TubeDigga – Maestro of the MPC

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

Akai S950 Data Wheel

I can’t isolate just one unfortunately!
Boring answer: I just bought an Akai S950 and really like the feel of the main data wheel. The knob itself is quite aesthetically boring but the mechanical click feel of it is great and responsive.

Akai S950 12bit rack sampler

Slightly less boring answer 1: I also really like the XY stick on the Intellijel Planar 2.
Slightly less boring answer 2: The main main frequency knob on the XAOC Devices Belgrad Multimode filter, superb quality!

Belgrad module by  Xaoc Devices

Slightly less boring answer 3: the main pitch knob on the Strymon Magneto is also excellent.
Slightly less boring answer 4: Most of the Erica Synths module knobs.

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

For ease of use, feature set and general overall desire to use, the MPC (previously the X and currently One in my case).
I’d change a fair few things, some examples would be latched pads/looped samples (like the Roland SP404/505 etc have, so you can have an infinitely sustaining loop. I discovered a way to override this in the MPC by tricking it into not receiving a NOTE OFF message which is the issue. I’d also have a much deeper modulation matrix. Disk streaming, ability to install an SSD (MPC One), more CV outputs.

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

I don’t do any of those things to warrant taking a machine with me! But if I toured, my MPC One plus a midi controller or an MPCx would be the logical choice. Or two MPC Ones, a midi controller and a DJ mixer.

Akai MPC One… with a nice metal data wheel and some custom decals

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

No software equivalent of anything, but a hardware equivalent of Renoise would be amazing (if it had the exact feature set and capabilities, with 16 pads of course).

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

I regret selling my MPC 2500SE for sure, I’ve also had a few Yamaha SU700’s and have always thought I should have kept one, but it’s one of those machines that can be amazing and fun, but can be irritating to use on occasion. It also looks brilliant, and unique.
No regrets buying really, not that I can think of right now. Maybe a larger Eurorack case but that would be irresponsible 🙂

Strymon Magneto

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

Once again the MPCs I’ve owned over the years, (2500se, 1000, 5000, X, One, Live).

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

An MPCx or if you mean go back in time, an MPC3000 / 4000 / 60

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

Roland MC707

The Roland MC707, I never intended to buy one, but initially bought it just to try and it’s been a complete revelation. It’s so good in many areas (the synth engine, the Scatter effect, the clips/matrix/scenes etc), but the sampling, file handling, some program parameters (like how the pads in a drum program behave in contrast to an MPC) and various other areas need much improvement. I’d really miss it if i sold it though.
Also my Ensoniq ASR-X. I very nearly sold it recently as it takes ages to load and save samples. I have the Turbo version which means it has SCSI so I need to buy a compatible SCSI drive or emulator ideally, to see if it speeds things up considerably. Also, half the pads are failing (a well known issue) and the encoders can be slightly glitchy. But it just sounds so good and is really quick, plus the effects are great. Lastly, it just looks superb in my opinion. A lovely, underrated vintage piece of gear.

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

I developed my own ‘granular time-stretching’ technique with the MPCx. You can control the start point of a sample with velocity. Dedicated sample start manipulation and automation was one of the biggest omissions from the MPC which the Elektron Octatrack could do since it was released in 2010, this technique brings the MPC feature set for experimentation up to par, but surpasses the OT because of the MPCs sound quality (something I felt always lacked with the OT). https://youtu.be/CE4ZaEExNdc

Ensoniq ASR-X – I

And again, the Ensoniq ASR-X – I discovered, or rather stumbled across a glitch when I was trying to create a synth tone, looping just a few frames of a sample. If you pitch the sample up as high as possible it can lead to some bizarre, circuit bent type effects and mixes and occasionally blends several samples together. Very cool and surreal trick.


Artist name:

Tubedigga.

Genre?

Jungle/Drum and Bass / Hip Hop / Electronica / Drone / Experimental

Selfie?

Mr. TubeDigga

Where are you from?

London UK.

How did you get into music?

Parents record collection, older sister bringing home early Electro records (Cybotron, Man Parrish, Tyrone Brunson etc)

What still drives you to make music?

I have an addiction to learning new bits of gear and making them do things the manual doesn’t mention, and I love designing sounds and discovering new textures/moods/tones/

How do you most often start a new track?

