Navin Kala – Pastoral Electronics

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

Roland RS-09

Right now, the RS09 Tuning knob. I like the little struggle that happens inside our brain when a note is slowly approaching the “tuned” area.
Five months ago, was the Grandmother cutoff filter, it’s addictive, I guess they know it and that’s why they made it so big.

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

Gibson EH150 lap steel

My Gibson EH150 lap steel, from 1937. It’s 84 years old and sounds like it has always been here and always will. I feel inspired just by looking at her. And I’m not a guitar player myself, just an aficionado. It makes me wonder how my Digitakt is going to look in 84, by the year 2104.

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

If I have to leave home, I’ll take the iRig2, the reface CP, and the garage band on my phone. It’s a frustrating experience though, it reminds me how little is needed to make music technically acceptable nowadays.

iRig, Yamaha Reface and cat

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

Studio desk and racks

I don’t use software. Two months ago, I bought Reaper, but I’m using it strictly as a multitrack recorder. Paired with the Softube Fader, so I can have a more tactile experience.
Don’t get me wrong, plugins and VST are as good, and many times better than the real thing. But when I see my studio with all the gadgets, I feel inspired to play. If instead, I see a computer screen, I don’t feel the call at all.
It’s like masturbating versus having sex, you’ll reach the same level of satisfaction. But you’ll miss the joy of the process. Although it will be less tiring, that’s true.

[Editor: Literally I laughed out loud at this comparison…. it’s so true]

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

TC Electronic Finalizer

Due to logistics, I can’t sell anything. The post office is 100 km away and parcel companies are few, and they never find our house. If I was living in a city, I would definitely be selling stuff.
I do regret buying several things, one of them the TC finalizer, I still don’t know what it does. But there’s a small revelation in buying the wrong gear, you slowly find what is adequate for yourself, by elimination.

[Editor: I totally agree, this kinda process is also an essential part of learning and growing. The only thing, is that people get so bummed out by their regrets. Enjoy your regrets! You’ve learned something and it means you’re willing to take creative risk, so it’s all good (I actually just picked up a Finalizer too 🙂 haha)]

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

Piano and pussy

Just like others already answered on your blog, the piano. I sit in front of this massive primitive device, and there’s an instant communion. It’s like the whole mechanism is holding plenty of new songs, waiting for someone to take them out. It is an utter physical experience. And this is something I exclusively feel with the piano.

[Editor: Yup, I got that with the acoustic guitar]

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

I started years ago with Cakewalk and a Dx7, I don’t wish this on anybody. I suffered so much with the membrane buttons, and the menu written in extraterrestrial code. That was a huge technological wall between electronic music and me. And actually, that’s why I completely stopped making music in my first reincarnation. And also why choosing the right tools, for oneself, is pivotal in the engagement with music.
Today, I would buy the Korg Minilogue, functional, intuitive, and with a great sound. I don’t have one though.

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

Cables and patchbays

The Patchbay, but not the front side, the backside of course. It was a pain to set all the cables, but once it’s done, it makes everything much easier. Until you need to change some routing.

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

Korg Monologue

I like to use the Korg Monologue as an analog drum machine. I started diving into this thanks to Oscillator Sink’s rhythm collection on Korg’s site.


Artist or Band name?

Navin Kala

Genre?

I’m still experimenting and trying to find a comfortable place. Right now, this place must be somewhere between electronica with ambient and a bit of experimental.

Selfie?

Navin Kala

Where are you from?

Brazil, with mixed blood.

How did you get into music?

I began piano lessons as a child, it was either that or karate.
But it is extremely frustrating, learning with music you don’t like or feel. Stuff like “What Mozart composed when he was 5”. And I was 10, so it was like saying, you are retarded.

What still drives you to make music?

It makes me feel good, I know that without music I don’t feel fulfilled. Creativity, of any sort, sublimates our existence. This and the fact that I have a 70% of hearing loss, since a child, and at some point, I might lose it completely. I want to play as much music as I can before my only working ear falls under a functional threshold. Funny fact, Stereo does not exist in my universe.

