"Deceptively simple, enormously catchy modern electro, eschewing
fashionable digital trickery for good old analog skills" XLR8R
This is my first real studio, and as Pest(e) I recorded my first album here. I also did the first few Lowfish 12 inches on Suction Records (a label I started with Solvent in1997) + the album "Fear Not The Snow and Other Lo-fiing Objects" in this mess.
Roland SH-101 (Red)
Moog Source (not in pic)
The Model 102 I got in Montreal on a tip from David Kristian. It was withering unloved in a pawnshop. They thought it was a stereo receiver. Massive sounding for a single oscillator – I never should have sold it. It's the bass sound on this track. Update: January 2020, I have one again :)
Always been a Mackie mixer fan (great source of distortion). I hated those shitty Yamaha NS10Ms – all my early stuff was mixed on Tannoy PBM-8's. Note the clock-in to the Jupiter arpeggiator (being driven by the 808 rimshot). The track "Walking With Scissors" is all just that.
In 1999 I produced "Eliminator," the album I might be best known for. I dunno. It was my best selling anyway, and the vinyl version was pressed in Europe by (K-RAA-K)3 and was the impetus for some of my first live solo shows – in Belgium in particular. The track "Glued Smile" from that album is a personal favourite and was also released as a 7" by the City Centre Offices label.
Synths: TR-808, Jupiter-6, System-102, S750, Korg MS20, Nord Lead 2 - recorded to Sony Minidisc (a format which I still think sounds amazing). Sequencing was via a Power Computing Apple clone running Cubase.
Suction Records was in full swing, and I did the artwork - you can see proofs for the "Eliminator" sleeve on the wall. Below the 808 is a thing called a "fax machine". It's how you ran a record label in the day.
I produced a lot of tracks in this little concrete bunker of a room, including the EP "Maintain the Tension" (on Suction Records, manufactured by Morr Music in Germany) and the 12" "The Accident Causer" on Detroit's Ersatz Audio label.
Gear-wise it was the usual stuff with the addition of the ARP Odyssey 2813 Mk2 (the one with the Moog rip-off filter). I bought this for $300 from a dude who used it both as a "guitar pedal" and a place to put his ashtrays (plural). My desert island synths are this, my JP6 and my 808.
In 2001 Ghostly International approached a bunch of artists about a Moroder-inspired project called "Disco Nouveau". The track "No Longer Accepting Complaints" on that comp is all ARP Odyssey (bass), 808, JP6 and a borrowed MAM ADX-1 for the disco "boooowwm" sound.
This studio sucked as it always seemed temporary, but I made the album "1000 Corrections Per Second" released on Suction Records here, along with my contribution to the Hymen Records project "Travel Sickness". I was playing live and travelling a bit so the addition of the 550Mhz Macbook Pro + Logic was a game-changer.
Sadly, it meant I went from playing live with hardware to standing there looking like I was checking my email on stage. Thus the addition of the Novation K Station. Many of the leads on "1000 Corrections" are from that thing...
I did a bit of sound design and library music work at this time as well. If you've ever heard a track on Nickelodeon or BBC One that sounds like a Lowfish track, maybe it was.
The Spirit Absolute 2 speakers were a mainstay for many years. They are pretty muddy but could reproduce the 808 at volume, and Portishead and Rude 66 used them, so you know they are good. Many days I'd just stare at those flapping blue woofers listening aimlessly to 808 kick patterns at 94dB...
TR-808, Odyssey, JP6, Waldorf Pulse and a Touched By Sound DRM-1 + effects + plugins were the basis of this studio. I spent far too much time fucking around with plugins. NI battery V1 was good, though; I used that a lot for drums before it got sloppy timing-wise like everything else. Note the high spec room treatment falling off the walls. Class.
In the CD rack to the right of the JP6/Odyssey, you can see a copy of Autechre's "Incanabula". I love early Autechre and this (and Amber) are going to the desert island with me.
There's also an orignial Apple iPod there on top of the Jupiter-6.
This was a great studio, totally decoupled from my house, so I could be crazy loud. The result was a veer into proper electro and the album "Burn The Lights Out" released on New York's Satamile Records. That album was the first where I got pretty deep (lost?) into the computer (Logic + a zillion plugs). It made for interesting results but very slow progress. When tracks are totally "ITB," the ability to go back endlessly and tweak-tweak-tweak is a disease. At least for me. Thus, I took an insane amount of time producing anything.
The other album I made in this studio was the 2008 album "Frozen and Broken" released on the Canadian label Noise Factory Records. It's a favourite but it was only ever released on CD and digitally. I added a Dave Smith Instruments Evolver to my set-up around this time and it's slathered all over that record and everything else since.
Synths: 808, JP6, JP4, SH2, DSI Evolver + NI FM7 + ESM24
I kinda burned-out making music on computers with their sloppy midi timing and endless stability issues. I seemed to spend as much time on forums figuring out how to wrangle latency issues as I did making music.
Secondly (since you asked) in 2011 I messed up one of my ears flying and it took forever for music to sound right again. My left ear literally rolled everything off steeply at 200Hz - no good for a guy whose main joy is 808 kicks!
I shifted into low/no gear...there were a few studios of some sort during this time (including this nicely treated room with Adam P22's which sound monstrous). I did quite a bit of sound design work and I still produced music, but not much was released from this time...
I moved to Vancouver, Canada (from Toronto) in late 2016 and have set up two mostly hardware-based studios where everything is recorded "live" in one pass like I used to do in 1996.
The first track I released from this studio was "A List of Ghosts" released on Madrid's Analogical Force label. The first EP from this studio is called "Hypersensitivity" and is released on Suction Records.
Synths: Korg MS20 mini, ARP Odyssey, Jupiter-6, SH2, TR-808, TR-606 (modified), MC-202 (modified), DSI Evolver, Waldorf Pulse, Microwave 1, Touched By Sound DRM-1, AVP Midi Analog Drums, Yamaha CS20M, Oberheim Matrix 6 + effects + Logic + Alesis MMT-8 and a lovely Roland System-100.
The Spirit Absolutes are in storage and have been replaced by the very clinical (but great) Adam A7 monitors which I have blown up twice. Raw 808 kicks, fully open, can be hard on speakers.
I can't say enough about the expert sleepers USAMO midi box. Using audio for midi is alien technology and is Atari-level tight. It got me back into making tracks.
This! I'm no modular guy – I fear getting lost making cool drones and never making music again, which is an issue now anyway...
But I am a semi-modular guy, so I've added this Roland System 100 (the holy grail of mono synths?) to my mess. I completed an album to be released on Suction Records in 2021, and the System 100 is all over it.