2000F – Strøm Førende

[Editor: There are gear geeks, and there are gear freaks…. AND THEN there is the artist 2000F aka. Frederik Birket-Smith, who has got to have one of the most extraordinary collection of vintage synths, drum machines and outboard gear in all of Denmark… and this is just one of several locations where he has his gear. He is also the CEO of Strøm Festival – which is pretty much the biggest yearly electronic music festival in Denmark. So enjoy!
Also, if you’re wondering about the title, it’s danish for… ‘electric conductor’
]

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

My fave has got to be the Cinema Engineering Corporation Model 6517/e.

Cinema Engineering Corporation Model 6517/e

This is a low and high cut filter from Burbank, California, made in the 50’s, early 60’s. Originally made for, what you would call the telephone effect for film. It’s quite an extreme low and high cut and this unit in particular, has been modified by a local danish tech called Fairman, with a resonance control filter Q knob.

Cinema Engineering Corporation Model 6517/e front panel

So you can make it very aggressive and brittle sounding, and I use it for dub music, to get those extreme cuts. Most filter units of this type only have a low cut. Which is nice, but this one has high cut as well.

Lots of delay and reverb outboard

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

The Fender Rhodes 88 suitcase. Gotta be the suitcase version, not the stage. Has to be the one with the speakers. And I wouldn’t change anything about it.

Fender Rhodes 88

I have one from 1980 here in this studio and another one at home, from 1976. At one point I had both together in the living room, the kids and the wife were a little bit “Okay we need two?”. But my wife is really big fan of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea as well, so she loved it. Still… it takes up a lot of room.

’80s Fender Rhodes 88 suitcase

But the interesting part of having two was that, while the sound of the one I have here is really good, the other ’76 Rhodes, the body and the weight is much deeper compared to this one. The ’76 almost feels like a proper grand piano. It’s really nice.

Solina String Ensemble

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

Smartphone… one with Koala Sampler.

And then just the built-in Memo app on the phone, that’s the only things I would bring.

I especially like the Memo app. Actually I just use it to record stuff… Sometimes it’s ideas and melodies or basslines or rhythms. Sometimes it’s just something I need to explain to myself, like an idea that I need to remember. Sometimes it is sampling something.

Quite recently I recorded a sound while they were rebuilding Fisketovet [Editor: a shopping mall in Copenhagen]. And there was this crazy huge drilling machine that was so loud. I’ve never heard anything like it, but I had to record it. It was just banging a huge pile-driver into the ground. The reverb tail was intense.

Oberheim DMX

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

I’m not sure I can answer that, to be honest. Because I like both worlds. If I HAD to say something that could be an answer, I think it would be, that in the last couple of years, the integration between outboard hardware and the digital audio workstation is getting pretty good. Life is getting so much easier with the new analog patch bays that can be digitally controlled.

I mean, it’s so easy to intermix it now. And I actually like both analog and digital because they’re both very different, so it is great that they can now be integrated.

They’re merging and I think that’s really interesting. I come from an old school hardware kind of workflow, but the funny thing is, a few years ago, I tried to force myself to use only stock Ableton plugins, just to to see what I can do… and boy, it sounded pretty, I still prefer hardware and all that, but I did two 12-inch releases that way.

Roland JD800

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

Regrets selling? Nah… but there’s some stuff I regret NOT buying.

There was an Arp 2600 that was for sale in a shop near where I used to live. I think the shop was called ELSound. It was just in the display winder. Still haunts me that I couldn’t buy it at the time.

I’ve had quite a lot of gear, as you can tell, so I haven’t sold that much, actually. I’ve sold a Jupiter-4 and a Polysix and I don’t miss them. I also had the very, very big Yamaha SK50D. Which is the huge poly synth they made, just a big as the CS-80 and just about as heavy, but a cheaper version. Even though it certainly wasn’t cheap. But I don’t miss that either.

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

Samplers. And the Emu Emax.

Emu Emax

That’s the one I grew up with. It opened up the world of music production for me. Actually, I can tell you a funny story. Particularly that unit over there, which my father bought in ’86. I remember so clearly, because when I was young, my mom used to be a DJ and my dad collected records and all that studio stuff. So I listened to a lot of music.

