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Workspace and Environment: Cyrusrex


How long have you been involved with making music?
I started playing with music toys somewhere around 92, but didn’t really get serious till I bought my Nord Lead and Ms20 and I would say that had the biggest impact on my musical motivation. Before that I had some Digital Synths but they never really did much for me. From that turning point I was addicted to the analog sound and the intuitive controls. I think Modulars are the most interesting thing for me right now, as it’s the first thing I reach for when getting into the studio. It’s hard for me to get into being expressive through menus and buttons, I need sliders and knobs to really enjoy the process now.
My main project is cyrusrex (sometimes cyrusM.), it will probably be the only main thing I focus on for a while, outside of the occasional collaborations. I’ve been involved with various other projects such as Skinny Puppy and ohGr and a past project called annodalleb. I’ve mostly been working on a new cyrusrex record for a while, very different from the last and spanning many more stylistic moods and sonic territories.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
So many favorites… As far as modular synths, the Macbeth M5 and the cwejman S1 and my eurorack with Livewire etc. The 808, MS20, Voyager and Vostok are getting quite a bit of use as well. The reason I love the Macbeth is how large it sounds, it’s got my favorite tone out of all my analogs and is very inspiring to work with. The cwejman is a winner for its precision and envelopes, it’s a very diverse synth as far as sonic possibilities. I’ve also become a huge fan of the Livewire AFGs, I’m definitely going to have to buy all the Livewire stuff now. The 808 is my go to drum machine, I love setting it up with all the outputs going thru crazy pedal chains and just jamming and recording loops with it for hours. The filters on the MS20 never get old and are constantly processing other sounds sources. Voyager is just fun as hell to play, I love the XY pad and its straightforward controls. The Vostok is strange, it’s a bit quirky and I like it for its weird 3rd digital VCO. It’s a fun portable synth, and makes me want to build a road case for the Cwejman as well.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
I’m split between multiple platforms at the moment. I use Logic to compose the majority of my ‘music’ and also use ReNoise to program Drums, then it all gets dropped into ProTools HD for Mixing and editing. I honestly haven’t been following plugins too much lately, I do like the SoundToys and NI line of plugins tho. I’ve been using more and more outboard equipment, mostly cause I’m tired of looking at computer screens.


How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
Physical space is hugely important to me, I like everything to be organized and easy to get the results you need quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I have moved things around or tweaked my setup just to get things to feel right. The space has a impact visually too, being a designer as well I can’t stop thinking about aesthetic and vibe.

Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
My ideal location would be a small cozy house far away from civilization. There are too many distractions living in LA, but I’ll probably stay here for a while anyways. Mostly cause I don’t want to move all my gear again and rewire. I’d like to wake up and see trees again, I currently live in downtown LA and life has been fun but all the concrete is starting to get to me.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining? The last?
My first gear was a Bass Guitar and a Dr-660 drum machine. The last thing I purchased was a couple new Cwejman Modules and a Cwejman rack to complement the S1 mkII. I also acquired some new FX pedals and some new sync boxes etc.

What is on your current wish list?
My synth wish list would include a Modcan Modular or a Buchla or some custom modular designs. Other than that I think I’ve got most of what I need/want besides a few random Eurorack modules from Livewire and Cwejman, but that will grow over time. I’m also sure I’ll get whatever else Ken MacBeth releases in the future. As far as outboard, I’d like to get an API 5500 EQ to compliment my API 2500 Compressor, perhaps some more Chandler Equipment as well. I’d also like to get a nice large format mixer again when I move, not enough space for it here tho, unless I start converting my living room into a studio.

Whats your mobile studio setup?
My mobile setup is a 17″ Macbook Pro running Logic Pro, ReNoise, SoundToys, NI Komplete and an Apogee Duet. Occasionally I’ll drag my Vostok and Mobius along with me on trips, along with some pedals.

Does your mobile setup differ from your live setup?
My setup for my last tour was the Laptop, Audio Interface, and a bunch of pedals to tweak drums etc live (Frostwave Resonator and Sonic Decimator and a couple others depending on the gigs). We’ve also taken out the Virus and Little Phatty for some shows, but I tend not to take much with me anymore that I cant carry on a flight. We’ve had too much gear damaged traveling by the wonderful TSA to risk it anymore. For my upcoming gig with blindoldfreak I’m actually going to take a bunch of fun gear with me including the MacBeth M5. I’m excited to use a large format modular for a live show!

Check out Cyrusrex at his:

Workspace and Environment: Stretta

After another trip to L.A., I’m still not seeing it’s charm. I’m beginning to think that there is none and the people that have moved there are semi-masochistic, voyeuristic, apathetic or all of the above – particularly the ones around the Hollywood area. Someone did bring up a good point which is that Californians get more out of the year than us Midwesterners. We’re confined to our holes for 3-5 months out of the year while they’re scalawaging out in t-shirts in January. While the idea of having more time outdoors is somewhat enticing and the fact that my L.A. people are some of the most endearing folks, I just think about how I saw Ron Jeremy and Donald Trump at an event I was a part of and that just kills my boner. That place is nuts. Enough with the rant here is Stretta.

