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Workspace and Environment: Mark Spybey

I was born and raised about sixty miles south of where I live. North-east England. Getting here was a roundabout journey. Being here is the best move we made. I’ve moved house maybe 8 times in 20 years.
Since I was a teenager, I was motivated by a desire to be creative and to acknowledge my right to make music, despite not being a musician. I am not a musician. I find myself curiously attracted to making music, despite my limitations. I happen to believe that technical ability can badly affect creativity, unless you are very, very lucky. So I motivate myself by trying to unlearn anything I learn! I loathe going into music shops. Most of the people who work in them feel somewhat inhuman to me. Or rather they make me feel like an alien! I’m involved with Dead Voices on Air, Reformed Faction, Gnome and Spybey, MzMz LaLala, Pata Particles, Download, Beehatch, Propeller etc. Try, I find that terribly helpful nowadays when buying music! I don’t release any of my own music, it’s all through record companies.

Favorite Hardware
Roland Handsonic. It contains all of the drum sounds I want in one convenient gadget. I don’t program drums, I play them. I love my iPhone too. Some amazing apps exist. I use them a lot. I have a Yamaha digital trumpet I am quite fond of too.

Favorite Software
No surprises, I use Protools because it doesn’t bite me and Ableton Live. I think Live can be used creatively. Depends how you load the samples and play them I guess! I Cut things up real small, so I can play with them and it gives me something to do on stage! I like to concentrate. I gave up on sweating years ago.

Workspace and Environment
It’s only over the past 5 years that I have had a ‘studio.” That’s a fancy title for a room I keep my set-up in. I need peace and quiet, a place where I feel comfortable to work but music making is not work for me, it’s an enjoyable activity. Of more importance is where I live. A quiet village. That has had a huge impact on my sense of comfort and of detachment.
I have found most commercial studios to be creatively stagnant spaces. Places to be avoided.

Ideal Workspace
I love Michael Rothers studio in Germany. I visited there once. It’s a medieval building, there are pictures of it on the first Harmonia record. It’s lovely, mainly because of the location. But I think I am happy where I am. I also liked the Subconscious studio location in Downtown Vancouver. Mainly because of the views of the mountains and harbour. Niels who was in the Pink Dots also has a lovely studio in a barn. I spent several happy months there recording once and cooking, and riding my bike on country paths.

First and Last Gear Ever Purchased
First: Tascam Porta One.
Last: Korg Monotron.

Wish List
Don’t have one. To desire is to be unsatisfied with what you have. I see infinite possibility in finite resources.

Mobile Setup
I record on a macbook, so yeah, it’s rather mobile!

Live Setup
Depends on who I am playing with. Macbook, Live, gadgets and gizmo’s. Microphones. FX.

Ever Hear Your Music Played in Public?
Yes. It made me feel odd, as though what I was hearing wasn’t part of me. How could it be? Someone else was playing it! After I have released something, I rarely listen to it. I don’t really feel attached to it. I would like to think that I care more about making new music. If people like it, fine. If not, fine. I care more about music I have made with friends because I feel an obligation to them and usually the process reinforces all of the best elements of what friendship and comradeship is about.

Latest Release with Gnome:
At Willie’s Place

Workspace and Environment: Magnetic Stripper

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.
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…….

Favorite Hardware
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…….

Favorite Software
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


Workspace and Environment: Making the Noise

We still have spots left for the Synth Meet 7 coming this Sunday. It’s sure to be as lively as all of the past events combined! Onto the article:

I found Adam Ribaudo of Making the Noise from Twitter, saying that he just released his first album. I followed a few links, bought his album and knew he used a Monome after hearing it. I wondered what his space looked like and how things fit into it. I asked, he responded. Here’s what he said…

I started making music while I was in high school around 1998. Before that, I was listening to a lot of Underworld and Pet Shop Boys and had been exposed to the MOD scene which made making electronic music seem very accessible. With the spread of pirated software, I was at some point introduced to ACID and Rebirth and also Jeskola Buzz. I now gladly pay for the tools I use. Ableton should turn around and thank a pirate…
It wasn’t until very recently that I started performing out with a set that was heavily inspired by a Daedelus set I saw in NYC in 2009. I wanted to take what he was doing, creating a seamless danceable experience, but use only originally produced material. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I’m tuning as I go from show to show gauging the crowd’s response to each section.