Akai S950 and S1000

I listened to stuff like Kraftwerk and especially Art Of Noise. Early Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel… you know, with all those Synclavier sounds. But I never really understood how they did it. I understood the music and I loved it, but especially the Music Nonstop album, Electric Cafe album from Kraftwerk, where they used samples heavily, people don’t rate it. But I loved it because it was so digital.

When my father bought home the Emax. I can tell you where exactly in the living room I was standing and where my mom stood, when my dad used it for the first time. He set it up and plugged in a microphone, and my mom came into the living room and said, “Dinner’s ready!”.
And it was recorded. When my Dad started to mess with that sample… Then suddenly I was like, ‘That’s how they do it!’ … My whole mind was just blown away.

Emu Emax

So I was like… ‘Gimme that!’ and I borrowed an Atari ST2 computer, the Emax and Pro-One and the PPG and made lot of music. From then on I started buying stuff, so since I was 14 years old, I was just hooked. Spent all my money, I bought my 303 and right after that the 909 and all that.

But the sampler, that was the start.

Classic Korg Rack synths

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

The computer.

The thing is that nowadays you’ll be able to go online and find answers to absolutely everything. And at that time around ’86 you couldn’t find any answers to anything except if you knew somebody. So a computer would, whether it was an ’86 or 2023, open your world in any direction you wanted to go.

So then I think inspiration comes from other stuff. I mean, gear can inspire me and anybody else, but I’m not sure that’s the main thing, to be honest. I think the computer will just be the door that opens the world.

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

Oh, that’s everything. Everything! Just keeping and maintaining a synth mausoleum like this one. That’s grief…. and a lot of money. I would say being a collector, it’s just a major headache.

Classic Drum Machines and Synths

Cabling and setting up wires is a huge headache, but refurbishments and service on this stuff, that’s just a downwards spiral of agony and pain. And money out the window.

The most expensive restoration I have, which is still ongoing, is the EMT-250 reverb, which is at a repair workshop in Germany right now, and has been for the past five years. Kinda crazy.

The EMT250 is the only thing my father never got to hear or see working, before he passed away. He was an avid gear collector and once even managed to find a Fairchild 670 on Den Blå Avis [danish version of Craigslist], but the 250 we found at Sweet Silence Studios, and it’s super rare. Gotta be less than 200 in the world.

It even came in the original flight crate from Germany. So this wooden box came through Kastrup Airport, and then through the distributor up in the north of Copenhagen, then finally to Sweet Silence Studio, where we discovered that it had some water damage.
So it was sent to the US to repair at Studio Electronics and they said “we can’t fix it”. It had some humidity things that happened to it.

But eventually I found this guy Stefan Hübner in Hamburg. Who I was recommended by an old PPG factory tech. Who said, I have this young apprentice called Stefan, who is willing to take a look at repairing your EMT.

But the problem with the EMT was that, they never and still haven’t ever released any schematics or diagrams for it. At the time of production, they were so afraid that the Japanese would copy it, so they even sandblasted the tops of all the chips. So it doesn’t say anything on them.
There’s no traces, or anything. It’s all point-to-point soldered in the back. It’s just one huge board of chips, which no one knows what is. So Stefan has two EMT250’s on his workshop table, and he is trying to trace and test the electronics, and build up his own diagrams to figure out what happens inside of it and what each component is.

It’s just a never ending story.

So that’s the longest and possibly the most expensive restoration that I’ve ever attempted. I have never even heard it working. I just bought it and shipped it around.

Lexicon 122-s
Echoplex Tape Delay

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

I spent a lot of time listening to and trying to figure out all the old mysteries of dub music. I like Prince Jammy and King Tubby, but I especially like The Scientist, who was the apprentice of King Tubby.

Stack of delays

I loved his way of mixing dub and I always liked that sharp filter cuts he had. And that was the knob that King Tubby built from a unit like the one I told you about before. [Editor: Cinema Engineering Corporation Model 6517/e]

Those filters, I mean, you don’t find them. You have to build them… And I’m sure that King Tubby’s version was also modified, because he just needed it to be more aggressive.

