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Workspace and Environment: Contriva

If anyone knows how to get into the Paris Catacombs from an alternative entrance, please drop an e-mail to They are officially closed so I am looking for an unofficial way in.Uh, with that out of the way, here is Max Ehwald of Contriva!

Max Ehwald of Contriva
How long have you been involved with making music/sound?
I’m in my first band Contriva for more than 10 years now.

What is the name you work under and where can we find your work?
So far I have no solo project. I play in Contriva, jersey, saroos and, as a live musician, in the Notwist. If I’m working on my own, it’s mainly about composing (almost always using a guitar) or editing and arranging some band recordings. I have never really produced a piece of music all alone.

What is your current favorite piece of hardware?
It may sound silly but it’s the Ibanez DE-7. I use this obviously crappy pedal since they threw it on the market, but, due to its bad mechanical quality, had to buy a new on several times. I just love the sound of the “echo mode” and the simple handling.

What is your current favorite software or plugin?
I don’t use plugins so extensively right now. One that I used more often is the Arturia Arp 2600 V. It must be really well emulated, couse it sounds very lively as I think.
I normally use software as a recording tool. There’s no really “favourite” sequencing/recording software for me, I use emagic Logic like many others, only because of compatibility with other musicians. I’ll have to use pro tools now, for the same reason…

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I always try to go to a place that is not usual or not so familiar to me when recording new ideas or composing, if I or the band has the time and capacity. so I very much like the idea of a mobile studio. Also, I tend to think it’s good for an artist or a band that has already developed “an own style”, to work with different people from album to album. but that’s again no strict rule to me. I also like editing and arranging when on a train journey, especially in a dining car ;-)

Are you involved in any post production?
I have done two movie soundtracks so far: one together with Rike Schuberty of Contriva, for a short movie (“Die Babysitterin” by Christine Lang), the second for a documentation (“Generation Model” by Anne-Krisin Jahn) together with Florian Zimmer (jersey, saroos). I find working on music for film harder than just making music, but I hope I’ll get more skilled in the future…

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
A guitar (Framus Atlantic, a german model from the 60s)

What is on your current ‘wish list’ for new hardware or software?
I’d like to have a delay pedal where you can set the delay time digitally and reproducible and that still has an interesting sound…If you have an idea, please send me a mail…

Do you have a setup for live performances?
Different setups for different bands, but more or less usual guitar/bass player setups. nothing special…

Where were you born and how did you end up in the location you currently reside?
I was born and still live in Berlin, Germany.

How many physical locations have you had your studio setup?
As I don’t own a studio setup myself, none ;-). the studio where we (contriva) recorded our last and other records (villa qrella) is also our practice room and the home base of masha qrella’s solo work, and it always has been at the same place

Find them here:

Rotterdam: Worm Studio

The venue in Rotterdam, Belgium Netherlands last night had a recording studio as well as a video studio. Obviously I was more interested in one than the other. Jonathan Snipes from Captain Ahab was already there when I arrived and was navigating his way through the Arp 2500. I’m not sure how I feel about the wireless patching because it takes an extra second to trace back patches. Then again, its simple and quick after some practice. We geeked out on the Arp and some Serge Modules for many hours while the others were catching up on sleep and working on their sets for the night. I could give you a quick review of what I thought of it but will pass for now as I’m trying to catch up on sleep myself. Touring is murder on your brain and body!

Workspace and Environment: Miles Tilmann

I remember meeting Miles at a local club in Chicago and ending up talking to him at length about mutual friends, living abroad and most importantly: food. We shared from our experiences of the differences between urban European food and rural. A couple people stopped by, heard what we were talking about and promptly left. So, to share the details of the conversation would probably make you leave as well. Miles lived in France for an extended amount of time and that is where I am heading later today! While there are a few more Workspace and Environment articles left, I’ll most likely be busy for the next few months eating. Don’t worry, Justin will take care of you.

I was born in Michigan, I live in Chicago now because I wanted to see snow
again after living in Florida for 20 years.
I’ve been making music since 1995, so about 13 years now. I got motivated to make music because I always heard it in my head and figured it would be a good
idea to get some of it out. The same reason applies today.

