Andrea Cichecki – ElectrOrganic

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

Mutable Instruments Ripples

My favorite is the filter knob. I use it a lot, especially, when I’m recording live, either to create space or for creative effect. On the picture you can see the filter knob of my Mutable Instruments Ripples. Other ones I like are the function knobs, to dive into the menus of my devices. I need them in order to make everything work.

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

Blofeld synth

It always changes but, at this moment, I’m in love with the Waldorf Blofeld. I can produce full songs with it, as it has all the sounds I need in there. It’s small, so it fits easily in between my other gear. It would be great if it had more knobs to have more access at once, however, for the price, I really can’t complain at all.

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

Eurorack and buddies

That would be my Digitakt, Strymon Timeline, Big Sky, my modular synth, the ZoomTrack 8 mixer and my Beyerdynamic headphones. It’s all compact, fairly easy to set up, light weight to travel with and it all fits in one small suitcase. If it’s just a small trip, it’s usually my Digitakt as I can create a lot with that already.

Elektron Digitakt

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

I wish the Make Noise Morpaghene had a software version. The same would be the case for the Mutable Instruments Beads. Software I’d like as hardware: a Teletronix LA-2A compressor would be very welcome in my studio. I just love this compressor, especially, for my synth sounds. It’s a classic and it just works.

Mutable Instruments Beads

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

I’ve got little regret regarding gear I bought in the past. When I buy something I try it out and if I don’t use it a lot, I will sell it again to find something else. Until now, I don’t have regrets on sales either as my setup always improved for the better.

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

Soundcraft desk and Strymon FX

My Soundcraft desk. It took me a while to find out what works best for my workflow and the mixer is the main instrument, as I can route everything with each other, send signals in all directions, which makes it a lot more fun to record. I don’t need to worry anymore, think about how to connect things or route it, as it’s all set up and ready to go.

Soundcraft Desk

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

The book Patch and Tweak and piano lessons instead of the clarinet training. The book is a must if you want to work with synthesis, I learnt a lot from it and still read it regularly.

Bjooks Patch & Tweak

Piano lessons would have made my life easier in terms of composition. However, I’m slowly progressing with my compositions now and just give myself the time to learn. It’s never to late for that and every day you can learn something new.

[Editor: The author of Patch & Tweak did a interview on this very blog right here Kim Bjørn]

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

Euroack Patch Cables

My patch cables, they always lay everywhere in the house, but I cannot do without them. I recently bought a couple of nice patch cable hangers from Sector Sieben, this already helps a lot.

Even more Euroack Patch Cables!

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

Mackie Big knob

Get a monitor controller and establish two settings to listen at, one low listening level (you still can hear somebody whisper) and a higher level around 70-80dB SPL. I mostly listen on either of these two settings.

This way you train your ears and start to hear small differences when using compression, EQ or FX settings. Last but not least, the most important ‘trick’ is to A/B reference your song, level-matched, with either previous versions of your mix as well as other songs. You can easily fool your hearing by thinking louder is better and sometimes you may think you are doing a good job treating a sound, only to find out, after level matching, you did too many changes.

With level- matching you really hear what you do. Plugin Alliance has a good plugin for that (Metric AB) but you also can do this in your DAW and simply level match the different songs with each other.

Metric AB

Artist or Band name?

Andrea Cichecki

Genre?

Deep music such as ambient, big soundscapes, dub-techno and ‘immersive organic sounds’. I like to emulate nature with electronic gear.

Selfie?

Andrea Cichecki

Where are you from?

I’m originally from the Netherlands, but have been living in Germany since 2012. At first, I lived in Berlin and now in the countryside near Dresden. I moved there because of a beautiful recording studio called Castle Studios where I work as well.

How did you get into music?

When I was young, I started with the clarinet and played a lot of classical music. Around my 16th birthday, I fell in love with electronic music and started to collect vinyl and, eventually, became a DJ.

In my mid-twenties, I already wanted to learn audio engineering but, sadly, where I lived at the time, there was no audio school and no online education available. So I tried to meet people to find out how things work and learnt a lot by myself until later in my life, where I attended the Abbey Roads music production and audio engineering school.

Clarinet

What still drives you to make music?

