Workspace and Environment: I, Parasite

I was born in New York City and have lived there my entire life. Since I moved I’ve been staying in Pennsylvania, but I plan to move back to NY or possibly LA when I can. I have a lot of contacts and friends in LA, so it could be interesting to try that out for a few years, until the big one washes everyone away.
I’ve been in bands since I was about 12 or 13. My father is a musician and there were always instruments around the house that I would mess around with. By the time I hit my teens I had several Casio and Yamaha home keyboards and drum machines, acoustic drum set, acoustic guitar, and a Portastudio 4-track to make noise with. Around 15 I discovered MIDI and got a couple sound modules to mess around with, running EZ Vision on my Macintosh LC. Next came samplers (Roland S-550 and Akai S2800), ROMplers (Roland JV-90 and Korg X5), and my first “real” synth, a Roland Juno-6. In 1998 we did the first I, Parasite album (Turin) using this stuff and recording to a Fostex 4-track cassette. The next release (Horseslayer) we upgraded to ADAT, and added an Access Virus B. I moved over to recording on my first Mac G4 after that and started work on my last album, On This Cold Floor. Having artistic parents, I just kind of fell into music and I haven’t looked back since.
My band is I, Parasite, and I also do additional work under my name, Christopher Jon. You can find everything I, Parasite at our website: The last session work I did was synth programming and noises for the Cradle of Filth album Thornography. I’m doing synth programming on another project now with some metally people that hopefully I can talk about soon.

Favorite Hardware
In synth land that’s easy: my modular. It’s like Legos and synthesizers at the same time. How can I resist? Following closely after that are the Evolver and Juno-6. The Juno is so simple, but I love the sound of it. You can go from weird electric piano to great pads very quickly. The Evolver is aggressive and evil. Sequencing with feedback is an awesome thing. Studio wise I love the Shadow Hills Gama mic preamp. Switchable transformers provide some nice subtle coloration differences.

Favorite Software
The only software synths I really use these days are MetaSynth, M-Tron, and Reaktor. I really like Reaktor for granular type manipulations. I use M-Tron to get my Mellotron fix until the day I can afford a real one. MetaSynth is great for drones and additive ambience. Software manglers I enjoy are Argeïphontes Lyre, Sound Hack, and Pluggo. Pluggo gets me my Max/MSP fix until I can afford the full software package. Some of my favorite plugins and manglers are still only pre-Mac OS X: Turbosynth, Marcohack, Syd, Th0nk, MacPod, GrainWave, BubuScratch… I keep an OS 9 machine around just so I can fly audio in there to FSU. Studio wise I pretty much only use the Universal Audio UAD plugins these days. I’m psyched to try out MOTU’s Volta as well.

Workspace and Environment
I’m very affected by my surroundings. I need the mood of my studio to match the mood of the music I’m trying to create. I really liked the vibe I had set up in my last studio. It felt like a studio, and not a room in my apartment. I need my work environment to take me out of my everyday living. Where I’m staying right now feels like a messy living space, and I’ve found it’s a lot harder to get motivated to create something new. It’s been a bit of a bummer. Ideally, I’d like someplace with a great sounding room to put drums in. That would make me very happy.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining? The last?
I kinda remember my first synth – a red keytar type Yamaha or Casio thing. It was extremely cheesy, but I used it a lot as a kid. The first instrument which I said “this must be mine” was this beat up mutt drum kit my father had at his office in NYC. I found it in his closet and took it home that day. It’s a mix of Ludwig and Gretsch drums and I still have it. The most recent thing I picked up was a Flight of Harmony Plague Bearer module. Ugly sickness in a svelte package.

What is on your current ‘Wish List’?
The fully featured CV controlled hardware granular synthesis module. Oh yes. Also someone needs to come up with an OSC to CV solution, although Volta looks like an excellent substitute.

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
I’m actually working on putting that together now. I moved at the end of the summer 2008 and I haven’t re-set up my studio in the place I’ve been temporarily staying since then. I’d like to put together a mobile rig based around my laptop: Small rack with my Cranesong HEDD and MOTU Ultralite / Microlite (although I’m getting away from MIDI these days), API Lunchbox, and some microphones.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
Yes live we have a fairly conventional rock/metal setup: Drums, bass, guitar, amps, etc. We bring out the modular and Juno-6, a bunch of noise makers, and some electronic drums hooked up to a Roland TD-10. Any backing tracks are run off of a laptop, although they tend to be minimal.

How many studios have you had in your career?
I’ve recorded every I, Parasite album to date in the same apartment in the Bronx. The only thing that has changed is which room it was in. It’ll be weird working on the next album in a different space – check back with me in a year and I’ll let you know what it feels like!

Have you ever heard your music being played publicly?
I’ve heard stuff in clubs before, which is always surreal – “don’t I know this song? oh shit!” Weirder than that was hearing songs from my last album played on MTV reality shows like The Real World or Road Rules. That’s a brain fuck for sure.

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
I’ve done remixes for other bands, including Android Lust, Rosetta, and Schuldt, as well as freelance synth/sound design work like the Cradle of Filth album. I hope to do more synths-for-metal-bands type work, ’cause that’s fun and very different from working on I, Parasite.

I, Parasite album page
Works of Christopher Jon

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