My initial motivation was just exploring the soundscape that software could make and no other instrument could. I can still remember hearing lowpass filter sweeps and knowing them only as “that effect that makes everything sound like wwwaaaaa”. That and delay and reverb and synthesis just totally transported me to other places and I wanted to figure out how it was done and where else it could take me.
At this point you could say base novelty has worn off now that synthesized music is ever-present in our daily lives but a number of other things keep me motivated. One is watching the electronic music scene evolve. I love when artists bring something new to the table and that’s something I strive to do. I think we all benefit when people take chances and put something honest out there. Another is watching the electronic music tools evolve. We’re in something of a golden age of software creativity tools. Lastly, the opportunity to perform live has been a bigger and bigger motivation as I’ve come into my own skin on stage after a handful of performances. It’s a big and frightening leap for a bedroom producer but it’s paid off.

Favorite Hardware
The monome by far. Besides its sleek minimal design, the draw is that instead of telling you how it should be programmed, it asks you. Out of the box, the monome comes with no pre-programmed instructions, it’s up to you the user (as opposed to the manufacturer), to provide it with instructions. Those instructions can be written in any language that supports the OSC protocol, but you can always look to the rich community of user-created apps if you’re looking for inspiration or functionality that’s already been created.

Favorite Software
At the core of my live set is a piece of software that I wrote for the monomer called 7up. It essentially splits the monomer into pages of functions. One page can give you a step sequencer while another triggers loops, and another sends MIDI ctrl values or notes. All of these actions are recordable and can be running in parallel which makes a great interface for controlling complex arrangements live and without the need to touch the laptop. One great advantage of relying heavily on your own software is that all your bug reports go to the front of the queue.

Workspace and Environment
I live in a small one-bedroom apartment in Cambridge and having your studio 3 feet from your bed is all a producer can ask for. It helps that my setup is super minimal – consisting only of my laptop, monome, and sometimes the Oxygen8 if I’m working on melodies. In theory, it shouldn’t matter where I’m cranking out material but I’ve always found it easiest to work at odd hours during the night while at home as opposed to being out on the road.
I can’t say I’m self-conscious about my finished product but I do get unnerved if anyone is around while I’m arranging. I don’t think most people realize how monotonous producing can be. I’ve sat for hours tweaking the most insignificant parameters of the same 4 bar loop, but it never seems strange to me unless someone else is around.

Ideal Location
I sometimes fantasize about an elaborate studio setup in a remote location with no neighbors and top quality gear, but in the end I don’t think I could work like that all the time. I like that music weaves itself in and out of my life and that I can go weeks without making music, bottle up that creative energy, and unleash it when appropriate. If I locked myself in a cabin with the mission of making my best work now that I have the “perfect” setup, I’d not make anything worthwhile and go nuts to boot.

What is the name you work under and where can we find your work?
Making the Noise
Making the Noise – you can do anything. except for some things Album

Workspace and Environment: Henrik Nordvargr Björkk

I’ve been involved with music since the late eighties… I guess we were a bunch of smalltown boys with nothing better to do than drink beer, listen to music and hunt girls. Then some strange bands showed up – TG, Cabaret Voltaire, SPK to name a few. Everything changed after that.I am a man of many faces and projects… most known is probably MZ. 412. But I am mostly active as Nordvargr (my name BTW), Folkstorm and Toroidh. I have released some 100+ releases over the years on countless labels. I´d call Cold Spring, OEC and Neuropa my main lovers, but I occasionally go to bed with other labels.

There are many things I love to play, Bugbrand Weevils, MoogerFoogers, Audible Disease stuff etc… but there is one brand I really love – Crowphonics. The CR0-1 is so fun to play, it sounds awesome and it is very unpredictable (in a good way). Ibought three instantly, and now I am waiting for the new model to arrive…

Soundforge. Easy, sounds great and is very versatile.

Workspace and Environment
I work away from home a lot, so I prefer to make sure I can travel with my stuff. Almost everything I own has a case or bag so I can move it around. When it comes to where I work, it is irrelevant. I have tried recording in the basement at home to get an extra “dark vibe” etc, but really… it does not matter to me. When I record I am so focused on what I do that it really doesnt matter. But of course it would be cool to record at some wierd place sometime. Catacombs maybe?

First Piece of Equipment
A grey SH-101 back in ´86…

The Most Recent Equipment
I bought a few Moogerfoogers today!

