I am happy to introduce Folktek who are a bit of a departure from our normal Workspace and Environment articles as they are musicians AND instrument builders. Folktek make (and sell) some really amazing creations which there are many pictures of in the article…
Folktek is Ben Houston and Arius Blaze. We work together but also work independently as sound artists/musicians.
Arius:I’ve been a Dj for 15 years and started producing 11 or 12 years ago. Shortly thereafter I started instrument design and sound art.
Ben: I have never really been much of a musician but have always been into sound and music. I come from a visual arts background and got into instrument building through sculpture. I have been building various sound instruments for about 5 years.
Arius: Ben and I are Folktek and soon to be Folktek Records. I work under
my own name… Also Ariza Blues, Future Dead, Sound Awake and the collaborational work Audient with J. Enero. Most of the projects can be found either on my own web site ariusblaze.com or at Run Riot Records (runriotrecords.com).
Ben: Right now I work mostly doing the Folktek thing but I also do
theatre-based masked puppet work under the name See Monkey Sea.
Arius: “The Garden” (Pictured right). It’s an accoustic-electronic piece I created a couple months ago. The sound is lush and the piece is beautiful. Very nice for soundscapes or glitchy organic sound.
Ben:I’ve been pretty into our filanthopoid series -especially the double bug, each time I sit down and play, it’s an adventure.You sort of get addicted to the sounds off on the horizon and around the corner and it keeps you playing.
Arius: My two kids.
Ben: The Mario Brothers
Workspace and Environment
Folktek: A nicer and more organized space allows us to finish things in a much more efficient manner…The messy space can find us creating works out of the piles and less intentional – they also take much longer to get done…Looking for an exacto blade for a half hour is just frustrating and by the time you find it you’re pissed enough to need a smoke break and a beer…Then it’s over until the next work day.
Arius:I’d love nothing more to work in film, but no.
Ben: I have done some sound work for puppet shows and masked theatre.
Arius: When I was 10 years old I busted the erase head out of my dual tape
cassette recorder and started making mixtapes.
Ben: I used to jam out on this keyboard we had around – one of those with
like 200 sounds, ocean waves and such.
Arius: I’m working on a master modular suitcase thing. It has pitch shifters, delays, samplers, a drum synth, a few tone generators, various other effects, acoustic section and a mixer. Ideally I’ll be able to play shows with only this piece and trade out modules when I want to change things up.
Ben: I guess I just really want a huge amp and bass stack to make bass
based sound installations.
Folktek: We are nomadic workers. We’ll work anywhere. If we don’t have a proper studio we’ll drag tools and parts out in boxes and work outside. It’s ridiculous and setup and cleanup takes a stupid amount of time. We’ve worked in barns, a greenhouse, garages, each of our living rooms, bedrooms, basements, attics, yards and a chicken coupe.
Arius: Depends on the project. My work with Run Riot is all fucked up club shit. I use a Korg ESX sampler and a couple home made effects. The other projects rely on various instruments I make or folktek makes that I have before they sell – so it’s ever changing.
Ben: I haven’t performed much but have done some experimental speaker set ups with bass shakers and the dodecahedron speakers I build for some odd sound spaces.
Amount of Locations
Arius: Maybe 20 minimum. They just get messier. Making instruments on a full time basis requires an insane amount of random parts of all shapes and sizes, cases, tools, wood and shit everywhere. Making any sort of attempt to organize is futile in our somewhat nomadic existence. What we need is a studio that stays put for some years, preferrably a warehouse. I try to keep the music studio setup separate and relatively simple. I’m into using a few things at a time – not having some insane studio with hundreds of random modules.
Ben: I usually work at my home but often use various shops for larger scale cutting and building. Have been collecting tools and compiling materials for a few years now so it gets to be a mess. Often the studio is an extention cord to the backyard and boxes full of tools. I usually work on the floor asian style.