What is your current favorite piece of hardware?
Faderfox midi control. It’s tiny and has a joystick. Also record
players and cassette 4 tracks.

What is your current favorite software or plugin?
Logic ES2 synth…. it’s extremely versatile.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I like the color orange because it helps me think clearly.

Extra Curricular
I have some collaborations with Steve Hess, Kate Simko, Mark DeNardo
and Rich Grillotti. Some of these collaborations will be in an
upcoming film.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
Korg MS 2000… still one of my favorites.

What is on your current ‘wish list’?
I dont have anything I dont need. I inherited a MPC that I haven’t
touched yet.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
Laptop, Faderfox, Korg MS2000

How many physical locations have you had your studio?
This is my first real studio.

You can find Miles at Webhole and He has an LP coming out with Steven Hess. It’ll be released june 3rd, 2008 on the label ‘other electricities’

Workspace and Environment: The Volt per Octaves

I’m not sure how I stumbled upon these guys but when I looked at pictures of the Husband/Wife group, I realized Anna was the woman we bugged at NAMM in the Moog booth (ie, stalking). Either way to see die hard Moog enthusiasts actually making music is refreshing.

Nick Montoya of The Volts per Octaves
I was born in Burbank, Ca. Grew up in Pasadena, Ca. Moved to Santa Barbara when I was 13 with my parents, before moving all around northern California during my high school years. I lived in Susanville, Redway, Garberville, Shelter Cove, among a few other tiny towns. Now I reside in beautiful Santa Barbara, Ca. This is the place that feels most like home. It’s summer all the time too.
I started playing cello in third grade. Shortly after that I got in to guitar and other rock instruments like bass, drums. Started my first band at age 12 called “Putrid Existence”. I was Nick Putrid, the mastermind of the band, yet the youngest. Kinda like the tough little boss in old cartoons, that orders all the big henchmen around ;) … In high school I got into electronic music when my music teacher let me borrow a virtual analog midi module. That was it… I started buying up keyboards like mad starting with my old MS 2000 (now very dead, like most of em are) and my trusty Moog Prodigy, which I ended up selling when I got my Little Phatty. Then I just went nuts and thats where I’m at right now.

What is the name you work under and where can we find your work?
My wife and I are “The Volt per Octaves”, and we both play Moogs, keys and theremin in our live, non sequenced electronic compositions.\
People say we’re “electronica”, but for some reason I hate that term. I perfer just electronic music or MOOG music. That “a” at the end just kills it for me.\
You can check us out on our myspace ( ). Our CDs can be ordered almost anywhere and can be found digitally at iTunes among many other online retailers.

What is your current favorite piece of hardware?
My favorite piece of hardware of all time is my Minimoog Model D, but right now it’s in the shop for a general tune up. So, I’ve been having lotsa fun with my friend Ross Harris’s Baldwin Synthasound! It’s a super rare old analog monosynth that Baldwin made for a short time at the height of Minimoog and Arp 2600 popularity (1971).
Sounds like Dick Hyman in a box and I love it. It has one of the craziest glide times ever, like 20 seconds… But it actually says “Slide”…

What is your current favorite software or plugin?
We only use software to track/record our analog synths and drum machines. We tried a bunch of software and ended up liking Cubase the most.. Why? Not sure, ease of use I guess…

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
When we get ready to record we like to have everything ready to go. But unfortunately we have to swap out keyboards here and there ‘cuz we don’t have much room in our bedroom/home studio. It’s nice to have everything patched to the board and ready to go. That way when we get an idea we can just run with it.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining? The last?
The first piece of gear that really inspired me was my Moog Prodigy. Although it doesn’t hold a candle to my Mini, it does some cool shit the Model D can’t do. Especially the amazing Oscillator Sync. Best of probably any stock Moog, and the Little Phatty is right up there with it. A very similar sound.
The last piece was actually a dump load of keyboards all at once. My brother’s best friend just unloaded 5 decks on me. A Korg M1, Korg Polysix, Crumar T1 organ, Yamaha CP10 and a Roland Juno 6… All in different working conditions. But the Juno is very clean and worked great right away… The Korg Polysix makes very authentic “dead” polysix sounds. I think the on board-battery leaked all over the damn place ;)

What is on your current ‘wish list’ for new hardware or software?
I’d really love to get a small Pro Tools rig.. It’s seeming more and more essential all the time. But as long as we can record our stuff okay in Cubase, we’re happy.