Wish List
All Moogerfoogers, some Folktek stuff, a modular system… and the “unreachable” Buchla…

Live Performances
I dont play live that often, but last time I grabbed a laptop, a few pedals and a guitar…

Are You Involved With Sound Design or Composing for Film?
Not at the moment, but I have made music for theater and a few short movies. I´d really like to do more, but it is not something I come by often.

Nordvargr Virb
Resignation Virb

Workspace and Environment: Sasu Ripatti

Stuck in Sacramento for another four days before we drive up to Seattle to start the Necrophagy Tour. I was supposed to move here earlier this year and glad that didn’t work out. If there is something worthwhile to do or see, let me know. Though I must say watching Tony of Eustachian spend 20 bucks on candy in Old Sacramento and scarfing down a funnel cake was entertaining enough. But I digress, onto Sasu Ripatti of Vladislav Delay and Luomo.

I was born north of Finland. I ended up close to where I was born after years spent in Helsinki and Berlin. I’ve been making music since I was 5 years old, for 28 years then. I began with drums and percussion. I’ve been involved in electronic / studio stuff for 10+ years.

What is your motivation?
Interest and passion for music.

What Are Your Current Favorite Pieces of Hardware?
All kinds of drums and percussion instruments, cymbals. If it’s about electronics, I’d have to say I’m not too excited by anything at a moment. Something like Manley Slam is always a desert-island choice. And a good microphone. I tend to get bored with equipment easily and actually don’t have as much passion for the gear as I used to have. Slam is just super functional and beautifully built piece of equipment that allows you to do all the rest, like being a great mic pre-amp, amazing ad/da convertor, great limiter, etc etc. So it allows you to capture and process any stuff really well, be it software, hardware synth, microphone etc. I don’t have really any favorite synths or sound sources. Maybe Jomox Sunsyn is something I quite like. Or some Eventide stuff.

What About Software?
I use Logic Pro, happy with it. I don’t use too much plug-ins but some UAD ones are good, as well as URS API eq. Sometimes for demoing I use Arturia or other virtual synths but am not too crazy about them. Some Native Instruments synths are also good for what they do.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?

What Is Your Ideal Workspace?
I think I have found my ultimate location. It’s an island with lots of wildlife and not many people. Airport is relatively near-by, and a fast satellite internet. the control room was built around the dimensions that allow for great acoustics and the sound in the room is phenomenal. It’s just being finished. I’m not happy yet with the feel and the looks of the room, that will need to be improved with time, when budget allows. There’s a machine room where all the computers and hard drives etc are, so the control room is super quiet. I also record in the control room, be it drums or vocals.

What Was The First And Last Piece of Gear You Obtained?
First was Roland mc-303 groove box…
Last was a Russian drum machine named Formanta

Whats On Your Wish List?
Lots of gear that I can’t afford. GML eq, API eqs, small SSl mixer, more Benchmark DAC convertors, Buchla synth etc, etc. I try not to think too much about all that stuff I will never get.

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
Yes. Only a laptop and interface, small nanokey keyboard. And all the software I have in the studio as well. I can take it all with me via iLoks if I need to. I don’t use portable set-ups for anything serious though, some sketching sometimes.

Do you have a different setup for live performances?
Again, a laptop, running Ableton Live. Faderfox MIDI controllers, several nano kaospads, several old FX pedals.

How many different studios have you had?
This is my 5th studio. They have changed basically each time to a better sounding room. Gear has of course changed as well but that’s irrelevant.

Sasu Ripatti’s Aliases
Vladislav Delay
Moritz von Oswald Trio
Vladislav Delay Quartet

Several Free Releases On Wikipedia

Workspace and Environment: Somatic Responses

John and Paul Healy of Somatic Responses take a moment to answer a few questions.

I was born in Wales, UK in an old mining town (Ammanford) where I have resided most of my life. I travel a lot as part of my job and enjoy coming home as it’s a small town and everyone seems to know everyone which is quite comfortable, even if its just because you know who the real assholes and dangerous people are!
As a point of interest it’s the same place where John Cale of the Velvet Underground grew up (and fingered the priest’s daughter), no real link but there you go. It was around 1994, we were heavily into club music around at that time (R&S RECORDS, ACID PCP, LEO ANIBALDI, LORY D, APHEX TWIN AND INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH) J was DJing alot and we just wanted to create or own take on the elements of music we liked, we also wanted to push music in a harder noisier direction.

