This particular article came at me from a strange source, the photographer. A mutual friend Scott Pagano, who is an amazing motion designer, e-mailed me with photos saying he visited a ridiculous studio and that I should get in touch with this guy Jim. So I did, and am I glad that I did. He kindly spared a moment from constructing his monstrous DIY system to answer a few of our questions…
I was born in Johnson City, TN. I moved to Knoxville, TN in 1985 to attend The University of Tennessee, lived there for ten years. I moved to San Francisco in 1994 to find work in the Rave Scene as a VJ / 3D Animator.
1968 Johnson City, TN. At 2, would stand at the curb imitating the sounds of heavy machinery.
1973 Johnson City, TN. Built first oscillator.
1982 Johnson City, TN Made first recordings using homemade/ improvised electronix.
1982 Johnson City, TN Began working with Eric Blevins as Absolute Ceiling. http://www.a4suitcase.com
1996 San Francisco, CA First Magnetic Stripper show.
Where do you draw your motivation from?
OCD, OCD, and more OCD.
The concept of “Futuristic” unstuck from the timeline.
I have always loved Classical Electronic Music, and its primary function: to explore and expand its frontiers.
On the flip side, I am an unrepentant fan of the disco and all its myriad forms. Dubstep, IDM Breakcore, Minimal Synth, and Spacey Italo being my current fixations.
I find it very interesting that a rift which occurred in the late 70s/ early 80s is still a great point of contention. Tension is a great motivator: Too experimental for the disco. Too disco for the noise show…….
I fixate on the DIY toys:
Midibox Sid: with a CV out. As much as I like the C64 sounds I like this module even more as a CV source. My current favorite LFO/EG. Found here.
The SN Voice: I have been using the SN chips since the early eighties, Thomas Henry’s design, for this module, is pretty awesome. If you add a filter, its a stand alone synth. Found here.
Midibox Seq 3.4 (I’m building the 4.0): I have never seen a DIY project with so many features. Found here.
WTPA sampler:Todd Bailey is an awesome designer. It brings the Glitch! Found here.
Ada fruit X0XB0X: 303 clone. Found here.
An ever expanding DIY modular with modules designed and/or layed out by:
John Blacet: – Link
Yves Usson (YUSYNTH): – Link
Ken Stone: – Link
Thomas Henry: – Link
Ray Wilson: – Link
Tom Wiltshire: – Link
PAIA: – Link
Marc Bareille: – Link
ACSynth: – Link
Grant Richters: – Link
I have started to design a bit myself. Eagle CAD is crazy awesomeness…….
Currently, I use LIVE for recording and editing. Originally, I was using the software as part of a live playback rig. its role has shifted, for the time being…….
After using many other DAW softwares, I ended up using LIVE because of its efficiency and straight forward design.
I generally use Sound Forge for sample editing, although, I have been using several Freeware sample editors lately.
I like NI plugins, for doing computer based music, being a modular freak, Reactor has always been a fave. I used Reason for years, before that SF Acid.
First and Last Pieces of Gear
First, a RadioShack 30in1 electronics kit. Last, a VOS Frac Filter kit.
Workspace and Environment
The sounds I am most interested in are about electronics and the romance of experimentation which surrounds them:
Sometimes the cables, LEDs, alligator clips, and unenclosed PCBs resemble waterfalls. Streaming off the tables, and flowing across the floor……. The Modular Studio, for me, is a nexus between a functional order and total chaos. I tend to do a lot of work with a device before it even makes it into a box……. Some devices are still on breadboards. As much as I love the Klang Klone 9 studio aesthetic, most of the time there are “brambles”.
What Is Your Ideal Location?
In SF! I am in the process of moving, to another part of town. This question will be contemplated very deeply over the next couple of months. The studio should embody freedom. Good sound proofing should be involved.
Midibox Seq 4.0, MAX 4LIVE, WTPA 2.0