Do you have a mobile studio setup? What does it include?
Our main setup is pretty mobile. A Mac Book, running Cubase. Our interface is great. It’s an Alesis Multimix 16 Firewire mixer. It can also double as an analog mixing board… When I got it it seemed like a no brainer. Either a 2 channel Pro Tools system for about 500.00 or a 16 channel Alesis/Cubase set up for 450.00… It’s great to be able to record everything to it’s own track in a live studio setting…

Do you have a setup for live performances?
It is very much the same as our studio setup. There is very little we leave at home. Our most common setup for a gig would be:

Anna: Concertmate MG1, Moog Little Phatty Tribute Edition, Korg Microkorg.
Me : Moog Minimoog Model D, Moog Voyager, Korg Electribe ES1, Moog Etherwave Theremin.\
Eva: (when she plays with us) : Hohner Student 32 Melodica\
0Sound: 500W Crown Power Amp, Fender PA Speakers, and the Alesis Multimix 16 Ch. board.

How many physical locations have you had your studio?
Too many to count. I’d like to think that each time the setup has become bigger, bettter more stable and all around more sonic with each piece of gear added, or taken away for that matter… My first setup in the “Putrid” days was a Malaysian Kareoke machine… Dopest punk rock garage recording rig EVER !!! ;) Sure, it’s come along way from there, but it is still very basic…\

Have you ever heard your music being played at a random/public place?
Actually yes. We were flipping through the TV one night and our music was being played in background for a friends computer generated graphic art video project for television. It was this strange little bubbley, busseling city and our song “Super Milk” accompanied the animation.

Workspace and Environment: Electrocute

Electrocute was also one of the first groups we asked to participate in the Workspace and Environment series and due to us both having lives, we finally got to it now. This has been a successful week in posting articles that have been sitting around! If you have any suggestions on which artists you would like to see here, drop us a line! Have a killer weekend!

Nicole Morier of Electrocute

How long have you been involved with making music?
Since we were 2 and could bang on pots and shout.

Favorite Hardware
Mac Powerbook, Echoplex

Favorite Software
Mostly using analogue these days, but we record in Logic Pro and the Bitcrusher plugin is pretty cool, also like the ES1 synth and Absynth.

Workspace and Environment
Well the helicopters that fly over Echo Park add a certain ambiance to our sound. And the Mexican radio that creeps through our amps sometimes through crossed radio waves can be annoying.

Extra Curriculars
Nicole: I’m writing pop songs. Have a song called “Heaven on Earth” on the new Britney Spears album.

First Gear
Legs: A stolen computer with Soundforge that broke in a month (karma)
Nicole: My dad’s guitar

Logic Pro 8, Reason, Minimoog, OB8, we want a lot.

Mobile Setup
Mac Powerbook, M-audio interface, SM-58 mic, Logic 7

Live Setup
Sometimes a live band with Drums, Sampler, Minimoog, Fender Organ, bass, guitar and sometimes just programmed tracks off laptop with Roland Dr. Sampler and guitar and bass.

How many physical locations has your studio been through?
Ohmigod, too many to list. We are road warriors and have always made music anyway possible by any means necessary.

Nicole: These are pics from my little home set up which is in transition now as I am in the middle of searching for a new apartment. but the IMac and the Yamaha speakers, midi keyboard and Rode mic travel easily with me and is basically what I use to demo and write tracks on using Logic Pro 7.

Electrocute is Nicole Morier and Legs Le Brock. They can be found:, youtube, amazon, itunes, usual suspects.

Workspace and Environment: Eliot Lipp

Eliot Lipp was one of the first people we asked and agreed to participate in our blog. Due to our issues(slacking hardcore) here we are 4 months later with his interview. We’re glad to finally be able to share his studio and a quick interview.

