How long have you been involved with making music?
I started playing with music toys somewhere around 92, but didn’t really get serious till I bought my Nord Lead and Ms20 and I would say that had the biggest impact on my musical motivation. Before that I had some Digital Synths but they never really did much for me. From that turning point I was addicted to the analog sound and the intuitive controls. I think Modulars are the most interesting thing for me right now, as it’s the first thing I reach for when getting into the studio. It’s hard for me to get into being expressive through menus and buttons, I need sliders and knobs to really enjoy the process now.
My main project is cyrusrex (sometimes cyrusM.), it will probably be the only main thing I focus on for a while, outside of the occasional collaborations. I’ve been involved with various other projects such as Skinny Puppy and ohGr and a past project called annodalleb. I’ve mostly been working on a new cyrusrex record for a while, very different from the last and spanning many more stylistic moods and sonic territories.
What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
So many favorites… As far as modular synths, the Macbeth M5 and the cwejman S1 and my eurorack with Livewire etc. The 808, MS20, Voyager and Vostok are getting quite a bit of use as well. The reason I love the Macbeth is how large it sounds, it’s got my favorite tone out of all my analogs and is very inspiring to work with. The cwejman is a winner for its precision and envelopes, it’s a very diverse synth as far as sonic possibilities. I’ve also become a huge fan of the Livewire AFGs, I’m definitely going to have to buy all the Livewire stuff now. The 808 is my go to drum machine, I love setting it up with all the outputs going thru crazy pedal chains and just jamming and recording loops with it for hours. The filters on the MS20 never get old and are constantly processing other sounds sources. Voyager is just fun as hell to play, I love the XY pad and its straightforward controls. The Vostok is strange, it’s a bit quirky and I like it for its weird 3rd digital VCO. It’s a fun portable synth, and makes me want to build a road case for the Cwejman as well.
What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
I’m split between multiple platforms at the moment. I use Logic to compose the majority of my ‘music’ and also use ReNoise to program Drums, then it all gets dropped into ProTools HD for Mixing and editing. I honestly haven’t been following plugins too much lately, I do like the SoundToys and NI line of plugins tho. I’ve been using more and more outboard equipment, mostly cause I’m tired of looking at computer screens.
How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
Physical space is hugely important to me, I like everything to be organized and easy to get the results you need quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I have moved things around or tweaked my setup just to get things to feel right. The space has a impact visually too, being a designer as well I can’t stop thinking about aesthetic and vibe.
Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
My ideal location would be a small cozy house far away from civilization. There are too many distractions living in LA, but I’ll probably stay here for a while anyways. Mostly cause I don’t want to move all my gear again and rewire. I’d like to wake up and see trees again, I currently live in downtown LA and life has been fun but all the concrete is starting to get to me.
What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining? The last?
My first gear was a Bass Guitar and a Dr-660 drum machine. The last thing I purchased was a couple new Cwejman Modules and a Cwejman rack to complement the S1 mkII. I also acquired some new FX pedals and some new sync boxes etc.
What is on your current wish list?
My synth wish list would include a Modcan Modular or a Buchla or some custom modular designs. Other than that I think I’ve got most of what I need/want besides a few random Eurorack modules from Livewire and Cwejman, but that will grow over time. I’m also sure I’ll get whatever else Ken MacBeth releases in the future. As far as outboard, I’d like to get an API 5500 EQ to compliment my API 2500 Compressor, perhaps some more Chandler Equipment as well. I’d also like to get a nice large format mixer again when I move, not enough space for it here tho, unless I start converting my living room into a studio.
Whats your mobile studio setup?
My mobile setup is a 17″ Macbook Pro running Logic Pro, ReNoise, SoundToys, NI Komplete and an Apogee Duet. Occasionally I’ll drag my Vostok and Mobius along with me on trips, along with some pedals.
Does your mobile setup differ from your live setup?
My setup for my last tour was the Laptop, Audio Interface, and a bunch of pedals to tweak drums etc live (Frostwave Resonator and Sonic Decimator and a couple others depending on the gigs). We’ve also taken out the Virus and Little Phatty for some shows, but I tend not to take much with me anymore that I cant carry on a flight. We’ve had too much gear damaged traveling by the wonderful TSA to risk it anymore. For my upcoming gig with blindoldfreak I’m actually going to take a bunch of fun gear with me including the MacBeth M5. I’m excited to use a large format modular for a live show!