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Workspace and Environment: Folktek

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 or at Run Riot Records (

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.

Favorite Hardware/Creation
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.

Favorite software
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.

Extra Curricular
I’d love nothing more to work in film, but no.
Ben: I have done some sound work for puppet shows and masked theatre.

First Gear
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.

Mobile Setup
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.

For Performances
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.

Folktek’s creations and music can be found at:

Workspace and Environment: The Depreciation Guild

Some news first before our next post. Justin and I will be in Los Angeles. I’m not exactly sure when Justin will be there, but I will be there form the 16th to the 30th. We have a few things to accomplish. I will be playing a show with Eustachian, Captain Ahab, Richard Devine and The Flashbulb, though I do not know which alias I will be using. Also Richard Devine is going to be at the Access Virus booth during Namm through the 17th-20th, we’re trying to sneak our way in. Also, I plan to finally meet the guys at Analog Haven after spending a good amount of my money and time with their products. I’ll more specifics about the gig and my plans as they come in. So enough with the plans. We have The Depreciation Guild who have a beautiful free album. The link is in the article.

Kurt Feldman of The Depreciation Guild

I started playing guitar when I was 8. I was in my first band at age 10 and I’ve been in too many to count since then. For the stuff that I do now, I guess I started programming NES chiptunes in May of 2003, but The Depreciation Guild didn’t form as a band until August 2005. Born in NYC, lived upstate for a while, moved back to nyc for college. i’ve lived in greenpoint now for a year and a half.
Christoph lived in LA until he went to college in the city. We met at New York University. He moved to greenpoint about 6 months ago. I’ve had the same setup in pretty much every space I’ve lived in. It hasn’t really changed, other than the addition of the famicom and a fancy iMac last year, which we use for recording.

On Hardware
Our current hardware is a (mint condition) Japanese Famicom from 1986 and a more recently manufactured cartridge made by TerraNova Systems that reads memory off of SD cards instead of EPROM. It’s our favorite because it’s actually the only piece of hardware we use (besides guitars and amps).

On Software
We only use one software which is a DOS native program called Nerdtracker II. This is the program that outputs the Nintendo Sound Format code which we load onto our Famicom. It’s essentially a sequencer for Win98 DOS, but you have to type in every note manually on the computer keyboard and there’s no copy and paste function nor is there any way to connect a midi controller. We don’t use any synths to compose our songs. Oh also, when we record, we dump everything into Pro Tools.

Workspace and Environment
The workspace where we rehearse and where I compose the songs is the office in my apartment, so I guess it’s pretty convenient. I might be checking my email and then have this melody idea, so I can just pick up my guitar and record it. And since we both live a few blocks from each other in greenpoint, it’s really easy for us to rehearse and transport gear when necessary.

Extra Curricular
I play drums in The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (the guitarist of that band is also my roommate) and Christoph also plays guitar in Tropic Of Nelson.

Remember Your First Piece of Gear?
It was a cheap nylon string guitar when I was 8.

….Does a digital camera count?

Mobile Setup
I have a really bad laptop. it’s missing a lot of keys, but it can run nerdtracker so I guess that counts as being mobile right? For live performances I use 2 guitar amps, 2 guitars, A Famicom, 2 vocal mics, several effects pedals.

Why is Your Album Free?
We think we’ve made an album that sounds refreshing and progressive in its musical approach, so holistically, we wanted this to carry over to the way we distributed it. We’re not naive to the direction the music industry is headed and the declining role of the record label and physical product (more specifically CDs). We’re a relatively new band with no other goals other than to make great pop music and have as many people possible hear it and love it, and so far we’ve found the “free” model to work surprisingly well.

