Danny Kim – DSKO

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

Modal 008

Favorite knobs would have to be the Modal 008. They are metal, round with a dimple on top. Favorite fader would have to be the Juno 106. Just a couple millimeters makes the filter morph into a different sound. I’ve ridden the cutoff fader for miles. I also like the fader on Roland System 100 Model 101. Old, but sturdy and stylish.

Roland Juno 106

For Eurorack, I’d say my fav knobs are on the Rossum Evolution. They’re kind of similar to the pots on the Dave Smith PolyEvolver.

Dave Smith PolyEvolver

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

Well I guess that would depend on three criteria for me. The character of the sound, depth of synthesis, versatility, intuitiveness of the interface, build quality. I also like a bit of a challenge to learn. But not so complex that it takes forever to get to a sweet spot.

Modal 008

For me, one all-encompassing synth would be the Modal 008. It is the most refined sounding analog poly synth that I’ve played in the past 20 years. It has 15 different filter modes, tons of physical controls at your fingertips. There are no on-board effects but you can dial in some very refined and inspiring sounds without too much difficulty.

Modal 008 with 15 filter modes

Then you have a great sequencer that can trigger notes or modulate almost any parameter with the “Animator” feature. It does have a bit of a wonky menu, that sometimes freezes on a knob turn. I wish I could update the processor to eliminate some of those glitches and give it an OLED touch screen to improve the navigation but nothing’s perfect.
The designer George Hearn moved on from Modal to found a company called UDO. In late 2020, he released the Super 6 binaural synth. It’s a really cool 12 voice polyphonic synth with high resolution digital oscillators. I’m looking forward to diving deep into it this coming year.

Modal 008 Sequencer

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

MPC Live 2

I have a retro MPC Live 2 that is pretty cool because it has a sound bar, is rechargeable and you can produce full tracks on it with some diligence and patience. You can load it up with a ton of samples. It can even be upgraded with an internal SSD drive. I recently got an ASM Hydrasynth Explorer that can take batteries. I think I might bring it next time I travel.

Hydrasynth Explorer

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

I wish there was a hardware version of Absynth. It was one of the most unique sounding synths I’ve ever heard. Sadly, it was announced a few months ago that Native Instruments was going to discontinue its inclusion in their collection.

I think it would be cool to get a software version of the underrated Modor NF-1, since it is all digital and there are ten different forms of synthesis. There are a ton of physical controls but due to its complexity, there’s still a lot under the hood that you have to dive into the menu to find such as the FM operators or formant features.

Modor NF-1

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

I regret selling my big yellow Waldorf Q. I was broke in Hollywood during the actors and writers strikes of 2006. I was a freelance sound editor and had just left the studio I was working at after I had worked on a big feature film called Pathfinder for 20th Century Fox. The strike went on for a long time and eventually I had to let go of one of my first synths. I’ve since owned and sold the Waldorf Microwave XT, original Pulse rack and 2 Pole Filter Pedal.

Conversely, I haven’t been as into the Waldorf Quantum. On paper and visually it looked like most amazing synth ever. But it sounds kind of sterile to me, even with the analog filter. I have a friend who likes the Iridium for its sample playback capabilities, but I generally prefer VCO’s and non-sampled realtime sound sources. I get more of my style of sounds out of synths such as the Moog Matriarch or Cwejman S1 MK2. So I may be limiting myself from the Quantum’s best features. I’ve heard other people get cool results from it. I think I would get more out of the PPG Wave tribute from Groove Synthesis, the Third Wave.

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

Lately, I’ve been really into the Elektron Syntakt. You’ve got 8 digital and 4 analog tracks. Each track can be configured to a different “machine” that is synthesized around conventions such as bass drums, snares, hats, claps, etc. On the synth side, you’ve got an 8-bit SID type of machine, chord generator that can be quantized to different scales, then an analog two oscillator synth. Unfortunately it’s monophonic, but I hope that it gets firmware to allow the combining of tracks allow for 2 to 4 voice polyphony at some point soon. It certainly has the capability with 12 tracks.