It’s a very strong inner feeling, call it intuition that I have. I’ve done a lot of different things in my life for work already, but this feeling with music always came back, telling me that I need to make music and learn all I can about it. I try to just follow that intuition. My life has changed ever since I became a full time producer and audio engineer. It’s hard work, especially, when you need to build it up from scratch to make a living. It’s also a particular life style. You really need to want this, otherwise it doesn’t work. I gave many things up in order to do it, but also don’t regret it a minute.

How do you most often start a new track?

Mostly, I start with a sound or chord progression on a synth that inspires me. I choose the key I work in and just go with the flow. Sometimes a drum loop inspires me or a melody gives me a certain feel and then it depends. Generally, there are two ways of making music for me. Either, I create a live-set, which means that I let things flow a bit more and don’t work in a particular song structure. However, when I produce songs with something specific in mind, I’m very structured and try to follow the sections. It took me a long time to find out how to finish tracks and, working structured and in sections, was the best for me. That also goes for when I work with clients.

Most musicians have a structure in their music as well and it’s just easier to be able to work like that, to have the same language. Otherwise translating their needs can get complicated.

Ableton Template

How do you know when a track is finished?

When the deadline is there. 🙂 In general, when all elements of the song are there and work good together, than it’s time to mix. Usually, I already do a lot in pre-production stages, so that I can keep my mixes simple and effective.

Show us your current studio

Andrea’s Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Have a lot of quality output, educate yourself and, if possible, learn from mentors that can guide you. This is what I started to do, I try to educate myself on everything to do with music, the industry, music business in general, producing and engineering, marketing and promotion, social media.

Having an understanding of the work you need to put in makes everything a lot easier, as you can plan along and are able to communicate with the people around you better. Having mentors in your life to learn from is very important, so that you can improve yourself and are able to ask for advice.

Socials:
https://www.andreacichecki.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/AndreaCichecki/
linktr.ee/AndreaCichecki
https://www.instagram.com/andrea_cichecki
https://www.facebook.com/AndreaCicheckiMusic
https://soundcloud.com/andrea-cichecki
https://castle-studios.com/


Prior Use – Andreas Bak-Reimer

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

Gettin’ it on with the Roland SH-1

The power switch on the Roland SH-1. It’s an old synth, and the button has a distinct mechanical quality to it. The way it feels, the way it sounds, and the way the power LED lights up immediately – it just feels like getting it on! The SH-1 does that really swell PWM (pulse width modulation) that I enjoy immensely, and simple as it is, it invokes an atmosphere of a simpler time, with a lot of nostalgia to it.

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

My Roland Juno-106 is close to perfect for it’s purpose. Countless 80’s and 80’s emulating tracks have been born using it, and it’s built in a way that grants plenty of sweetspots, and not so many dead ends. Some people prefer non-DCOs, and have plenty to say about the 106 being a budget synth, but mine’s fresh back from service, and it makes me happy.

Roland 106

I sometimes wish it had another oscillator with an easy option for detuning, to get a wider sound from it, but there is a lot to be said about limitations to foster creativity.

… Also, I am not particularly fond of the way the resonance sounds when it’s cranked way up. It’s glassy instead of being juicy – and rarely that’s a good thing. On the other hand, I don’t have any other things that sounds like that, so it’s probably best to leave that unchanged.

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

Roland TB-03

Laptop, almost certainly. I am no where near anything dawless, and don’t have anything that I could arrange anything with, besides a computer. If I weren’t writing, but merely playing around, I would bring my Roland TB-03, or Yamaha Reface CS – built-in speakers and battery operated, they are 1. 2. go!

Yamaha Reface

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

Absynth, Brain, Modular.

Software -> Hardware: I think Native Instruments Absynth. I have had that since forever, and still use it heavily. Also, I would like to see the physical shape/color/layout of such a thing!

Absynth

Hardware -> Software: My brain. Although it feels soft at times, I consider it hardware. It certainly interfaces like 40+ years old hardware (poorly that is), it is sometimes difficult to control when hot or cold, and it’s almost never in tune. Also – patch memory is severely limited. If I could instantly recall patches, production tricks, channel-settings and export/bounce the tunes and sounds directly, like with a lot of software, then… Well, it might take out the fun at times.

Brain

To be serious: My modular setup would be nice as software – mainly for patch recall.

Eurorack modular

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

I never sold anything ever, so that doesn’t apply. And therefore I never regret selling anything either!