Favorite Hardware
P: At the moment the hardware I use is an Mac, Korg nanokontrol and midi keyboard. I like these because studio space is limited these days due to family life and I can still do everything I want, and more!
J: As with Paul, I’ve miminalised the studio set up down to the basics – PC, Korg Nanokontrol, Evolution Midi Keyboard, Alesis 8 channel mixer & a vestax pmc06 pro mixer. All the work now goes on in the PC J

I have recently switched from Cubase to Logic, which I think is a superb DAW. The work flow is fantastically smooth and quick. The sound quality is better, maybe because its better suited to the Mac architecture. As for plugins I’m learning all the built Logic stuff which are remarkably powerful and flexible, they also are like getting a whole load of new plugins which sound fresh and different. Other software includes the usual Native Instruments stuff: Massive, FM8, Absynth, Reaktor, Battery…Arturia ARP2600, and recently I got the Sugar Bytes plugins Effectrix, Artillery 2 etc which are brilliant for mashing up sounds and sequences.
I always get Computer Music on a monthly basis for all the free plugins, TAL stuff is especially good!
We’ve also come across Glitch, a FREE plugin – just check it out (PC Only). We’re big advocates for free plugins, there’s a massive community out there & some weird & very wonderful synths / efx – just look for them!

Workspace and Environment
I don’t think the enviroment particularly does influence my workflow too much other than making me more disciplined as I only have specific times I can write music. Having a prescribed time makes me really strive to knock out what I want as quickly as possible and stops me being too much of a perfectionist. I’m kind of the opinion that once something is done fuck it, leave it alone and move on. I occasionally re-listen to stuff and think I would re-sequence or change the mix but then I realise that creative time precious and leave things as they are in favour of doing something new.

Ideal Workspace
Firstly I love my current location and setup! But, whatever my perfect location would be it would still be with my family directly around me as it feels right and I like the odd interruption in what I am doing. I’m not one for locking myself away as I have a short attention span. I always remember hearing stories (unsure whether true or not) about Vangelis having a studio made of glass so he could absorb his surroundings, I love this idea but I am torn what landscape I would like to view; I suppose my favourites and obvious choices would be:
a) Snow capped French Alps
b) Stormy sea peninsula
c) Overlooking a fantastic city skyline like New York or Chicago.
Can have one of each? :)

First and Last Piece of Gear
First piece was a Yamaha CS15, which is still in my house! Last was probably a Nord modular which I felt I had to get rid of because it was like a hobby in itself and didn’t really help me to be productive, I’d just end up wanking off over mad sounds for hours on end.

Wish List
New(er) Mac Pro/New Macbook Pro and Cinema display, other than that I would stay as I am for a while, less is more sometimes and I think I can do pretty much anything with what I have.

Live Setup
P:Yes, I take a Macbook with me, I have Albeton and Logic on it so I use this for Live PA’s and writing stuff on the go.
J: Acer laptop using Torq – it’s much more hands on, stable & VERY user friendly.

Studio Evolution
Several locations, one trend the gear got smaller each time!

Involvement With Sound Design
Unfortunately not, but this kind of thing would be a dream job for me!

Somatic Responses Myspace

Workspace and Environment: Alessandro Cortini

It’s been a while…

I was born in Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy and moved to the US of A in 1999 to study guitar. All of a sudden it’s 10 years later and I don’t understand what the fuck happened. My dad played an old acoustic from time to time and taught me some chords but it wasn’t until I was 11 that I started taking guitar lessons. Guitar was my main instrument until I started working with a local musician in my hometown, Franco Naddei that I started getting into synthesizers. I still play guitar but electronic instruments became more attractive to me, especially modular ones because of their possibilities and hands on interface.
I have two main outlets: modwheelmood has been my more band related project for a while. I started it before I joined Nine Inch Nails and continue to write, record and release songs. We just recently released an album, Pearls To Pigs, in both digital and physical (Vinyl, CD) format. We have played some shows on the West Coast and East Coast and plan on touring more extensively in the future.
Blindoldfreak is simply whatever comes out of me and my machines, without thinking too much about it.
I believe there is always some sort of statement or musical value in the compositions, but i would say it’s less linked to a song structure, and more related to moods and simple emotions.
I am really attracted to drones and evolving sound textures, and find myself listening to a lot of that kind of music in my spare time, so it’s normal that some of this finds an outlet in my own creative process.

What keeps you motivated?
The need to solve problems.