Being confined to a set of 8 unique parameters for each synth or percussion machine did a couple things for me: first, it forced me to fully utilize each machine’s sound design capabilities. Since you can quickly settle on a sound relatively quickly with the limitations, you can focus on the writing of notes and beats. The second thing it did was the polar opposite; the limitations drove me to find external/outboard solutions such as polyphonic sound sources that could be sequenced from the Syntakt’s external MIDI machine. The first candidate was an Erica Synths 42hp Pico case. I put a Supercritical Demon Oscillator and Expander with a Pittsburgh Local Florist and a Supercritical Neutron Flux stereo filter in there. So that skiff essentially became the 8th track on my Syntakt.


One of the things that helped me unlock the Syntakt’s capabilities is the Arturia Keystep 37. The Keystep has a great feature which is that you can hold the function button then instantly change the MIDI channel from the keyboard. So you can jump back and forth between tracks in your sequence while you’re writing melodies and parts. You can quantize your notes as they are being played in.

Arturia Keystep Pro (pictured here) and the twin Elektron Syntakts

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

Prophet XL

With my existing knowledge and experience? Maybe a Sequential Prophet XL. It covers a lot of different sounds between the virtual analog waveforms and sample oscillators. If I was starting out, I’d probably get a Juno 106, which was actually the 3rd or 4th synth I first bought.

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


The Roland JX-8P. Big heavy with plywood bottom and plastic ends that have fading metallic paint. Membrane buttons as frustrating as the DX-7. But the pads out of that thing sound beautiful. I was able to get a PG-800 programmer for it, which made it much more useable. The JX-10 is basically two 8P’s and is somewhat strange to program even with a PG-800 since it has two halves. The JX-10 was used by the composer Angelo Badalamenti for the iconic theme song for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which was later sampled by Moby for the house track “Go”. I can’t seem to bring myself to sell it, but it’s so bulky that it’s usually sitting upright until I need it for its lush pads.

Roland PG-800

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

Probably the strangest feature I’ve encountered is the countdown menu in the Modor NF-1. You have to make your selection before it finishes counting down, otherwise it exits on its own.

Modular Eurorack in Black light

Technique-wise, one of the coolest things about modular synths is the ability to chain multiple clock and rhythm modules. For instance, I might use the ALM Pamela’s Workout as an initial tempo generator into Vermona Random Rhythm to create a bunch of multiplied clock signals in different clock divisions. From there it may go into Mutable Instruments Grids or the more recent Mystic Circuits IDUM module. Then finally with the 3rd layer, I’ll patch into the actual sequencer be it WMD Metron or Shakmat’s Four Bricks Rook. My goal is to create rhythmic variations for the sequence that can be globally affected with a relatively simple knob or fader movement, which is ideal for live performances. Trying to achieve some randomness but still enough control to make it sound musical. That’s generally where I like to reside.

Artist or Band name?

It was Psinex, then Distco, Distortion Corporation, now DSKO. My actual company is named Distortion Productions from when I worked full time as a freelance sound editor on films and directed concert and music videos for various local LA electronic music producers, classical Indian musicians and the “Inside” video for Detroit’s ADULT.


All over the place: electro, Italo disco, synth wave, techno, dub, electroclash, trip hop, ambient. I try not to think too consciously about genre when I’m writing something.



Where are you from?

Was born in Palo Alto and raised in Santa Rosa, Northern California. Have lived in Las Vegas, Hollywood/LA and Seoul, Korea. Now I’m back near where I was born, in Santa Clara and San Jose.

How did you get into music?

I started out as a cellist in the high school orchestra. I took lessons from Corinne Antipa, a cellist in the local Santa Rosa Symphony.
Music-wise I was a big Front 242 and Depeche Mode fan as a kid. I actually just saw Front 242’s final performance at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco recently. It was great show and an emotional moment for them saying goodbye on stage. In college, I was a tech house and trance DJ during college in Las Vegas and in LA during the rave scene.

What still drives you to make music?

I’ve always wanted to see electronic musicians and the synthesizer community properly represented from a cultural and artistic standpoint. I’ve been going to shows for many years, but from 2016, I started putting on my own live synth shows in the SF Bay Area, primarily in downtown San Jose in association with the First Friday monthly street fairs organized by Cherri and Brian from Gallery Anno Domini. I built good relationships with synth companies such as Sequential, Make Noise, Folktek as well as some very talented performers from across the country such as Richard Devine, Patrick O’ Brien, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Lightbath while promoting equally talented locals such as r beny and Haptic Synapses.

