Kevin McKinney – QueTheWash

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

Cooper FX Generation Loss V1 mix knob.  Something about the oversized knob, the smoothness with which it moved, and the symmetry of the 6 knob setup with the mix knob proudly in the middle…I ended up parting ways with it to fund the V2 and i have to say, i miss that knob.

Cooper FX Generation Loss V1

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

The Digitakt is so powerful and versatile, I have used it to make beats, ambient loops, and everything in between. For me, I have always wished that it had more playable keys/pads.  I am actually currently looking into pairing it with some kind of external pad controller to fully maximize it’s performance playability.

Elektron Digitakt

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

The OP-1. I almost put this answer for the previous question as well, because just think if it had bluetooth! That would make the already quintessential travel companion undeniably perfect.

Teenage Engineering OP-1

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

I run my studio completely DAWless via the Squarp pyramid, so I don’t have much experience with software synths beyond some of the ones I play with on the iPad. There was this one I remember playing with, ‘Poseidon Synth’, that had a function where it would just randomize all the settings and leave you with something ridiculous. I think that would be fun on a piece of hardware, like say, my DSI Rev2 😛

Poseidon Synth

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

I regret selling my Tascam Portastudio 424 Mk1. I ended up making a pretty penny on it thanks to the recent boom in cassette music being made, but I definitely miss it. I have other cassette recorders, but that one was something special.

Tascam Portastudio 424 Mk1

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

I compose everything at the piano and then move it to the saxophone, or my electronic gear, or wherever I envisioned it. So, while it might not technically be ‘gear’, it was my first instrument, and everything I do, both electronically and acoustically, stems from the piano.

[Editor: I’d definitely say it is gear 🙂 ]

Kawai Piano

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

If I had to start over I would probably buy a really nice audio interface first. I currently run everything into my studio through an Allen & Heath qu-16c, which acts as both mixer and audio interface for me. I have always wondered what things would sound like and how my workflow would change if I was working with an interface from Universal Audio or something comparable.

UAD Apollo

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

Probably the Keeley compressor on my sax board. I couldn’t live without it because some of the patches I have are really hot and require the use of both a programmable EQ pedal and this compressor/limiter pedal to tame. It’s only annoying because it is not programmable like the EQ, and every time i get my board out of the case I have to readjust the knobs to where I need them.

Keeley compressor

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

A lot of people complain about the OP-1 internal engines sounding extremely digital, tinny, and somewhat like a set of children’s toys. I achieve full, warm sounds on the OP-1 pretty easily with the use of the Elektron Analog Drive at the end of the effects chain. Even just the clean boost setting with a bit of tweaking on the highs and a bit of drive goes a long way and adds a great depth of sound.

Elektron Analog Drive

Artist or Band name?

My name is Kevin McKinney. I play saxophone/effects for the stinky garage jazz band, ‘Doctor Pizza’ in Detroit, Michigan.

Doctor Pizza Stickers
Doctor Pizza Band

Genre?

I am an improviser and saxophonist, although I do a lot of ambient/soundscape work with my electronic instruments.

Selfie?

Kevin McKinney

Where are you from?

I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland Ohio

How did you get into music?

I got into music as a toddler. I had a little toy piano that I carried around with me and played all the time. My parents noticed this and started piano lessons for me when I was 4 years old. I was hooked for life.

Toy Piano

What still drives you to make music?

I am a new father of boy/girl twin babies, so I have a lot of trouble finding time to make music lately. What drives me to make music, when I do have the time is definitely the way it makes me feel, and the way it can make others feel when they experience it. The rush of holding an altissimo note while the crowd screams..or, contrastingly, the calmness of playing piano alone in your studio with all the lights down… those moments are what make music making so special.

Twin Babies… seeing something hilarious

How do you most often start a new track?

I have lot of gear, so sometimes it can be a case of too many options. I like to pick one piece of gear that will be the focus for that session and then build everything around that. Sometimes I will just pick a single pedal, or a synth, or a set of drum samples…anything that can be a launching point.

Novation Bass Station

How do you know when a track is finished?

With my band and often with my own music, songs are an ever-evolving thing…I will bring in a loose idea, or a lead sheet with some basics and then we shape the rest together during rehearsal.  A lot of times solo sections, the general form of the tune, and even sometimes the melodic information are all up for discussion and debate while we are working through the new idea.  I may go back to things I created years ago and change them if I am having trouble coming up with something new.

