Workspace and Environment: Scott Jaeger

Scott Jaeger designs and manufactures small-format synthesizers as The Harvestman. When he’s able, he also composes music under the name Naked Intruder. He also directs the Mile 329 label and mailorder.

Music Background
I had my first experiences when my older brother got a Casio SK-1 and some Synsonics drums for Christmas in 1986. I didn’t begin seriously pursuing composition until late 1996, when the Rebirth alpha was released and I was able to see the possibilities of sequencing with a personal computer.
I was inspired to explore instrument design after I read Ghazala’s “escapist sample shuttle” article in 1998 and adopted my brother’s old SK-1 as a vehicle for modification. I exclusively circuit-bent some SK-1s for the next few years, even incorporating that instrument into some exploratory embedded design exercises as part of a university project. In 2006 I refined my skills in electronics and programming in order to fill some large functional gaps in my modular system – these became the “harvestman” modules. My university education was oriented towards “music technology”, and my efforts there were primarily technical instead of creative.

Favorite Hardware
I enjoy my Eurorack system above all else – it’s highly customized for all of my musical idiosyncrasies. Other than my own modules (which start as designs for my own musical work) I really like modules by Livewire, Cwejman, and Plan B.
On the other hand, the Buchla 259e is easily the most awesome oscillator module I have ever used. Imagine a certain sort of glitchy, digital complex modulation network you’d obtain by pure chance with effects processor feedback loops or some serious modular elbow grease. 259e puts you in that ballpark with one module and a patchcord or two, and you can even save your work!

Favorite Software
I haven’t used DAW-based software synthesizers in years, and lately the computer’s just been treated as a sort of tape recorder with training wheels. For the last few years I’ve really enjoyed Supercollider and Josh Parmenter’s ugens in particular. Very useful for rapid prototyping of new patch/module ideas with high precision. Haven’t thought about csound in a long time thanks to this. As far as software synths go, I remember Absynth 2 and Reason’s distortion processor (as well as the wavetable synth) as good experiences.

Location is the most significant influence on my creative works. I spend a lot of time in Southern Arizona which is particularly influential, although I don’t always have the opportunity to carry a preferred instrument of mine down there. Compositions are usually created with very specific locations in mind. I’m not very picky when it comes to physical space for electronics production, just a space big enough for two work tables, some shelving, and ventilation. Or, “how to turn the second bedroom into a Superfund site”. The same goes for musical instrument setup – just a few tables that keep the instruments within reach and at the proper height. Depending on surroundings the setup can live in a bedroom…

Extra Curricular
The musical work I do is strictly a personal effort. I’ve had much better results in externally communicating through other forms of design (print, embedded electronics) in that I’m able to produce good results much more quickly.

FIrst Gear
My first “real” synthesizer was a Nord Lead 2. Amazing FM…

Some robotic clones (sort of like bill and ted’s bogus journey) to aid in production. A spectrum analyzer for use from the audio band up to 10mhz, good frequency resolution. Other than that, a Livewire Chaos Computer and a Buchla 291e.

b>Mobile/ Live Setup
When I lived in Chicago I joined the improvised music collective “Backgammon”, and played a few shows with them. Initially I practiced with some of my pedal feedback loops, bent Casio SK-1, and military telephone, but after I had been playing with modular gear for a while I constructed a custom performance instrument containing my favorite, most functionally dense Eurorack modules and a special utility panel with attenuators and multiples. The whole thing was built into a weird metal toolcase and called the “nuclear football”. It fit under a plane seat and had pockets for patchcords and everything. I’d play with this and a small guitar amp that was barely loud enough for sonic presence within the 11-person performance.

Scott was born on a toilet on the eastside of Seattle (his own words, I swear). He grew up in Indiana and Michigan, school there and Chicago. He’s about to return to Seattle just in time for the volcano to blow.
You can find him here:
His products here:

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