I was born in Des Moines, Iowa. I left for Berklee in Boston when I was 18. I moved around a lot since then, but returned to the Boston area to work at MOTU in 1997, and I’ve lived in Cambridge ever since. My Dad was a fairly serious photographer. A side project of his photography habit was composing sophisticated presentations using multiple synchronized slide projectors controlled by a huge dedicated hardware ‘computer’. Some of this multimedia gear was audio, so I had access to some interesting recording equipment growing up. From a documentary standpoint, I have compositions dating back to 1984 because that is when I started saving files from MusicWorks. With computers, everything clicked into place and I haven’t stopped composing since. I’m a compulsive creator. I get irritable and unpleasant if I haven’t made something recently. I love existing in the work-trance state, focused on an idea, and forgetting everything else. If I don’t have time to execute an idea, I describe it as well as I can in words and save it in my ideas file for future use. It bothers me tremendously that I don’t have the time or resources to realize 95% of what I wish to create. So, my output consists almost entirely of very simple and easily-accomplished projects. I like to think that someday, upon retirement, I’ll have the time to dedicate to the realization of serious, large-scale works.
‘Archetribe’ is a world/electronic collective I had. I create compositional outlines and send the tracks to friends around the country to add overdubs. Then I merge the disparate contributions into a cohesive composition, add some more overdubs and mix. There are two Archetribe releases, ‘Waterworks’ and ‘Earthtones’, both available from Amazon and the iTunes music store. ‘Escape Philosophy’ is an alias I use for solo Creative Commons releases, and is freely downloadable. Escape Philosophy releases can be found at, and

On Hardware and Software
There are few reasons for hardware outside of controllers anymore. All new advances in synthesis and sound processing will occur in software. That said, I haven’t found anything in software that can replicate the experience of working with a hardware modular. I enjoy working with my hands and I find using a modular is, well… fun. The modular keeps me honest; software instruments are outstanding, but it gets to a point where I feel like the result is more of a showcase of a talented sound designer than a unique musical statement that I created. Software instruments, in an effort to out-sell the competition, are becoming very rich and layered, providing instant music at the touch of a single key. I feel complex sounds such as this, ‘crowd out’ personal musical expression. A simpler sound, powered by human performance and expression will stand the test of time.
I like software and I see useful and innovative ideas from all corners of the industry. I don’t hold a religious attachment to my chosen platform because if you look past the latest wizz-bang-feature-leap-frog game, you’ll understand that, at its core, every offering is an extraordinarily powerful tool. It wasn’t that long ago I was delighted with a cassette four-track. What we have access to today is staggering.

Workspace and Environment?
I strive for an uncluttered workspace, but the busier I get, the more disorganized it becomes. I try to put seldom-used objects out of sight in an accessible storage area. Ergonomics is an issue I’ve continually struggled with. The move from 19″ rack frames to a monstercase completely transformed how I relate to my modular for the better. The addition of the monsterbase gave me more room for modules, but it also pushed the monstercase further away. I recently brought my monsterbase to work and sat it on a keyboard stand to my left and I immediately noticed an improvement. Later I brought in the monsterbase, and that few inches became quite noticeable again. Isn’t that weird? I’ve tried numerous arrangements over the years. The more gear you try to shoehorn into your work space, the less pleasant the result will be. Thank goodness for software. I still have an absurd collection of various stringed instruments and hand percussion.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
My first keyboard was a Casio MT-40, which I dearly loved. My first MIDI keyboard was a Casio CZ-101. My most recent purchase was a second used Doepfer joystick.

What is on your current wish list?
I’m very interested in the Plan B model 30 triple digital oscillator when it becomes available. In the realm of the reasonable and achievable, that is about the extent of my wish list. In my dreams, I’d also have a Buchla 200e.

How many studio setups have you found yourself in?
Heh. Many.

Visit Stretta’s Blog: Here

Workspace and Environment: Melt Banana

Hello world,
I’m starting to send out signals to artists again and in return have generated a lot of interest. Hopefully when I get back from L.A. and finish with Arlovski I will have some free time to really sit down and get the series going again. In the meantime, I was fortunate enough to play e-mail tag with Agata from Melt Banana! Enjoy your weekend!


Agata of Melt Banana

How long have you been involved with making music/sound?
I was born in Japan. I moved many times in Japan because of my father’s job and also lived in Thailand when I was a kid. I moved to Tokyo because I entered university. I’ve been making music for more than 20 years. I started doing this because I liked making over dubs using 2 cassette recorders when I was a kid.I still make music because I feel that it is not necessarily the case that I must be a super technical guitar player to make music or sound. Now, I play guitar in Melt-Banana.
You can find my work on Melt-Banana records and concerts. Also I did a solo album on Tzadik records called Spike.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
Lightfoot lab’s goat keeper. I got this a few years ago, and I still like it. I also checked boss slicer which is a similar thing, but goat keeper makes me feel more natural when I use it for guitars. Also I can change patterns by myself.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
I currently do not have favorite softwares or plugins. Maybe I had fun iZotope’s Trash plug in a little bit.