You can download their first album for free at Also, they have a few songs you can grab for free at

Workspace and Environment:

Hi. We have been quite busy. Justin is putting together a remix CD/digital release for his song The Night That Laid Still and a handful of great artists are involved … then there is me. And since Justin does not know I am posting this information, this will probably be deleted later or at least striked out!!. So enough with the excuses. Now to all four of you that have been waiting for the next artist, we present the amazingly nice guys of Check out their volcano! Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Lino: I’ve been involved in music since the 80’s, as a singer in two bands. My first band set up was new wave style with lots of electronic instruments such us keyboards and drum machines. Then I formed another band in the 90’s crossover style influnced by Ministry’s sound. In the meantime, I have been involved in clubs as DJ, but I stopped that in 2000.

Nicola : I have been DJing since age 14. It was at the start of the 90’s. Then I met Lino and together we decided to start our first project called Quiet Men. Under this name we were involved in a compilation together with Caustic Window and many other artists. It was released by an Italian electronic label called Minus Habens. That is our first appearance on a cd, in ’94.

Lino: Well, over all these years we collected a lot of analogue instruments/equipment. Stuff like the Chroma Polaris, Elka Syntex, Matrix 1000, Korg MS-10, Yamaha CS10, TR 606 etc…. All this gear has a home in our studio and we like them all the same. We continue to enthusiastically work with them as if it was the first day we got them. For example, the Polaris found our studio in the ’95. Another great piece of equipment is the Doepfer MS404, so simple to use and it can be used as a filter too. We also use some instruments built by Nicola. See one in action here!

Nicola: I have a great passion for DIY. Recently, I tried to build a small, low budget synthesizer with 8 oscillators and 2 sequencers. I built it using some kits intended for christmas lights. Each step triggers an oscillator. It has CV pitch and a filter.

Actually, we use two software programs for the sequencing, Live and Logic. Both are necessary for our studio application. We don’t use too many plug-ins because we are still too fascinated by analogue efx. We really love the dirty sound of some of the efx we use. Just to name some: Roland DEP5 , Sony VLZ & an old analogue reverb called Aria.

Physical Space
Our most recent set up is very comfortable. We just finished it in the last few months. The studio lies really close to the volcano Vesuvius and the ruins of the ancient Pompeii. Every time we come up from the studio, which is situated in the basement, the mountain is in front of us . So we guess you can imagine what is the feeling to look at such big and powerfull natural presence.
Nicola: The first location was at Lino’s house. We were there for two or three years, but the studio grew so much that we moved all the stuff into my houe’s basement. we’ve changed the set up there three times in 11 years :D

Extra Curricular
We have had lots of opportunities to work with some underground filmmakers and VJ’s. Most of these works have been entered in short film and visual festivals. Our last collaboration has been for a clip with the American visual artists Jeffers Egan who collaborated in the past on a DVD alongside Jake Mandell.

First Piece of Equipment
Lino. an akai 850 sampler
Nicola roland dj70 sampler

What is on your wishlist?
Too many things! We desire a Doepfer modular system, then we’d like to expand it with other great modules. For example Bananalogue, Cwejman and many others.

Live Setup
Laptop, M-Audio 410, 16 channel mixer, 6 outboards efx, a keyboard midi controller and a Doepfer controller. Also, whenever it’s possible we bring some other sound generators such as an old oscillator or other little toys. releases are out on Hefty Records, Mousikelab: a label they ran a few years ago.
The are also involved in a group called resina.
SY6 Studio

And because they said the word ‘volcano’ in their interview, I asked the guys to send me pictures of their neighborhood and they are kind enough to reply with many options. It was hard choosing only one but I think this one conveys the essence of what they see everyday.

Workspace and Environment: Landau Orchestra

Greetings people. We love the feedback and loving words sent to our e-mail, it truly keeps us going. I try to respond to all of them, so it may take some time but don’t think I have forgotten about you. A quick preview: We’re mentioned in the Sonic State podcast and Justin will have a post about it later today. It’s very exciting that we’re encouraging dialog among audio nerds worldwide about their workspaces! We’ve been linked via many forums, blogs and e-magazines but rarely talked about. So this should be fun.

