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]


Christian Colabelli – Metalicious Pedaler

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

I would have to say that it’s the pickup selector on my guitar. I think a five-way super switch is essential to my style. There is so much sonic territory and versatility on tap simply by switching pickup positions. It allows me to become a chameleon and tackle any genre I’m trying to cover. I should add that in conjunction with the tone and volume knobs, the tonal possibilities are endless. I feel this is often glossed over by the vast majority and I can never understand why!

Strandberg Guitars Pickup Selector

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

I’ve been endorsing Strandberg Guitars over the last several years. I love everything about them: the ergonomic design, weight relief, playability and sound. Maybe I would drop a middle pickup in on my seven-string version… I don’t know though… It sounds incredible as is.

Strandberg Guitars

Also, I have to give a shoutout to Pickboy Picks which I’ve endorsed for ten years now! The Pos-A-Grip Jazz 1.5mm in Tortoise Shell is unrivaled in my opinion: http://www.osiamo.com/christianColabelli I have a graveyard of picks that I’ve spent an inordinate amount of money on over the years in search of the perfect plectrum. I feel that tone is in your hands and the right pick is essential. I’ve tried pretty much everything out there and I can honestly say that this particular pick is the one for me. I can’t live without it! 

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

Purple-ish Eventide pedalboard

The above picture displays my board from 2020 NAMM. I built this for Eventide demo purposes, and it magically fit into an overhead bin on the plane! My fusion band, Surreal Measures also played at the Eventide Booth and this setup covered everything I needed sonically. This was one of the last live shows I played before the pandemic hit so I’m looking forward to taking this rig out again soon! 

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

The luxury of working at Eventide is that we have such a wide range of hardware and software available. I truly feel like I’m covered. Not to mention, we have some crossover between the platforms in certain products. I think I’m spoiled! 

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

Hmmm… I used to be a guitar hoarder of sorts (I still am). I sold a Peavy EVH Wolfgang, Gibson Les Paul Standard, Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, PRS Custom 22 Brazilian Limited, Ibanez Prestige S5470SOL and this wild high-end USA parts-telecaster called a Voodoo Special that some guy on ebay used to sell years ago that I probably should have kept! I miss them all. Oh man… I can’t go down this road again… It’s a dark void… 

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

This is a really tough question… Maybe the Yamaha THR10X practice amp/interface purely because of the ease of use (for recording purposes)… not to mention… it sounds great! 

Yamaha THR10X practice amp

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

I don’t know if I would do it differently. My first electric guitar, a Gibson “The Paul II” is still very near and dear to me. I actually used it for the Eventide Blackhole demo content! I have no regrets and I feel this instrument really shaped my playing. 

Gibson “The Paul II”

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

Probably a USB mini cable because it’s essential to link the Eventide dot9 and Rose pedals to Eventide Device Manager – our free editing software… I have five of them now because there was a period where they would just inexplicably disappear into the ether. They are truly the bane of my existence!  

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

This: https://www.talkingbass.net/grolsch-straplock-trick-for-bass/ This is INVALUABLE! And… you kill two birds with one stone… or… something like that! 


Artist or Band name? 

Circuitry – https://circuitry.bandcamp.com/

Sightharvest – https://sightharvest.bandcamp.com/releases

Surreal Measures – https://surrealmeasures.bandcamp.com/


Genre?

Circuitry – Progressive Metalcore

Sightharvest – Instrumental/Progressive Metal/Fusion

Surreal Measures – Fusion

Selfie?

Christian Colabelli


Where are you from? 

New Jersey, USA! 

How did you get into music? 

I was exposed to music and music instruction at an early age. My parents were always playing a variety of genres around the house. They initially signed me up for piano lessons when I was 7 years old… from there I transitioned to viola… then to saxophone (which I ended up playing for 9 years). At age 13, I begged them to get me a guitar and finally they acquiesced and there was no turning back. It was full immersion. To say I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, endlessly practicing is a vast understatement.

What still drives you to make music?

It’s a never-ending quest. Music is a lifelong study: there’s always something to learn and perfect. I’m always trying to incorporate new aspects and nuances of the language. There are so many absurdly gifted and inspiring players. I really enjoy transcribing lines from the masters and then making them my own. I think the driving factor is continuously trying to develop my voice. I want to sound like myself! That’s a simple statement but when you dissect it, you realize the quagmire it becomes. 