Maybe once a week/fortnight if it’s a full track, every day if it’s a basic loop/idea.

How do you know when a track is finished?

That’s somewhat subjective but I suppose when it sounds good, feels good, does the right things at the right time, and when it feels like it might go wrong or be ruined if I add more or too much.

Show us your current studio:

I keep those things private, sorry 🙂

[Editor: But here’s a photo of TubeDigga’s studio monitor]

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Creative advice would be to try and take a step back from being too serious (electronic music and being a techie/geek can get like that sometimes). A great engineering tip from a well known jungle producer was ‘cut more, add less’ when it comes to EQ and mixing. I often ignore that advice though 🙂

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

Rinse FM Mix with Double O (Rupture)https://soundcloud.com/rinsefm/rupture120820

My private online lessons: www.tubedigga.com/lessons

If you would like to show appreciation for any help I’ve provided you, please consider donating an amount of your choice:

PayPal: http://paypal.me/tubedigga

YouTube: http://youtube.com/tubedigga
My Website: http://www.tubedigga.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…
]


Hey Zack – Bringing Back Whack

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

PAE Lock-in Amplifier

First of all, I LOVE this first question. I think I’d have to go with the “Signal Channel” knob on my PAE Lock-in Amplifier. It’s huge, it’s clicky, it’s satisfying….and most of all it’s a gain knob on a distortion. If you’re unaware: Lock-in amps are basically an overdriven filter used in Engineering labs for finding voltage inconsistencies in the 1960’s on, and are a WONDERFUL choice, if you’re looking for an over-powered distortion with a ton of sweet-spots (somewhat reminiscent of a Sherman Filterbank). If you’re interested in learning more, Hainbach covers the musical use of these in much more detail on his Youtube channel here.

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

Yamaha RY30

I feel I have a somewhat surprising answer for this question: The Yamaha RY30 drum machine. A boring-looking, cheesy, 90s sample-based ROM synth. It’s truly a simple box: you layer two sounds, pitch them, filter them, put them through a pitch EG, and then play them on velocity-sensitive pads while pitching them with a wheel. I think I feel so connected to the RY30 because the workflow is so streamlined, yet it gives me such unique percussion that I would’ve never made in a DAW… it just feels FUN ! These limitations are inspiring, but if I could change anything about it, I’d love to load my own samples in and would appreciate a reverb no matter how crappy. With this in mind, I’m trying to learn my Korg M3R in combination with a Wavrex Samplecard to make that dream a reality. Both the M3R and the RY30 are layer-based ROM synths a-la Roland R8 or AI / LA synthesis found in the Roland D50 and Korg M1. So in theory, I should be able to surpass RY30-esque sounds with the more robust design of the Korg M-series (as long as I can wrap my head around it).

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

Zoom ST-224 sampler

I often bring my Laptop, Zoom H6 field recorder, and Zoom ST-224 sampler (known online as the poor-musician’s SP-1200) around with me in my bag. The ST-224 is such a surprisingly inspiring sampler, mostly due to its extremely musical array of effects (and gorgeous sample rate), so it’s perfect for quick explorations to record out of the main outs and revisit later. If I’ll be gone a while, though, it’s hard for me to leave my Intellijel Rainmaker at home ! It’s by far one of my favorite pieces of kit as it’s basically a strange-sounding infinite loop-maker machine. I have countless recordings that I’ve cut up into sample / loop packs and use extremely often… it’s truly a gold-mine for new sounds and inspiring ideas if you’re willing to tame it.

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

As far as software to hardware I’ve wanted an Ableton Operator clone for YEARS, as well as Ableton’s Drum Buss and the Max Convolver (but really any hardware convolution reverb would be wonderful to have). If it wasn’t clear by now, I’m a huge Ableton lover haha ! For hardware to software I’d love to have a Rainmaker VST, as well as some Lab Equipment-inspired effects to get that raw electric sound.
[Editor: Hainbach is working on a VST Lab-Equipment Plugin with SonicLab]

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

Lexicon Vortex

This is actually very relevant to me, as recently as last month I bought a Lexicon Vortex for the 2nd time after missing it so dearly !!! But as of now I’d say that I miss my combo of the Eurorack modules: Ornament & Crime, Clouds, and Plonk. The three of them could cover so much range of mutating and captivating sound design. I’m still going through recordings I have of them from years ago and repurposing them in Ableton projects.