We both (Grant Wheeler and Matt Young) have been involved with composition since about 15. We both started playing piano and other instruments when we were in grade school. Our major releases thus far have been under Landau with The epic compromise under Merck Records in 2004 and under the Landau Orchestra with ‘Janus Plays Telephone’ under Milan Records in 2007. At the moment we arrange everything from the music, to the business, to much of the booking, and organizing
rehearsals/ live performances.

Favorite Hardware
We just got a Dave Smith Instruments Poly Evolver. A polyphonic analog synthesizer is a tool that we never really had at our
disposal, we mostly had to do complex synthesis with soft synths. We had some rudimentary synths like the MG-1 and a Micromoog, but the PEV is a monster. The rich-sounding oscillators and filters along with really flexible routing make it the best sounding electronic instrument we have.

Favorite Software
Reaktor. We always need to customize a plug-in and reaktor is really easy and gratifying relative to other object-based audio
environments. It’s in a tie with Ultrabeat (logic) which has been a go-to drum machine recently – it has the best of both drum synthesis and sampling with really flexible routing. And of course..Logic fo’ life – xoxo. We love logic!

Workspace and Environment
All of our instruments are pretty much in one room. The possibilities are endless when you have around 11 different types of keyboard instruments ready to plug-in or mic at any given moment. Lets just say we don’t write very minimal music. The upstairs work space is all in one acoustically treated room. It consists of two computers, a 73 Rhodes MkI, a Wurlitzer 200A Elec Piano, a Farfisa Compact Deluxe Organ, a Farfisa Fast five Organ, a Dave Smith Poly Evolver Synth, a Micromoog synth, a MG-1 Moog Synth, Melodica, Glockenspiel, an accordian, a few Casio keyboards, a drum set, tons of percussion instruments, turntables and mixer, tons of microphones, a few preamps (Sytek and Toft), a Gallienkruger stack and a Fendertwin Reverb amp. The downstairs has a Ritmuller baby grand piano, an Allen church organ with a giant leslie speaker and a Hammond M2 organ.

Physically, everything sits on the perimeter of the upstairs room, making all instruments readily accesible from the DAW’s. Our Peluso 2247LE microphone (a U47 emulation) stands plugged at all moments ready to be placed on an acoustic instrument, voice or guitar amp. Sessions often consist of moving from instrument to instrument, moving the microphone to
the next place and just recording. Our set up is pretty much streamlined so that the moment we want a particular timbre for a song, we move the mic and hit records and that’s it – we listen to the result and move on. Horn sessions and important piano recordings are recorded remotely usually at our local university so we can capture the sound in a nice big room/on a really nice piano.

Our workspace is not really a catalyst for our compositions because for us it is rather transparent. We’ve become very comfortable with all the tools available in our studio, so the workspace is just a vehicle to get from point A to point B in a composition. Early on, a composition already speaks pretty clearly as to wear it wants to go and what elements should be included. From there, we just move from instrument to instrument and press record.

Extra Curricular
We have an audio company called Landau Audio Design (www.landau- where we have released music on soundtracks for the likes of the Pan’s Labyrinth Soundtrack (Extended), the 4400 Soundtrack and done commercials and corporate videos for the likes of Amcomm/Verizon and Symantec. We also produce other bands and do remote recordings
from time to time.

First Hardware
Matt got a Roland MC-303 I believe when he was in highschool. I got a Casio keyboard when I was like 7 to learn piano. It was one of the classic Casio tone ones with a great Bossa Nova groove.

Mobile and Live Setup
Laptop, sytek Mpx4aii, toft atc-2 and a Motu Traveler Landau Orchestra preforms as a 7 piece – rhodes, upright bass, drums,
turntables computer, melodica, glockenspiel and a horn trio. The live performance consists of a seven piece band with myself on turntables/keys/computer, Matt on Rhodes/computer, Jacob Cohen on bass, Mike Birnbaum on drums, Dan Hendrix on Trombone, Josh Bruno on trumpet, and John-Philips Sandy on Tenor sax.