Favorite Hardware?
Buchla Music Boxes. I haven’t been using anything else for composition in a while. Out of all the modular world I find them being more attractive to me for some reason: either the way they sound, the way they look or the way they are operated…it’s difficult to pinpoint it and kind of useless I believe. To each his own! I have owned several different modulars in my life and still own some other pieces but none of them get as much use as the Buchla.

Software of Choice?
I use the Monome with MLR a lot, especially with Modwheelmood, live. I can’t program in Max MSP to save my life, but MLR is simple enough to allow me to approach the monome as an instrument and forget about the computer side of things.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
The longer you have been music, the harder it is to keep it interesting for yourself…. An ergonomic setup where everything is within reach is key, while it’s also important to have different corners that allow you to switch from one instrument to another (i.e. from “computer mode” to “modular mode” to “drum machine mode” etc..()

What would your ideal workspace look like?
Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, with a lot of cats.

What was the first piece of gear you remember obtaining?
Crumar BitOne!

The last?
Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor

What Is On Your Current Wishlist?
A Buchla time based effect (delay or similar)

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
I try to use new tools to compose while on the road now. In the past, I have tried to bring whole recording rigs with me, guitars, synths, etc. Now, spending more time in the studio, I get the chance to try new things when I am traveling – like with the monome, or Reaktor … I always get something interesting out of them. Recently I have been spending more and more time with Jasuto on the iPhone/Ipod Touch. Truly awesome application for coming up with new ideas. Really inspiring.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
For modwheelmood it’s been really interesting: most of the songs were composed with the aid of modular and analog synthesizers, and when it came time to adapt them for live, I didn’t want to use a computer for playback or sound generation. Whether because I did it for so long with NIN or simply out of laziness, I felt like it would have been great to try and recreate some of the songs in a different way, as a trio, with no computer aid. So a lot of the textures, pads, effects are now coming from my bass rig and Pelle’s guitar rig, while Jepser is triggering samples from his drumkit, live.
So far we think it’s been working really well. I personally have been using a combination of Empress Super delay, EH Micro Pog and Malekko ASSMaster on the bass, in order to create stacks of octaves that allow me to fill up the space missing from the recordings. I feed that signal to a dedicated guitar amp, as opposed to my bass amp, in order to make the mixing job easier.
I also use an EH voicebox, fed by pelle’s guitar on some songs to recreate the vocoded parts. Vocals run through a Line 6 delay pedal, which allows me to tap the specific tempo for each song.
For the songs that were all written on a modular (i.e. Problem Me, Madrid Changes), I switch to a Monome where I control both the click that goes to the drummer and the different parts of the song, while Pelle adds the guitar parts live. It’s a more fun, active way to use and integrate a computer in a live environment, I believe, but it’s still just two songs out of a set.

For blindoldfreak, I usually just bring my 12 panel Buchla 200e cabinet and either 2 x Line 6 delays (for quad speaker setups) or an Eventide H8000FW. The 200e allows me to have a specific setlist saved as presets, leaving me with a basic patch for each composition, where I can change knob settings on the fly and play with the delays in order to build my drones. There is no other instrument that gives you this amount of flexibility in the modular world at the moment, period. On top of it, each show is different form the other, as I tend to build a specific set for a specific concert/tour. It makes it really interesting and satisfying from a compositional point of view too.

How many physical locations have you had your studio?
Several locations…maybe 6 or 7? It was easier in the beginning when I was doing everything with the laptop. It’s funny, because i feel I am going backwards: I remember being stoked by the fact that I could record a whole album with my laptop but now I find myself coming up with more ideas in front of a single synth module rather than using all the programs I have available on my mac… I think I am deeply crippled by not being able of taking advantages of tools as much as others.
I crave limitations:I hope for problems and walls to pop up during my creative process. That’s what keeps me going and gives me a reason to come u
p with something.

Are You Involved With Sound Design Or Composition?
I have done some work with local composers who were looking for a different approach in sound design but I have yet to find somebody who wants me to do a score. I am definitely interested in trying, if the right opportunity arises.

Can you discuss generally 3 benefits and 3 drawbacks of the Buchla system?
Unique interface.
Feature dense modules.

While portable, still not carry on size.
Initial monetary investment.

Which module do you find being used the most?
Voltage control processors are the least used modules in my systems, if I have any (Buchla 255, 257, Plan B M14).
Somehow I get stuff done without having to consult them, most of the time. I am determined to learn to implement them more in my patches in the future!

