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

Devsnd – Cwejman S1 Samples

Two different sample packs made almost exclusively with the mighty Cwejman S1 synthesizer Kit one by Richard Devine, kit two by Josh Kay.

A strange collection of percussion one-shots, hits, pulses, and other unclassifiable noises. Feed your drum machine weird things! Each sample pack contains 128 .WAV files and a Battery 3 kit (256 samples – 38 MB).


Miami for a Wedding

There’s a little gear, some animals and lots of friends which is more than enough for this irrelevant video to be featured on this site. There hasn’t been an update in a while so this should make us look somewhat busy and hell, it’s what I did with my weekend.

Gorilla Box Overview

Gorilla Box is a new line of custom made Eurorack modular synthesizer cases that, in themselves, are modular and are manufactured through Anvil. These cases are built to withstand an insane amount of punishment and are meant for modular users who travel with their system, or have a cat that likes to routinely tip a system over. Every case will be made to order and a ‘standard’ version of the case theoretically does not exist because of the amount of options available. The case will have a number of requirements, options, features and functions. This is the prototype that I received in time for the Synth Meet 7 and vast improvements are being implemented onto the alpha design.


The key features of the Gorilla Box are that almost everything on it is customizable, the inside case is isolated from the carrying case to prevent impact damage, the lid has legs that serves as a table, a Tip Top Audio power supply and a lifetime warranty from Anvil.


The case is manufactured by Anvil and Gorilla Box has access to all of their materials. Some variables are the materials that range from Fiberglass, plexiglass, industrial plastic to metal. A large color palette is also available for the cases.

The Lid

The lid on this model is quite deep and makes the overall size of the case large and awkward to caryy but this is being addressed with a slimmer version that also will have legs and be carry-on luggage sized. The deeper lid has some advantages such as keeping complex patches using several levels of Stackables and is able to pack in the Make Noise Skiff system with no problems. Also, you can add the vector case on the deeper lid to make it a double 12U case. With my current Doepfer case I can squeeze a patch with a depth of 2 Stackables, anything higher will have to be patched later when the lid is off.

The current version of this lid has legs on the bottom of the case are currently secured by velcro. In all future versions the legs will be secured with a lightweight locking clamp with riveted screw to secure them into place.

Outside Case

The outside case is everything you would expect from Anvil, a company that carries a history of catering to touring musicians since the 50’s. This thing can take a beating and it definitely will now that I don’t fear checking it on a plane. The case and lid are secured with an industrial latch and will have an option for a combination lock. The outside case is lined with industrial foam that keeps the removable inside case isolated from damage. Some improvements will include the option installing wheels and retractable handle that will make the Gorilla Box roll around like a suitcase. Also additional handles can be installed on the sides.

Removable Inside Case

The model I received had a few minor problems with the removable inside case and while talking to Gorilla box, they informed me that the inside case is being completely redesigned by Vector featuring a threaded rail system, opposed to floating nuts, and will be black anodized metal. The vector case will have a power supply connected so you can pull the system out and use the recessed handles on the vector case to put it into your rack. Did you read that right? Yeah – this Vector case will be easily mountable to any standard rack system.

Power Supply

The power supply is manufactured by Tip Top Audio and is similar to a laptop computer power supply. It was originally designed to drive 3 bus board comfortably but when powering 2 bus boards, you’ll have enough power for optional lights. My only experience with cases and power supplies are with Doepfer – here are some advantages of Tip Top Audio’s power supply:

– The power supply itself is outside the case making the case less heated and prone to disaster.

– It supports both 110/220 voltage. This means that a) these power supplies are universal and b) when you’re traveling all you need is an adapter. This is a huge advantage for me because in Europe I’ve had to carry around a power converter brick that adds a lot of weight and worry when traveling.

– No fuses

– The power supply is easily affordable and easily replaceable should they get separated from your case.

Here’s some specifics from the manufacturer:

The power system is made of 3 units:

1. The external power supply.

2. The regulator boards providing +/-12V and +5V using custom made regulators.

3. The bus boards.

The power supply can delivers up to 1200mA per rail, that is 24000mA all together!!!

All you need to hook it up to a European or other power grids is a local power cord or adapter.

The power supply is protected against short circuit. In case of short it will shut off itself in case of a short and recover by itself after few minutes.The over all weight of the power system is probably less then half of a regular power supply yet provides double the current.

From my short experience with it, I left the power on for 48 hours straight and turned it on and off in rapid succession for about 30 second to see if something would blow out and absolutely nothing went wrong. If I tried that on/off trick on my Doepfer case I promise you I would’ve went through 15 fuses.