How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I haven’t thought about it before. I live in the same place for more than 10 years now. I’ve changed arrangement of furniture in the room many times. And I have less and less stuff in my room. Doing these things makes me feel different even when staying at a same place. At band practice studio, for me, if the room is bigger, it is better. If the room is small and there are many room reverb, it is hard to recognize the real sound from cabinet.

Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
I think the best location to write music is in a train during a peak rush hour with a paper and a pen. Melt-Banana singer Yako wrote many songs with a paper and a pen when she was working for a company and needed to take a train to go to work. Private big studios with our favorite equipment is nice, but I’m not sure if I can write music which I really like.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining? The last?
The first one was a handmade guitar which I made with cardboards and duct tape when I was a kid. I used rubber bands for strings. The last one is Korg Nano Pad.

What is on your current wish list?
Electro Harmonix Hog. Guitar made by Yuri Landman from Holland.

What does your live setup consist of?
It includes gibson SG guitars, pedal boards, sunn beta lead head, mesa boogie head, 2 marshall cabinets.

How has your setup changed over time?
When I was using Adat, there were some outboards, and many cables and also a mixer but I’m not using them now. Now there are only computers and a few amps and effects.


Have you ever heard your music being played at a random/public place?
Only a few times. We went to change oil of the van during the tour, they were playing our music during we were waiting..

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
When I was at school, I recorded sound effects for amusement place where people shoot each other using fake laser guns. But the place went bankrupt before they replaced sounds from old ones to the version I recorded. So after all, they did not use it.
I also wrote demo’s for pop singer, but I don’t know what it was for. These days I’m not doing these kind of things.

Melt Banana Official Website
Melt Banana Myspace


Workspace and Environment: Toecutter

All I have to say is “gabber flute”. This is the infamous Dave Toecutter from down under.

I started in about 1999 after asking Bomb20 through email what programs he uses (I cringe to think of this after how many people have irked me by asking the same!) I started cutting up stuff in SoundForge XP which I got a demo of. What initially motivated me was the give-a-fuck punk of late 20th Century D.H.R. and Culturcide (Texan band from the 80’s). I started in my parent’s house in 1999, then an apartment with the computer by the bed in 2000. In 2002 moved into a massive warehouse venue, sharing with 7 others and the computer by the bed, then in 2005 I moved into a room in an old stable in an industrial district in South Sydney. Now I live in a house further south, but near the train line, with no studio to speak of.

Where can we find your work?
Toecutter, Soulseek is the best spot, I have no website ATM.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
I like the SP404 and Kaos Pad II. They were really cheap second hand.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
MDA Combo is a classic distortion for me, apart from that I am using the simplest audio filter in Abelton at the moment, and that’s about it. I just found a freeware side chain compressor which works in Ableton, which should help me get that Vengaboys sound I crave.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I am not sure as I don’t usually have a chance to reflect as I move often without choice from one studio to another.

Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
Free, not too cold, about the size of a cell, with other people around to sleep and eat with.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining? The last?
First: Boss SP303 Dr. Sample, Last: Boss SP404 Dr. Sample.

What is on your current wish list?
None. But I could use a Gabber Flute – I saw one in France once at Boris Cavage’s house, but only as a gimmick. Also a friend has a circuit-bent toy pistol with a filter/pitch shift attached which sounds awesome – great little noisemaker!

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
It’s the same as my live set-up, AUD$200 PC Laptop running SoundForge 5.0, Abelton 4 and 6, WinAmp and FruityLoops 1.3, SP404 and Kaos Pad II.

Where were you born and how did you end up in the location you currently reside?
I am about 35 km. from my place of birth, but I don’t have time to explain the second half of the question.

Have you ever heard your music being played at a public place?
Yeah, national radio in Australia while I was at work at Kinko’s in 2004.

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
From time to time I do pieces for performance artists or fashion shows. Nothing to brag about.

Explaining the picture above…:
The speakers are Mackie HR824, nice! Borrowed from Core:Tex Labs!
The harddrive on the chessboard is all my files backup from 2004 – which is not much actually!
The RAW harddrive is about to go into my PC which I have at The Barn, which was my studio for about 3 years
The Berringer mixer atop the left speaker is for live shows, when i am not running my gear in a line from laptop – through sp404 to Kaos Pad2. It’s when I need a mic. and I bring along an auxillary sampler – usually the Boss SP303 which you see to the right of the Laptop keyboard
The Monitor is because the monitor on the laptop is fucked, resulting from too much Brown Ale in NCL, UK
There is a small harddrive which is what I tour with – lot’s of samples for my Abelton Live set – a fucker when you forget WHY you take it to the gig – or don’t bring one of the LITTLE usb cables!!! ARGH!!
Midi Keyboard M-Audio Oxygen8 – really handy for noodling out baselines, or whatnot. Yes, I use melody, SOMETIMES!
To the right of the BOSS SP303 is my little sound card SOUNDBLASTER/CreAtive- it also has optical in and out, which is handy for capturing from old minidisk recordings.. aaauurghh… it was handy for 5 minutes…
The Yellow case is all the connecty bits you need for being an audio guy.
It’s mostly RCA to JACK converters. I think I am going to get a tattoo of one of those suckers!
Oh, and the I-Lamp you see on the corner of the desk is what my girl and I do all manner of electronic chores on, NOT making music! (just to put your fears at rest, I DO NOT use MAC!)

