Marine Drouan – Kritzkom

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

I love the even VCO main knob from Befaco’s Eurorack module. It’s beautiful, and I
like the feeling when you turn it. And I like to use it (it changes the octave) mostly if
it’s plugged on a reverb.

Befaco VCO

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

The Octatrack is for me almost perfect. A kind of similar software like the Overbridge for the other Elektron machines would be perfect. Of course a possibility to record the 8 tracks separately, but simultaneously. Add it a simple synthesizer and it would be totally perfect.

Elektron Octatrack

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

On holiday, I take a small battery powered devices because I like to be outside. It can
vary from a sampler (MicroGrany for Bastl Instruments or SPS-404) or the Teenage
Engineering PO-35, or the iPad. I almost always take a recorder (Zoom) to do field
recording.

Bastl Microgranny
Portable samplers

If I am on the train or plane I love to work on the computer, either exploring some Max for live patches I never tried or some other little software that I usually don’t use.

Zoom sampling on a boat

It is interesting how having fewer devices force us to explore other ways to do music.
When I perform I always take my Machinedrum, often the MicroKorg XL and if not
other small synths. Now that I have one, I would also take the Octatrack. I also take a
few MIDI controllers like the Novation Lauchpad and the my old Korg NanoControl,
they are small and are practical.

Zoom recorder and various input devices

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

Borderlands (the iOS app) as a hardware could be interesting to imagine, although I
have no idea how it could look. Probably this is also the reason I like this kind of app, which really use the touch screen and couldn’t have exist as a hardware. On the other side I have the feeling most of the hardware now exists as a software. I find modular synthesizers as software pretty nice, even if it never can replace it. It is perfect to try some modules, learn to use it, or if you cannot afford it.

Borderlands iOS

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

My first machine was an MC-303, but at this time I had nothing else. It was interesting to learn, but alone it was a bit limited. I was a teenager I had no access to any studio or couldn’t buy more machines. I sold it to buy a MIDI keyboard which was at the time the best for me. If I see one I get a bit of nostalgic and I sometimes regret I sold it.

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

The Electron Monomachine, it was my first proper sequencer and it made a huge
difference in my way of doing music. Having a sequencer improved so much the way
to use synths. But then it is the Machinedrum which inspired me the most and for a long time.

Elektron MonoMachine

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

I should have get the Elektron Machinedrum as soon as it got released.

Elektron Machinedrum

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

Only an old M-audio firewire sound card which is very small and has midi in/out + 2
stereo audio outputs and one stereo input, so everything you need all the time. I took
it everywhere, it worked forever, the most stable I ever had. Unfortunately it now
doesn’t work on the new OS. I still have a hard disk partition with an older system on
my mac to use it. But because of this I use it less and less… Only because of the
driver is not updated.

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

Nothing really crazy for a user of modular synthesizers. But as I am still in the discovering phase, I enjoy this little self-discoveries, and find it funny to trigger the steps of a sequencer (In my case: Pop Corn from Bastl Instruments) just by touching the cable. Of course, it is doing an electric impulse which makes it goes to the next step.


Artist or Band name?

Kritzkom

Genre?

Electronic music of many kinds from ambiant, experimental, to slow techno with a touch of house sometimes.

Selfie?

Marine Drouan

Where are you from?

Nantes in the west of France.

How did you get into music?

I started to learn play the piano which is an instrument I like a lot, but I stopped after 2 years. I wanted to play my own tunes, still it was the first keyboard experience. I guess, it was listening to techno music late in the night on the radio as teenager, that I really started to really love music and wanted to do some.

What still drives you to make music?

Life in general, but more nature than humans. I guess I need music and often I have
something in mind I want to express. What I work on is sometimes the only thing that I want to listen to. Like an infinite exploration. The nature and listening to its subtle sounds, is definitely the most inspiring to me.

How do you most often start a new track?

By experimenting with and making sounds, textures or loops most of the time, but it can really always be different. The only sure thing, I never start with a structure.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I can be hard to know. If I don’t know, I stop to working on it and let it be, so that I can listen to it with more distance a few days later, then it’s much easier. It can either be very simple and intuitive or be super hard. It can happen that I do 30 different versions and it makes it harder to choose. Sometimes it can also mean that it’s not worth it to finish this track.