How do you most often start a new track?

It really depends on what I’m working on and who I’m working with. I can easily adapt to other musicians’ workflows as I’ve done a lot of studio work. If it’s my own stuff, I will usually just have a loose goal/harmonic concept in mind and have a guitar in my hands and start playing around until something sticks. Once I get an initial motif, I record a short video so I don’t forget (as I’m constantly writing and everything is in flux) and then I dig in to develop it.

How do you know when a track is finished?

Well, there’s a DaVinci quote that has always resonated with me: Art is never finished… only abandoned… That couldn’t ring truer. A track is finished when every avenue and minute detail is exhausted and you finally decide to walk away from it!

Show us your current studio

I leave the production to the pros… Here is a picture of Matt’s studio (he plays with me in Sightharvest and is also a producer/engineer by trade. This is the setup we used for the EP we just recorded:

Sightharvest Studio

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

“Life is full of mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make one in your playing.”

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

Here is a link to my website: https://www.christiancolabelli.com/ which links to everything I’m working on… 

I just finished recording the newest Sightharvest EP which is a melting pot of genres. It’s a heavy instrumental project that was originally going to be video game music. However, during the writing process of the first record, we realized that it was destined to be more. It became the aural equivalent of the premise of a video game meaning: each track is like a video game level, that progresses in intensity. Hopefully we will have a release date soon! 

I also started my own fishing website/brand: https://www.bigfishsynergy.com/ I’m an avid bass fisherman and it’s been fun to immerse myself in finally devoting the time to making these fishing videos that combine fishing education, comedy, music and art. 

Christian also plays the 1-string for super heavy bass!

[Well, hey-deli-hoo dear Reader – Who would you like to see do an 9 Odd Questions interview? Throw some suggestions via comments below…]

Oriol Domingo – El Garatge

[Editor: This is interview nr. 100! Yay!!! And to celebrate, we’re doing a GIVEAWAY! Oriol has kindly donated an El Garatge expression knob to one lucky price winner. Check out how to enter on my Instagram]

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

Moog Sub 37 chicken head knob

My Moog Sub 37 has a very good over all build quality. I like that despite being quite big, the filter knob moves really smooth, but what I like even more, is the pattern type and octave selectors, even the click sound is very pleasing!.

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

Access Virus Indigo 2

I really like my old Access Virus Indigo 2. Sounds really powerful and offers a lot of sonic possibilities, but due to the metal sides it’s insanely heavy and the keybed feels really cheap for me. I already have a bigger midi controller connected to it, but I like to use the built-in keyboards, especially when I’m just creating new sounds.

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

Teenage Engineering OP-1

Most of the time, just the Teenage Engineering OP-1. It’s perfect to practice with limitations. It allows me to create full songs without using any other device and I remember discovering some cool melodies that, with another piece of gear, wouldn’t have happened, because of the way it makes me work. Also, I can use the built-in mic, line in or FM radio too, when I want to use a little more elaborated portable setups.

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

VST Synthogy Ivory Piano

As a piano player, I really like the VST Synthogy Ivory Piano. Most of the time I do my music without a computer, where the OP-1 is current main device to record with.
It would be really cool to just have that piano sound out of the computer, as most of the time I just want to play and it doesn’t make sense starting up a DAW or even a computer simply to play a sound, when I don’t want to do anything else. In fact, they did release a hardware version, but in addition to being really expensive I think they discontinued it.

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

Yamaha RM1X

Since I first discovered grooveboxes and synths, over time I ended up with a fair amount of devices, but sometimes I was more attracted to the aesthetics or possibilities, than what I really lacked in my studio.
Other times maybe I needed what I purchased, but in the end, the device didn’t fit my preferred way to work. I remember buying (and selling again very soon after) a Yamaha RM1X. It had a really powerful sequencer, but it wasn’t satisfying for me to play with. I also had fun with the Roland MC-303 Groovebox and even though I wouldn’t give it much use nowadays I still miss it sometimes.

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

Again, the OP-1 alone has given me a good amount of ideas. The workflow and immediacy to record and loop is something really well designed and that works very well in my case, because it really helps me to have visual feedback on what I’m doing.