Toecutter Myspace

Workspace and Environment: Kamoni

Good morning world. What are you wearing?

I started off playing drums when I was a kid and my musical interests slowly migrated toward production and technology. I heard Frank Zappa’s “Jazz From Hell” when I was in music school and listened to it 5 times a day for months. That was my introduction to electronic music and it completely blew my mind. Now my main motivation is seeing technology progress while devising new ways to realize sound and music production. This is true for both the analog and digital worlds. I get inspired by Ableton Live as much as I do from a modular synth. I do all of my performing under the name Kamoni (, I have releases under Mek! Music and Black Van Records (search “Kamoni” on iTunes). In recent years I’ve been more drawn to improvising live and interacting with music in real time.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
The Doepfer modular and Machinedrum have to be my favorites. With the Doepfer, I don’t feel any restrictions and I can fluidly patch together any type of sound I want. The Machinedrum has very intuitive programming. I can hack out a beat or even melodies on the MD very efficiently. I’ve been using the MD for three years now and it never ceases to inspire me.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
I think Ableton Live has helped pioneer the DAW / instrument boundary that many computer musicians are still trying to overcome. I can’t imagine performing live with any other software. For me, Live is also a great sketchpad and helps facilitate free movement when trying to put a musical idea together. From a sound design perspective this is very important. Zebra is one of my “go to” soft synths. It’s intuitive, flexible and can sound pretty meaty if you program it right.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
My current studio is like a little space capsule. It was designed as an octagon and immediately draws you into a focused electronic music environment. I built it with my bare hands so I have an immediate intimacy with the space. We don’t get a lot of space here in New York City and I could probably have a live room and a control room if I set this up in the suburbs. But that’s not the point, this studio is very unique and it’s DUMBO location is ideal. You can comfortably fit about three people in there, so there’s room for a co-pilot and navigator. However, it doesn’t feel small and I can freely move around, play the DrumKat, dance, etc.

Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
I think it would be a perfectly isolated environment with natural surroundings. I have never had something like this and it’s near impossible in NYC. Maybe inside a 727 in the forests of Maine would be my ideal location.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
When I was in music school I bought a Roland XP-10. That was my first piece of hardware. The last thing I bought was a Behringer calibration mic – not too sexy.

What is on your current wish list?
The GenoQs Octopus is giving me some flirtatious looks. I would also like to start building a Buchla or Modcan modular.

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
Lately, my MacBook and MPC-1000 have been going with me everywhere. Between Ableton Live and the MPC I can do a lot and then bring it back to the studio for further refining.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
As Kamoni I have performed many times with a DrumKat hooked up to Ableton Live or the Elektrons and have just improvised for an hour. I will do a whole lot of pre-production so that I can just freely improvise knowing that everything (usually) will come out sounding good. When I perform, there’s never really a set plan so it’s always an adventure. For instance, I can play a note on the DrumKat and have and LFO in Live programmed to randomly select from an array of 50 snare drums. Then I can layer those with a melodic note that is determined by the velocity that I hit the pad – all of this in one hit! That is totally exciting for me and for the audience as well.

Have you ever heard your music being played at a public place?
I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s a few years ago and a Crest toothpaste ad I scored came on the TV. Around that same time, I heard some techno track on the radio that used all loop content I created for Ableton – that was very weird.

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
Most of my time goes into my sound development company Puremagnetik ( We are constantly creating new content for our customer base and for 3rd party manufactures and publications. I also compose music for commercials with various music houses here in NYC. Recently, I’ve been performing with NYC artist Atarah Valentine who has an amazing album coming out in a few months.

Kamoni Website
Kamoni Myspace
Photo credits: Rachel Papo

Workspace and Environment: Alec Empire

What? Seriously? This is the epitome of the Workspace and Environment series. Enjoy!

I was born in Berlin, then moved to London , and then moved back to Berlin two years ago. I find that I can develop my ideas best at the moment in Berlin. You can be isolated, and this is exactly what I want, because I am not very excited about the current music scene. I think bands take any straw they can get, mp3 culture has stopped musicians to care about the sound of their music and the music itself, people in the music industry fear for their jobs every day…this is a nightmare…and only because people don’t want to buy music anymore. Problem is that the quality of music in getting poorer every year. Art has to take risks, art as to afford innovation….if this can’t happen because the investments simply don’t come back enough, it’s a dying industry. In Berlin you don’t feel that as much as in London. This is why I work here at the moment. But Berlin is also such a dark city. It’s great for what I do.
I have been playing my first show with my punk band when I was age of twelve. We were right in that squatting scene back in Berlin-West. It was important, because everybody was very political and had radical ideas. a few years later I moved on and got into electronic music. released my first record when I was 18 on Force Music Works in Frankfurt. Shortly after I started Atari Teenage Riot.
My motivation to make music was really the fact that I could express my thoughts and feelings directly and without limits. Many other musicians feel they have to entertain the audience. I always wanted to perform in a more honest and truthful way. Punk tought me not to give a damn…this took of all the pressure in any situation which followed. You have to deal with the consequences at the same time though. During certain times not being popular and stuff…but I like that….