How long have you been involved with making music?
About 8 years

What is your current favorite piece of hardware?
My Korg MS-20. This synth is my signature sound. The first analog synth I ever bought.

What is your favorite piece of software?
I would have to say Ableton Live because I use it everyday for shows, producing, sampling, sequencing… but I love Sound Forge & Vegas too.

How does your physical space and surrounding influence your workflow?
I used to work at home but I feel more productive now that I have a studio. It’s like going to the office for me. the downside is that it’s in a basement and there are no windows so it gets a little creepy down there.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
Yamaha psr-510

What is on your current wish list?
The Macbeth M5 Synthesizer
Yamaha CS-50
and all the Plan B modules

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
When I’m on the road I always have my Korg MS-20, my MFB Synth2 and my Powerbook.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
MS-20, MFB Synth2, Powerbook, Mackie mixer, delay pedal, Midi controller.
sometimes a Roland TR-606 or Jomox X-base09

Have you ever heard your music being played in apublic place?
I was at a random bar in Texas an once and the dj played my hit “raptight” but I think he saw me and threw it on to be funny.

How many times has your setup changed?
Too many to count. I started with a keyboard & a four track and I just kept buying & selling gear. my studio is always changing, I rarely find a piece of gear that I feel I should keep for life.

You can find Eliot Lipp on Hefty Records, Eastern Developments, Metatronix, Money Studies


Workspace and Environment: Genghis Tron

While they were between tours, practice spaces and studios they managed to drop off a picture and we’ll take it! They’re on the road yet again supporting their new release on Relapse Records. I think the picture is sufficient as you can see how Michael works, you just got to turn him around and tell him to stop staring at my soul….

I have been progamming beats and playing synths for the band Genghis Tron for the past 3 years. Before that I was experimenting with electronic music on my own beginning around 1999 or so. My newest synth is an Alesis Andromeda which I like a lot. It is a great analog synth that has more flexibility than other analogs because of its high polyphony, excellent envelopes and well routed modulation matrix. I also use a Novation KS-4.

On Hardware
Our live set up consists of the three of us. I play the Andromeda and Novation KS live and our singer also plays a rack Moog Voyager and controls our drum tracks through a Roland sampler which is triggered via midi remote controller. We also have a guitar player who uses many pedals.

Remember You First Piece of Hardware?
A crappy Korg EA1. Worst synth ever!

What is on your wishlist?
Waldorf Q!

On Software
For making beats on the computer I really like Native Instruments Battery 3 for drum sampling, which I run through Ableton Live. As for how I am influenced by my surroundings, I would say very little. No matter where I am, I’m still just staring at a computer screen! The biggest distraction from writing music is the internet. The fact that the music is being made on a computer doesnt help. It’s very easy to stop working on a beat and check e-mail for no reason. Also, the desire to hangout with friends instead of being alone in your room working on music. i think that making on a computer is very easy if you practice enough and have a reasonable amount of time and patience. I really like functions that help randomize music in subtle and clever ways instead of doing it manually. It would be nice if I had access to more plug ins and programs that help with automating patterns in unpredictable ways.

On Humans
My friends and family are very supportive. Even my grandmother has a copy of one of our CD’s. Most of my family don’t really “get” the music but they are supportive anyways. My dad actually digs the music which is cool. I’m very lucky to have the support of my family and friends!
What I’ve found is that there is a way to do anything, but not through one program. What I mean is that some programs are good for one thing, and another program or plug in will be good for something else. So I wouldn’t want to put one single tweak into a program, but rather build one super program that could do everything!

Michael Sochynsky was born in Berkeley, California and currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Genghis Tron can be found on Relapse Records, Crucial Blast Records and Myspace.

Workspace and Environment: Trifonic

Trifonic had a party yesterday in San Francisco promoting their debut album coming out in a few days and here we are with their interview. Rarely do I promote other people’s music [Buy it now – Justin] but this album is melodically and technically beautiful. Don’t worry I won’t do an album review, only the interview…

I started playing guitar when I was 11, so I’ve been involved with music for 14 years. I studied jazz guitar in college and began exploring electronic music production at the same time. I work with my brother Laurence under the name Trifonic. Our debut album “Emergence” will be available directly from our website,, starting February 26, 2008. It will also be available on iTunes, Amazon and the other usual suspects.