What About Delays?
All delays fit everywhere, to be honest. I haven’t spent too much time A/Bing different kinds of delays and instruments together. However I do have some favorites: The Empress Super Delay is getting used a lot, both live and in the studio, the Diamond Memory lane is one of the best sounding analog delays I have tried.
Plug in wise, SoundToys Echoboy is the one which gets most use around here, followed by Logic’s stereo and Tape delay: simple but effective.


Workspace and Environment: Abre Ojos

Almost 11 years. I was a bit of a late starter to sound focusing more on the visual art side of things until a friend and I went out to his rehearsal shed (a brick storage unit, tin roof) in the middle of summer and found anything that could make or process sounds. 40+ degree heat in rural Australia and noise making go hand in hand. From that point I figured out that I didn’t have to have 15 years classical musical training behind me to create sounds. I have been kinda stubborn about staying untrained in music theory, instead skilling myself up in music technology. Occasionally I dabble with the idea of learning some music theory but prefer (mostly due to laziness) to stay on the idiot savant side. Motivation is easy, its time that’s the problem…. I’m sure time is speeding up.
I have two main projects- Look To the Skies and Abre Ojos. Look to the Skies is a collaboration with Rob Jones ( where it is a hardware vs software/analogue vs digital improvisation project. Rob and I come together, me hardware, him software, with whatever gear we are working with in our own projects at the time and play and record. We played around with different distro ideas and finally settled on the podcast format and have done over sixty of these 20 min tracks.
My main solo project is Abre Ojos where I am exploring the fusion of sound and vision. It’s the attempt to balance my visual art background and passion for sound. It has been a dilemma to workout how to present the work as each track is created in one take with the sound and visuals recorded at the same time, with the vision reacting to the sound. So it’s important for it to be read first as an AV track although with most tracks I do release an mp3 version. Some reviewers of my tracks in the past have got this around the wrong way taking the music first and then the visuals as a video clip, I guess that is the way it has been for so long for so much music that I’m pushing shit uphill. I don’t think that AV tracks are the way of the future, they may gain strength with portable video capable devices way past the tipping point and with other great artists like Richard Lainhart and Robin Fox blazing trails in the AV area, but stand alone music whether digital or analogue will always be the front runner.

Favorite Hardware
Predictably it has to be my euro rack modular, two years ago I would have said the DSI Evolver, but the modular has eclipsed that. Patching is akin to playing chess, or raking a sand garden, it’s a blank slate with a kazillion options and if you manage to explore every option just swap out a module with another one and suddenly you are back to option 1 with a kazillion to go, oh and it sounds good too. The resurgence of modular synthesis has to be an indicator that humanity is getting better.

Software Favorites
There are so many great manufacturers out there, Camel Audio, Audio Damage, Urs, Native Instruments, its hard to pick but Absynth has been a favourite of mine for a long time; the modulation options in it with its envelopes are astounding.
Because of my history with Absynth, I have just made the brave move into Kore 2 with the Komplete package on its way. It’s only been a couple of weeks and so far Kore feels like my missing piece in software/computer/user interaction. I have found it mostly intuitive with a few quirks to double check in the manual, but even after two weeks I can navigate a performance just from the controller without looking at the laptop. NI are getting better with their marketing but Kore is still one of those things that people go “What is it exactly?” I know that was the case for me, until I started researching and reading some of the articles over at the CDM minisite
Other key software in my set up is Ableton Live, which I’ve been keeping up with since v2. Its flexibility through my different musical dabblings, (IDM glitch, to noise, to drone dark ambient stuff) over the years speaks volumes.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
From early on music making spaces were friends lounge room floors, storage sheds, shearing sheds, wobbly tables in a dorm room, a 1 foot wide desk in a studio flat in London, so I learnt to utilise any space, any time with any available gear. I’m now lucky enough to have a spare room that functions as studio and DIY space.

Ideal location… I’d love to spend some time and develop work at the developing COSM Art Sanctuary, the dynamic from working together in a dedicated space with like minded individuals is invaluable. I also want to return to the wire instrument I built with Alan Lamb in Wagga Wagga NSW and interface the modular with it sometime soon, but again its time….