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
I got deep into modular synths. Despite the trend of going more digital the last years, a new scene has grown which is inventing analogue synths again. Analogue Solutions, Metasonix, Doepfer…. these systems have almost no limits. And they sound fantastic. It’s expensive in comparision to digital software, but the sound is so powerful, it’s worth it. You have to be into Math as well…if you have a lower iq , you should probably stick to a guitar. I don’t mean that in a negative way because music can be great in so many different ways. The Metasonix S-1000 is an all tube synth which has sounds that have never been heard before. Most people don’t know how to use it and therefore be scared to use it….I love it.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
Protools works for me as a recording device. On Ableton I synch certain digital files. But that’s about it. If you have the real stuff, any plug in doesn’t cut it. At the moment…this could still change in the future I hope.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I could pretend that it doesn’t influence my work but it does. We have built a new studio in Berlin two years ago. It has 240 square meters. Two sound proof cabins. At the moment it is ideal. We used the colour white a lot. Actually you wouldn’t really find much colour in there. And what surprises visitors is that we have no paintings or posters or anything visual up on the walls. I really find this distracting. Somehow my mind would get off path. The great thing is that we can record whenever we want. To me this has proven to be one of the most important factors in delivering the best music. Especially in my music for films I have to stick to strict timelines, great ideas which can often determine a scene, save a performance of an actor even, have to happen. Therefore I don’t care recording at 7 o’clock in the morning or not sleep at all for two days. The result is most important! When I am that focussed even a very quiet noise which comes from a refridgerator or even a light bulb, influences you in some way. I am always aware of that.

Could you explain the history and motives behind Digital Hardcore Recordings?We started Digital Hardcore Recordings in early 1994. It felt so exciting to create this music because it was unheard of before…nobody did it. This was something that, for the first time probably, came out of Berlin and was never done anywhere else before. When I was DJing at the time no other records were achieving this excitement and rage in the crowd. It all started pretty simple when we sped up British breakbeat records and mixed them with speed metal and 70ties punkrock. It was something that everybody wanted. People wanted to see where their limits were…this was the most fun about it. to keep pushing and pushing it further. Many of the records we did in the early years featured digital sound effects that we came up with for the first time. Making these very short loops which can sound like your CD player starts trouble or a snare drum sound becomes a machine gun, just one example. Of course distortion and insane programming of beats and sounds was a priority for all musicians and DJs involved. This movement was met with hostility by all kinds of people. Punks reacted conservative, freaked out, ravers wanted to stop it, we even had people from a special police departement coming to our shows, because we used very radical slogans and militant images. It was very underground until UK radio legend John Peel started to play our records. Then it went pretty fast.The Beastie Boys distributed the records in the US, Japan went wild…it was unstoppable. Suddenly my band ATR reached gold status with the album “Burn Berlin Burn”.
To me this ended with 911, and of course a few days before our band member and friend Carl Crack died. He was found dead in his appartment in Berlin. A few months before Nic Endo and me started to put a band together with Charlie Clouser from Nine Inch Nails…real guitars on stage, 2 drummers…the full thing. In 2002 the Berlin scene was already almost over..that’s my opinion. UK acts like Aphex Twin, Prodigy and various others had delivered their more mainstream, softer versions of digital hardcore and reached a wider audience than the other acts on DHR…the media started to focus most on me and Atari Teenage Riot.

Are there any sonic consistency’s or limitations you try to maintain?
I love precision…I guess because I am German…there is a real method to the chaos (if I go for the wall of noise overload of information type sound I am known for.), otherwise it wouldn’t be fun. On the other side I like to go into new sonic territories all the time. I wrote many “songs” which have almost a pop structure to them. One of my signatures is the “punch” when a beat kicks in…building up to that. I hate flat music, wallpaper sound. I have also written a lot of music which is almost trance like, many people told me they meditate to that. There are people who can’t go back listening to other music after getting into mine…it seems to have a special atmosphere…once you get in there, other things become superficial.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
My first hardware was a Hohner HS-1 sampler with 2MB RAM…crazy but back then, you had to be creative and use it’s memory wisely because it would reach its limit fast. The last thing I bought was a Roland RS-202 which is an old string synth.

What is on your current wish list?
I think Lexicon builds great effect units. I am still using my 480L…would make sense to get the new one, even though a lot of people stick to the old models because they seem to have a better sound. It would be great to build a studio using the IOSONO System which is something like a new way of creating a surround sound. Read about it on our blog I heard it and it makes you feel like you are in another place. It will revolutionize sound.

