William Stewart – W1llys

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

Uher Speed Knob

The speed selector on my Uher. The older model has a tiny gear shift for selecting the speed, but the new one just has a knob; a knob with a nice feel and weight. When you move it, you can feel the shifting of the gears inside as the mechanisms thunk into place. It’s immensely satisfying.

Uher Speed Lever
Uher Tape recorders

My second place choice is the hi-hat decay knob on my 808 clone. Riding that during a groove is endless fun.

808 Hihat decay knob

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

It might be the SE-02. The first synth I really learned how to use was the SH-09. It taught me how flexible a simple architecture can be, and how rewarding learning how each piece of a synth works together is. It taught me that the controls are as much a part of the instrument as the keys. Ever since then, no synth has been as fun to play as a solid monosynth.

Roland SE-02

The SE-02’s very much in the same vein, and it seems to be able to scratch every sonic itch I have. The delay’s grainy in all the right ways. The filter has a character that doesn’t make me think “Moog” for some reason. The filter has grit, filth, and somehow feels cold. Not machine cold, but unfeeling in the same that the universe is. When that filter sweeps just right it feels like the dawn, it feels like the slow and sudden heat as the sun rises in the morning. I love this thing. There’s magic in the way the envelopes and filter interact with the delay.

There are three things I’d change. The first thing I’d change is the knob taper. It’s exponential and it makes playing the knobs an extremely delicate procedure. The second is I really wish I had full ADSRs. That extra level of control would be much more welcome than panel controls for portamento. The third is the sequencer. It would be a lot nice if I could have longer sequences, and I really wish the sequence transpose could latch.

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

The obvious answer here is the OP-Z. It’s fun, quick, and easy to use. It’s also super easy to take on a plane. Making a full track with just this is surprisingly easy and fun. It definitely caught me off guard with how user friendly and fun it is to use.

Teenage Engineering OP-Z

Realistically and historically, though, my preference is to bring either the Volca FM and Mini KP or the Roland SE-02. When I sit down to play I’m not typically trying to write or work on a song. Usually I just want to explore a sound or a musical phrase. The SE-02 and Volca FM are excellent for sound exploration. If I want to make a minimalist composition these are my go-to pieces of gear, and fortunately they’re small enough for a carry-on.

Korg Volca FM and Kaoss Pad Mini

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

I am (un)fortunately a luddite. When I record or make music it’s almost entirely analog. One thing I wish I could do with my hardware setup is automate parameter controls. There are ways to do this if I went modular. If I used software I know I could automate some of the parameters of my physical instruments. Bringing Windows, Mac, or Linux into my setup would violate a lot of what my setup’s built on: spontaneity. I can write and record a song relatively quickly and easily, without worrying about system updates or getting sucked down the black hole that is the internet.

Analog recording

This is typically just called a DAWless setup. But I really don’t like that nomenclature. It defines a musical approach as being the absence of something, in a way. Really I just like playing instruments and don’t want to try and play a computer like an instrument.

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

DSI Prophet 6

The Prophet 6 is a rare animal. I’ve bought a lot of gear that I regretted, but this one the only one I’m keeping. It sounds great and it’s super flexible, but it has a lot of little design choices that drive me nuts. The problem is it sounds sooooo good. So, when I use it I love the sounds I get, but I always find myself frustrated by something.

It seems like it’s made for people working in studios who want to lay down tracks, or sample its lush sounds to use in a DAW. Regardless, it doesn’t seem to be made for my workflow.

DSI Prophet 6

But I am going to keep it around because it sounds ridiculously nice. The sound is so rich and deep I forget how annoying it was to program it. It’s like hiking up a mountain with uncomfortable shoes. It’s a real pain at times, but the views you get make the discomfort worth it.

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

The Volca FM is definitely my most inspiring. It’s endlessly versatile, and has more features under its hood than it has any right to for its size and price point. It has the wild and wiry sounds FM is known for, and the limited controls on the surface are deceptive in their simplicity. It’s easy to rely on presets, and tweaking the few controls on the surface gets you tons of control. It also plays nicely with any effect you want to pair it with.