I once bought a portable recorder, thinking I could get a lot of good sample material that way. I only did once, but it never made it into a track I finished. I have fond memories of getting up early to catch a few big trucks on big roads going by, though… So, no regrets I guess…

Tascam Recorder

I bought an Ensoniq SQ-R module, because it features Transwave synthesis. Never used that, but it had a nice belltree sound that I used once or twice. It’s probably the thing I’ve bought that comes the most close to being a regret.

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

My trusty iPod classic 80 GB. That’s a lot of late 90’s goatrance… Listening to that is what inspired me most over the years. It had a growing line of dead pixels over the course of a year, and when the line was fully dead, the pixels started working again from the beginning of the line! A year after, the whole display was good again. That is probably my strangest experience with any electronic gadget ever.

iPod classic

If I should channel this to some sort of an inspirational tale, it would something like how the small and weak Hobbits defeated the mighty Sauron – it might appear to be failing, and an unlikely source of victory, but give it some time, and it will surprise you.

That is also why I have never sold anything. You never know.

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

A decent room for working in. Go all crazy thinking about getting the ‘right’ monitors, nice preamps, the perfect cables (ugh!)… But if your room is horrible, none of that matters. I have sunk a fair bit of time into acoustic treatment, and it has made a world of difference.

Foam

Also: time. So that’s it. Time and space – that’s all I want. At first…. Then a Mac.

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

Laptop

Mac laptop

Again, my computer. Ill timed software updates, one too few CPU cycles in stacked projects, failing disks… The woes are many, but I wouldn’t have written a bar of music without it.

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

Roland JV-2080

About 20 years after I got my Roland JV-2080, I realized it was capable of faux PWM. If I set a regular sawtooth wave on one osc, and an inverted sawtooth on the other, and modulate pitch slowly and independently, then it happens. I wish I had known that 20 years earlier, but that would probably mean I wouldn’t have bought my SH-1 (with the fab power button) – so it’s all good!


Artist or Band name?

I have mainly been producing under the moniker “Amygdala”. Goa and psychedelic trance in the old (old!) sense of the word.

Lately, I have been making some drops in the already over saturated ocean of synthwave music. I enjoy that very much, and as a child of the 80s, it takes me back to a simpler time – worries forgotten. The moniker for this activity is “Prior Use”.

Genre?

Many kinds of trance music: Goa, psychedelic, melodic, uplifiting, minimal, tech-, progressive.
Besides that, a bit of synthwave, and the odd “psy-bient” piece.

Selfie?

Andreas Brain

Where are you from?

I am from Denmark – just a tad north of Copenhagen, but most of my music has been produced in Århus. You can really tell what a big difference those 170 km makes!

How did you get into music?

My parents and brother. Music was omnipresent at home when I grew up. My parents encouraged me to take up playing violin when I was 6, and I have had some great experiences with that. When music production became reasonably available to the regular consumer with computer interest, I was hooooked! At first, it was just another thing I could do with the computer, but rather quickly it was pretty much all I ever did with it.

What still drives you to make music?

The two biggest drivers are probably the “flows” and “highs”.

Flow when I can be completely engrossed in production, enjoying the situation, and getting something done which I like and feel as an accomplishment. Time flying as I ignore my body’s attempts to drag me to the loo, trough or bed.

Highs when I hit something that (in the moment) is spectacular – a catchy tune, a sweet timbre, or a really dope fill or transition. It can still make me laugh after all these years, and the surge of energy and motivation I get from that is unparalleled.

How do you most often start a new track?

Sometimes I start with a very simple idea like a tune, a chord progression or a synthesizer patch concept. Then Drums. Then bass. That’s the most usual case, although sometimes I skip directly to the drums. Lately, I have been thinking that it’s not the best way to go, as I am finishing fewer and fewer tracks. I often end up with a pretty decent groove, but lacking the centerpiece idea that makes the track stand out. I polish the rhythmic section and transitions, until there is not space left in the spectrum (frequency and/or mental) for anything else.

So, from now on, I am trying to start off a new track with an idea, and then build drums and bass around that. We’ll see how that goes.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When a track has all the arrangement elements (intro, good stuff, breakdown, great stuff, climax, outro – or some other configuration), I bounce it and listen away from the studio. I make a lot of notes I want to change, enhance, remove, whatever. When that list feels complete, I do those changes. Hopefully I am happy with the result, because at that point I am usually fed up with the piece. I am not one for endlessly tweaking everything, and I have a tendency to detail focus early – which means I “decide” that this bit is perfect, and then unconsciously prohibit myself from editing it (too much 🙈).