First Piece of Gear? The Last?
Two pieces almost at the same time- a Roland R5 Human Rhythm Composer and a Casio CZ101. These were bought just after the summer noise sessions and were thrown into the cacophony, I had no idea on how to use them, it was just turn em on, hit a key or pad and when a interesting sound occurred, try to remember what I did, which led to some uncomfortable situations while playing live, those spots where you fumble thru a table full of equipment looking for the device that is shattering all the glass behind the bar.
Last bit of kit was a Flight Of Harmony Choices Joystick, Flight makes such great stuff and is a shining example of the development of the euro format! I’m waiting impatiently for the FOH noise/osc module.
What is on your current ‘wish list’ for new hardware or software?
Some new powered monitors would be about it. After 10 years of buying and trading stuff my music making equipment has just about hit a perfect set up (if there is such a thing). The modular will continue to evolve and grow, I have a desk full of PCB’s to build, but recently there is not a single piece of equipment I’m wishing for, gearlust can be a dangerous production assistant for me.

The mobile setup and live set up are basically the same, consisting of the modular suitcase, Macbook Pro for modular & vocal processing in Live plus Quartz Composer for visuals, some pedals, an X-station for audio interface and midi control duty and an Evolution X-Session for Quartz Composer control. Now it’ll be interesting to see if I can swap out the X-station with the Kore and lighten the load a bit.


Workspace and Environment: Medusa

I spoiled you people when we first started the blog because we’re now definitely dragging our asses on the Workspace and Environment series. I’ve decided to start brand new and not harass artists that have been ‘working’ on their interviews for the past year + or so. And with that banter out of the way, I present James Bauman of Medusa/Racebannon…

I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and moved to Bloomington to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University. During my time in Bloomington I fell in love with the town, convinced the rest of my band to relocate, and we’re still here. We’ve had our ups and downs in Bloomington, and lately I have felt the urge to move on. We have all discussed the possibility of relocating again many times. But, for now I’m happy enough to stay. I started playing the violin when I was 9 or 10 years old. I sort of wanted to play the drums but my mom wouldn’t let me. Then I switched to the guitar around 14 or so. I didn’t really get started making records until about ’97 or ’98 when Racebannon started happening. But, hearing ‘KISS Alive!’ on vinyl when I was 8 is what really did it for me. That was the moment I realized I wanted to make loud, noisy, feedbackin’ guitar riffs. And, I still do. Damn you KISS. Now, I play guitar in Racebannon and Medusa. Both bands are active and release records with worldwide-distributed labels. Racebannon has been putting out records for over a decade. Medusa just released a debut album and is just starting to really go somewhere. You can find both bands in your favorite record store, hopefully, or on the damn interwebs. Just look ‘em up. Do it. I dare you.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
That’s hard to say. But, I do really like my AKG Perception microphones. They sound so good and I find them useful in just about every setting.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
For multi-tracking/mixing I really like to use Cool Edit Pro 2. It’s a really user-friendly program and I’ve never had any real problems with it.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
Well, I really think a clean space makes it easier for me to focus on what I’m doing. Also, being surrounded by instruments helps me to feel inspired. I have several guitars around me, which makes it hard for me to forget about being creative or wanting to play. Really, an ideal location to me is anywhere that I have everything I need right at my fingertips. However, a one-level underground solar-powered soundproof lair with 30-foot-high ceilings close to the beach would be nice.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
I do remember my oldest brother giving me a huge Peavey mixing board with a Peavey P.A. head and Dr. Fong stage monitors when I was in high school. That helped get me started with my first few bands and I have no idea what happened to any of it. I really wish I still had that mixer. I remember it being pretty awesome.

What does your live setup look like?
I’m pretty pleased with my setup these days. I’m using an Emperor 6×12 cab that sounds pretty damn heavy. I usually only play Gibson SGs live. For Racebannon I play an SG with a Dirty Fingers pickup and for Medusa I play an SG with a Duncan Distortion pickup. I don’t really get into effects pedals much and try to keep a pretty stripped-down sound. Occasionally for Racebannon I will use some sort of random pedal for a few songs or a Digitech rack-mount delay. I’ve always been a fan of the Digitech Delay units and am currently on my fifth one. I guess I get a little too rough with them.

Are you involved in any projects outside of your own music?
Well, most of the time I am working on my own projects. However, I have recorded some local hip-hop over the past few years and soon will be recording a new Kentucky Nightmare (Bloomington band on Standard Recording Co.) album, which should be a good time. Right now, though, I’m trying to finish up the new Medusa recording. Everything has been tracked and there is still some mixing left to do. I’m definitely excited to finish it and release it to the world.

Medusa Official
Medusa Myspace

Racebannon Official
Racebannon Myspace

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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