Pablo Ortega – Mellow Cello

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

The volume knob on my monitor controller. It is huge and I am constantly using it when mixing. 

Monitor controller

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

Yellow Cello very Mellow

I think my cello. But like all string instruments, there are days when it sounds better and others when it sounds worse, it is a bit moody depending on the weather. I would want it to always sound the best! But that is just the nature of the instrument.

Prophet Rev2

I also find the Prophet rev2 pretty pretty good. It would really be a dream if it would include a proper analog high pass filter and a better sounding reverb (I find its reverb sadly almost unusable).

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

I usually try not to take any piece of gear when I go on holidays because otherwise it is harder for me to really ‘disconnect’ if I know that I can make music at any time. When going on tour I always have most of my instruments with me anyway, but in most cases my laptop with Ableton Live would be enough to keep creating. When I am away I mostly do sound design or drum loops, witch I can use when back on the studio. 

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

Macbook running Phonec VSTi

I have recently discovered a very special soft synth called Phonec 2. It has lots of character and some very interesting integrated effects, like a random pitch modulator like Shallow Water. On top of that you can randomize all its parameters, which sometimes leads to unexpected patches. It think it sounds more organic than many hardware synths I have played – the problem is that I don’t love to use soft synths, I much prefer to be able to turn every knob with my fingers.
A hardware unit that I would definitely love to see in software is the Moog MuRF.

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

Precisely, I kinda regret selling my Moog MIDI MuRF. It seemed to me like a lot of money for a single effect at the time, and because of that it was difficult to justify keeping it. But it has a very special and lovely sound. Now that they are not being produced anymore they have gotten even more expensive. As of regrets I honestly don’t have many, if buy some gear with which I don’t connect after a while, I sell it rather fast.

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

Probably my piano or the Prophet 08 (and later the rev2).

Schimmel Upright Piano

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

A laptop with Ableton Live. Then, a polyphonic synth and a piano. Also a simple but high quality soundcard interface and a pair of Beyerdynamic 770 or 880. I would have more than enough with that for a long while.

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

I kind of love all pieces of gear I currently have. I have a bit of a minimalistic mentality, so everything I don’t love or use regularly I end up selling. That allows me to get to know more gear, expand my music making approaches and then integrate the instruments and workflows that really suit me.

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

I like to make my synth sounds subtly imperfect, so I love to map a slow random LFO with low amplitude to parameters like filter cutoff, amp envelope, oscillator tuning, amp decay, noise… there is no limits there. I do this all the time with the Prophet rev2.
Another one little trick I discovered a short while ago on Ableton/Mac is to create a custom key combination for freezing and flattening the tracks. That is saving me a ton of time and it allows me to not have to interrupt my workflow that much.

Artist or Band name?

Pablo Ortega




Pablo Ortega

Where are you from?

I was born in Spain, but I have been living in Germany for the last 10 years.

How did you get into music?

I started learning to play cello in my city’s conservatory when I was 11 years old, and piano a couple of years later.

What still drives you to make music?

I have a strong need inside to keep creating, it is something I cannot ignore for a long period of time . Maybe it is a bit like an addiction (a good one I hope?). 

How do you most often start a new track?

I usually improvise on the piano till I come across an interesting idea, which then I record and try to develop into a longer sketch. 

How do you know when a track is finished? 

I often come to a point where I feel that if I keep adding or changing things, the track is gonna get worse. I think that is when. Then, if I find it to be good enough, I wait a couple of days/weeks and then I mix it. If the track isn’t that good I just accept the fact that maybe it isn’t meant to be and move forward. I try not to seek perfection with every piece I produce because that way it is easy to get lost into a rabbit hole.

Show us your current studio

Pablo’s studio
A cellist’s pedal board

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t try to make your music perfect every time, just keep creating -this is also kind of my inner mantra when trying to keep myself creative.

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

My last (and also first) EP ‘Still Waters Run Deep’ which I released two months ago:

Also my youtube channel:

[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…