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/


My Panda Shall Fly – Me to the moon

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

Yamaha AN200

The ‘Scene’ knob on my Yamaha AN200 is a beauty. It allows you to program two unique patches and fade between these creating countless more possibilities on-the-fly.

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

The EMU XL7 Command Station is really powerful under the hood, but if only it had sampling capabilities and a bigger screen!

EMU XL7 Command Station

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

I take my iPad because of how convenient it is. I’m able to store so many interesting apps on there and I can do some cool things with just that one device.

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

It would be amazing to have Reaktor in the hardware world. Crazy set of tools in there and I’ve only really seen about half of what’s available.

Reaktor

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

I wish I still had my Yamaha VSS30 sampler keyboard, I definitely didn’t appreciate it like I would now 10 years later.

[Editor: I have exactly the same story with a near mint VSS-30. Now the 2nd hand prices are ridiculous! Might as well get an Organelle M]

Yamaha VSS30

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

The Novation Circuit is always within hand’s reach in my studio and is such a useful sketch pad and ideas machine, even when used to sequence external gear.

Novation Circuit

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

A Monome Norns, that thing looks like a very capable rectangle of delight.

Monome Norns

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

My old 2 input sound card by Roland. It’s very limited (though it can do 96 kHz) but I have to use it every time I wanna make music!

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

Okay this is a juicy one, load a custom wavetable of individual sounds into the Korg Volca Sample instead of single 1-shot samples. This opens up a whole new world of fun.

[Editor: Ah! Because the loop start point is sequence automatable…. Nice.
Dammit, I sold my Volca Sample]

Volca Sample

Artist or Band name?

My Panda Shall Fly.

Genre?

Weird.

Selfie? >

My Panda Shall Fly aka. Suren Seneviratne

Where are you from?

Born in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

How did you get into music?

I didn’t come from a musical family or have any formal music education. I think somehow my desire to express myself manifested in making noise. And I’ve never looked back…

What still drives you to make music?

I love sound and exploring its properties. There is so much to do with it, so many different ways to manipulate and control frequencies. My curiosity to keep learning is what drives me the most, and I’m not sure this will ever stop.

How do you most often start a new track?

I do not have a default method at all. It could be anything, usually the instrument or device I begin with has a big influence on the direction I will then go in. Certainly sitting in front of a piano will give you a different result to opening up a blank project in Pro Tools!

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t know! I struggle with this often, help!

[Editor: Plenty of strategies from the other artist who are interviewed. I asked this question, exactly because I struggle with it too. So much that I’m almost starting to think it’s the central problem in the artistic process. Completion]

Show us your current studio >

My Panda Shall Fly – Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t stop.

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

A sample pack of processed alien speech sounds and heavy sci-fi machinery surenseneviratne.bandcamp.com

[Editor: If you dig weird noise… and who doens’t dig weird noise? Then I might add that Suren’s Instagram is well worth a visit (don’t worry, he doesn’t use the fish-eye lens quite so much over there). It’s got lots of circuit bending-experiments and fun-gear-mods… instagram.com/mypandashallfly.]