[Editor: Damn good reason!]

How do you most often start a new track?

With Instagram, I force myself to make a post, like an exercise, a few every week. Each time with a different instrument. Something comes up. I see people’s reaction, and from there I decide if I keep working on the idea. Is like a focus group.
This first idea narrows down how the next instrument will interact, and so on. Limiting each time your options. I call it the Funnel Paradox. You begin with a universe of options, and as you add layers, these options decrease.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t have a rational answer to this. I have a big folder with tracks I’ve started. Some go a few years back. And I certainly know that they are not finished. But I don’t know what it takes for them to be completed. Paradoxically, when they are finished, I know they are. I suppose is easier when you work with a client, let’s say making a soundtrack. The deadlines will tell you when something is finished.

Show us your current studio

Navins Studio with a couch, patio doors and a hammock!

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I was thirteen years old, my piano teacher was pissed with me, again, because I wasn’t able to prepare the lessons before the class. Instead, I was procrastinating playing popular music (the concept of procrastination didn’t exist back then). He asked me eventually; “When you wake up every day, do you feel a compelling need to play the piano?” I said “Nope”.
And he replied; “Then you must find, quickly, something that you feel like doing daily. You’ll be a realized person.”
I quit piano lessons the next day. He was relieved.

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

My second album, Horse. Few months old. I hope you like it.

Navin Kala – Horse album

[Editor: Also check out Navins IG… it’s lovely. C’mon join the funnel paradox]


Prior Use – Andreas Bak-Reimer

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

Gettin’ it on with the Roland SH-1

The power switch on the Roland SH-1. It’s an old synth, and the button has a distinct mechanical quality to it. The way it feels, the way it sounds, and the way the power LED lights up immediately – it just feels like getting it on! The SH-1 does that really swell PWM (pulse width modulation) that I enjoy immensely, and simple as it is, it invokes an atmosphere of a simpler time, with a lot of nostalgia to it.

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

My Roland Juno-106 is close to perfect for it’s purpose. Countless 80’s and 80’s emulating tracks have been born using it, and it’s built in a way that grants plenty of sweetspots, and not so many dead ends. Some people prefer non-DCOs, and have plenty to say about the 106 being a budget synth, but mine’s fresh back from service, and it makes me happy.

Roland 106

I sometimes wish it had another oscillator with an easy option for detuning, to get a wider sound from it, but there is a lot to be said about limitations to foster creativity.

… Also, I am not particularly fond of the way the resonance sounds when it’s cranked way up. It’s glassy instead of being juicy – and rarely that’s a good thing. On the other hand, I don’t have any other things that sounds like that, so it’s probably best to leave that unchanged.

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

Roland TB-03

Laptop, almost certainly. I am no where near anything dawless, and don’t have anything that I could arrange anything with, besides a computer. If I weren’t writing, but merely playing around, I would bring my Roland TB-03, or Yamaha Reface CS – built-in speakers and battery operated, they are 1. 2. go!

Yamaha Reface

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

Absynth, Brain, Modular.

Software -> Hardware: I think Native Instruments Absynth. I have had that since forever, and still use it heavily. Also, I would like to see the physical shape/color/layout of such a thing!

Absynth

Hardware -> Software: My brain. Although it feels soft at times, I consider it hardware. It certainly interfaces like 40+ years old hardware (poorly that is), it is sometimes difficult to control when hot or cold, and it’s almost never in tune. Also – patch memory is severely limited. If I could instantly recall patches, production tricks, channel-settings and export/bounce the tunes and sounds directly, like with a lot of software, then… Well, it might take out the fun at times.

Brain

To be serious: My modular setup would be nice as software – mainly for patch recall.

Eurorack modular

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

I never sold anything ever, so that doesn’t apply. And therefore I never regret selling anything either!