Studio Evolution
We originally were in a dormitory in college with bunk beds and all this shit crammed into a miniature room with 2 PC’s that crashed all the time. We wrote most of thepicompromise in that room on those shitty PC’s which nearly swallowed the entire project one time…somebody had to rescue our harddrive. We were very glad to get out. Then we moved into an even smaller room in an attic in our house where we did half of Janus and then moved into a temporary room at my friends studio apt. – like 3 people in one room. Finally we ended in a nice house where you see the pictures we’ve taken. But we’re moving out soon – so much for stability!!

Hamptone Preamp
Clav D6
Orange Tiny-terror Amplifier

Landau Orchestra has lived in Hartford for 6 years but are moving to Brooklyn in April. They can be found here:

Workspace and Environment: Keith Hillebrandt

Keith Hillebrandt is best known for the six years he spent in New Orleans doing programming and sound design work for Nine Inch Nails during the making of ‘The Fragile.’ Though his work stretches much further and includes various remix credits, sound design for Logic 8 and his ‘Useful Noise’ sample library series, as well as his three solo albums. I’ll leave the rest to Keith…

Music Background

I got my Korg MS-10 and Elka Rhapsody String Machine when I was 13. I went through the band thing for a while but the studio is so much more fun for me. As I grew up with the Mac, the possibilities were so much more interesting than the almost preset world of live performance.

Favorite Hardware?
My favorite piece of hardware is still my ARP 2600. I use things like the V-Synth a lot, but the 2600 is just such a special sounding machine. As I’ve moved to using about 90% software synths, the 2600 just continues to blast out great noise!

Favorite Software?

Well I was part of the sound library team for Logic 8, so I’ve been using beta versions for about a year before it’s release. Being a Logic loyalist, I found so many new tools in the new version that sparked a lot of new ideas for my next album.

As for plugins, I really like using Trash for putting sounds in different spaces. It works well with Space Designer and Delay Designer in Logic for relocating sounds in a mix. I had a lot of fun with Ohmacide. Any new type of distortion is inspiring to me. I use Vanguard quite a bit, I love its filters, and it has put some of my hardware synths in the backseat.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your work flow?

It actually affects my vibe more than anything. It’s a small converted bedroom in my flat, so everything is within arms reach and it’s wired for my way of working, so it’s a very fast workspace for me. It’s a dark room if needed, but I also have a large window that opens up if I want to stare out and clear my head.

Extra-curricular projects?
I have just tried to stay focused on making my own music. After working on the Logic 8 Library for 6 months, I felt I needed to forget about everything else other than writing. I did produce the Colombian metal band Koyi K Utho in Bogota, but since then it has been all writing and recording my next album, ‘Guilt Box’.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
Korg MS-10. I still have it!

What is on your current ‘wish list’?

All the PSP Plugins, An Analog Style Sequencer and the Vostok Semi-Modular

Mobile Setup?
My travel rig consists of an Apple iBook, with Logic 8, Live, Reason and all my AU Plugins, Novation X-Station, Apogee Duet.

Current Location?
Born and raised in San Francisco, with 6 years in New Orleans

Keith just released his third album titled Guilt Box on his own digital label ‘Sistema Sequecia.’ He also has plans to release a sound library based off the work on this album.

For more about Keith:

Find Guilt Box at:
iTunes Music Store

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:

Workspace and Environment: Deru

Continuing on our Workspace and Environment series this week, we have Deru. Who originates from the south side of Chicago. Deru was also kind enough to send along one of his tracks, check it out at the end of the article…

How long have you been involved with making music?
I started making music when I was a Freshman in highschool, so about 1994. I didn’t come up with the name Deru till much later, probably around 2000. Though I played trumpet and piano growing up it wasn’t until I got into hiphop and djing that I really started to make music. I started with turntables, then an MPC, then a computer, and so on.

