Per Barfot – Last Norwegian Viking

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

I love the joystick on the Elektron Analog Keys (Freudian interpretation anyone?). It’s made of plastic but has the right feel in terms of resistance. And controlling different parameters with the tip of your finger is simply so much fun. And while we’re on the Analog Keys, the sound selection wheel isn’t too bad either. Sure, it is also plastic and a bit wobbly, but it’s big, and most importantly, it gives audible click-feedback when turned. Satisfying.

Joystick on the Elektron Analog Keys

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

That would be any instrument/module/effect before I buy them. Actually owning and creating music is often a struggle, even though it can be an enjoyable struggle. But some pieces of gear make the struggle easier. I’m talking about gear I can co-create with to produce an environment of happy accidents. Lately I’ve been moving away from precise and controlled sequencers like those in Elektron machines, and towards a more intuitive approach with modular and Monome equipment. And I’m in love with Grid as a sequencer. But, actually, the first one that comes to mind when I think “perfect” is Chase Bliss Thermae. Pair it with anything and it will be an “almost perfect bit of kit”. It’s a magic little box (well, it’s actually an analog pitch shift delay with just the right ratio of control vs surprise). As long as you let it be in control, giving it enough room to express itself freely, the result will often be mind blowing.

Chase Bliss Thermae

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

I’ve changed up my equipment a lot lately, so if I’d go now (well, when the pandemic is over) it’ll probably be Monome Norns with Grid and maybe a tiny modular system. But last time I brought an instrument on vacation was when I took the Analog Keys on a bus trip to a friend in Norway. Let’s just say I won’t do that again (bringing the Keys on vacation that is, Norway is the best).

Monome Norns

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

Soft > hard: I have a 2hp Pluck that emulates a string instrument, which I use a lot. But I don’t know of a module that emulates a piano. Sometimes I can make the Mannequins Mangrove sound a bit like one (well…), but how cool wouldn’t it be if Felt Instruments released their pluggin Lekko in eurorack format?!

Tape loop over Norns and Elektron Keys

Hard > soft: I love the way tape color sounds (mostly), but actually working with tape can be annoying. The recorders are old and sometimes malfunctioning, the tape loops break, and hiss can be too loud or too harsh. I’ve tried a number of pretty good tape emulation plugins out there, but it’s not the same as real tape. And maybe will never be?

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

Half a year ago I sold a modified Marantz CP430 (it had a double speed switch). At that time I was tired of tape, and of recorders breaking down. I had bought three Marantz recorders within a pretty short time, but ended up selling two of them. I regret I didn’t sell the unmodified one instead.

Marantz

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

A couple of months ago I got the Monome Grid. Using it with Ansible running Kria is probably the closest I’ve come to “effortless” sequencing (well, learning Kria was a bit of a hassle). I love how it allows me to discover happy accidents within a framework of control.

Monome Grid

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

I started my synth journey with the Analog Keys. I had it for more than two years without any other pedal or additional synth. And I found that to be liberating. Now as I’ve gathered more and more gear I do feel more stress, and maybe a bit of shame, that I’m not using each piece at it’s full potential. So I’m happy I began my journey as I did.

A nest of Eurorack

But I could also see myself staring over with Norns, Grid and a tiny eurorack system based around Crow and a couple of Mannequins modules.

More Eurorack and a wooden egg

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

It could be a number of different answers. I don’t use the Analog Keys so much anymore since getting into modular. It’s a big synth with a small screen. And it doesn’t inspire me very much at the moment. But it can do almost anything. It even has 4 configurable CV outputs for gates, pitches, lfos, envelopes, and even a CV sequencer. And sometimes it’s just feels nice to play on actual keys.

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

It’s been mentioned before, but I’d have to say live-processing anything into a tape loop on my Marantz CP430. It makes almost any sound 100% better, objectively speaking. I’m normally running the sound from my case through the recorder and then back into the case again for delay/reverb processing. I imagine some of the harsher aspects of tape will disappear that way, but I could be mistaken.

Bonus technique: using randomised arpeggios and conditional trigs on the Analog Keys to create unpredictability, and thus turning it into a happy accident machine.


Artist or Band name?

Per Barfot. Might change in the future. Per is my middle name. And Barfot is the name of a Norwegian king (1073-1103). My grandfather studied genealogy and discovered that Magnus Barfot is our common ancestor, supposedly. He is described as the “last viking of the Norwegian kings”. “Barfot” means “barefoot”, a name he (probably) got because he at one point had to flee from Swedish soldiers without shoes on.

[Editor: What a great story! Keep that name]

Genre?

Melodic lo-fi ambient.

Selfie?

Anders aka. Per Barfot

Where are you from?

Kungälv, Sweden.

How did you get into music?

Played guitar as a teenager. Recorded two singer/songwriter albums in my twenties. Discovered experimental synth music maybe five years ago (mostly via Hainbach’s YouTube channel I think).

What still drives you to make music?

Few things touch me as deeply as music does. It’s a crack in the fabric of reality. I want to be a part of that.

How do you most often start a new track?

I turn on the modular system. Press on a number of buttons on Grid without too much thought. Listen. Adjust. Often I record long pieces so I have the opportunity to come back later and continue working with the best parts.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I’m never finished. I started recording a lo-fi indie synth pop EP a year ago. It’s been 90% complete since last fall. But now the songs don’t correspond to where I am at musically, because I’ve moved on. But I also don’t want to let it go because I’ve spent too much time and effort making it. Will it ever be finished? No idea.

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Don’t be afraid to copy from who ever inspires you, and make it your own.

