Denis Violet – Dawless Daytripper

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

Moog Mother32 knob

As a « DAWless » musician, I necessarily attach great importance to the ergonomics of the hardware, to the user interface. How am I going to use this ? Is it practical ? To these considerations is added a strong fascination for the aesthetics of analog synthesizers, which I find beautiful even when they are switched off. Sometimes I just watch them ! Regardless of the function to which they are attached, the large knobs of my Moogs, which alone embody manufacturing quality and respect for the user, are the elements of my set-up where my fingers naturally want to rest.

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

Moog Mother32 and Subharmonicon

Moog Mother32 is almost perfect. And on a weirdest side, Subharmonicon. My current set-up is a mixture of « serious » machines, like the Moogs or the Korg MS20, and synths that are a little more cheap, but have very endearing sounds, Volcas or Stylophones, and also weird and wonderful instruments like the GechoLoopsynth from Phonicbloom or Diddley Bow from Syro Instruments. I’m not necessarily looking to accumulate instruments, although every gear can add something to the sound, but ideally, a string machine, a good drum machine and instruments like the Arp2600 or the VCS3 would fill me with joy…

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

Uno Synth Pro

On vacation or when I’m walking in the woods, I always have synthesizers in my backpack. Most often, my Uno Synth Pro, which is an amazing analog synth, small and light, but very powerful, but also Volcas, my little Akaï sampler, and always GechoLoopsynth, which transforms the sounds of the world into enchantment. I must say that the portable aspect is a criterion of choice because I really like playing outdoors. In concert, it depends of course on the set-list, but in general the base is constituted by the Mininova, Mother32 and the MS20.

GechoLoopsynth

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

Well, only using hardware and being resistant to computers, I can’t answer this question… In fact, I tend to think that creativity is often spurred by the hardware limitations of instruments. The only limits I want to push back are those of my imagination.

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

I remember an old Boss 220E drum machine. The sound was horrible, but she was funny. Even if I don’t use my Electribe much anymore, and although it doesn’t suit my way of working, I hesitate to sell it.

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

Curiously, the main instrument used for the album « Zur Zeit der Wälder » is Korg’s Volca Keys. I still sometimes find it hard to believe… But in the end, even such a small synthesizer of this price can provide a lot of satisfaction ! Today I only use it for outdoor jamming, but I must admit that it was very important in my journey towards analog synthesis. Currently, when I compose, everything often starts from a loop played on the Moog Mother32.

Korg’s Volca Keys

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

I built my set-up gradually, both adapting it to my needs, but also letting myself be surprised by diverting the instruments from their favorite fields. I’m not unhappy with the way I went about it. If today I had no instrument, I think I would start with a good analog (my Mother32), some effects, and a machine like the Model :cycles from Elektron, which seems to have a very good sequencer.

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

Korg MS-20 patch points

I don’t get bored much with my instruments. I admit I spent a long time around the patch panel of the MS20, quite obscure when compared to the clarity of those of the semi-modular Moogs. By dint of persevering and trying, even making mistakes, I still ended up getting used to it ! What bothers me the most are often technical considerations that unfortunately we can’t do without, everything related to mixing, recording.
In the home studio, anything unrelated to instruments most often annoys me, I want it to go fast, even if it means sometimes sacrificing sound quality no doubt (perhaps -this my punk side…) That’s why I go straight to the point, even if a technician would make leaps !

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

One day, my Stylophone’s silk-thin stylus cable broke. It had to happen eventually. So I opened it up, and I only had a patch cable on hand to repair it, so I cut off one end to solder it in place of the old one. I started playing again with a jack cable instead of the stylus. And then, I looked at my Korg SQ1 sequencer, and I had the crazy idea of ​​connecting the « stylus » cable to the analog output of the sequencer and playing a sequence. Well it works ! The video of this discovery is somewhere on my Instagram…

Stylophone and Korg SQ1 sequencer

Artist or Band name?

Ramirez

Genre?

My musical tastes are very eclectic (from classical music to ambient via post punk new wave and french chanson), the music I produce can possibly find its roots in krautrock and the beginnings of electronic music (Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre). I have a strong and sensual relationship with my analog synths. As soon as I have the opportunity, I defend the idea that electronic lutherie produces instruments that have a soul, that live.

Selfie?

Denis Violet

Where are you from?

I live in Limousin, a somewhat isolated rural region in the center of France. 50 years old, married and father of 4 children.

How did you get into music?

After studying piano and then bass in a music school, I created the group >fjord with Anne-Sophie Michaud at the end of the 90s. With our kind of french trip-hop, we did a few dates with great artists from the French scene such as Jean-Louis Murat, Dominique A, Yann Tiersen.

Ramirez plays tijuana 9-11-2016

Since 2007, I sing, play keyboards, bass and guitar with my friend, the guitarist Toto Deloménie (and for some time Cécile Venot and Yohan Mayet) in our Ramirez project. In 15 years, we have evolved from an acoustic guitar duo to pop/folk/electro songs. Our latest album, « Homme Lige », is entirely instrumental and is inspired by the collection of poems by Laurent Bourdelas, who asked me to accompany him for readings of his work.

In my work with disabled people, I occasionally lead a workshop of expression and creation with electronic music as a medium, in partnership with the Limoges Conservatoire de Musique, and I am very proud to have introduced, for example, the theremine and the Kaoss Pad in this temple of «serious » music.

Denis Ramirez performing

Another thing that is important for me. Limousin is a region where nature is everywhere. As I walk a lot in forests or in the fields near my house and I always have a few portable synths on me, I often make music which reflect on the threatened beauty of nature.
Even though my music does not necessarily have an intrinsic political message, I would like it testify at least to this fight of our time, to save what can still be saved.