Korg Volca FM

It’s an instrument I have a love-hate relationship with, though. I’ve owned three of them. Whenever I try to dive into the parameters to do some deep editing, it make me want to toss it out the window. The balance of features, and how easy it is to switch between playing modes to introduce variations makes it really fun to play.

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

The Jazzmaster. Even though any synthesizer can run sonic circles around any guitar/pedal combo, it feels more emotional to play than any synth or drum machine. Fiddling around with the different intervals on the neck taught me everything I know about music, too. It’s cliche as hell, but playing a guitar with some fuzz and delay could keep me happy forever.

Fender Jazzmaster

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

The Zoia is hands down the most useful and inconvenient piece of gear I own. If I have an idea that I can’t achieve with anything else, the Zoia can usually get me close enough. It does what it does better than anything else I know of, but I wouldn’t want to use it with a band.

Empress Effects Zoia

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

Envelopes are surprisingly underrated. Clones of “good” ones don’t really get talked about, and people don’t really seem to covet and worship the exact curves of one over another’s.

No two synths I’ve played have had the same envelopes. Each one has its own type of pluck, swell, and decay. It feels like they’re what transform a synth into a playable instrument. I wish there was more emphasis on modulating and controlling their parameters. Slight modifications to the decay of an adsr can completely transform a bland sequence. They really breath life into every sound.


Artist or Band name?

Willy

Genre?

I’ve never been good at sticking to a genre. It seems to waffle between synthwave, cinematic, harsh noise, and synth-pop.

Selfie?

William ‘Willy’ Stewart

Where are you from?

Benson, Utah

How did you get into music?

My mom signed me up to play violin in my middle school’s orchestra. After that it was relatively easy to play bass in my friend’s band. From there I was hooked.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s an emotional thing mainly. It helps me experience my emotions. Lately when I sit down to play it’s after a rough day, and it helps me process what’s happened. Other times, it’s when I’m feeling numb, and playing helps me open up and experience my emotions. This is essentially why I haven’t recorded very much music. It’s usually an expression of anxiety, depression, or fear. So, I don’t really want to live in that moment long enough to record it.

How do you most often start a new track?

Most often it’s with a riff or a phrase. I’ll have an idea for a sound, or find one via knob twiddling, and then I see what notes feel good with that sound. Once I’ve got something that makes me happy, I start seeing what other sounds I can layer in to compliment the original sound.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When I can listen to it without wincing, and it doesn’t feel empty. If I can listen without wincing it means I don’t have anything to redo, and as long as it sounds “full” I don’t need to add anything else.

Show us your current studio

William’s studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Play every day. Some variant of that’s what I hear all the time from everyone, but there really is no better advice. In my twenty years of music making experience, this advice has always held true. If you’re not inspired then try learning theory, practicing your technique, try reproducing real world sounds with synthesizers, try something outside of your comfort zone, or just have fun making noises. Keep at it every day to keep your tools sharp, then you’ll be ready to act when you actually have something to play.

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

The only places I regularly post anything are my Instagram and tiktok.


Pyn – DiscoPopGrin

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

The Cut-Off knob on my Dave Smith – Prophet 6. I use this a lot when I play around with arpeggiators.

DSI Prophet 6

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

No, I’m always looking for new things/stuff, although I’m really happy with my Prophet 6 and Korg Poly 61 synthesizers.

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

My MacBook, a microphone and a guitar to write the basic of a new song/idea.

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

I don’t really have a wish like that at the moment.

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

Yeah maybe the Roland MC-303, it’s really difficult to program it, so I don’t use it a lot.

Roland MC303

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

I started playing guitar and I still do, so I guess guitar is the most important instrument for me. Ableton Live made me develop my production and beatmaking skills.

PYN and sparkly Telecaster

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

Still a guitar, a computer with Ableton and a microphone. And I would still want to learn how to play guitar first, it’s great to learn an instrument so you can play and sing your own songs.

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

I guess microphones, it is a constant search to find the right one that completely suits your voice.

Blue Mic and Shure SM7B

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

Use Guitar Rig on other instruments than just guitar. You can get crazy sounds when you put a Guitar Rig on synths, vocals etc. and tweak them to a cool sound. And of course the reverse knob in Ableton, who can live without that these days 😉


Artist name

PYN

Genre

Pop/Disco

Selfie

PYN

Where are you from?