What does your mobile studio setup consist of?
MAC laptop with Digidesign Hardware, Protools, Ableton and the most important thing is my mobile harddisk which has all my sounds on it. I would really try to create sound in the software – I am never happy with the results. And what I should mention as well is that I can be quite conservative as well. I use my iPhone and pen and paper when I record rough ideas. The phone works as a diary – I’ll export the audio, analyze the exact tempo and then recreate it. A lot of ideas only work in a certain tuning and tempo. You have to record this right away when you feel it. I am not so into the idea of recording an album on the beach…I have done these things over ten years ago…my album Low On Ice was done in a tent in Iceland. But nowadays when I go to the beach I’d rather play guitar or something…I like a concrete prison cell because then I am forced to imagine and be creative.

Do you have a particular setup for live performances?
This really varies from performance to performance. I use my MPC2000XL as a sequencer/sampler, add a selection of synths to that, but then most important, I use an old DAT machine for its digital analogue converters, they sound hard, they cut through on a big PA. I had long conversations with Nine Inch Nails years ago. The converters Tascam and Panasonic build in the 90ties had the most punch. We also use my Sherman Quad filterbank a lot. But we also run machines through guitar and bass amps.

Have your physical locations changed?
Many many times. I keep my studio set up flexible. It’s just a tool after all. When people become lazy and don’t change their set ups, very often they get stuck repeating themselves. And it’s sometimes not them, it’s just the laid out path that they fail to see. The studio has to adapt to me , not the other way round. I have gone from very small, more minimal set ups to crazy large warehouse spaces…there is no hierarchy…make it work for you…in the biggest, most expensive studios in the world flops are being recorded…this has nothing to do with it.

Have you ever heard your music being played at public places?
AE: Yes, often…on the radio, or in shops…a song from my band ATR “Kids are united” was even played in football stadiums in England. I have to admit, this is always a great feeling. to watch other people react to it, or not react at all, if they are shopping and of course the music is quiet, it becomes quite funny, you see they notice a change in atmosphere, but are not sure where it’s coming from….

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
Yes, of course…I am classically trained… My music was often used in films and games. I have worked with Japanese actor/director Tadanobu Asano on a film a few months ago. Have completed a score for a film called “Days of Chaos”, and am working on another film called Phantomania right now. Often other artists ask me for permission to use my music in installations or fashion shows. My music makes people pay attention, it drags them into another emotional place. This is perfect for films and games.

Where can we find your work?
I release mostly under my own name Alec Empire, but have produced and written a lot for other artists. I have remixed Bjork, Einsturzende Neubauten, Korn, Rammstein, Mogwai, Guitar Wolf, Thurston Moore, Primal Scream and many others.
One of my bands is called Atari Teenage Riot. You can find my records in most stores which sell music and on all download portals. We also run our own store online with collectors editions. Certain music I do is only sold there via the internet. It’s called The Hellish Vortex Online Store. I have been involved in over 100 releases on various labels, major and indie. I have done soundtracks as well.

Alec Empire
Eat Your Heart Out Blog
Hellish Vortex
Alec Empire Myspace
Atari Teenage Riot Myspace
Standard gear porn: Joáo

Workspace and Environment: Distorted Memory

Started out about 10 years ago. A friend of mine installed Fruity Loops on my computer and it was all downhill from there. At that time I wanted to write EBM / Industrial music (which I still write). I always had music in my head that I really wanted to hear but could never find it so I set out trying to make it myself. In certain aspects I’ve succeeded, especially recently, but for the most part I still haven’t written the music I want to hear so I keep writing. I’ve got two projects, the main one that I’ve been doing since day one is called Distorted Memory which is my Dark Electro / EBM project The other project, which is probably more interesting to the readers of this blog is called CAKEBUILDER which is my more bizzare and experimental project. The place where I can use all the stuff that is too fucked up for clubby industrial music. Most of the stuff is Breakcore oriented, but some is more dubstep or even dark classical in style.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
Either my Virus C or Ti. If I want a certain sound but can’t get it on anything else I can usually make it on the Virus. Plus they look like something off the fucking death star, so you can’t go wrong there. I also have to give props the the Blofeld, that thing is great, it can make some extremely noisy and evolving sound fx, has a wicked arpegiator, and is actually fun to program despite being mostly menu based.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
For the most part I use the NI Komplete suite, especially Reaktor and Massive. I use quite a bit of VSTs in the studio some of my other favorites are Nexxus and X-Treme-FX. I’m planning on getting Omnisphere soon which to me is one of the most exciting VSTs I’ve ever seen.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
A LOT. For years my studio was confined to a bedroom or musty basement with no windows or airflow. I always found that to really take away from my work flow. One studio I had in a basement would actually cause me to get light headed and nauseous if I worked down there for too long…sometimes I would come up with some pretty interesting stuff under those conditions, but for the most part it sucked nuts. Now I have a nice studio that I gutted and redid in the master bedroom of our new house, lots of space, two big windows, plus lots of plugs, that really helps. I also find your surroundings in life play a big factor. I find I’m always the most creative when I spend lots of time around other musician friends or creative people in general, but when I go through phases where the career takes over and I don’t spend much time with friends my creativity really declines.

Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
Where I live, anywhere inside is ideal. Winnipeg is so fucking cold and miserable half the year. <

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining? The last?
Yamaha CS2X and a Roland MC-303 FTW!!!! Both were completely fucking useless, especially for a beginner. By the time I had figured out how to do anything cool with those two pieces of crap I had moved on to better machines. The last purchase of mine was actually my custom Mac Pro and Cinema display, probably one of my best purchases to date.