What is your favorite piece of hardware?
I guess I have two favorites right now. One would be my Cwejman MKII analog synth. It sounds fantastic. It’s got really quick envelopes and the oscillators sound dope. It’s semi-modular so it allows for a lot of manipulation. I built a Max patch for it that does step and random sequencing. The combination of the precision from digital sequencing with the analog sound is tight. The other piece of gear that I love is my Avedis E27 eq’s. They’re 500 series so they fit in an API Lunchbox. They’re the kind of eq’s where anything you send threw them sounds better. I’m constantly on the search for gear like this. It’s like magic. You can bypass them and send audio threw and it still sounds better. I want to find a compressor like this.

Favorite Software?
Hmmmmm. In terms of plugins their are a few Pluggo plugins that I’ve built and use a lot. I also love the DFX stuff. Oh, and Guitarrig for getting drums dirty. Man, I love a lot of plugins. In terms of software, I use Nuendo for sequencing/editing. All the NI stuff. Metasynth, CDP, Max/MSP, Supercollider, FScape, Soundhack… Lots more. I find little tweaks or tricks for each one and then I go to it when I want that sound. I’m a software ho, I use it all.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I’ve often thought about this throughout the years. I’ve wondered how much growing up on the South Side of Chicago influenced me early on. My conclusion is that it effected me a lot. This lead me to wonder about my current surroundings, which by comparison is much more mild, much less “city”. I live in a neighborhood of LA called Silverlake, which I absolutely love, but I wonder if my music would be a lot different if I grew up here… Who knows.

Are you involved in anything beyond your music as Deru?
Yes. I am the co-owner of a music and sound production company called ‘The Track Team’ with Jeremy Zuckerman. We do music and sound for TV, films, and commercials. We’ve done loads of commercials and projects. We also do a show on Nickelodeon called “Avatar”. I also just completed a collaboration with composer Joby Talbot and choreographer Wayne McGregor. It was a ballet for the Paris Opera Ballet at the Opera Garnier. It was great, a highly successful collaboration. The piece consisted of a sting quartet, 8 piece choir, and tons of processing and electronics. It’s fairly unique I think, and will be released sometime next year, if all goes as planned.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
An MPC-2000. I loved being able to filter sounds and change their pitch. A revelation at the time. I later went to the CalArts Music Technology program to study some of the ideas that were shown to me then.

What is on your wishlist?
I’d like a versatile 2-buss compressor. I’d also like to expand my Cwejman with a eurorack full of Plan B, Livewire, and Doepfer modules. Mostly control and random voltage stuff.

What is your mobile setup?
My live performance is pretty simple, though it changes depending on the type of show I’m doing. For clubs I use my Mac laptop, midi controller, and Live. For my ambient type sets I use Max in addition to live, with various instruments going into it. I’d love to make a custom controller for this, I have all the ideas in place, just not the time.

“Tapah” by Deru (link to MP3)

Deru can be found:

Workspace and Environment: James Cigler

I’ve managed to sneak away from humans around me to post a new artist. We’ve gotten many more artists interested in this blog who are excited to share their workspace as we are to have them! I went to Baltimore last night to a concert and ended up talking to a couple of the bands and got them interested. It’s really nice to talk about this face to face with artists because it puts faces and personalities to their names. To me, this series is all about personality and its quite difficult to interpret them through e-mails. Also, it’s been just about a month and I’d like to steal some space to say thanks to all 18 thousand people who came by our site. We are obviously overwhelmed by all the support we’ve received by both artists and readers alike. We even managed to make enough money to eat once a month by you accidently clicking on the advertisements. Have a great weekend and enjoy James’s workspace!

After being sick last weekend and busy all week (and saturday with a mastering project) I finally got around to making a video tour for my upcoming Workspace and Environment interview on Trash_Audio. It was Surachai’s idea to make a video and it came out better than I expected. Rather than narrate this one, I thought I’d give you all a break from my voice and instead write a quick piece as the sound track. And, it made sense to use the stuff being shown in the video”. – via James Cigler

How long have you been involved with making music?
Maybe since I was 8 years old, when I got my first tape recorder and microphone and started making my own radio shows. But I didn’t pick up an instrument (the guitar) until I was 15…so 11 years as a “musician”.

