1. Favourite knob or fader or switch on a piece of gear and why?
I’m always fascinated by the range of knobs that there are, but I think my favorite knobs are the ones on the Chase Bliss stuff, I currently have the Mood. They are just so smooth with the ideal amount of tension. They just feel sturdy a well made, like I’ll fade into an effect perfectly every time.
2. Do you have an ‘almost’ perfect bit of kit? What would you change?
I think probably my latest bit of kit, the Bastl midi looper, does almost exactly what I wanted it for, which is to more organically make sequences with midi and overdub CC parameters. It perfectly pairs with my hydrasynth which doesn’t have a sequencer, but I wish it recorded the polyphonic aftertouch of the hydrasynth pads on the initial record. Idk maybe it does and I just haven’t spent enough time tweaking the settings, but that would be really really nice. But other than that it’s brilliant.
3. What setup do you bring on holiday or tour or commute etc.?
I think my favorite things to bring, are my digitakt and/or my ipad. With a myvolts power cable, a portable charger and some samples, I could really make a whole album on the digitakt. Ipad also is very powerful and has so many music apps that I use in my recordings all the time. Some of my favorites are Spacecraft, Tardigrain and Fugue Machine.
4. What software do you wish was hardware and vice versa?
I wish the Spacecraft app was a pedal or a feature of some groovebox. It’s this granular synth that you can record anything into and make beautifully textured ambient or noise soundscapes. You can get a wide range of sounds out of it. I seriously oftentimes don’t even bother with hi-fi samples and just use the ipad mic, because it just adds extra texture.
This one is kinda silly, but I wish VCV rack was hardware, like, it is hardware right? But the part of it that I want to bring into hardware is the low cost (haha) and also the ability to save patches and arrangements. Which I guess is the point of a modular synth, but still. I haven’t gone down the hardware modular synth rabbit hole yet, but I’ve been using VCV Rack as a way to learn exactly what I want from a system some day.
5. Is there anything you regret selling… or regret buying?
I regret selling my Digitone. It was a really great groovebox synth. I made a whole album on it, Sublunar Reverie, so I decided it was time to sell it and try something else out. Selling stuff is how I justify getting something new and making sure I actually really want the new thing. It went towards the Hydrasynth which I definitely don’t regret buying, but I just wish I had them both haha.
6. What gear has inspired you to produce the most music?
Hologram Microcosm for sure. I almost don’t want to bring it out when I’m working on something because I’ll spend hours tweaking the modes wondering if the next tweak might be even better than the last, but it all just sounds really great! I have a bit of a thing for granular gear can you tell?
7. If you had to start over, what would you get first?
I think learning a dynamic instrument like the clarinet was super important to the way I do music, even if I rarely bring it out now. Some folks have said that I have a sort of classical music dynamic going on with the kind of music I make and I probably agree with that. Second though, I’d probably get into synths rather than a guitar, maybe a groovebox like the Digitone or Digitakt if something like that had come out then.
8. What’s the most annoying piece of gear you have, that you just can’t live without?
Any piece of gear with cat hair on it, haha, no but for real though any connectivity stuff, cables, midi, bluetooth. I think I spend 1/3 my time reserved for making music just making sure things are connected correctly. My studio is not only used for music, but I do my freelance graphic design work there as well, so I can’t really have it all out and connected. In an ideal world things would just work ya know!?
9. Most surprising tip or trick or technique that you’ve discovered about a bit of kit?
The random button on the Hydrasynth is wonderful. It will create a patch for you or you can tell it to scramble up a patch that you already have based on percentages. Sometimes the patches are too wild and I have a blast reeling them into something more palatable to use, but you can end up creating something that you wouldn’t have easily come up with any other way.
Artist or Band name?
Hmm… maybe ambient music that isn’t really background music? More dark ambient, drone or sometimes I like to get noisy and cinematic.
Where are you from?
I grew up and live on the East Coast of the States currently, but I’ve been all over the States. The East Coast feels like home though.
How did you get into music?
I did the whole orchestra/marching band thing when I was younger, but more recently (5ish years ago) I got into music, because I found folks like Hainbach, Anne Annie, and Amulets back in the day when they were doing more “no talking” hardware jams and quickly got a DAW and a midi keyboard and the rest is history.
What still drives you to make music?
Music is my therapy, it allows me to express myself. I really enjoy getting lost in a moment while I’m improvising sound and everything else in the world kind of goes to the wayside for a few minutes. I do it for me first and if others happen to like it that’s a definite bonus.
How do you most often start a new track?
I can start with a sound that’s interesting to me which can kind of evolve into a certain mood all on its own or sometimes I already have a mood that I want to try to capture with a sound. From there I think about how adding effects or layers could elevate or evolve or contrast with what that mood. That’s usually how a track emerges; it’s very emotion-based.
How do you know when a track is finished?
There are 2 criteria for this. When it sounds perfect and there’s nothing I want to change about it or if it’s nearly perfect and I’m simply done working on it. Some might call that laziness, but I can be a bit of a perfectionist on some things so sometimes it’s just best to let go, nobody will notice.
Show us your current studio
Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?
I had a rad guitar teacher that really introduced me to the idea that everything can be music. I remember he started riffing off of a fan that was making a rhythmic sound and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of music.
Promote your latest thing… Go ahead, throw us a link.
I’ve got some tapes available of my latest album Solastalgia with Mystery Circles: https://hissquiet.bandcamp.com/album/solastalgia
All the links are here on my website: https://hissquiet.com/