Kevin’s band at rehearsal

Show us your current studio

Kevin McKinney’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I forget who told me this, maybe Dave Liebman?… Anyhow, I remember being in a masterclass and being told that you don’t truly know a song, a melody, a transcribed solo, or whatever it may be until you can SING it. The human voice is the most fundamental and primal of instruments and having that connection to your voice before picking up any instrument and attempting to play something is crucial. As an improviser, I try to employ this same thinking… only let out of your horn what you hear in your head as being complementary to the music that is happening around you.

Kevin singing with sax-iness

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

Check out my band Doctor Pizza! We are recording our latest album in mid July and hope to have it out later this year. We are on YouTube, Spotify and all major platforms.
www.doctorpizzaband.com

Doctor Pizza Band

Gabriel Vinuela – Viñu-Vinu


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

White MoogerFooger RingMod

The knobs on my MoogerFooger RingMod are the best, I think. They have the good resistance, size and shape. They just feel right!

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

Elektron Digitakt

The Elektron Digitakt is almost perfect for me. I love the workflow, its limitations, the sequencer, the size and the sound. That box sounds so good and has such unbelievable headroom! I guess I would like to have a slot for an SD card for more storage and easier sample transfers.

Digitakt and friends

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

I always bring my Zoom H4N everywhere to record field recordings which I really enjoy doing. For a minimal holiday setup, I would add to that my OP-1. Not super original here, but you can do so much on the OP-1 alone, it wins for a minimal setup!

OP1 and Zoom H4N

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

I think having PaulXStretch in an effect pedal format would be pretty cool! Freeze, stretch the signal to immense drone with frequency shift, filters etc…
For a while, I was wishing for the Digitakt sequencer to be available as a software, but with overbridge it’s almost the case now. Also, Ableton 11 implementing randomisation in the sequencer totally fills that gap now for me.

Paul Stretch

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

I don’t really sell gear, cause I’m always afraid I’ll regret it later and that I might need it for a project. To be fair I’m also really cautious of the gear I buy and I don’t have a lot. I sold my first electric piano which was a Yamaha S90 a while back. I kind of regret selling now, because it had a pretty good keybed and I think I could use it now as master midi keyboard. Therefore, reinforcing that I should not sell gear! haha

Yamaha S90

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

I know it’s not a hardware piece, but I need to say Ableton Live. It’s definitely “the piece of kit” that got me started and I can still find endless inspiration within. I like that there’s so much different workflows possible, different ways of doing things and it’s such a modular environment to make music. No two person use it exactly in the same way!

Ableton

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

Something like the Minilogue I think. A synth with almost all the functions on the front panel is way better to start learning about synthesis.

Korg Minilogue

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

Cables!!! We absolutely need them, but there are too much cables around everywhere in the studio: xlr, 1/4, usb, dongles. It never ends OMG.

Cables

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

A surprising trick I learned watching a Dave Meck tutorial was that you can create FM tones by setting a really fast bpm multiply on the LFO and modulating the sample tune. Better to check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wsu7CB1SSI

Digitakt FM tones

Artist or Band name?

Viñu-Vinu

Genre?

Electronic music, ambient, downtempo, experimental, melodic, beats (I guess??)

Selfie?

I’m cheating here… That’s a photo taken by my friend Mathieu Lalonde (Couleurves)

Gabriel Vinuela aka. Viñu-Vinu

Where are you from?

Montréal, Canada.

How did you get into music?

I started taking piano lessons when I was 10 years old and continued studying music and classical piano performance all through college and University. I completed a Bachelor degree in both classical and jazz piano performance at University of Montreal. Around 2013-14 a friend showed me Ableton and I started experimenting more with sounds and textures and started doing electronic music and music production more seriously around 2016. And here we are!

What still drives you to make music?

I think what still drives me is the infinite quest, exploration and learning experience that music is for me. I’m always looking for something new to make or to learn.

How do you most often start a new track?

Most of the time I fire Ableton Live and then it so much depends on the day! I generally like to establish and think about a process first. For example: explore this new plugin, today granular stuff, starting with a hardware synth, work with that new sequencer. The process gets me going at first and then I can go where ever from there and a new track or idea start emerging from that.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it’s released and I’m listening to it on the Bandcamp or another platform stream. It’s really the only way you’re sure the track is fully finished… haha. Joke aside, that’s such a hard question to answer. For me it’s really a gut feeling, a sense that all the pieces of the puzzle are together, like I almost see the whole thing visually. Sometimes it happens really quickly and sometimes it takes for ever to get there.

