Continuing on our Workspace and Environment series this week, we have Deru. Who originates from the south side of Chicago. Deru was also kind enough to send along one of his tracks, check it out at the end of the article…
How long have you been involved with making music?
I started making music when I was a Freshman in highschool, so about 1994. I didn’t come up with the name Deru till much later, probably around 2000. Though I played trumpet and piano growing up it wasn’t until I got into hiphop and djing that I really started to make music. I started with turntables, then an MPC, then a computer, and so on.
What is your favorite piece of hardware?
I guess I have two favorites right now. One would be my Cwejman MKII analog synth. It sounds fantastic. It’s got really quick envelopes and the oscillators sound dope. It’s semi-modular so it allows for a lot of manipulation. I built a Max patch for it that does step and random sequencing. The combination of the precision from digital sequencing with the analog sound is tight. The other piece of gear that I love is my Avedis E27 eq’s. They’re 500 series so they fit in an API Lunchbox. They’re the kind of eq’s where anything you send threw them sounds better. I’m constantly on the search for gear like this. It’s like magic. You can bypass them and send audio threw and it still sounds better. I want to find a compressor like this.
Hmmmmm. In terms of plugins their are a few Pluggo plugins that I’ve built and use a lot. I also love the DFX stuff. Oh, and Guitarrig for getting drums dirty. Man, I love a lot of plugins. In terms of software, I use Nuendo for sequencing/editing. All the NI stuff. Metasynth, CDP, Max/MSP, Supercollider, FScape, Soundhack… Lots more. I find little tweaks or tricks for each one and then I go to it when I want that sound. I’m a software ho, I use it all.
How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I’ve often thought about this throughout the years. I’ve wondered how much growing up on the South Side of Chicago influenced me early on. My conclusion is that it effected me a lot. This lead me to wonder about my current surroundings, which by comparison is much more mild, much less “city”. I live in a neighborhood of LA called Silverlake, which I absolutely love, but I wonder if my music would be a lot different if I grew up here… Who knows.
Are you involved in anything beyond your music as Deru?
Yes. I am the co-owner of a music and sound production company called ‘The Track Team’ with Jeremy Zuckerman. We do music and sound for TV, films, and commercials. We’ve done loads of commercials and projects. We also do a show on Nickelodeon called “Avatar”. I also just completed a collaboration with composer Joby Talbot and choreographer Wayne McGregor. It was a ballet for the Paris Opera Ballet at the Opera Garnier. It was great, a highly successful collaboration. The piece consisted of a sting quartet, 8 piece choir, and tons of processing and electronics. It’s fairly unique I think, and will be released sometime next year, if all goes as planned.
What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
An MPC-2000. I loved being able to filter sounds and change their pitch. A revelation at the time. I later went to the CalArts Music Technology program to study some of the ideas that were shown to me then.
What is on your wishlist?
I’d like a versatile 2-buss compressor. I’d also like to expand my Cwejman with a eurorack full of Plan B, Livewire, and Doepfer modules. Mostly control and random voltage stuff.
What is your mobile setup?
My live performance is pretty simple, though it changes depending on the type of show I’m doing. For clubs I use my Mac laptop, midi controller, and Live. For my ambient type sets I use Max in addition to live, with various instruments going into it. I’d love to make a custom controller for this, I have all the ideas in place, just not the time.
“Tapah” by Deru (link to MP3)