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

I guess, just keep updated on instagram.com/perbarfot, and hopefully some day I’ll confront my insecurities and actually release my EP 🙂


[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…
]


Anna-Karin Berglund – Deeply Diving Droner

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

New Korg MS-20

All of the knobs, faders, switches and wires of my Korg MS-20. I got the remake (couldn’t find a decent vintage one) just recently and it is my absolute favorite gear to play around with a the moment. The MS-20 paired with the modern classic Strymon Big Sky, set to 50 sec decay, and I’m home. Not a real answer to this question, but close enough.

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

I imagine that my Elektron Digitakt is almost perfect, if I hade the patience to actually really understand it, cause I think it is a really cool machine and that it can do so much more than what I use it for. I am quarantining with it, so I’m hoping it will turn out to be time well spent in the end.

Elektron Digitakt

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

This is probably a boring answer for this interview, but I usually just bring my laptop and a pair of good headphones and start rummaging around in Logic to get something going. I always have a lot of unfinished projects that I can piece together and make a new one of, it’s kind of like working with a collage. Pitch a few things here, add some reverb or weird effects there, and usually that’s enough to make a drone to get started from.

MacBook and Headphones

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

I have the complete Waves plugin for Logic and I use it extensively when mixing and for processing sounds, both field recordings and hardware recordings. It would have been cool to have some of those effects as hardware too, for performing live and the tactile feel of turning the knobs as I record.

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

I am pretty strict when buying gear and I always do some pretty extensive research before buying something. This means that I buy few things and sell even fewer and also rarely regret anything. I did buy the aforementioned Digitakt on a whim last summer and it is not until these quarantine days, that I’ve picked it up and feel like it may be a great buy, if I get to know it more.

[Editor: I had the same thing with the Digitakt. It felt like a really great and deep machine. But I seldom got around to using it… Until I stuck a rechargeable battery in it. Now I use it all the time on the couch. My laziness knows no bounds!]

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

I was going for a second tour in China with a folk pop band that I was playing with ages ago. In that band I played a Nord Electro 2. The first time we went to China I brought the 73 keys Nord with me and instantly regretted it, since we were traveling by train across the country for four weeks and together with my luggage, this was a logistical nightmare. When we went back the next year I bought a Nord Rack 2X and the smallest MIDI-keyboard I could find, just to not get stuck on train platforms and elevators in rush hour commute with a monster keyboard flight case. Little did I know then that this Nord Rack was the love of my life, when I got into experimental art music and ambient a few years later. Most of my first release under my own name, a digital EP and my debut album is made with this little red machine. Combined with a shimmer reverb, slow attack, long release and filter sweeps – this is the perfect ambient gear!

Nord Rack 2X

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

I don’t know if would change anything really. All I know is, that I feel like I am late in the game and that I should have started earlier. It would have been cool to be a modular genius though, but kind of hard to start with i guess.

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

The Moog Mother 32 has a super annoying and tedious learning curve and it is an intricate labyrinth, when it comes to navigating the sequencer, but when I take the time and have patience there’s some really cool stuff coming out of it.

Moog Mother 32

9. What is the most surprising tip/trick/techniques that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?

Nothing that comes to mind. Mostly trying to get tips and tricks from everywhere else, scavenging the back allies of different forums and keeping the gems.


Artist or Band name?

AKB

Genre?

Ambient

Selfie?

Where are you from?

Gävle, Sweden.

How did you get into music?

I started out playing the clarinet at 6 years old in various marching bands and symphonic quartets. I remember wanting to quit during my teen years, cause this was definitely not the coolest way to spend evenings, weekends and summers of course. But when high school came along, I applied for the music program and ended up studying jazz. I met a lot of great people during that time and played in a few bands, one of which I spent a decade touring the world with. It is not until the last five or six years that I have been producing my own stuff and getting really into all things synthesizer.

What still drives you to make music?

Even though I started playing music a such a young age and have in periods made my living out of playing and going on tour, I never thought of it as a need or a drive to keep going and playing. It was always the context that was important; being on stage, going on tour, seeing new cities, going on an adventure. And when the time was up with the band I played with, I realized I’d miss it too much and was forced, more or less, to make music of my own to be able to keep going. It’s the adrenaline of doing something new, pushing the boundaries for what I think I am capable of doing and then working hard to complete it. Whether it is to conquer a new machine, a new plug-in or composing a track. It’s become part of my identity and I think I wouldn’t know who I am if I stopped at this point.

How do you most often start a new track?

I usually start around ten different Logic projects and start to either aimlessly search my software synths or equally aimlessly making noises on my gear, recording bits and pieces with no pre-existing thoughts. After a while I usually either reach a deadline for some project I’ve agreed to, a remix that needs to be finished or something else and then I start to piece all of these different Logic projects together. It’s a lengthy process and it’s not really ideal, but I feel like if I set out to make something ”real” from the get go, I usually tend to end up in a creative limbo.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the deadline is up and it needs to be done. Otherwise it won’t be.

Show us your current studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

To not work in a linear way when making a track. It’s better to just start somewhere and explore from there, don’t try and write a song from start to finish, make it random. And also don’t be afraid to get theoretical when making music, especially electronic music. There is a lot to be found in classical theories for composing which can be inspirational, and also surprisingly fun.

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

My debut album Marianergraven was released on February 28th and it was a huge milestone for me to be able to release it as an actual physical album, on vinyl. Immersive, melodic, oceanic ambient inspired by the Pacific abyss and its unexplored secrets!

Get it here:

AKB-marianergraven-lp-limited-coloured-edition-incl-7

or on bandcamp here:

https://lamourrecords.bandcamp.com/album/marianergraven

And follow me on instagram here:

https://www.instagram.com/akberglund/


[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…
]