What is your favorite piece of hardware?
My Livewire/Plan B/Doepfer modular is probably the easy answer. The variations on sound and pure flexibility and uniqueness make it my favorite. The hard answer, like if I could only keep one single piece of gear and the rest *had* to go, I would have to say my MachineDrum. The amount of modulation possibilities, tone sources, and the sequencer make it far more useful than just drums. It would be my “desert island” piece of kit.

Favorite software?
I’ll have to say, the UAD-1 plugin suite. I’ve used all the various DAWs and most of the software-based music tools out there and feel confident that I could get what I want done with any one of them, however, I don’t think it would sound as good as I wanted it to without the UAD plugins…they are just too good.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
My physical space is small and very messy and I think the space is more a product of my workflow than the other way around. I used to spend lots of time (and money) trying to find the optimal place to have something, but I found that after all that time spent on organizing (and not on actually having fun with the gear) I still wasn’t happy. So now I just put stuff on the desk, or on the floor, and sometimes it stays there for a while and sometimes it moves and sometimes is does all of that in the span of 30 minutes. I do like to keep a lot of toys, trinkets, and other collectable stuff around for general aesthetics. Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up and frustrated and those things remind me that I should just be having fun.

What are you currently involved in?
I do a bit of mixing and mastering on the side, I’ve done some production work on friend’s projects, but that’s been it lately. I’ve done some stuff for film shorts back in college, when I was around film students, but that’s since died out. If anyone is interested, I’m available ;) For the most part, I’m just enjoying making weird sounds.

Do you remember your first piece of gear?
I distinctly remember my first tape recording and microphone. It’s hard to draw the line after that. I know, after I started playing guitar, the first piece of hardware that I was completely infatuated with and that was the Boss DD-3 digital delay. That’s probably where my weird sounds fetish really started: playing the guitar into that with the feedback all the way up and tweaking the delay time. Delays are still my favorite effect, with any sound.

What is on your wishlist?
I’ve been dying for the Livewire AFG, the waveform phase modulation..ah I can’t wait. I’m also really looking forward to The Harvestman Tyme Sefari. I actually very recently posted a wish list on my weblog. It’s all modular stuff. Beyond modular gear, I’m looking forward to picking up a Universal Audio 2-LA-2 whenever the budget allows.

Do you have a mobile setup?
90% of all my gear is fairly portable, so packing it up and taking it somewhere isn’t too difficult. I guess the most portable and powerful piece would be my MacbookPro. I pretty much have it with me at all times, work, home, studio, vacation. If I went on a trip and had to take something along to perform with, it would probably be that; or the MachineDrum .I could break down almost any of my stuff and take it with me to perform. I am working on consolidating a modular performance system though; a collection of modules that will fit in one of my Doepfer suitcases. I haven’t decided on all the modules yet, but it will most assuredly be a mostly Livewire+Plan B affair. I’m also making a special controller for this system. I’m getting a bit tired of using a regular keyboard and want something with a less quantized range, so I bought a pair of joysticks and started brainstorming on making something similar to the Wiard Joystick + JAG controller…although a little less JAG and a little more trigger buttons. :)

How many locations have you had your studio?
Lets see…bedroom, basement, garage, storage room off of garage, bedroom (different house), bedroom/office (current)…6. I guess the only real difference is more expensive stuff! Haha. The studio in the storage room off the garage was probably the biggest. It was before I started using a computer to record so I had a few racks of [cheap] outboard gear, [cheap] mics, and a Tascam 388. That thing was beautiful. After that thing, I had two ADATS (crap) and it wasn’t until it started to be come more work to keep everything working than actually making music that I actually used a computer to record music. Now all the space is taken up by synthesizers and noise boxes. As it should be! :D

James Cigler was born in Cleveland, OH, relocated to Houston, TX, then to San Jose, CA. He’s currently in the Bay Area and doesn’t plan on moving.