Unknown Dub Machine

Artist or Band name?

2000F

Genre?

Bass music

Selfie?

2000F aka. Frederik Birket-Smith

Where are you from?

Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark.

How did you get into music?

Mom was a DJ. Father was musician and studio owner. Guess it’s in the blood.

What still drives you to make music?

Exploration of bass and sounds, I think.

Novation Bass Station mk1 keyboard
PPG Wave 2
PPG Wave 2 Close up

How do you most often start a new track?

A beat or some sort of rhythm.

Roland CR-78

I’m not sure I’ve got a methodology or something. I least I can’t explain it. I don’t think about it really, but I just bang it out real fast. The rhythm.
I think the rhythm shows for me where the track goes. Also, I build a lot of my songs as a DJ. Which is a bit like putting music together like how I would build with Lego bricks. And I actually like it when it’s almost mechanically switching from one part to the other.

Roland TR727

Even though I mix dub stuff, I grew up listening to a lot of jungle drum-and-bass, especially grime music from the UK, and most of that is so cheaply made and is so swiftly made, that you get, a part A and a part B, and they just switch. Just so rough and so simple.

Roland CR8000

Before grime was called grime, it was called 8-bar, because the rappers just had 8 bars to rap on top of, before the song just switched sound, and I love that very, very simple almost mechanical way of building music. So I always tend to think of this as a DJ.

Roland MC-202
Roland JP8080

How do you know when a track is finished?

I test it out quite a lot… DJ’ing. I feel that it’s essential.

In bass music, people make dub plates. I used to cut a lot of plates. But I test tracks and I play them out a lot of times and then I listen. I’m listening to gauge audience reaction.

DJ decks and rack mixer

It’s actually mainly the response of people, if they appreciate or not. And what I do is even though it’s bass music, and it’s really aggressive, really dark. I like to make people almost implode.

2000F vinyl collection and decks on the back wall

I do BassUnderBuen, which is huge rave with 10,000 people here in Copenhagen under a motorway. I’ll play two or three new tracks and I can just tell… ‘okay, this track really works, this one needs work’.

I gotta test it out on a proper dance club sound system. And then I come back to the studio and rework it a little bit.

Show us your current studio

2000F Studio left side wall
2000F Studio right side wall
Unknown Prototype Valve Microphone from the ’50s
Danish DISA tube mic pre

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

This is for producers working specifically on computers, try to close your eyes as often as possible. You’ll listen differently.

Like when I have my analog mixer setup here in front of me, after I have built up the basic structure, all the stems, patterns, parts of the rhythm and the bass and so on…
Then I switch off the screen. Because I came to realize when I was in the studios, that the more I look while I mix, the more I know what is going to drop and what is going to happen. So I don’t listen as a person on the dance floor would.

The other thing I haven’t quite learned yet, but I’m trying to tell me myself all the time… is that if you’re doing edits or changes during the song structure that people need to notice in a club or in a rave situation.
It has to be very, very particular. I mean, keep it simple and obvious.

Another thing, don’t do social media. Do music.

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

2000F on Spotify


Martin Pedersen – Scores Of Zealand

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

Space Echo RE-201 Mode Selector knob. Do you really need an explanation… Just look at it:)

Space Echo RE-201 Mode Selector knob

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

Maybe my Juno 106. Great for bass, synth stabs, arps, pads.  

Roland Juno 106 and Rhodes

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

Macbook Pro, 2 Samsung T2 SD’s (1 with samples and libraries. 1 with projects), Beyer Dynamics DT headphones, iRig midi keyboard with sustain.
A laptop. Ableton / Cubase. Headphones. Soft synths – Omnisphere, Zebra, Diva. NI Kontakt and some libraries.
If you’re into strings – Some of the Spitfire Audio sample libraries are pretty  good. Small midi-keyboard (with sustain). And oh, just a quick tip about that…
If you play piano sounds on a small crappy non-weighted midi-keyboard, remember to use the velocity midi effect (in Ableton) on the track for playing with smoother velocities. Without it, it maxes out the vel. CCs real quick. Or a least that’s what it sounds like to me. 

