Dean Fuller – The Washington Monument Amb

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

The RANDOMISE button on the Korg Opsix
The RANDOMISE button on the Korg Opsix

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

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.

Korg Volca Keys paired with a Zoom G1 Four and Arturia Keystep

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.

Puremagnetik’s Driftmaker
Puremagnetik’s Driftmaker

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

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.

Drumkid

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. 

Korg Volca Keys

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? 

Chase Bliss Mood

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? 

Chase Bliss Habit

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? 

the_washington_monument_amb 

the_washington_monument_amb

… in retrospect, this name makes me incredibly difficult to search google for. But hey, it’s mine now. 

Genre? 

Lo-fi ambient. Lofi is a fine way to hide my (currently) novice playing skills. 

The Fauna of Lo-fi ambient

Selfie? 

[immediately before an exorcism] 

Dean Fuller
Dean Fuller

Where are you from? 

The land I live on was called Boorloo before colonisation. Nowadays it’s called Perth.

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? 

Korg Opsix
Korg Opsix

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. 

Bedtime

Show us your current studio

Desktop setup

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.

All but shadows and lights

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.

Spaceman explorering the synthverse

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]


Hissquiet – Blissed Moods

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

Chase Bliss Mood

I’m always fascinated by the range of knobs that there are, but I think my favorite knobs are the ones on the Chase Bliss stuff, I currently have the Mood. They are just so smooth with the ideal amount of tension. They just feel sturdy a well made, like I’ll fade into an effect perfectly every time.

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

Bastl midi looper

I think probably my latest bit of kit, the Bastl midi looper, does almost exactly what I wanted it for, which is to more organically make sequences with midi and overdub CC parameters. It perfectly pairs with my hydrasynth which doesn’t have a sequencer, but I wish it recorded the polyphonic aftertouch of the hydrasynth pads on the initial record. Idk maybe it does and I just haven’t spent enough time tweaking the settings, but that would be really really nice. But other than that it’s brilliant.

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

Elektron Digitakt and iPad

I think my favorite things to bring, are my digitakt and/or my ipad. With a myvolts power cable, a portable charger and some samples, I could really make a whole album on the digitakt. Ipad also is very powerful and has so many music apps that I use in my recordings all the time. Some of my favorites are Spacecraft, Tardigrain and Fugue Machine.

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

Spacecraft app

I wish the Spacecraft app was a pedal or a feature of some groovebox. It’s this granular synth that you can record anything into and make beautifully textured ambient or noise soundscapes. You can get a wide range of sounds out of it. I seriously oftentimes don’t even bother with hi-fi samples and just use the ipad mic, because it just adds extra texture.

VCV rack

This one is kinda silly, but I wish VCV rack was hardware, like, it is hardware right? But the part of it that I want to bring into hardware is the low cost (haha) and also the ability to save patches and arrangements. Which I guess is the point of a modular synth, but still. I haven’t gone down the hardware modular synth rabbit hole yet, but I’ve been using VCV Rack as a way to learn exactly what I want from a system some day.

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

I regret selling my Digitone. It was a really great groovebox synth. I made a whole album on it, Sublunar Reverie, so I decided it was time to sell it and try something else out. Selling stuff is how I justify getting something new and making sure I actually really want the new thing. It went towards the Hydrasynth which I definitely don’t regret buying, but I just wish I had them both haha.

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

Hologram Electronics Microcosm

Hologram Microcosm for sure. I almost don’t want to bring it out when I’m working on something because I’ll spend hours tweaking the modes wondering if the next tweak might be even better than the last, but it all just sounds really great! I have a bit of a thing for granular gear can you tell?

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

I think learning a dynamic instrument like the clarinet was super important to the way I do music, even if I rarely bring it out now. Some folks have said that I have a sort of classical music dynamic going on with the kind of music I make and I probably agree with that. Second though, I’d probably get into synths rather than a guitar, maybe a groovebox like the Digitone or Digitakt if something like that had come out then.

Clarinet

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

Any piece of gear with cat hair on it, haha, no but for real though any connectivity stuff, cables, midi, bluetooth. I think I spend 1/3 my time reserved for making music just making sure things are connected correctly. My studio is not only used for music, but I do my freelance graphic design work there as well, so I can’t really have it all out and connected. In an ideal world things would just work ya know!? 

Cables of all colors

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

The random button on the Hydrasynth is wonderful. It will create a patch for you or you can tell it to scramble up a patch that you already have based on percentages. Sometimes the patches are too wild and I have a blast reeling them into something more palatable to use, but you can end up creating something that you wouldn’t have easily come up with any other way.

ASM Hydrasynth

Artist or Band name?

hissquiet

Genre?

Hmm… maybe ambient music that isn’t really background music? More dark ambient, drone or sometimes I like to get noisy and cinematic.

Selfie?

Ash Farrand aka. Hissquiet

Where are you from?