You can expect the price range to be around Doepfer cases but it’s difficult to give specifics as every order varies immensely, given the amount of options. This is going to be my case of choice. What I’d like to see happen with the success with these cases is more modular systems on stage and on the road!!

The turnaround time is approximately 6 – 9 days. To get on the waiting list for a custom case, contact:

More pictures can be found: Here

Xart + Trash_Audio: Chicago Modular Musickal Extemporization Klinic

Chicago Modular Musickal Extemporization Klinic Saturday June 19 2010 12:30PM-?

The XART Studio + TRASHAUDIO.COM will be hosting more fun for 2010. Charles Cohen + hair_loss (Color Is Luxury) will be in Chicago to do a modular synthesizer/ electronics based improv workshop/clinic! – a talk and demo of the architecture of the Buchla Easel – a Performance + discussing and working up patches suitable for free improv + small group jams / improv games- try ideas out, collaborate (and listen!) + plenty of time for give and take all along the way!

Seating/Spots will be limited (to about 20-ish people). This is a RSVP workshop with a modest donation.

A rough schedule is in the works – we plan to keep this low stress, casual and fun! We hope to end the day with an evening concert where you can invite your friends/girlfriend/boyfriend/family whoever! – to listen and watch the results of what we did all day. If you are interested email: please put Chicago Modular Musickal Extemporization Klinic in the subject! We will forward information on how to attend!

The Color Is Luxury sound is always improvisational, changing and evolving, ranging from very dense and harsh to minimal and ambient, beats to spacey, based on their mood at the time and the atmosphere of the space they’re playing in. Regardless of the situation, they manage to come up with something special.

Charles plays a Buchla Music Easel, a rare analog performance instrument he acquired from master synth maker Don Buchla in 1976. he performs regularly in Philly with various folks on the techno, noise, jazz and new music scenes.

hair_loss plays a variety of esoteric and mainstream effects pedals and devices, which he wires up differently for each show, thus always keeping Charles guessing. hair_loss is also involved with SNOWSTORM & Jive Nation, and collaborates frequently with other Philadelphia artists.


Synth Meet 7 Video

Short and sweet.

Our last meet was so populated that we decided to half the rsvp list to make it more gear orientated rather than people oriented. The result was less people, more gear, more time with gear.

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


Gorilla Box

For the past several months, I’ve been excited for this case and this morning it came to my door along with some Tip Top Audio goodies. I received these pictures documenting the final stages of the development from Gorilla Box. A proper review of its features, which are extensively customizable, will be done later. I’ll bring everything on sunday. See you there.

Some notes on the case:

There are legs on the inside of the lid allowing it to be used as a side table for other gear – guitar pedals, laptop, whatever fits. The inside is wired with a new Tiptop Audio power system which emits essentially no heat. The regulator is the size of an iPhone and the power supply is like a lacie mini brick style external power supply. A bit of trivia: Surachai of TRASH_AUDIO is in possession of the first one.
– Stolen from MatrixSynth

The website is in a transition mode and will be updated soon: Gorilla Box

E-mail: gorillaboxes at

Expert Sleepers Interface

This is an important step into the analog digital interface movement. Expert Sleepers have developed an interface that provides DC/AC-Coupling so your audio interface doesn’t have to.

Prototype of the Expert Sleepers ES-1 interfacing module.

This Eurorack format module serves two purposes:

– When connected to a DC-coupled audio interface, provides CV amplification.

– When connected to an AC-coupled audio interface, provides CV decoding for use with the Expert Sleepers AC Encoder plug-in.

Flickr Set

Expert Sleepers Website

Jonathan Snipes + STG

Video Description
Jonathan Snipes of Captain Ahab ( is such a remarkably enthusiastic STG Soundlabs Time Modules user that when he emailed me and said “I hear you’re working on a clock divider module that runs off the STG Sync Bus … please let me know when i can have it” I couldn’t help but just go ahead and mail him my own prototype. (don’t worry, i built another and yes he paid for it)
Jonathan was so happy to be able to extract all sorts of different rhythmic clocks driven by his TR-808 that he made this video showing off the Time Divider driving all sorts of aspects of his modular synthesiser and gave it to me to post up here in my U-Toob account.
We’ve still got a couple of firmware sniggles to deal with, but here is the 97 percent operational Time Divider being used in the composition of a track which Donald Crunk declared “hot as shit” when he heard it, and I’m inclined to agree with him.
I’m not entirely sure what the Time Divider is doing here, but I’m hearing a lot of rhythmic intervals happneing against the TR-808 that simply would not be possible with anything other than the Time Divider or a rack full of extremly hard-to-find Garfield Mini-Docs.
The Time Divider will be available soon from STG Soundlabs ( and not too long after from Analogue Haven (

Thank you very much, Jonathan.