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

Actually none I think. Every piece of hard- or software I have, is in the studio for a reason. After working almost exclusively in the box with soft synths and samples and FX in Ableton and Logic, for almost 15 years, I began to buy more physical gear. Mostly synths with analog circuits and my Space Echo RE-201. But with every piece of gear (hardware or software) in mind to cover different requirements.
Not because of better sound quality, since a lot of the “soft stuff” sounds amazing. But because of the tactile and more experimental experience of turning knobs and pushing faders.
I fucking love to put on the lab coat and just dive in and forget everything around me and just see where it takes me. If I pull up a soft synth, I get often inspired to make something, but I almost never get surprised. If I work on my Arp Odyssey, Lyra-8 or run stuff through my Clouds from Mutable Instruments, I get stuff I would never have dreamed of. It’s all the dirt, irregularities and happy accidents that I find interesting. It’s kind of more relatable on a both a mental and physical level. Specially as colours opposite to the more “clean” and “regular” stuff.  

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

Eurorack and Arturia Beatstep

Can’t really justify how much I spend on my eurorack setup. It just doesn’t get used enough. Same goes for my Moog Sub37.
Sometimes I cheat and use a plug-in… Sorry. 

Moog Sub37 and Lyra

But every time I do use it, specially for more distinct bass, its amazing with the live recorded filter modulation. Then the sound comes alive. 

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

On the “soft” side – Omnisphere, some Kontakt synths, Spitfire string libraries. Hardware – My Juno 106, the Arp Odyssey.

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

A wealthy girlfriend, cause this GAS is a sure way to be broke forever 🙂 

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

My brain
Other than that… Can’t really think of one.

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

For those of you working to picture in Ableton. It’s actually possible to change the framerate. So the film and project are in sync.

Did my first feature film without knowing this and it fucked up the sync. After several YouTube deep dives, several years later (and after switching to Logic) I found a way. 

Crtl and (left mouse click) in the timeline with min/ sec. = Choose framerate 

Pro Tip: Ableton can change frame rate of timeline for sync to film

Artist or Band name?

Martin Pedersen

Genre?

Electronic or hybrid film music – Meaning a blend of electronic and acoustic instruments, and organic  elements. 

Selfie?

Martin Pedersen

Where are you from? 

Copenhagen. But grew up in the south of Zealand. Moved back just before attending the Rhythmic Conservatory in CPH.

How did you get into music? 

My parents doesn’t play music, but the radio was always on. I started playing saxophone at the age of 12 after watching a badass norwegian jazz quartet by chance on tv in my room. 

Started making electronic music at 14 – SONY Acid Music Studio was the bomb back in the 90s. For me at least.  

What still drives you to make music?

If I focus on my work in film. What drives me is, I just love storytelling SO much. Co-storytelling as a composer or just watching a film or a good show. Or just listening to a piece of music that can be a story on it’s own. It’s all about the emotional responds. To be totally immersed, letting everything else fade away around you. It all inspires my creative work and drives me to be a better storyteller. Film music or, the score, is a vital part of most film. I love amplifying the spirit of the film and storytelling with my music.
Music can reveal a films inner life in a way that can’t be fully articulated in any other way. It can have a telling effect on how the characters in the story come across – on how we perceive what they are feeling or thinking. The more engaging the drama – The truer the story becomes. Ok… I totally stole those lines from somebody. Can’t remember who… But I agree.

How do you most often start a new track?

Maybe a cool place to start is – How and when in the production phase I start composing the music for a new film or show.

Because it also relates to how I start a new track – Or “cue” – as it’s called in film. 

When – It always starts with initial talks with the director. What is the heart of the story. 

Are there musical references to draw from or is that up to me. And how do I translate that into what the DNA of the music will be. The earliest in the productions phase was composing after reading the script.   

Working on the score for the first season of the tv-show “HOOLIGAN” I worked from the script and from dailies (unedited footage shot that day). That gives me an idea of the mood and tempo in the scene. How the camera is worked, the lighting and how the actors express themselves and interact with eachother.