What is your current favorite piece of hardware?
The Virus TI is my favorite hardware piece at the moment. It can produce a wide range of sounds, and it has great digital filters and FX. The Virus is especially good for creating warbly, wobbly, nasty basses. I like to sample bass sounds from the Virus and process them with distortion, compression and then resample the sound. I typically repeat the processing and resampling a few times until I get the sound I want. I have a soft spot for those classic DNB Reece sounds, and the Virus is perfect for that as well as other synthetic sounds.

What is your current favorite software or plugin? What makes this your favorite?
Logic Pro 7 and 8 are my favorites. Sculpture, Logic’s physical modeling synth, is capable of all sorts of rolling and bouncing melodic sounds that are emotional, strange and unpredictable. We used to Sculpture on our track “Parks On Fire” to make the melody line that sounds like a marble rolling around. I also love Logic’s Space Designer convolution reverb. You can load any sound file as an impulse and get wonderfully unexpected results. Logic 8 has an amazing new plug-in Delay Designer, which is a multi-tap delay that gives you pan, pitch and filter control over each delay tap. Its pretty crazy.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
The vibe and ergonomics of a workspace are essential. Our studio is set up in a tiny room, which is conducive to working efficiently and taking advantage of all of our gear. Everything is within arm’s reach and very accessible, and we have most of our hardware running through a patch bay. So it’s pretty effortless to incorporate any piece of equipment that we want. On the other hand, our room isn’t big enough for a full bass response, and that was a problem at first. We work around that issue by using a second set of monitors with a sub so that we can compare the bass levels. I also spent a lot of time listening to reference music when we first set up the studio, which really helped me get a feel for what things are supposed to sound like in the room.

Are you involved with music outside of your own?
I worked for BT as a guitarist/programmer from 2003 to 2007. I worked on a film score with him recently for the movie “Battle In Seattle” (Charlize Theron, Ray Liota, Woody Harrelson.) I’ve also been doing some session guitar work for the video game composer Jesper Kyd. I find visuals very inspiring when I create music, so I really enjoy working to picture.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
In 1994 my parents bought me a sunburst Fender Strat that was made in Mexico and a Crate GX-10R amplifier I was in 6th grade. It was my first guitar and it was awesome!

What is on your current ‘wish list’ for new hardware or software?
Hardware: Cwejman S1 Analog Synth, Pedal-steel guitar, Mandolin, 5-string electric Bass
Software: Sonnox Oxford plug-ins, Live 7

Workspace and Environment: LSD

Leon Dawson of LSD
I started playing around with loop-based sequencing (Sony ACID) when I was about 19. A few years later I started studying music production, this is when I got ‘serious’; on my 21st birthday I bought a midi workstation (Yamaha RM1X) and switched from loop based stuff to midi based music. I’m 26 now so I guess you could say I’ve been ‘involved’ for about 8 years. What gets me motivated is hard to say, I get a rush whenever I hear something new… I have always, and I mean ALWAYS, been passionate about music. My record collection is measured in thousands and thats not including CDs, tapes and MP3… One day I was messing around on ACID doing a remix of some obscure funk track when my mums friend walked in and said ‘you should study music production’ the next week he gives me a prospectus and before I know it I’m studying Dance Music Production. Music is like a drug to me, I’ve been on an endless high for as long as I can remember. I’ll be here as long as the music is, I’m addicted. Thats my motivation, music its self.

What is your current favourite piece of hardware?
That’s a really difficult question, the first thing that comes to mind is my PC but that would be cheating. I guess I would have to say the Yamaha RM1X. There are so many memories connected with it and its so much fun to use, even though a lot of the sounds are dated it still has many uses.

What is your current favourite software or plugin?
Propellerhead’s Reason. It’s so easy to use & great for quickly putting down ideas. Also it integrates easily into my set up when running Cubase as host.