TE OP-1

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

Probably a Korg Minilogue XD. It offers a lot of immediacy and very little menu diving, which is great to design sounds fast. In addition, the sonic possibilities and extra oscillators make it a really good synth to start with. It can easily do everything from drum sounds to bass, leads and pads. I miss a little more of polyphony, but adding a little of the internal reverb or delay effects can help with that.

Korg Minilogue XD

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

Despite having some decent synths and quality pedals, I still own, not one, but two Behringer mixers and a Tube Ultra-Q which I have only connected to my Yamaha Reface CP to add some EQ. I have one rack mixer with 8 stereo inputs where I connect all the synths. From that, I connect the main out to the other small mixer. where I add aux effects and additional synths or mics. Both mixers add a considerable amount of noise, especially the small one, depending on levels, but I’m just used to it and I keep using them for now.

Behringer mixers and Tube Ultra-Q

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

Maybe this can’t even be considered a technique, but sometimes I have fun placing piezo microphones between my midi keyboard keys and then amplify and add EQ to the noise while I play. Then I can record piano music with some real noises. I even tried placing the mic on old wood furniture to add some cracking noises while I record, which adds a little more atmosphere in my opinion.

[Editor: That is fantastic lateral thinking technique! I dig it!]

Piezo mic for mechanical noise

Artist or Band name?

I make music as Efímer on YouTube/Spotify. You can find me at youtube.com/efimer where I upload soundpacks and demos of my own devices too.

Genre?

I’d say Ambient/Downtempo, but sometimes I make piano and orchestral music too.

Selfie? 

Oriol Domingo in his studio

Where are you from?

Barcelona, Spain.

How did you get into music?

My grandparent used to take care of another family’s orchard. One day he returned home with one of these little mechanical toy pianos, that the kid of the other family didn’t want. I was 4 years old, but I still can remember what I felt when I played the first notes, I was immediately hooked and I’ve been playing by ear from that age.

The first song I played with that toy piano was MacGyver by the way, haha. When I was 8 my father understood I wasn’t going to stop playing the piano and he bought me a more decent one. From there, I discovered what I really liked was to play by ear and also create my own songs. All the synth stuff and GAS came when I was about 16 when I discovered the Roland MC-303 and Korg Electribes.

What still drives you to make music?

The act of creating something out of nothing, the possibility to create some unique music that could convey feelings to other people makes me happy. Of course it’s complicated to do anything really “new” but even the process of trying to create it can lead to understanding ourselves a little better, by trying to find our own voice. Creating music makes us wonder what do we want.

How do you most often start a new track?

I use two different methods. Sometimes when I’m learning to use a new piece of gear I just want to create some sounds. If during the process a new melody comes to my mind, I try to follow that and see where it goes, and if not, I’ll still have some patches to use another day. The other method I use is just starting with a piano or rhodes sound, which are my favorite, and start improvising while I think about other things.

How do you know when a track is finished?

When even the “worst” part of a track is still acceptable in my opinion. I usually listen to each fragment many times and try to correct the things I still don’t like. Sometimes works well too just listening to it in another moment or another day to realize there are still things to fix. I think it’s good to listen to your own old music too, in order to see if you would make the same decisions again.

Show us your current studio

I don’t have much space so it’s quite fragmented and messy.

Oriol Domingo’s home studio

I love synths with keyboards, so it can be quite uncomfortable sometimes.

The El Garatge home studio keys

Best creative advice that you’ve ever heard?

Embrace limitations. It may seem very common to hear and I think it may not work for everybody. Not just your own creative limitations, but also adding and forcing other kinds of limitations like gear or even time.
Especially when starting new songs, the less options the better for me. It’s easy to get lost in the possibilities when you have a lot of gear, you could be constantly wondering if you chose the right synth or sound to start and which effects add, etc.
If you force yourself to use one synth, sound or even sample, changing is not an option, it’s all you have, so no need to think about that again and you can now start creating.

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

In the last weeks I’ve been developing this piggyback LFO knob with extra features for pedals with expression inputs, which will be finished soon I hope!:

https://elgaratge.com/echo-knob/


[Editor: It’s been a wild ride doing this music gear blog this past year and the blog isn’t even over 1 year old. Over 30,000 unique visitors have stopped by and had a monthly readership of between 1500 to 4000 readers.

… And I’d just like to thank YOU, my fellow music gear junkie…. But also, of course, the 100 artists who contributed and made this past year a little more tolerable.

Do you have any suggestions for the future of this blog? Then leave a comment below.]