Working on the score for the feature film “What Will People Say” I started working from scenes and a fully edited, but not picture locked film (Not locked meaning – most of the scenes are pretty much lined up, but not cut to the final length or order.) 

How – I typically start with talks with the director about the story and the initial overall vibe. 

Maybe also guided by musical references / tracks / cues. Parts of my score for the feature film “What We Become” was initially used as temp music in “What Will People Say”, before I was contacted to do the score. Temp (temporary) music is what the editor / director uses under scenes to “colour” the scene and drive it along. Temp can also help the composer to make a cue for a specific scene, that have a similar mood / function. Some composers love it. Others fucking hate it. I really don’t mind it. The hardest for me has been composing a new cue, from my own cues from other films used as temp. Making the cue kind of like it, but still sounding original for that specific project.    

Hands on – I work in template in Logic. With everything set up with instrument groups, subgroups and fx groups.  

Logic and Controller

If it’s the first piece of music made for the film or show, I almost always open Logic. Look at the blank template. And go “Oh fuck, how do I do this? Maybe I should just find a job cutting grass or something more tangible. Normally that goes away quite fast. 

I like to think about instrumentation and make sound palettes used in the specific project, before a single note is “written”. 

During the process of working on the score, instruments and elements get cut out or added, defined by what the cues is made for if an instrument just doesn’t fit the overall vibe.

I do write themes. Sometimes from the beginning of the project. Just on a piano. 

But often I’ll start with giving characters or elements in the film, specific individual soundpalettes. Or maybe a single instrument per character as a point of departure. 

On a lot of scenes with underscoring, I start with a pad, evolving atmosphere or bass sound. “droney stuff” used as a bed for others elements. 

Sometimes you need tempo driven elements to start it off. Arps or percussive elements. Sometimes a theme. I can start out with a massive sound in one scene. An almost do nothing in another. It’s all up to what serves the storytelling. And the film overall.

So the answer is… It depends. But I usually start every new track / cue with two questions – “What purpose does the music have in this scene? What is the feeling of the music in this scene?” And musically go from there.

I’m pretty heavy on the synth and electronic side. I use Omnisphere, Arturia Analog Lab and NI Kontakt libraries a lot. 

So often I’ll set up interesting sounds within that. Some sounds from libraries. Other sounds are based on samples I’ve found, put into Omnisphere’s sampler and processed in different ways.. 

If a cue calls for something weirder like pitch-modulating or microtonal stuff, I usually start with using my analog synth’s – The Arp Odyssey or Lyra-8. If a scene calls for a more melancholic mood, I love using my Juno 106, for softer pads with a bit of modulating drift.      

Fun fact – I often get inspired by working together with the sound designer on a film. Maybe they use some auditive elements – buzzing light fixtures or aircon sounds I dig. I then use that sound or something like it processed, as musical elements. When I did the score for the feature film “What We Become”, Peter Albrechtsen – the sound designer on the film, inspired me a lot. 

I incorporated some of his sounds used as musical components. It glues the music and sound design well together.

I especially dig the primary sound in the musical palette of the SWAT team. That sound was initially made out of a metal chair being dragged over a concrete floor in an very large room. So sometimes my cues starts with a “real” sound that’s been processed.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When nothing weird sticks out, the scene moves along and you are engaged all the way. On a more overall view. A film is never finished. It premieres. Meaning you have until your deadline… Then it’s finished no matter what. 

Show us your current studio

Martin Pedersen’s Studio
Martin Pedersen’s Entrance
Martin Pedersen’s Studio Lounge

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard? 

Love what you do. And try out new stuff.  

A new approach to the material – Like working  with certain dogmas, new gear, a new instrument. Listen to genres you normally don’t do. Things that pushes you out of your typical musical comfort zone. The more I learn, the more I keep re-falling in love with music.    

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

One of the bigger recent things I’ve done is the tv-show “HOOLIGAN” season 1. 

On  https://www.dr.dk/drtv/saeson/hooligan_343889

These days I’m working on my second album titled “COCOON”. Release later this year. Spotify

[Editor: You can find more about Martin at his site www.composermartinpedersen.com]


[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]


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