His webpage can be found here:

Workspace and Environment: Atom™

Monday! If anyone went to the Analog Live performance in Los Angeles this past friday, we would love to know what you thought of it. There are a few pictures that can be found: here. Richard Devine has agreed to answer a few questions about Analog Live and it will be posted once everything is in order. Also I have to get in touch with Peter Grenader, who threw the event because somehow I managed to destroy my Plan B Model 15 revision 2 upon arrival along with my Doepfer A-190 MCVS. I am simply that talented.
In case you don’t see too much action here this week on trash_audio it is because I’ll be in D.C. pretending to be human around my family. My hours of practicing smiling and walking in the sunlight will be put to the test. Also, don’t forget to write us e-mails about what you think of the blog. So here is Atom™!

Since around 1982. I started playing drums in our basement first (just drumming by myself). In 1985 or so I sold the drumkit and got a cheap drum machine. From there on I purchased more machines, mostly analog gear which was cheap because it was out of fashion in the mid ’80s. I released my first record in 1991.

What is your current favorite Hardware:
It’s still my MPC3000, even though I am not using it much these days. Every now and then I take it out of the closet and play around with it. Every time i am surprised about how good of an instrument it actually is. It’s reliable, playful, simple and sounds good. Oh…and it’s tight too.
What is your current favorite software?
I am only using one piece of software, which is Protools (currently still on LE 6.4). It’s my favourite because of the same reasons I like the MPC3000: reliable, (fun?), simple and sounds good. I have restricted myself since the beginning of my musical activities to very simple work environments. I have kicked out equipment rather than bought new one. Some years ago I got stuck with Protools and since then have not used any other software except for some very specific plugins.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
Some years ago I decided to pay more attention to specific aspects of my workspace such as furniture, curtains, and so on. “Decoration instead of gear” became the motto. All my workspaces had to have big windows and if possible a nice view (even though I tend to close the curtains in summer during daytime). I don’t like “studio” atmosphere. I don’t like cables, gear and the entire tech-look. Environments that make me feel well and relaxed are usually of a different type. I like old furniture, warm colours, ornaments and in general everything that does not look contemporary. The contemporary look usually is contaminated with bad taste and pretentious design. Further, the decoration itself helps to absorb reflections and creates a dryer sound. I can say that the decoration itself, that is, obtaining/installing as well as creating amongst it, gives me more satisfaction than obtaining/installing equipment. I can see why “studios” have to look “tech”, that is because the studio owner needs to impress the entirely clueless cast of customers. There is no reason whatever to follow that look, just because it is somewhat implied in the equipment itself. In general I’m very sensible when it comes to “making music”. I find it hard to focus in other studios that don’t fit my aesthetics and sound. I think that my workspace is a perfect combination of the technical-, creative- and aethetic aspects of my work and it has become what it is through a long development of those three components.

Extra-curricular projects
Besides my releases on “rather interesting” and other labels and as Señor Coconut, I am doing quite a bit of remixes and production jobs. Just recently I have co-composed and produced a song together with Masaki Sakamoto for the new “Space Invader” game on Sony’s portable Playstation for example.

Do you remember your first piece of equipment?
A Korg DDM 110 drum machine (a very bad drum machine by the way!).

What is on your wish list?
None. yet, I am thinking about buying another painting for the “studio”.

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
First of all, I don’t call it “studio” but “musikzimmer” (music room). It only contains a G4 Powerbook (12inch), a Digi 002 interface, Meyer sound nearfield speakers, a Microkorg and a Soundfield stereo microphone. The setup itself is portable, yet, to make it easier I just take an M-Box Pro with me and a pair of headphones if I need to work/record abroad.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
There are different setups for different projects/performances. For Señor Coconut, I just use a recently purchased Macbook, running Ableton Live, (though it’s a piece of software I don’t really like). I use it mainly as a file player, since with Señor Coconut I am playing together with an 8 man orchestra. A “solo” performance setup (as “Atom™”) is under construction. It may contain the MPC 3000 again and maybe the Tenori-on.