I once bought a portable recorder, thinking I could get a lot of good sample material that way. I only did once, but it never made it into a track I finished. I have fond memories of getting up early to catch a few big trucks on big roads going by, though… So, no regrets I guess…

Tascam Recorder

I bought an Ensoniq SQ-R module, because it features Transwave synthesis. Never used that, but it had a nice belltree sound that I used once or twice. It’s probably the thing I’ve bought that comes the most close to being a regret.

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

My trusty iPod classic 80 GB. That’s a lot of late 90’s goatrance… Listening to that is what inspired me most over the years. It had a growing line of dead pixels over the course of a year, and when the line was fully dead, the pixels started working again from the beginning of the line! A year after, the whole display was good again. That is probably my strangest experience with any electronic gadget ever.

iPod classic

If I should channel this to some sort of an inspirational tale, it would something like how the small and weak Hobbits defeated the mighty Sauron – it might appear to be failing, and an unlikely source of victory, but give it some time, and it will surprise you.

That is also why I have never sold anything. You never know.

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

A decent room for working in. Go all crazy thinking about getting the ‘right’ monitors, nice preamps, the perfect cables (ugh!)… But if your room is horrible, none of that matters. I have sunk a fair bit of time into acoustic treatment, and it has made a world of difference.

Foam

Also: time. So that’s it. Time and space – that’s all I want. At first…. Then a Mac.

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

Laptop

Mac laptop

Again, my computer. Ill timed software updates, one too few CPU cycles in stacked projects, failing disks… The woes are many, but I wouldn’t have written a bar of music without it.

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

Roland JV-2080

About 20 years after I got my Roland JV-2080, I realized it was capable of faux PWM. If I set a regular sawtooth wave on one osc, and an inverted sawtooth on the other, and modulate pitch slowly and independently, then it happens. I wish I had known that 20 years earlier, but that would probably mean I wouldn’t have bought my SH-1 (with the fab power button) – so it’s all good!


Artist or Band name?

I have mainly been producing under the moniker “Amygdala”. Goa and psychedelic trance in the old (old!) sense of the word.

Lately, I have been making some drops in the already over saturated ocean of synthwave music. I enjoy that very much, and as a child of the 80s, it takes me back to a simpler time – worries forgotten. The moniker for this activity is “Prior Use”.

Genre?

Many kinds of trance music: Goa, psychedelic, melodic, uplifiting, minimal, tech-, progressive.
Besides that, a bit of synthwave, and the odd “psy-bient” piece.

Selfie?

Andreas Brain

Where are you from?

I am from Denmark – just a tad north of Copenhagen, but most of my music has been produced in Århus. You can really tell what a big difference those 170 km makes!

How did you get into music?

My parents and brother. Music was omnipresent at home when I grew up. My parents encouraged me to take up playing violin when I was 6, and I have had some great experiences with that. When music production became reasonably available to the regular consumer with computer interest, I was hooooked! At first, it was just another thing I could do with the computer, but rather quickly it was pretty much all I ever did with it.

What still drives you to make music?

The two biggest drivers are probably the “flows” and “highs”.

Flow when I can be completely engrossed in production, enjoying the situation, and getting something done which I like and feel as an accomplishment. Time flying as I ignore my body’s attempts to drag me to the loo, trough or bed.

Highs when I hit something that (in the moment) is spectacular – a catchy tune, a sweet timbre, or a really dope fill or transition. It can still make me laugh after all these years, and the surge of energy and motivation I get from that is unparalleled.

How do you most often start a new track?

Sometimes I start with a very simple idea like a tune, a chord progression or a synthesizer patch concept. Then Drums. Then bass. That’s the most usual case, although sometimes I skip directly to the drums. Lately, I have been thinking that it’s not the best way to go, as I am finishing fewer and fewer tracks. I often end up with a pretty decent groove, but lacking the centerpiece idea that makes the track stand out. I polish the rhythmic section and transitions, until there is not space left in the spectrum (frequency and/or mental) for anything else.

