-box effects pedals if you’re new to electric instruments and effects.

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

My camera tripod is currently the bane of my workflow. I do a lot of reamping and desk recording, and it just doesn’t really go well with my setup and what I need it to do. I’m yet to find one in my budget that does what I need, but for now, I’ll have to keep taping mine to the edge of my desk on an angle and contort around it to make it work.

Camera tripods

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

The other day, I found out the EarthQuaker Devices / Death by Audio Time Shadows pedal has a secret mode. If you put the switch in the center (it doesn’t click in place but it will stay there) it’ll create some interesting Rainbow Machine-like modulation.

EarthQuaker Devices / Death by Audio Time Shadows

Artist or Band name?

Emily Hopkins

Genre?

‘Cool harp stuff’. I always have trouble putting myself in a genre.

Selfie?

Emily Hopkins

Where are you from?

Long Island, NY.

Working with the harp

How did you get into music?

When I was 8 years old, I went to a Mexican restaurant on my birthday and there was a man playing harp during dinner (I later found out this was the amazing Edmar Castaneda during his college years!). I was absolutely mesmerized by his music, and begged my mom for harp lessons. Since I was homeschooled, I had plenty of time to practice, and was already playing piano for 4 years by the time I started (I tell everyone the harp is essentially just a piano flipped on the side!).

Emily Hopkins early years with the harp

What still drives you to make music?

The desire to connect to others and to break that stereotype of the harp being an exclusively classical / “boring” instrument. I love using effects pedals to show what a versatile instrument the harp is, and to constantly discover the new sounds it can create.

Astral Destiny by Earthquaker Devices

How do you most often start a new track?

Improv! Most of the time, I discover a cool theme while I’m improvising during an effects pedal demo. My new single came exclusively from my CBA Thermae pedal demo, because I’m not overthinking anything.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When you accept that it’s finished, and you stop obsessing over it; whether it’s the composition, mix, or any tiny detail.

Show us your current studio

Emily Hopkins’ Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

The story of the “two bad bricks” really resonated with me. The short version is that Ajahn Brahm, a Buddhist monk, built a wall of a thousand bricks by hand, but two of the bricks ended up crooked. When visitors came to the monastery, he tried to avoid showing them the wall because he was so worried about them noticing those two crooked bricks. One day, someone approached him and told him how beautiful the wall was, but he disagreed, pointing out the two bricks. The visitor said, “There might be two bad bricks, but all I can see are the 998 perfect ones.” Even if you don’t play a piece absolutely flawlessly, most of the time you’re the only person who can hear the imperfections. It’s important to appreciate the successful elements of your work, and understand that imperfections in a piece are what makes it human. Also, I don’t believe in ‘wrong notes’ — only ‘interesting’ ones. 

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

Here’s my very first single, Backyard Spaceship!

https://youtu.be/pbPayOi28II

https://open.spotify.com/album/0SZH7JV0eMWyoXpWRuMGdE?si=tbgKgYNMR0m5kuw9BRU2MQ


[Editor: Do you have a favorite tip, trick or way of working with any of the gear from this interview?
Then throw us a comment below…
]