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
I find it has a direct effect on it. Not only because of physical things like accoustics but on a subconcious level too. I find a cluttered/unorginised workspace hinders creative flow.

Are you involved in any musical extra curricular activity ?
I am currently in the process of building up a portfolio of work with a view to Composing For Games, this is an area I am very interested in at the moment. I have also joined a local radio station in an engineering capacity and will soon be hosting my own show ‘Introducing’. I have previously and continue to work with/record local bands and master their albums. Another area I am interested in is Audio Visual Art, I have a lot of ideas but dont have the skills/expertice to follow them through. I hope to soon be working with a AV artist but as yet havent found the right one.

What is on your current ‘wish list’?
An Akai MPC2500, A Moog rack (any), a CME controller keyboard, Propellerhead’s Recycle (it would save me so much time), a good mic, a rack-mount PC case, a (hardware) 303 emulator.

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
Yes. (basic) ‘oxygen 8’ midi keyboard + Elderol UM-1sX midi adaptor + Laptop running sequencers + Zip drive for transfering samples to/from my S5000.

Do you have a setup for live performances?
Not as such, but it I do have some things I can easily deteatch and reorginise for live use:
Roland TR-626 + Korg Electribe ER1 + Yamaha RM1X + Akai S5000 + Korg Electribe ES1 via Steinberg MidEX8 – midi patchbay + Laptop and Soundcraft Spirit SX mixer.

Where were you born and how did you end up in the location you currently reside?
Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. Still reside here.

How many physical locations have you had your studio setup in over time and how have they changed?

I have moved house 5 times in the last 8 years (twice last year). It has changed a lot, its got bigger. It’s become more orginised, thank god for patchbays! It’s become part of the furniture. I started off with a PC, some crappy pc speakers, a groove box, a couple of turntables and a mixer… I now have a full on studio complete with out-board effects, patchbay, mixing desk and studio monitors. Every 6months or so I take the whole thing apart and reconfigure/organise it. It’s always a struggle trying to find the ‘best’ location within any space for the setup especially when you dont live alone but I usually get away with a lot, my studio currently takes up about 1/3 of the living room and 10% of the bedroom.

Leons work can be found under several aliases: LSD, Counter Culture Consortium, Leon S. Dawson, Kid Chameleon, Pure Synthesis, DJ Dub and ElectroMondo. He was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland where he still resides.

Workspace and Environment: Stereo Total

Ask me to do an interview in French and/or German and I am screwed. I must say that I’m completely humbled by the overall correspondence that takes place between international artists and myself. Their capacity to communicate in English is a reminder that I ONLY speak English…. and Thai… and a bit of German. With that out of the way, we will be uploading some videos of our time at NAMM soon. I think we spent more time harassing other people and ourselves than finding out anything useful. Anywho, here is Stereo Total!

Brezel Göring of Stereo Total
How long have you been involved with making music?
Since I was 15. I was born in Kassel (which I hated) and I ended up in Berlin, which is – for a German city – not bad.

What is your favorite hardware unit that you use?
4-track Tascam cassette recorder: It is easy to handle, small and sounds very good.

What is your current favorite software or plugin?
Retro player, which gives everything the sound of a 78 shellac record

How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
We have these pictures (see photo) all over our studio/rehearsal room: This definitely influences our workflow

Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
I made two one hour radio plays (one about Patty Hearst, another based on a novel that Francoise Cactus wrote). My music was used in several movies, a game, a tv show and in a comercial.

What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
A Korg Mono/Poly

What is on your current ‘wish list’?
The further away from computers I am the happier I am: so my wish list is to stop using a computer for music

Do you have a mobile studio setup?
A four track, a Neumann mic and a Focusrite pre amp and a Yamaha SU 10 Sampler

What is your setup for live performances?
A Boss dr sample 303, a Yamaha SU 10, a Doepfer modular synthesizer and a self-built midi trigger machine, a Midiman mixer and a Zoom guitar pre amp and a guitar. Francoise has a drum set and a trumpet.

How has your studio evolved?
The place shown in the picure is the first and only work space I ever had. It is in the cellar of a squat and we are in there since 15 Years (1993)

Stereo Total is Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring.
They can be found on or

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