Show us your current studio

It is hard to do in one only one picture, as the room i have, is long there is not so much place to take a photo. I also have a cupboard where some gear is resting quietly and safe from the dust before I feel like using them again.

Eurorack on the rack
Studio
Home studio from above

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Trust your ears.

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

My last album “Melt Map”:
https://disorientation.bandcamp.com/album/melt-map

A new track “Infinite” on the compilation Kedi 2 on Baumusik:
https://baumusik.bandcamp.com/album/kedi-2-2

[Editor: Do you have any tips or tricks with any of the gear in this interview? Leave a comment below]


[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…
]


True Cuckoo – Flew Over the Nest

[Editor: When I sent the interview questions to Cuckoo. He replied within 3 hours! That’s some sort of record. Then he said he’d like to send the photos separately, coz he couldn’t make it out his studio at the moment….. What he then sends, is a bunch of great photos with hand-drawn annotations! Wow! … Thanks Andreas. You truely are an inspiration]

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

Moog Golden Knob

At the last Moogfest I got this particularly lovely huge golden knob as a part of the perks that Moogfest gave the guests in a goodie bag. I don’t think it’s from an actual product. Just something they made especially for Moogfest. It’s really heavy, definitely made out of solid metal. I had to modify it a little bit with some mould-able plastic to get it to fit where I wanted it. Now it lives on my original microKorg, as the preset selection knob, and the presets sound so much better now! 😀

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

Hakon Continuum Fingerboard

Tricky… I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect piece of kit. Everything is the fruit of careful consideration, and a lot of choices. Like the Continuum Fingerboard for example… it’s perfect, but it can be improved. Could you make a continuum with it’s own on-board synth editor? Absolutely not! It would ruin the whole thing. But it makes sense to think that you would like that.
The new Continuum Slim has improved though, and I want it for the improvements. Is it perfect? Yeah… maybe… It is what it is, and that’s the way I will use it.

I’m very much engaged in beta testing and writing feedback to developers a lot. So I am definitely seeing ways on improving everything. Like now for instance, I’m playing with the Moog Matriarch, and it’s beautiful! The Matriarch has got 4 oscillators, and in Paraphonic mode the 4 oscillators can be played in “polyphony”… Obviously some form of gates are letting each oscillator turn “on and off” individually corresponding to the keyboard. I wish I had CV access to those gates, so that I could sequence the oscillators more independently and freely… But that takes us back to the beginning… The Matriarch is the fruit of careful consideration and a lot of choices. It is what it is. Let’s make the most out of it!

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

The OP-Z is definitely the musical instrument that I’d be tempted on bringing with me on a holiday without any regrets. It’s light weight and doesn’t take up much space, and it’s fun. It’s just that my OP-Z units are packed to the max with one of my live sets, so there’s not much room for putting in more at this moment. I know I can make backups etc. but… to be honest, I rarely end up making music on holidays anyway. I sometimes bring some new stuff that I want to check out. But for casual and beautiful music exploration on the go I think I’d be more tempted to bring my iPad Pro and use Samplr. Samplr is beautiful for short sessions. And the iPad Pro is lovely for drawing too.
On tour I never want to bring more than I can carry myself. It’s a pain with heavy gear. So I’m trying to keep the size down. Three typical setups for me is:
Octatrack + ZOIA.
Deluge + ZOIA.
2 x OP-Z.

Samplr on the iPad

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

Ooouuushhh, I wish everything from the following 3 companies was available in hardware form.

  • Fab Filter’s amazing production and mastering tools like PRO-Q, PRO-MB, PRO-C and PRO-L. I would’ve been using them all the time in hardware! Perhaps especially the PRO-MB multiband compressor. Heck, they should make a hardware performance mixer with all of their plug-ins on the mixer!
  • Plogue’s amazing recreation of old chips such as the Megadrive Yamaha FM chip (my favourite). Chipsynth MD, Chipsynth PortaFM, and Chipcrusher. They have some forthcoming models that I’m psyched about too.
  • Spectrasonics, if they made Keyscape a high quality hardware keyboard instrument… that would seriously be the best stage keyboard ever.