Bloemendaal, The Netherlands

How did you get into music?

Playing guitar since I was 10, writing and singing since I was 15 I guess 🙂 When I was 21 I started my study at the conservatory.

What still drives you to make music?

Listening to new and old music of other artists drives me to be create, and ideas that pop up in my head drive me to stay creative.

How do you most often start a new track?

It can start by an instrumental idea I have, or a melody or line that pops up in my head.

PYN at the pink guitar

How do you know when a track is finished?

This is the most difficult part of music. It is never really done, so at some point when I am happy and my team is happy, I send it to mixing and mastering engineers and they finish it.

Show us your current studio

PYN’s studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Make room for playing while you’re creating. The fun of creating must never disappear.

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

My latest releases are the song ‘Spring Fever‘ an up disco track and ‘Night Drive‘ an 80’s duet with MATTEO.


[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…
]


Matthew S – Matteo Scapin

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

I love the Cutoff knob on my prophet Rev 2. Thanks to it, I can modulate the sound in a thousand ways.
Aesthetically the monopole is not beautiful, but I have a lot of fun to use it!

Sequential Prophet Rev 2

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

Roland MC707

My kit is satisfactory, but I like to change musical instrumentation often. I would love to try as many musical instruments as possible! Collaborating with different brands I have the good fortune to try many different instruments, which I have used a lot, for many of my musical projects.

Arturial MicroFreak

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

My travel kit consists of Keystep pro + Ableton + Zoom H6.
When I’m on tour or on vacation I avoid carrying too many tools! I like to be as comfortable as possible!

Arturia Keystep Pro

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

I always wanted a version of Max by Cycling ’74 in a hardware format, that would be pretty cool. I wouldn’t know what to turn into software, I prefer hardware!

Abletob Push 2 and studio desk

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

Hmmm, I have no regrets.
Maybe, thinking about it, I’m missing my Deepind12 by Behringer a little bit. I used it very little, maybe I underestimated the sound of this synthesizer, it had very interesting sounds for my productions!

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

In this period I used a lot the prophet rev2. In every one of my productions there is the sound of this synthesizer. I love the sound depth of it. I love it!
This synthesizer together with my pedals creates sound textures that no VST can create! I use VSTs a lot, but the analog heat is unmatched!

Earthquaker Avalanche Run and fx pedals buddies

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

Maybe I would have liked to have started with Analog Rytm by Elektron.
A lot of my producer friends recommended this drum machine.

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

Surely the ZOIA by empress, I love to use this instrument, I often use this pedal/ Synth for my productions. Unfortunately it is very difficult to create presets for my projects!… But I love it.

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

I use the prophet rev2 with the particle by red panda and the FABRIKAT by Pladask elektrisk to create the audio textures for my projects. This is a great kit to create infinite audio landscapes! Every time I use these tools pre satisfied with the final result!


Artist or Band name?

Matthew S

Genre?

Electronica/Ambient

Selfie?

Matthew S

Where are you from?

Italy

How did you get into music?

I started learning to play guitar in my city’s school when I was 13 years old. from there was born my passion for music. Fortunately now is my job!

What still drives you to make music?

I always have a strong need inside to continue to create and communicate through music, my best communication channel is music! I think it’s my addiction now!

How do you most often start a new track?

Usually to start a song I create improvisations with my synthesizer and sampling sounds with Ableton

Matthew S at the MC707

How do you know when a track is finished?

To create a song I take a long time, when I believe that there are no other changes or additions to do I consider it over and ready for the mix and master!

Show us your current studio

Matthew S Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Set a goal and don’t give up until you reach it. The professionals do not give up in front of the first obstacle and already think 3 moves in advance. While your teammates are still discussing the reasons for the band’s dissolution, you must already be progressing on your next project: tempus fugit!”

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

My Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/artist/57ZTe0YAuhG04dtH42nM1Y?si=c98CgImcRWSyC3XgIBJ7oA

or my website:

https://matthewess.com/


[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…
]