Show us your current studio

Studio
Studio
Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

See your art as a practice and practice it everyday. Even for a really short amount of time. Blankfr.ms posted something in those lines a few days ago in an Instagram caption. It’s something that I always tell my piano student, but it kind of reaffirmed it for myself reading it. You’re better practicing 10 min a day, than an hour once in a while. Getting that sense of daily creation is such a good and rewarding feeling too.

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

I just released my new album Exilio Transitorio:
Vinyl + download:

Exilio Transitorio

https://vinu-vinu-music.bandcamp.com/album/exilio-transitorio

Streaming: https://album.link/i/1557425920


Red Means Recording – Jeremy Blake

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

The Hydrasynth main encoder knob. It’s huge.

Hydrasynth main encoder knob – it’s lit from beneath

Second place goes to anything that turns up the volume. 

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

I wish the Synthstrom Deluge had an OLED screen and I wish the Mashine+ could make actual synth patches from scratch. 

Native Instruments Mashine+

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

OP-1 or Deluge or iPad for granular apps like Borderlands.

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

I used to think a bunch about this, but after getting the Hydrasynth I don’t really care about software in hardware. If I could get Pigments as hardware that would be dope. I would love more wacky probabilistic and self-patchable software stuff.

Slow spagettification of a studio

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

Zero regrets in selling. Selling is freedom. 

A corona lockdown audience

Buying, I dunno. Everything I’ve bought I’ve bought because it had a reason to exist in my setup at that time. When I sell it, it’s because it’s redundant or I’ve outgrown it.

Vivid colors of eurorack

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

Neatified cables

Up until this year, the Teenage Engineering OP-1. This year it’s been eurorack.

A rainbow in eurorack

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

I still think a good DAW with a decent sample library, one good synth VST, and a hunger to learn is the best thing you could possibly start with. So I would do that.

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

Anything involving my computers, haha. I know that’s a cop-out answer, but like, man. They can do everything, but fuck up harder than anything else.

Can’t get around computers. But you can mount them up high!

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

I think audio-rate modulation, in general, is something that never occurred to me until recently. Everytime I see DivKid do something with it I’m like “oh right, I can do that”. It’s wild.

Audio rate mod everthing… in eurorack

Artist or Band name?

Jeremy Blake for music, Red Means Recording for YouTube

Genre?

Electronica, Downtempo, Alternative Electronic

Selfie?

Jeremy Blake aka. Red Means Recording

Where are you from?

Seattle, WA

How did you get into music?

I started playing the flute in Elementary School. Was lucky enough to be exposed to orchestral playing and jazz ensemble. Flunked out of music performance school because I was spending too much time sneaking into the studio to use the equipment and I didn’t wanna play the flute anymore. Was playing with trackers and anything I could get my hands on. Went to audio engineering school, kept experimenting. Eventually fell into YouTube music production videos. Most recently I’ve fallen hard for modular and I’m having a blast.

Desktop inspiration

What still drives you to make music?

When life gives you cables, make yellow shelving organisers

All the little pieces of things I know can be rearranged to augment some new idea. Everything can be recontextualized and spun into a new idea. There’s no end to the inspiration.

Gratuitios knobalation of the Sequential Pro 3
Knobalicious

How do you most often start a new track?

Lately, a lot. Modular has been a really refreshing platform for experimentation. I’m writing at least one new thing a week.

How do you know when a track is finished?

With modular and hardware it’s easy: when the performance is done and I’ve mixed and mastered it. With DAW-based stuff, it’s when I’ve gone through all my iteration passes, like idea, arrangement, mixing, re-arrangement, ear candy, and mastering. I go by a rule of three approach: if I can listen to a track 3 times and not mess with it, it’s done. If something bothers me 3 times, I change it.

[Editor: That answer is one of the most systematic and quantified approach to that question. That I’ve read. Excellent!]

Show us your current studio

Jeremy Blake’s very red Red Means Recording studio
Blackmagic ATEM Mini and a tuner

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Limitation breeds innovation, tied with “put a donk on it”.

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

I make music performance and education videos here: https://www.youtube.com/redmeansrecording

You can find my music on all platforms here: https://rmr.media/findme


[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…
]