What is on your current wish list?
Modulars…..I’m selling off a bunch of stuff and am going to build a eurorack system, loaded with a few Livewire modules for good measure. I think I’ll probably get myself a Machinedrum at some point, but at this point I’m focusing on getting a modular system started, and realistically after I get it most funds will go towards new modules. Also like I mentioned before I’m pretty sure I HAVE to have Omnisphere…in order to live.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
It depends on which project I’m performing with. For Distorted Memory I run tracks off a Macbook running Cubase 4. I have my vocals running through my Virus C for tempo synced delays and EQ and a keyboardist playing one of my synths, which depends on where the show is. For local shows I’ll bring out something big like the V-Synth, but for out of town gigs it depends what the promoter can get me as I don’t like flying with keyboards. Usually I’ll ask for a JP-8000 since it does the trick, I know it well, and it’s pretty easy for the promoter to get a hold of locally. For CAKEBUILDER I’ve always just run tracks off CD decks and mixed live, sometimes I’ve brought circuit bent stuff into the mix that I’ve made but I always end up smashing it on stage and haven’t built anything recently. In the future I’ll probably move over to using the macbook live with a controller or two.

How many physical locations have you had your studio setup in over time and how have they changed?
If you count the first set up in my parents’ living room, then 5. Each time I’ve moved, the equipment has always improved, but the biggest change is the room itself. Went from parents’ living room to bedroom to mom’s basement to my own basement to a custom renovated master bedroom.

Have you ever heard your music being played at a random/public place?
I’ve gone to see movies at the indie theater and heard my music in the previews for other movies or film festivals. I’ve also heard my stuff on college radio and at our shitty goth bar quite a bit. But the coolest was randomly coming across a repeat of a 1/2 hour documentary the local news channel did about breakcore in Winnipeg and seeing me playing live.

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
I do a lot of short film work. I’ve scored a few short films and am about to start my next one which will be the most complex and ambitious film project I’ve started yet.

Distorted Memory Myspace

Workspace and Environment: K. Joseph Karam

I’m trying to get back on track with the Workspace and Environment interviews and I think as the season starts to change, people will be more inclined to stay inside and be forced to answer our questions. Unless if they’re around California then those guys will never get back to us! Luckily one of them did: Joseph Karam of The Locust. Enjoy!

I’ve been hacking away on different musical objects since I was a kid and have always thrived on the different ways sound has affected me. When I would come across something new that bent my brain it would be subjected to my incessant scrutiny, listened to obsessively and broken down to it’s subtleties to the dismay of anyone within earshot of me. I try to take that scrutiny and put it to the task of exploring different themes and ways of writing songs or creating aural environments, always looking to tread on new musical territories. Most of what I’ve recorded and released in the last handful of years has been with The Locust. I’ve also played with Le Shok, T Cells, David Scott Stone, by myself and with various other Orders in and around the Los Angeles area. I was born in the Los Angeles area and currently live in Long Beach.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
The Moog Voyager and MOTM synth are a lethal combo and what I’ve used most lately. The Ibanez AD202 analog delay is up there as well (great feedback). My piano is probably my favorite and longest lasting musical friend.

What are some softwares you prefer?
I use Logic as a compositional tool and audio sketchpad. No real preference there, it was cheaper to get going than Pro Tools.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
What’s really important to me is to be able to have a space I can work in that’s free of distraction. I’ve had a bunch of different rehearsal spaces and studios and the only consistent thread among them has been that they’re cramped. In my home setup I find that having everything up, running and organized when I need it helps tremendously throughout my writing process.

Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
It depends on the project. I think the environment you’re in can influence how you write and record but I only ever think about it explicitly when it’s a project that is site specific.

When touring can you explain the difficulties of touring with a modular setup?
It can be a sensitive instrument and unforeseen damages are sometimes difficult to work around. I’ve arrived in Europe only to find pots damaged, screws loose and a TSA pamphlet letting me know who to thank. People always seem curious about whether the number of different variables to mull over is intimidating or not and it certainly can be when you’re working on the fly and in the middle of a set. Like most things, once you get to know your setup you learn to maneuver through it and identify problems that may arise with increasing dexterity.

Can you explain the benefits of touring with the modular?
It sounds great, has got a lot of power behind it and is incredibly flexible. I love hearing it through good sound systems and in strange rooms. Sometimes I’ll set up patches I’m working on just to see how they sound in a given space, or, when given the opportunity, I’ll throw something up just to see how much we can get the place to rattle. Using the modular on the road also keeps me on my toes, even when everything else has been locked down through repetition on tour.

Do you create patches nightly or do you have preset patches you remember?
I always work patches out before a tour. On some occasions I’ll change things up if I get tired of the flow or find that they’re not working in the set. When I have time for a decent sound check I like to try to tweak the patch to suit the room or sound system.