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

Over the course of the last year I’ve been growing into more of a hybrid music setup where I use my hardware as strictly sound creation tools and Ableton for sequencing and chopping up samples / loops from them. It took me years to find that I simply don’t write fully-realized songs when I use my hardware setup alone. I’ve owned the MPC 1000, OP-1, Octatrack, Squarp Pyramid, and TR8s, over the years, but none of their workflows really clicked with me. It could be that I don’t have enough sound sources or that I don’t have a big enough mixer or that my gear just isn’t hands-on enough…. but I believe that it’s more that my production style revolves around sound exploration first and song realization as a reaction to it. With my current setup I feel that almost every piece of gear is catered to my workflow of improvisation and recording to create a pool of content to pull from. The pieces I use the most, though, are: The Intellijel Rainmaker, Zoom ST-224, Lexicon Vortex, Yamaha RY30, Ucreate, and my Lock-in Amp.

[Editor: I gotta say, it took me years to figure out a similar workflow to what Zack describes above. Creation first. Editing afterwards]

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

Although I’ve mostly moved away from Eurorack I’d definitely start with the Rainmaker and grow into a modest 84HP setup from there. Without the constant yearning to make fully-fledged songs like in my past, I feel that I’d get so many more ideas down than I did originally.

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

Definitely the Korg M3R as mentioned earlier. The workflow is still completely over my head at the moment so I usually edit presets. Luckily I recently got the Korg RE-1 controller for it and hope to put some time into learning the combo more fully, hopefully to turn it into the most capable synth that I own. A close second would be the Zoom MS100BT multi-effect pedal that you can make virtual pedalboards with BUT there are no expression or MIDI inputs, so it’s very hard to integrate into any setup, except very static ones or perhaps mixing.

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

A simple trick that BLEW me away recently was using internal feedback with the Lexicon Vortex. The otherworldly aggressive sounds you get from patching it into itself gives it a completely different character, than when you use it to process outside audio. This technique can also be implemented so easily into setups with matrix mixers, mixer sends, filters, and effects to create an endless inspirational output to explore.


Artist or Band name?

Zack Alkek / Zack.website / 2nd Place / Quirimps Swaramps / Milk Puzzle.

Genre?

Experimental Electronic / Experimental Pop / VGM / Soundtrack.

Selfie?

Hey Zack

Where are you from?

San Francisco, CA.

How did you get into music?

Piano lessons from when I was 7-11, Trombone from 12-16, Guitar from 13-18, Music production from 18-now.

What still drives you to make music?

Collaboration and the excitement of new projects.

How do you most often start a new track?

Messing around in Ableton, cutting up recordings, or recording voice memos with riff ideas.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it feels right and it makes me happy.

Show us your current studio

Sure! It’s a MESS because I’m always moving things around, but it’s MY mess. (:

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind, than the one where they sprang up.” COLLABORATE !

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

Right now, I’m part of a team called Five Side Studios and we’re creating a computer game called Memorial ! Playable demo should be out soon, but follow our twitter in the meantime ! http://fivesidestudios.com/memorial


[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…
]


Maysun – Drummer Of Synths

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

The Mighty Power Switch

My #1 favorite switch is the one from the power supply to my rack mount gear. It is hard to reach, it makes a loud click sound and it is the first thing I turn on before
starting a recording session. It is my preferred one, because activating it means I’m about to create something. (I also like my modular synth power supply switch, my camera’s on/off swivel switch, my cassette player’s stop switch, my dictaphone’s stop/eject switch and my lego wheel OP1 knobs.)

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

A lot of my gear is broken / acts weird / only works sometimes, and I like them just like that. I enjoy the thought that the machines have moods and maybe don’t want to cooperate sometimes, or that they want to influence the artistic direction. I try to accept the glitches and use it to a musical advantage. I would not change anything about them.

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

Sony A6000 Camera + OP1 + Zoom H6 + iLok, Laptop and Headphones (ATH M50x).

Sony A6000 Camera + OP1 + Zoom H6 + iLok, Laptop and Headphones (ATH M50x)

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

I wish I had a hardware version of the Pusher plugin from Kush Audio. I use it to add dirt, grit and noise to any track that needs a bit more personality, be it synths, bass,
drums, etc. It works on everything. I have a EHX memory man deluxe delay pedal that I use as a kind of dirty preamp / chorus / overdrive. I haven’t been able to find a
plugin that sounds like it.