My interests tend to pull me towards their origins and pioneers. It was a sort of pilgrimage traveling to the Detroit Movement Festival in 2006 and 2008 and hearing Octave One, Scan 7, Model 500, and many others there. I also had a chance to go to the 2012 Moogfest when it was still in Asheville, North Carolina. It was great to see the Voyagers on the Moog factory line along with the showroom. Those trips were a big inspiration to me as a promoter and artist. I feel like I’ve carried those experiences with me in spirit in all the events that I have held.

How do you most often start a new track?

I used to make a new track every month. Lately, it’s become either a new modular patch video on my Youtube or Instagram. I would definitely like to get back to writing full tracks and albums.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Usually when I can listen to a track repeatedly without getting tired of hearing it. I’d imagine that’s how a sculptor feels by the time they decide when to stop chipping away at the stone. I suppose the difference being that you can’t add back what you remove to a stone. With a track, it’s certainly possible to overembellish it with too many elements.

Show us your current studio

Neon Dragon
A desktop of synths
Studio Rack
Studio Buddies

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

It’s a fairly common piece of advice, but particularly important for someone as easily distracted as I am. Finish your project and don’t try to make it too perfect. Allow for mistakes and imperfections. The pursuit of perfection can lead to becoming discouraged and eventually abandoning something that might actually be much better than you might think. Like many artists, I tend to be very hard on myself.

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

I’ll be performing at SynthPlex in LA/Burbank on the evening of October 29th, 2022. It’s been three years since the last event so I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got a laser show planned to go with my live synth set.

I’m also putting out the follow-up to the 2019 synth and arts print-only journal called Open Source. It’s taken the better part of 3 years to put it together. One of the most difficult projects I’ve ever worked on because of the ever-increasing scope of it.
It started from around 80 pages and now up to around 130 with original articles, artwork and interviews from artists I admire from around the world such as Robert Henke and Nonotak. By the time the project is finally completed, I think it will be worth the effort. I’m aiming to get it done in time to show at Superbooth next May in Berlin.

[Editor: There are affiliate links to the relevant gear throughout the articles. It helps to support this blog. In fact, should you be needing some patch cables or guitar strings. Then clicking on one of the above links and buying any product that you prefer, will help the blog… doesn’t even have to be the ones in the link. Thx]

How I met Mr. Steve Albini

Steve Albini and Martin Yam Moller in Electrical Audio Studio A

Ok, so here’s a wild thing that happened. I got to meet Steve Albini at his studio Electrical Audio in Chicago.… and embarrassingly I got so star-struck meeting him, that I completely forgot to ask all the questions that I would normally do for this blog!

So that’s why this post is a little bit different than the usual ‘9 Odd Questions for Music Gear Junkies’ Interview.

First of all, if you don’t know about Mr. Steve Albini. He’s a producer/engineer who famously recorded Nirvana’s In Utero, but also hundreds of other records that I and millions of others, have listened to since the ‘80’s.

He has got to have one of the heftiest discographies ever!

But more interestingly, he has a particular kind of attitude to recording and music in general. He records all analogue, not just because of the sound and workflow, but because of its importance as an archival medium. He also keeps his rates as low as possible in order to keep working with independent bands/musicians. This attitude is very much reflected in the way that he constructed Electrical Audio, the studio that he built and opened in the late ‘90’s.

Outside Electrical Audio

So I was in Chicago this summer playing a couple of concerts for the release of my debut solo album, and I was talking to my bassist, who mentioned that he’s recorded at Electrical Audio with other bands. He said “Give’em a call and ask if you could come by and take a look at the studio and talk to Steve”. For him, having lived in Chicago for many years, Electrical was simply the local studio that everybody used. For me, it was the holy ground on which Sunn 0))) conjured Pyroclasts, their excellent 9th album from 2019.

It simply didn’t seem possible to just call up the studio… and so for the 14 days that I was in Chicago, I procrastinated and did a whole bunch of other stuff.

Then on the last day before I had to fly back to Denmark. My buddy Anthony, the bassist, reminded me “Just call and go out there”. So I called up Electrical and there was a nice person who answered “Yeah, come on by… There is a session today at noon, but there should be some engineers here to show you around”.