So, from now on, I am trying to start off a new track with an idea, and then build drums and bass around that. We’ll see how that goes.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When a track has all the arrangement elements (intro, good stuff, breakdown, great stuff, climax, outro – or some other configuration), I bounce it and listen away from the studio. I make a lot of notes I want to change, enhance, remove, whatever. When that list feels complete, I do those changes. Hopefully I am happy with the result, because at that point I am usually fed up with the piece. I am not one for endlessly tweaking everything, and I have a tendency to detail focus early – which means I “decide” that this bit is perfect, and then unconsciously prohibit myself from editing it (too much 🙈).

I know there is some degree of contradiction in the above, but I’ll just hide behind “you can’t argue art”.

Show us your current studio

Andreas Studio
Andreas synths

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I bought a CD from Eat Static sideproject Dendron (Merv Pepler). I think he burned the disc himself and mailed it. Included in the package was a makeshift invoice with the words “always experiment” on it. I think that’s pretty good advice. It’s hard, because as time grows scarce I tend to stick to the beaten path, but even though it feels like it’s safer and more productive that way, I get less enjoyment from it.

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

As mentioned above, I dabble in synthwave. Swing by https://soundcloud.com/prioruse and tell you friends.

[Editor: if you want to check out Andreas psy-trance stuff it’s here: https://ektoplazm.com/profiles/amygdala]


Colleen – See Silly Shot’s Synth Sounds

[Editor: I remember listening to The Golden Morning Breaks back in the mid 00’s and being completely mesmerized. It was and is for me personally an album that influenced me greatly and expanded the landscape of my musical interests. Therefore it’s with great, great pleasure that I can present this nerdy and odd interview with the artist Colleen]

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

Moogerfooger MF104M – Photo: Cecile Schott


This is a really tough one. I love switching in rhythm the short/long switch of the Moogeerfooger MF-104M analog delay, as it produces a change in tone (darker on the long setting, brighter on the short one) which can really sound amazing (you can hear this effect very clearly on my song “Holding Horses” from my album Captain of None).

Moogerfooger Grandmother – Photo: Cecile Schott

But I am also madly in love with opening and closing the cutoff knob on the filter of both the Moogerfooger Lowpass Filter and the Moog Grandmother: I love that this can be the subtlest, slowest rise to build tension and suspense (“Hidden in the Current” on my last album The Tunnel and the Clearing) or totally wild and angry (middle section of “Implosion-Explosion”, also on my last album). The expressive capacity of the Moog filters really leaves me speechless.

Moogerfooger MF 101 – Cecile Schott

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

Roland Space Echo Re201 and furry buddy – Cecile Schott

The Roland RE-201 Space Echo transforms sound in a truly magical way (when I first started using mine in December 2019, two images came to my mind: sending the sound on a space rocket into outer space, or having stardust sprinkled on the sounds). If it could magically be made to be 100% reliable for years without the need for revision, that would be incredible – then again, it goes against the very nature of its mechanism, so I know that this is a bit like asking for the weather to be perfect all the time: not possible.

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

Concert in Chiquita Room 23 May 2021 – Photo LiLINTERNA

Since I have decided to stop playing live for the foreseeable future and have only one last show planned abroad (Kingsplace, London), I will not have to think too much – except for that one show – about the conundrum of travelling internationally with heavy, fragile, vintage – and even super rare in the case of the Elka Drummer One – gear. Fully-working Drummer Ones for sale are so rare that you need to be on a waiting list if you are hoping to buy one, so if your unit is damaged, delayed, lost or stolen during travel, it would be impossible to find a replacement (in fact, had I decided to go on tour for this album, my plan was to order a digital custom replica of the Drummer One – which would also have been its own challenge to make).

Studio and cat buddy – Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo: Luis Torroja

For the last two albums, I had found a sweet spot in terms of making albums that were voluntarily restricted in terms of gear, but didn’t feel restrictive at all in terms of musical and sound possibilities, which meant I could go on tour on my own with all the necessary gear and play the albums live (something that was much harder to do, or even impossible, for my earlier work).

For Captain of None: treble viola da gamba + an array of various looping, delay and octaver pedals.