I know there is some degree of contradiction in the above, but I’ll just hide behind “you can’t argue art”.

Show us your current studio

Andreas Studio
Andreas synths

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I bought a CD from Eat Static sideproject Dendron (Merv Pepler). I think he burned the disc himself and mailed it. Included in the package was a makeshift invoice with the words “always experiment” on it. I think that’s pretty good advice. It’s hard, because as time grows scarce I tend to stick to the beaten path, but even though it feels like it’s safer and more productive that way, I get less enjoyment from it.

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

As mentioned above, I dabble in synthwave. Swing by https://soundcloud.com/prioruse and tell you friends.

[Editor: if you want to check out Andreas psy-trance stuff it’s here: https://ektoplazm.com/profiles/amygdala]


Victor Öberg – Urba Doloro

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

Right now I’m crushing hard on the faders of the Verbos Harmonic Oscillator. But in a longer perspective I’ve got to say the Octave and Waveform switches on the Vermona Perfourmer, the resistance and “click” is true perfection.

Vermona Perfourmer

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

That would be my analog noise machine, aka my cat, Frasse. He  makes all kinds of inspiring noises. But he would benefit a lot from a gain knob.

Frasse Cat

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

My laptop and, if not completely impossible, my trusty eurorack case!

Urba Doloro’s Eurorack

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

The blisko cello kit from felt instruments. I absolutely love it, but I would love it even more if I could have a small(ish) stand alone device with knob per function.

Blisko VSTi

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

I once bought and later sold the Waldorf Streichfett. Then I bought it again, and sold it again. Give me another year and I’ll probably have bought it a third time..

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

My Hammond SK-1. Right now I use it as part time Hammond organ and part time midi keyboard for using the Spitfire felt piano.

Hammond SK-1

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

I would, as last time, get a piano first. Learning the piano and music theory is really the staple of how I approach writing music. I find it very enjoyable to compose on the piano and then arrange it for eurorack, strings and piano.

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

My laptop. I can’t say I enjoy working on the computer when making music, but I can’t see myself managing without a computer at this moment.

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

Not really a trick, but I recently was surprised by how much I love the distortion you can create with Mutable instruments Veils just by pushing it towards the exponential mode. There are like a million sweetspots there when using it with various sound sources!


Artist or Band name?

Urba Doloro

Genre?

Somewhere between electronic minimalism and classical music maybe?

Where are you from?

Sweden, currently living in Västerås. It’s basically in the middle of Sweden, close by Stockholm.

How did you get into music?

I often went to a small record store called Jay’s records to buy a bunch of Bob Dylan albums when I was like 16 or 17 years old. One day the store owner told me he had put away something special for me. It was The Brown Album from The Band. It 100% blew me away and for the first time I understood why people love both playing and listening to music. I spent all summer learning the songs on piano. To this day the track King Harvest is still one of my absolute favorite songs of all time.

The Band

What still drives you to make music?

It’s a combination of doing it for myself because I feel a need to, but also to be able to communicate views on human society that I feel is not the most focused on in music. Urban alienation being the main theme I try to work with.

How do you most often start a new track?

It’s twofold. The creative process is generally started with reading scientific articles/books within my line of work, urban planning, to find topics to composer over. The actual writing of the music is almost always starts at the piano. I tend to start out with a few rules of limitations and then improvise over them for an hour or two. Then I try to find pieces of the improvisation I like and start arranging them.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I really don’t. I’ve had serious problems finishing projects the last few years. However, I’m really trying to find some kind of middle road right now by letting friends listen to my tracks. Based on their reactions (and of course my own judgement) I decide when things are finished.

Show us your current studio

I’m waiting for a new grand piano, which will spice up my “studio”. So for now it’s just my eurorack case, my laptop, and my hammond. I tend to try to move it around a lot in my apartment to stay inspired, here is a summer-version of my studio!

Eurorack and cat

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

I’m going to go with something Todd Barton recently told me when discussing what to buy/not to buy and how to stay creative, he told me to “Follow the sound”.

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

My instagram always loves some support.


[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…
]