What are your favorite modules?
Current favorites: MOTM 410 (Triple Resonant Filter), Encore Electronics Frequency Shifter, Zeroscillator, MOTM 480 VCF, Blacet Time Machine… They all sound great and satisfy certain cravings I’ve recently had.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
There has always been a piano in my house and I’ve had various Casio keyboards when I was younger but the first synth I bought later in life was a Crumar Performer. It was initially used when I joined The Locust and was later put into service by Darryl in Le Shok, where it sustained many, many injuries before it was finally retired. My most recent addition to the MOTM is the 480 VCF.

What is on your current wish list?
Buchla 200e, Vox Jaguar….

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
Not really. I have a PreSonus Firepod I take with me when the occasion arises. I used to drag a Tascam 58 around with me. I still have back problems.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
In the last year or so I’ve traveled with the Voyager, a 1 or 2 row cabinet of MOTM modules and a rack case with odds and ends (CV Expander, AD202…).

How many workspaces have you had?
I’ve had a handful in the last 10 years from a Juno 60 and a four track in a trailer I lived in to various garages, rehearsal spaces and bedrooms I’ve occupied. Early on my home setup was mostly based around a few synths, an E-mu Drumulator and two different ½” 8 track machines I would alternate between. When I started building the modular my emphasis shifted more towards exploring its use and capabilities. My current setup has been the most functional, allowing me to keep a decent stock of equipment at my disposal. My focus in the last year has shifted to writing and I feel like my current space reflects that, but change is always looming and as my priorities shift my spaces tend to do the same.

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
No, but I’m always open for a good gig.

The Locust Myspace
Le Shok Myspace

Workspace and Environment: The Great Mundane

Greetings! I’ve been slow on the updating (not that I need to explain myself to you) because I’m moving and I’m assuming Justin isn’t because he’s elbow deep in post production. While we endure this light chaos, an artist came through with an interview. The Great Mundane responded ideally to our questionnaire. I’m sure you’re already playing the video rather than reading this so enjoy! All credits go to him. Readable interview: Here

I was born in Farmington Hills, Michigan, in 1985. I promised myself in High School that I would move away when I graduated, so I did. I moved to Chicago in the fall of 2003 and I will be here until October 2008, then I’m driving across the country to spend some time in Seattle, Portland, and San Fran and figure out where I want to set up shop. My parents put me in piano lessons when I was about 5 years old, so since 1990. When I got into 6th grade I began playing bass and continued to do so until I was a sophomore in high school. High school was about the time that I started dabbling as a composer. The majority of the work was hip hop influenced until I moved to chicago. This is where I developed my sound as an electronic musician. That being said I’ve been composing as electronic musician for 5 years.

What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
I really have not had a lot of hardware encounters. I’m big on using whatever is at my disposal and making the best of it. I’ve had a crush on the Korg mono/poly for quite some time. I like anything warm and thick…ummm…yea.

What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
Reason… I love that program…I’ve spent hours and hours pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to make that program put out a satisfying sound. It can really be a versatile tool if you use it’s flaws and kinks to your advantage. The limitations force me to find new ways to make the sound that I want which often results in sounds that I never expected. If I need to record or do any sound design, I’m usually rocken Pro-tools.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
Besides the technical aspects like the space’s size, shape and the space consuming objects, I think its really important to feel comfortable, have minimal distractions, and nice neighbors that let you rock whenever you get that urge or feel inspired. I’m very easily distracted so I also prefer to be alone while I’m working.

Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
I actually really like it here in Chicago. But I’m leaving in October to explore the country and maybe find out where else I would like to be. As long as the city has a scene and the space meets the requirements I listed above I think I can make it work.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
I hacked a hot pink Starring Me keyboard from Target. Shit’s hot. I just picked up a Monticello organ. I found in the basement of a Jewish Community Center, and now it’s sitting in my mom’s living room because I can’t bring it with me on the road.

What is on your current ‘wish list’?
I’m really looking into the Novation remote series. Mainly for its ease of use and reliability.

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
Yea my studio is pretty mobile..
G4 Power Book
Macbook Pro
M-audio Axiom 49
Korg pad Kontroller
Korg Kaos Mini
Hacked “Starring Me” Keyboard
Pioneer DJM-707 mixer
Behringer Truth Monitors…

Do you have a setup for live performances?
Everything listed above except for the monitors and the M-box. I can usually fit everything into about 3 bags, not including my fold up table.

How many physical locations have you had your studio setup in over time and how have they changed?
Holy shit… I’ve moved it 7-8 times. I’ve moved at least once a year since I’ve lived in Chicago not including switching rooms because of break ups and new roommates. I try to keep everything pretty much the same. The gear has evolved over time but I try to keep my furniture and everything placed the same so I can maintain some sort of consistency from apt to apt.

Are you involved in any extra curriculars?
I work for Big House Castings as an Audio Engineer until I hit the road. Basically I track edit and mix commercials for VO talent. I’ve done a bit of freelance compostion/sound design work for commercials and indie films.

The Great Mundane

Random Visual – Telefon Tel Aviv Studio

I found a random picture of our buddy Charlie Cooper of Telefon Tel Aviv from Josh Eustis’s Flickr. I haven’t seen this dude in a long ass while, so it’s nice to see him working on the new album fiddling away with that delay.

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