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

I once bought the MicroKorg XL a looong long time ago. I thought it was just an update of the MicroKorg, and bought the most recent one. But I had no idea they were built on two completely different platforms. The MS 2000 vs the Radias. They sound so incredibly different. The XL has a very digital and sharp kind of sound, where as the original MicroKorg has a much warmer and vibrant sound, I’d say. But a friend of mine has been borrowing the XL for about 10 years now, so at least it’s making someone happy 😀
I later got the original MicroKorg and made 128 presets for it, and it’s sounding super nice 😀

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

Sega MegaDrive

Probably game music from the Sega Megadrive and Super Nintendo era. I made mix tapes of game music especially from the Sega Megadrive. So SEGA has probably influenced me the most. Phantasy Star. The Streets of Rage series. Shinobi. The Thunderforce series etc. But looking back, I have so many favourite soundtracks on the SNES too. Especially the games produced by Square Soft. Secret of Mana, like Chrono Trigger.
When it comes to music gear, I’d say the most inspirational instrument that I have used, second only to an acoustic piano, would be the Continuum Fingerboard. I’m trying a lot of stuff, but the Continuum Fingerboard stands out in a timeless kind of way. I love it. It kinda begs you to approach music differently, in such an expressive way… I love that.

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

Piano lessons.

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

That’d probably be my computer.

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

At this point, it takes a lot to surprise me. But I like it when small teams are making some really ambitious piece of gear, and challenge the industry. Then they keep pushing it with really high quality software updates over the years. Like the Deluge came out with live looping, nearly infinite note precision, any length pattern you like etc. Novation pushing virtually all of their products to the limits over time, perhaps most noticeable the Peak that recently got custom wavetables. But the most surprising element on any synth that I know, must be the Chopper game on the OP-1.


Artist or Band name?

True Cuckoo

Genre?

Not Pop

Selfie

Where are you from?

Brought up in Sweden, but moved to Norway in 2005, where I still live.

How did you get into music?

I always loved music. Probably since I could sing a tone. We had an electrical organ with rhythms when I was a kid, and I loved fiddling around with it. From very early on I loved to just make my own melodies. And when videogames came along, I used to pick the melodies from the games, and try playing them on our piano at home, that we got when I was 12. Been singing a lot, at school, in choirs. But my many hours by the piano, my interest in classical composition in my teenage years all had something to do with it. Perhaps the single most important thing was playing in my first band with Jenny Hval over 10 years ago now. That was awesome. We were playing festivals, small paces, big ones. I loved it. After that I knew that this was something that I had to bring back into my life. So I started Cuckoo after that. Jenny even sings on one of my songs from my first album.

Cuckoo 12 at the organ

What still drives you to make music?

I just love to create. Music is different than all other art forms for me. I live inside of music in a different way, than I was living inside of visual arts and animation (that was my profession for most of my grown up life). Music can be totally free of topics, but still be immensely meaningful. Also… sometimes I’d like to think that what drives me is my hunger for listening to new music… Music that I want to hear, but is yet to be discovered. So instead of looking for music, I create it myself.

How do you most often start a new track?

It’s different every time. It depends on the tools that I’m using. But it’s probably mostly either by sequencing on a machine, and making rhythmical, but still tonal patterns… Or by the piano.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When it communicates, it’s good enough.

Show us your current studio

Currently the world is sort of on hold, and I’ve been working a lot form home just to be able to quickly step in when family needs me on short notice. So this is my little table at home.

Cuckoo’s home desk

And this is my main studio. It’s a mess.

Cuckoo Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

When I studying animation at the art university, my animation guest teacher at the time, Piotr Dumala, could tell that I was kinda struggling, and guided me delicately through the creative processes. I remember especially one day when I was struggling to get on with the story that I was developing. He said, in his strong polish accent, “What do you want to see… on the screen?”. So simple. To just eradicate every distraction and take it down the the essentials… Ok, so we’ve just experienced “this”… where do we go from there? What do you want to see, or hear next? I sometimes repeat those words in my head, still today, even if this was 20 years ago or so.

Piotr Dumala by Cuckoo

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

I went to New Zealand and Australia and played some gigs with Synthstrom Audible’s Deluge. Towards the mid end of the tour, countries started banning events and locked down due to an ongoing pandemic, so I had to end the tour early. I had some great moments! It was a great tour! Here’s a one-take whole set of me in Brisbane.

[Editor: It’s a pleasure to read about Andreas’ studio and process. I hope you guys found it as fascinating as i did. The man is super chill and yet very productive, just that in itself is an inspiration. If you’ve not seen any of his youtube content. Then go there now. It’s great]


[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…
]