So of course I took a cab out there at 9am! Jumped out and rang on the door.

Electrical Audio Studio Door and Bell

And… the same person on the phone says “Oh, there are no engineers here right now to show you around. Can you come back in an hour?”

“Sure” I say. An hour goes by. Me, loitering outside in the general area.

Ring that bell again. Same thing. So I come back 30 min later.

Receptionist says “Hey, what about if you give me your tlf number and I get someone to call you back when they get here?”

“Perfect” I say, and think ‘Damn, they’ll be busy with that session today and I’m leaving tomorrow’. So a bit disappointed, I walked down the road from the studio that I didn’t even get into, to find lunch somewhere.

I’m just about to order a sandwich at a cafe … and my cellphone rings.

“Hey, this is Steve… you wanted to take a look around the studio?”

“YES! I’ll be there in 2 min”… and I run out of the cafe.

The following is a loose, badly-remembered re-paraphrasing of the hour long tour that Mr. Steve Albini gave me of his wonderful studio and gear. Mainly just photos with whatever I could remember that Steve said.

At Electrical Audio, walking from one live room to the next, seems just like any other studio, but what is not visible, is the fact that each room has it’s own separate foundation, for near total acoustic isolation between rooms.

Walking from Studio A to B

You know how you always hear of studio owners tearing the roof off their house in order to get their massive consoles into the mixing suite? This is the upside down version of this! Buying a building and re-digging it’s foundation, with the building still in place. A pretty intense approach to acoustic control.

The mic collection at EA is a sight to behold. While I was a little too busy salivating over the mics, I barely managed to register that Mr. Albini said something like… ‘Every sound is different and every mic responds to that sound in a different way… so for every recording, you have to try out a lot of mics.’

Headphone tree
Guitars and Pedals

Analog recorders and effects racks play a huge role in the daily recording life at Electrical Audio. These aren’t there for show or the occasional ‘retro band’ that books a session once a year.
They are constantly serviced and maintained by the in-house tech.
Mr. Albini even showed me their service log books, and described the administrative system they use to keep everything up and running. Which means that anything that’s not working, gets pulled out and fixed off-site. Anything you see in the mixing rooms is plugged in and ready to go.

Studer A 820 MCH 24 Tape Recorder
Studer A 820 MCH 24 Tracking Recorder
Ampex ATR-102 2-Track
Ampex ATR-102 2-Track Master Tape Recorder

Electrical Audio even make their own brand of equipment. Their in-house studio tech has plenty of work to do, in order to maintain all that juicy analog equipment. But somehow they make time to produce a lovely EA preamp and shelving EQ (the bi-colored LED lit logo is a signature).

EA’s preamp and EQ

EA also make a passive direct box, which Mr. Albini say is a workhorse and gets used a lot, both for re-amping and sending mic level signals to guitar pedals. Since it’s a passive design, it is bi-directional.

Check out the super high ceilings in Studio B. There’s lots of natural light, which is very lovely, but quite unusual for a live room, there’s also tons of diffusion in the ceilings.
It was really funny to clap in this room, coz I could easily recognize the distinctive reverb, from countless albums with recordings of snare drums in this room. Strange to experience such familiar early reflections, in real life.

Studio B with very high ceilings and natural light

Steve took particular pride in describing the non-parallel walls made from Adobe mudbricks that were used inside the studio live rooms. They are unfired and have the odd properties of both reflecting sound in a diffuse way, but also absorbing it over a ‘pleasant’ spectrum.

Lastly… yes, I did remember to ask him what his favorite knob/fader or switch was….

Penny & Giles Motorised Faders on the Neotek Console

Thanks Mr. Albini for graciously taking me through your awesome studio!

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Clicking one of these links and buying any product that you need, will help support this blog… doesn’t even have to be the ones in the link. Thx]

Hissquiet – Blissed Moods

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

Chase Bliss Mood

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?

Bastl midi looper

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.?

Elektron Digitakt and iPad

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?

Spacecraft app

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.

VCV rack

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 Electronics Microcosm

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!? 

Cables of all colors

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.

ASM Hydrasynth

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.


Ash Farrand aka. Hissquiet

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

Hissquiet studio
Hissquiet studio 2
Hissquiet studio 3

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.

Slot Drum

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/