What still drives you to make music ?

Music never ends. Even with a finite number of notes, even with a finite number of sounds, music has no end ! How many years can you spend hunched over the same machine, producing music every day that’s different from the day before ? I don’t think I will ever have the answer to this question.

How do you most often start a new track ?

When I work for Ramirez, I usually start from the text or a fragment of text. What I prefer then is that Toto takes care of composing the music and that I collect it to make the arrangements. In my more personal projects, I often start with a texture, a sound that inspires me, and/or a simple loop with Mother32 or the SQ1. I make it evolve, with some effects (I can’t imagine a track without delay/reverb). I can then spend a lot of time improvising a lead voice, with the MS20 or the Werkstatt, which is a perfect little Moog for that.
I then add as little as possible (see the track « Lige » in our latest album « Homme Lige ». There is only an eight-note loop played on the Werkstatt.) ….

How do you know when a track is finished?

[Cont’d from above]… And I know it’s over … when it’s time ! I willingly impose a time constraint on myself, if after a few hours I can’t get anywhere, I’ll start from scratch the next day…

Show us your current studio

Denis Ramirez’s studio desk

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard ?

Bernard Summer, from New Order, who said something like this : « There is nothing, and suddenly it’s there, as if a voice were dictating the song to you ». Basically, letting go, not putting up barriers of good taste, genre, or style. Take everything that comes, let it rest, and then sort it out.


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

Ramirez appears sporadically, on the other hand I have a frenetic musical activity on my Instagram account, on which I post a minute of old school electronic music daily. You can find it here : @denis_violet

Ramirez’s music, from « L’atelier », which traces the period 2007/2017, to « Homme Lige », produced in 2022, is on the main streaming platforms.
Spotify and YouTubeMusic

Ramirez Homme Lige

[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]


Chris Joye – Joy of Crisynther

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

Probably the Cutoff knob on my Moog Mother-32. I just love how dramatically it opens or closes the sound.

Moog Mother-32 Cutoff knob
Moog Mother-32

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

Pladask Elektrisk Tåken delay pedal.  I would put three together (a Triple Tåken?) similar to my TC Electronics Triple Flashback delay.

Pladask Elektrisk Tåken delay pedal
Pladask Elektrisk Tåken delay pedal

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

It depends where I’m going, but I usually end up bringing the wrong kit and then get an e-mail request to create something entirely different. I’ve been trying to bring my Zoom H4N to capture sounds or found instruments and usually a Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator or three.

Zoom H4N and a bunch of Pocket Operators
Zoom H4N and a bunch of Pocket Operators

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

My Omnichord OM-84 as a playable plug-in would be cool.  Conversely, putting the complete Soundtoys plug-in suite into a pedal would be amazing!

Omnichord OM-84
Omnichord OM-84

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

I sold an Ibanez Gary Willis signature 5-string fretless bass for a Fender Jazz copy and cry every time I remember.  I’m pretty careful what gear I buy now, generally, but there have definitely been a few pedals I questioned and re-sold rather quickly.

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

Probably a tie between my Warwick Infinity LTD 2000 bass and my Fender Telecaster.  

Warwick Infinity LTD 2000 bass and my Fender Telecaster
Warwick Infinity LTD 2000 bass and my Fender Telecaster

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

First, a sufficient room to compose and mix in… but that’s not gear, so maybe proper room treatments… ok, ok, a nice set of monitors.

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

The short guitar pedal connector cables that always seem to break or crackle.

Short cables

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

Maybe not a bit of kit, but in Apple Logic, the “Chase MIDI Note” option so that it triggers the MIDI note even if you start the playhead in the middle of the note.

Apple Logic Chase MIDI Note

Artist or Band name?

Chris Joye (but, I also created a handful of albums under the moniker Cue, and then also as Christopher Joye, before settling into my actual name)

Genre?

Typically a blend of indie rock with classical/soundtrack elements

Selfie?

Chris En-Joye-ing himself in his studio

Where are you from?

I live near Seattle, Washington.

How did you get into music?

My dad always played classical music on his big sound system and my mom listened to Oldies. I took piano lessons as a kid, but quit for sports until one of my brothers bought an electric guitar as a teenager and I decided to play it. Eventually, a friend convinced me to try out bass guitar and I was sold on that!

What still drives you to make music? 

The endless options of blending sounds and textures.  This can also be a hinderance, too, when you hit a creative block, but it still makes me come back to experiment more.

How do you most often start a new track?

Most of the music I create for myself, I’m still writing with the intention that it may be used in sync to video or a video game or some sort of storyful project later on.  So, I guess, I usually start with a concept, maybe it’s a mood, or a theme, or a character or something.  However, sometimes, I just mess around with sounds or chords and find an interesting combination.  

How do you know when a track is finished?

I’m always intrigued by how a simple melody or chord or texture turns into a full piece.  Something usually clicks at some point in the process where I feel like I’ve found the direction to take, I can never pinpoint it, but usually after the 4,000th time of playback, that I can generally feel when a song is done and ready to mix.  Sometimes, I’ll add another element or two and if it sounds too cluttered or muddy, then I know I’ve nearly reached this point.

Show us your current studio.

Here it is, more or less.

No Joye in Chris’ studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

One of my Film Scoring instructors at Berklee said something once that I always remember, “Just finish it and move on.”  That may not motivate some people, but it resonates with me!

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

I released my 14th album, “Reposition”, which is an album of spacious ambient tracks that I wrote thinking of dialogue- or emotionally-heavy film scenes that just need a slow-moving “mood” for a backdrop.  It’s available everywhere and here https://chrisjoye.bandcamp.com/album/reposition


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