Workspace and Environment: James Cigler

I’ve managed to sneak away from humans around me to post a new artist. We’ve gotten many more artists interested in this blog who are excited to share their workspace as we are to have them! I went to Baltimore last night to a concert and ended up talking to a couple of the bands and got them interested. It’s really nice to talk about this face to face with artists because it puts faces and personalities to their names. To me, this series is all about personality and its quite difficult to interpret them through e-mails. Also, it’s been just about a month and I’d like to steal some space to say thanks to all 18 thousand people who came by our site. We are obviously overwhelmed by all the support we’ve received by both artists and readers alike. We even managed to make enough money to eat once a month by you accidently clicking on the advertisements. Have a great weekend and enjoy James’s workspace!

After being sick last weekend and busy all week (and saturday with a mastering project) I finally got around to making a video tour for my upcoming Workspace and Environment interview on Trash_Audio. It was Surachai’s idea to make a video and it came out better than I expected. Rather than narrate this one, I thought I’d give you all a break from my voice and instead write a quick piece as the sound track. And, it made sense to use the stuff being shown in the video”. – via James Cigler

How long have you been involved with making music?
Maybe since I was 8 years old, when I got my first tape recorder and microphone and started making my own radio shows. But I didn’t pick up an instrument (the guitar) until I was 15…so 11 years as a “musician”.

What is your favorite piece of hardware?
My Livewire/Plan B/Doepfer modular is probably the easy answer. The variations on sound and pure flexibility and uniqueness make it my favorite. The hard answer, like if I could only keep one single piece of gear and the rest *had* to go, I would have to say my MachineDrum. The amount of modulation possibilities, tone sources, and the sequencer make it far more useful than just drums. It would be my “desert island” piece of kit.

Favorite software?
I’ll have to say, the UAD-1 plugin suite. I’ve used all the various DAWs and most of the software-based music tools out there and feel confident that I could get what I want done with any one of them, however, I don’t think it would sound as good as I wanted it to without the UAD plugins…they are just too good.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
My physical space is small and very messy and I think the space is more a product of my workflow than the other way around. I used to spend lots of time (and money) trying to find the optimal place to have something, but I found that after all that time spent on organizing (and not on actually having fun with the gear) I still wasn’t happy. So now I just put stuff on the desk, or on the floor, and sometimes it stays there for a while and sometimes it moves and sometimes is does all of that in the span of 30 minutes. I do like to keep a lot of toys, trinkets, and other collectable stuff around for general aesthetics. Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up and frustrated and those things remind me that I should just be having fun.

What are you currently involved in?
I do a bit of mixing and mastering on the side, I’ve done some production work on friend’s projects, but that’s been it lately. I’ve done some stuff for film shorts back in college, when I was around film students, but that’s since died out. If anyone is interested, I’m available ;) For the most part, I’m just enjoying making weird sounds.

Do you remember your first piece of gear?
I distinctly remember my first tape recording and microphone. It’s hard to draw the line after that. I know, after I started playing guitar, the first piece of hardware that I was completely infatuated with and that was the Boss DD-3 digital delay. That’s probably where my weird sounds fetish really started: playing the guitar into that with the feedback all the way up and tweaking the delay time. Delays are still my favorite effect, with any sound.

What is on your wishlist?
I’ve been dying for the Livewire AFG, the waveform phase modulation..ah I can’t wait. I’m also really looking forward to The Harvestman Tyme Sefari. I actually very recently posted a wish list on my weblog. It’s all modular stuff. Beyond modular gear, I’m looking forward to picking up a Universal Audio 2-LA-2 whenever the budget allows.

Do you have a mobile setup?
90% of all my gear is fairly portable, so packing it up and taking it somewhere isn’t too difficult. I guess the most portable and powerful piece would be my MacbookPro. I pretty much have it with me at all times, work, home, studio, vacation. If I went on a trip and had to take something along to perform with, it would probably be that; or the MachineDrum .I could break down almost any of my stuff and take it with me to perform. I am working on consolidating a modular performance system though; a collection of modules that will fit in one of my Doepfer suitcases. I haven’t decided on all the modules yet, but it will most assuredly be a mostly Livewire+Plan B affair. I’m also making a special controller for this system. I’m getting a bit tired of using a regular keyboard and want something with a less quantized range, so I bought a pair of joysticks and started brainstorming on making something similar to the Wiard Joystick + JAG controller…although a little less JAG and a little more trigger buttons. :)

How many locations have you had your studio?
Lets see…bedroom, basement, garage, storage room off of garage, bedroom (different house), bedroom/office (current)…6. I guess the only real difference is more expensive stuff! Haha. The studio in the storage room off the garage was probably the biggest. It was before I started using a computer to record so I had a few racks of [cheap] outboard gear, [cheap] mics, and a Tascam 388. That thing was beautiful. After that thing, I had two ADATS (crap) and it wasn’t until it started to be come more work to keep everything working than actually making music that I actually used a computer to record music. Now all the space is taken up by synthesizers and noise boxes. As it should be! :D

James Cigler was born in Cleveland, OH, relocated to Houston, TX, then to San Jose, CA. He’s currently in the Bay Area and doesn’t plan on moving.

His webpage can be found here:

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