I grew up and live on the East Coast of the States currently, but I’ve been all over the States. The East Coast feels like home though.

How did you get into music?

I did the whole orchestra/marching band thing when I was younger, but more recently (5ish years ago) I got into music, because I found folks like Hainbach, Anne Annie, and Amulets back in the day when they were doing more “no talking” hardware jams and quickly got a DAW and a midi keyboard and the rest is history.

What still drives you to make music?

Music is my therapy, it allows me to express myself. I really enjoy getting lost in a moment while I’m improvising sound and everything else in the world kind of goes to the wayside for a few minutes. I do it for me first and if others happen to like it that’s a definite bonus.

How do you most often start a new track?

I can start with a sound that’s interesting to me which can kind of evolve into a certain mood all on its own or sometimes I already have a mood that I want to try to capture with a sound. From there I think about how adding effects or layers could elevate or evolve or contrast with what that mood. That’s usually how a track emerges; it’s very emotion-based.

How do you know when a track is finished?

There are 2 criteria for this. When it sounds perfect and there’s nothing I want to change about it or if it’s nearly perfect and I’m simply done working on it. Some might call that laziness, but I can be a bit of a perfectionist on some things so sometimes it’s just best to let go, nobody will notice.

Show us your current studio

Hissquiet studio
Hissquiet studio 2
Hissquiet studio 3

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I had a rad guitar teacher that really introduced me to the idea that everything can be music. I remember he started riffing off of a fan that was making a rhythmic sound and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of music.

Slot Drum

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

I’ve got some tapes available of my latest album Solastalgia with Mystery Circles: https://hissquiet.bandcamp.com/album/solastalgia

All the links are here on my website: https://hissquiet.com/


Paul Talos – Signal Soundlabs

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

Make Noise Morphagene

Lately, it’s been the Vari-Speed knob on the Morphagene. It’s really incredible how something as simple as changing the speed and pitch of a sound can turn it into something completely unrecognizable. Things get even more interesting when you start reversing things too. You really end up discovering all kinds of sounds within sounds that you never really would have thought were there, especially when slowing samples down. Gotta love the wonderful world of microsound.

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

Moog Subsequent 37

The closest thing for me would be my Moog Subsequent 37. It just puts so much sound design power at your fingertips, you almost don’t need anything else. Between having one of my favorite filters, two different kinds of distortion, and plenty of modulation options, there’s enough in there to make a lifetime’s worth of music. It may not be as infinitely versatile as my eurorack setup, but there’s a certain immediacy about it that allows me to get what I need out of it very quickly. The only thing that could possibly make it even better is if it had voltage control over more of the parameters. I actually really regret not jumping on the CV version while they were still making those, as that would have been as close to perfect as you can get.

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

Moog Mother-32

I can’t say I do much traveling with my gear, as my setup wasn’t exactly designed with mobility in mind. But I guess if I were to bring anything, it would be my Moog Mother-32. Not only is it one of my more compact instruments, but I find its limitations to be pretty inspiring. It’s a surprisingly deep instrument and can yield some very unexpected results with a bit of clever patching. I often feel like I’m just scratching the surface of what it can do, so I suppose traveling with it would really force me to get everything I can out of it.

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

Spectrasonics Omnisphere

I really wish there was some kind of hardware version of Spectrasonics Omnisphere. It’s such a useful instrument when scoring for a film, especially for creating cinematic soundscapes. It’s one of the few VST instruments I find myself going back to time and time again. If they made a hardware version with some CV control over the parameters, I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Of course, with the size of the library being what it is, I’m sure it would be incredibly impractical to actually implement in hardware form, much less in eurorack format.

Walrus Audio Descent

On the flip side, I’d love a plugin version of my Walrus Audio Descent reverb pedal. I use the shimmer mode on that pedal quite a bit to add an almost choir-like quality to synths, and would love to have multiple software instances to use throughout a mix. Sure, there are ways of creating a similar sound using other software (the Descent is digital after all) but the pitch shifting on this pedal has a very particular, kind of unnatural sound to it. Hard to describe, but it definitely has a tone and I haven’t really come across anything else that sounds quite like it.

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

Korg MS-20 mini

I sold my Korg MS-20 mini when I first started diving into eurorack. At the time, I figured it didn’t make sense to have a semi-modular synth that didn’t speak Volt per Octave and was looking to get some cash to finance the beginnings of my modular (I believe I ended up buying a Maths with the money I made). But over time I realized just how much I missed those oscillators and filters. It’s such a unique instrument, and much like the Mother-32, it just has a very inspiring set of limitations. So last year, I actually ended up buying it again and will never repeat the mistake of selling it.