How many locations have you had your studio setup and how have they changed?
I had a studio back in Frankfurt which in the beginning (1985-1994) was mainly old analogue gear and very much in process of “growing” (purchasing more equipment). Around 1994/95, I decided to get rid of all the analog equipment and minimalized down to a setup of just an MPC3000, an Akai S32000 and an Akai DR8 harddisk recorder. In 1997, I moved to Chile and brought the gear with me. I replaced above mentioned equipment by the mini-setup I’m using now during the last 10 years. Here in Chile, I had three physical locations (including the current one) all of them pretty similar: windows, daylight and a nice view. In general my “studio” philosophy has changed in the sense that my interest in gear itself has totally vanished during the last 20 years. Actually I find it more important to focus on the process of creation/composition itself using a reduced selection of machines. From 2001 onwards my motto became: “invest in decoration, not in equipment!”, that’s basically what I did. New hard- or software is just a topic when the current setup breaks down. I prefer to buy a magazine about interior design and decoration rather than the keyboard magazine.

Atom™ has dozens of pseudonyms. He indicates that Atom Heart may be better known and one of his favorites being “señor coconut”. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany and moved to Chile in 1997.

You can find Atom™ at the following links:

Workspace and Environment: Sgure

I didn’t write the two sentence intro and I have a feeling Sgure didn’t either. We both don’t have the capacity to write like this. And while the intro serves it’s purpose by trying to describe his music, I was given a link and added it to the bottom of the article. Enjoy! Have a crazy weekend and if you’re in Los Angeles on friday, visit Redcat and say ‘Hey’ to Richard and Alessandro.

Sgure Bio: A vast array of vulgar pieces, glimpses into the foul and uncomfortable, intermingling with voice, speech, deafening silence and vomit create this pure utter musical torment. There is no code, no real rhyme or reason for the epic temper tantrum known as Sgure. In fact I never really started to work on music. I can only say I tried to play some Nirvana or even Red Hot Chili Peppers songs on guitar in my teenage years, then I started to understand I was not destinated to be a virtuose with any type instruments, I became more familiar with writing ideas and experimenting with stuff that was able to produce sound. Taking advice from some friends, I put money into Apple’s laptop and began to really save my work as files ;)

Regarding Hardware
I don’t have favor anything particularly, I had a real interest in patching stuff and using the nord micro modular, I did love pretending to be Jean Michel Jarre using the Kaoss pad too. The turntables are something super cool too! Spending lot of time with my friend Andy Bolus and then I dig all types of circuit bending stuff and start to do my own machine too DIY mic, weird gamepad and other inventions.

Regarding Software
Ableton Live, all the Natives gang, Peak. Everything is interesting and useful but regarding the circuit bending stuff that I love
and that “Do it yourself” thing that is a part of me, my favorite soft is max/msp, I like to patch for hours and hours, be a geek and lose friends. With max/msp you start from zero and put more interest in basic things. As I learned with my friend Alex from Chlorgeschlecht, “simple effects are the best”. max/msp is perfect for going to the / root/root/root/root.

Regarding Workspace and Environment
The more messy, the more comfortable I feel. I don’t particularly write in one place. My favorite is when the TV is on and around.

Additional Projects
Videos, silly drawings and Gazormass.

A band who can perform the riffs I need. I would love to try max 5 too.

Mobile Workstation
My lil setup is a Macbook, MOTU Ultralite or one of the soundcards I made. Also I bring a modified Sixaxis gamepad & mics. My big setup is really boring, it comes with my friends saying ‘”Freeka, you’re shity with your big rack! You wanna look american?” This big rack includes everything in the lil setup plus a Mackie, Kaoss pad, Micro Modular and never less than 5 mics, hehe.

Sgure lives in Bordeaux, France and can be found at:
Sgure Music

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