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

I regret selling my Strymon DECO pedal. It had a very good tape emulation sound and was stereo. I used it for live shows at the end of my signal chain. I sold it
because I needed to money to buy a sampler. (I also regret selling my Korg Poly800, it was a really nice synth.)
I don’t think I regret anything I bought, but a piece of gear that I sold after only a few days of having it was the KMI Boppad. It just wasn’t for me.

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

MorfBeats

Any instrument by Morfbeats. When i’m running out of ideas, I’ll pick any piece and throw it on the drums to add rattle and new sound possibilities, or i’ll use the melodic instruments like the gamelan strips to create an ambiant loop. They also work well with a contact mic and effect pedals.

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

An acoustic piano. I’ve wanted one for years and recently was given one that I have slowly been integrating into my music. I find that composing is much easier on a real piano than on synths and if I were to start over, I would get that first.

Upright Piano

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

My zoom H6, I like it and I hate it because it’s really finicky on SD cards, but I always have it with me for sampling, or as a portable sound card to my computer.

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

Bells and Rattles

If a snare drum counts as a bit of kit, what I like to do, is tune it low, and add a t-shirt and object on top, like bells or heavier metal. It makes it sound really deep, controlled and punchy, but you have random rattles from the bells that will add nice texture once you compress a bit.


Artist or Band name

Maysun

Genre?

Instrumental, cinematic.

Selfie?

Maysun

Where are you from?

Montreal, QC, Canada.

How did you get into music?

I always wanted to play drums, I don’t know why. Maybe because my father is a bass player. After years of asking, my parents got me a snare, hihat and a cardboard box with a pedal attached to it. From there, I went to high school in a music program, took private lessons, completed a music degree in college, did a small part of a Jazz Performance degree in university, that I quit after a year. From that point I was in an apartment where I could not play drums, so I started getting into synths and recording, which turned me onto modular synths, which led to sound design, which brings me to where I am now.

What still drives you to make music?

I like sound, I enjoy completing pieces of music and I like the whole process of sculpting music through playing, recording and mixing.

How do you most often start a new track?

Recently, for my daily videos the process has been about recording a short drum performance and adding synths to it afterward. I do this as quickly as possible and try to not censor any idea while doing it, allowing the piece to go into any direction, even one I don’t like. It helps me practice new ideas and test out recording techniques, plugins, instruments, etc.
For EPs, I usually start with a strong story line in my head that I transfer to sound. The drums usually represent me, and the other instruments are my life events. I create different sound scenarios and then add transitions between them. I mess with physical movement of sound through 4 speakers recorded through a binaural mic to create ambiances and add synth textures and drums after that.

How do you know when a track is finished?

For my daily videos, they are done once I run out of time.
For EPs, it is more difficult. The last EP I recorded (should be out fall 2020), I had trouble letting go and finishing it. I think it was because I had been used to doing daily compositions, where you can always do better the next day. For an EP, I felt like it was more permanent.
And so, when I thought I had gone to the maximums of my capacities, I asked for help from another sound engineer, and together we finished it. I think it helped a lot to get a second opinion.

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Once, I took a skype lesson with a guitar player, and I was asking questions on what exercises to practice to be able to do a certain rhythmic thing. He told me to just do it until I hear it. No secret exercise or shortcuts for learning this.
That was 10 years ago and it really changed my approach to music.
I feel like many musicians, especially online, are looking to find that perfect video, piece of gear or secret exercise that will make you play better / create better music / find your identity.
But in my opinion, I think that there are no shortcuts to building your sound and that your musical identity is not only about going directly to what you like about someone else’s performance or music, but forged through personal experiences and experimentation. It takes time, effort and patience.
In short, his advice was to simply do it, until you figure out on your own, how to make it work for you, and not procrastinate by waiting around for the answers to pop up by themselves.

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

New music almost everyday here: https://www.instagram.com/maysun.music/
A new EP out after the COVID situation here: https://maysunmusic.bandcamp.com/
Free samples for everyone on my bandcamp.

[Editor: It seems like Maysun really enjoys acoustically prepared instruments: drums, piano and percussion. Do you have a favorite method for modding acoustic instruments? Leave a comment]