Arturia Minibrute 2S

As far as buyer’s remorse on a piece of gear, I bought an Arturia Minibrute 2S when they first came out and had some regrets on that one. The synth voice itself is phenomenal, and the ability to integrate it with eurorack really enhanced the functionality of my existing modular system. But I never got into a good flow with the sequencer. As someone with a background in music theory, I found it really difficult to visualize musical intervals due to its lack of a traditional keyboard. So I eventually ended up selling it and getting the keyboard version instead. Been loving it ever since.

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

Signal SoundLabs Eurorack

Lately, my eurorack rig has been the most consistent source of inspiration. I made some upgrades to it recently, and after about three years of buying and selling modules, I finally feel like I have most of the puzzle pieces in place. Modular synthesis definitely has an element of unpredictability, feels like these modules have a will of their own sometimes and I’m just along for the ride.
It really is a happy accident machine. The downside is it can be a bit difficult to tame, especially when working on music that is synced to visuals. But lately I’ve managed to find a workflow that has been very effective for film music. The key was to start recording everything I did on the modular and then spending some time editing to pick out all the best parts. The editing can be time consuming, but I find myself getting faster and faster with patching so it all evens out. Overall, I just find it more inspiring to capture a bunch of audio from the modular and then work by subtraction rather than addition.

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

If I had to start again, I’d probably get the most powerful computer I could afford, along with a copy of Cubase, a Universal Audio Apollo Twin, and some kind of semi-modular synth like the Minibrute 2. A basic rig like this would cover pretty much all the essentials, while combining a tactile hardware workflow with plenty of digital flexibility.

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

Mutable Instruments Clouds

Hard to say, but I guess I kind of have a love/hate relationship with my Mutable Instruments Clouds module. I rely on it pretty heavily when it comes to making any kind of ambient drone patch, but I find it rather annoying having to remember what all the controls do in its various different modes. Having installed the Parasite firmware really didn’t help with that either. That said, I came across an iOS app called Modes that acts as a nice cheat sheet for some multi-function modules, so I’m definitely not pulling my hair out as much as before. As much as I have a few gripes with Clouds, it really brings a lot to the table and has become pretty much irreplaceable in my rack.

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

Chase Bliss MOOD

I’ve recently been getting more and more into processing audio from Cubase using effects pedals. Plug-ins can be great, particularly for utility functions like EQ, but nowadays there are so many unique pedals out there, it feels like a shame not to use them to process in-the-box sounds as well. I’ve been doing this a lot with my Chase Bliss MOOD pedal in particular, which lets me grab a short slice of audio from the DAW and transform it in all kinds of quirky and interesting ways. Lately, whenever I get stuck on a track, I’ll start feeding random audio into MOOD (unused takes from the modular work particularly well) just to see what happens. It’s a great way to get myself out of a creative rut.


Artist or Band name?

Paul Talos

Genre?

Cinematic Electronica. I’ve never been sure how to categorize my music exactly, so eventually I just made something up. I think it sums things up pretty nicely.

Selfie?

Paul Talos

Where are you from?

Born in Germany, grew up in Boston, MA. Currently living in Philadelphia, PA.

How did you get into music?

I started playing electric guitar around the age of ten and started experimenting with home recording on a laptop when I was a teenager. After high school, I spent some time at Berklee College of Music studying guitar and discovered a love of synthesis and all things electronic music shortly after that.

What still drives you to make music?

Music’s become my job over the last few years, so a paycheck is definitely one thing that drives me. But more importantly, I constantly find myself inspired by just listening to other people’s music and trying to deconstruct what I’m hearing. I’ve come across some very interesting synthesis and production techniques just by trying (and usually failing) to emulate something I heard somewhere else.

How do you most often start a new track?

As a film composer, the answer to that question really varies from project to project. Production timelines and deadlines can be vastly different from one film to the next, so sometimes it might be starting a new track every day, other times I’ll write two or three a week. I do try to spend some time every day just to make some kind of noise though, usually on the modular. I find that synthesis is a skill that really needs to be maintained, otherwise it just gets harder the longer you are away from it. So regardless of what I’m working on, I try to squeeze in some synth time at least once a day, so I don’t get too rusty.

How do you know when a track is finished?

It really never is, but once the deadline hits it’s usually good enough. Honestly, if I didn’t have deadlines of some sort, I’m not sure I would ever finish anything. 

Show us your current studio

Signal SoundLabs studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

This one kind of relates to one of the other questions about finishing tracks. I took this music production class in college, and the professor said something one day that really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of this: A mix is never done, you just stop working on it eventually. To hear that from a professional in the industry was incredibly reassuring at the time. I think it’s something that applies not only to a mix, but to music making in general. Nothing is ever truly finished and that’s okay.

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

Back in July, I released my score for a short thriller film called ‘Just Like You.’ The score is available on all streaming platforms. Links below.

Just Like You (Spotify)

https://music.apple.com/us/album/just-like-you-original-score-ep/1521324795

https://paultalos.bandcamp.com/releases


[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…
]