For A Flame my Love, a Frequency: 2 Critter and Guitari synth + 2 Moogerfoogers + Soundcraft mixing desk. However, that was hard to do physically, with me carrying more than half of my body weight across the world, and you’re never safe from delayed luggage, failing gear, etc.

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

Assembly in the DAW – Acid. Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo: Luis Torroja

Not really a software person myself: I must be one of very few professional musicians who are still using the Acid software to record their music, and these days I am using it purely as a recording and mixing device. On the last album I don’t use a single plugin, everything is played and recorded live through either my Soundcraft mixing desk or my Scarlett 18i20 Focusrite soundcard or both, with only a couple of minor edits where takes needed to be joined. The only exception to this very pure recording process is vocals, where I still need to join takes.

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

Not really: I always think and research for a really long time before buying anything, so usually I don’t have any bad surprises, and the opposite even happens: I’m so happy with my purchase that I wonder why I thought about it for so long! And because of this I usually don’t have to sell anything.

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

Impossible for me to reply to that, as truly every album I’ve made has been so different in terms of instrumentation. My 3rd and 4th album couldn’t have existed without my bass viola da gamba, my 4th and 5th without my treble viola da gamba. The Moogerfooger pedals – which I started to add from Captain of None onwards – were a real game changer for me, and in terms of electronics were my introduction to analogue gear, and that was a game changer.

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

I started making music with a simple classical guitar, and honestly, if I were to start over, I probably wouldn’t change anything: there is something humble and honest about an acoustic guitar that still resonates with me, even if I haven’t played one in years. It’s also beautiful that it doesn’t need electricity: should the planet get even worse than it is right now, I think that acoustic instruments and the human voice would play a great role in maintaining music-making alive.

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

Can’t think of any annoying piece of gear of mine, I love them all.

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

Not sure if it’s “surprising” as such, but Soundgas – from whom I bought both my Elka Drummer One and my Space Echo – give this tip of inserting a blank plug in the “from PA” input on the Space Echo in order to get a 100% wet signal, and that is so much better than just getting the mixed mono output, since you can then play with panning between your original dry sound source and the 100% wet signal, giving you a beautiful stereo field.

Elka Drummer One and Roland Space Echo – Still from forthcoming documentary – Photo Luis Torroja

Artist or Band name?

Colleen

Genre?

Proudly genreless. I honestly have no clue what my music is supposed to be called. It’s too pop to be experimental, too experimental to be pop; when I used only acoustic instruments but processed them, it was labelled “electronica”, but now that I truly make electronic music, I still think what I do doesn’t sound especially like “electronic music”. One thing I do know is that I make songs. So sometimes I just say “I make weird songs”.

Selfie?

Thanks but no thanks.

Workshop in Chiquita Room 23 May 2021 – Photo: LiLINTERNA

Where are you from?

Montargis, small French town 100 km south of Paris.

How did you get into music?

The Beatles’ “A day in the life” changed my life forever. I was about 13.

What still drives you to make music?

Undying love for it. The desire to see if I can still surprise myself. The desire to learn. Feeling like I actually contribute something useful to people other than myself, even if music is not really recognized as socially useful (I think that’s a mistake, and that music globally contributes to our mental health).

How do you most often start a new track?

Putting my hands on the instruments or gear.

Moogerfoogers – Photo: Cecile Schott

How do you know when a track is finished?

A combination of 3 inputs: one that is purely musical, the other two are: intellectual and emotional.

Show us your current studio

Colleen Studio – Photo: Cecile Schott

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Not creative advice as such, but more an analysis of the difficulties faced by artists, this 1927 quote by Brancusi: “It is not the work itself, it is to keep oneself in condition to do it, that is difficult.” So true at every level: emotional, physical, mental.

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

My 7th album The Tunnel and the Clearing, out on Thrill Jockey Records.

colleenplays.org
instagram.com/colleenplays
facebook.com/colleenplays

bandcamp.com/colleen


[Editor: Which artist has been a huge influence or inspiration to you? Answers in the comments]