Electronic Music

In my free time, I like to listen play and create music… I have a broad range of authors and styles I like to listen to, but when it is time to create something, electronic music (not necessarily EDM) is the path i usually take. I like nice, bit synth sounds with lots of modulation and movement going on, and strive to create them and use them in an interesting manner.  You can check some of my music on my YouTube channel.

A Little Bit of History and Influences…

Music has been my main hobby since 1992, when I discovered I could compose small pieces of music using the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. By that time I had my first keyboard: a very basic Yamaha PSR (I can’t remember the specific model) which sounded dreadfully. By that time, while most of my friend and colleagues would listen to Brian Adams and Bon Jovi, I was completely hooked on Mike Oldfield and Vangelis. In my late teens, I discovered the wonders of Baroque music (Bach, Telemann, Purcell) as well as more ancient stuff like William Byrd. This was the time I spent some time learning about counterpoint, scales, music forms, etc…  Then came university, my first jobs, and I started to enjoy the EDM that when on in the early and mid 2000’s. I re-discovered Jean-Michelle Jarre somewhere around 2010, when I was starting my PhD.

In 2011 I was regularly at the gym, so EDM was again the music I heard. by that time I also started to take Zumba classes, which exposed me to the latin rhythms, and also pushed me to learn a little bit more about ballroom dancing. Again, new musical styles started to influence me, specially Foxtrot and Quick Step… which are still my favourite styles.  By 2012 I started to listen to more alternative music, such as Arcade Fire, Crystal Fighters, MGMT, Austra, Neon Indian and Chairlift, but also to Skrillex. At the time, I brought the Edirol PCR-500 MIDI controller and most of what I did was patching on Pure Data and the Alsa Modular Synth (AMS).

In 2014 I started watching Marc’s Dotty’s YouTube Channel (Automatic Gainsay) and tried to reproduce the capabilities of classic synths like the ARP2600 or the MiniMoog. It was by this time I stumble upon his reviews of the Korg’s Volca Beats, Bass and Keys synthesizers, which let my thinking: “Hummm…. I could use that”. By this time I also started listening more Tangerine Dream and Krafwerk. On February 2015 I brought my first hardware synth: the Korg Monotribe… It felt so good to do the filter sweep at mid-resonance. After that, I started to assemble my small hardware studio, leaving my laptop mostly for recording and editing.

My Gear

As of January 2016, this is my gear inventory:

  • Korg MicroKorg: This is my main synth, and also doubles as the MIDI controller for the Volca Keys and Volca Bass. Since it is polyphonic, digital (no need to tune or wait for it to warm up) it is perfect for recreative playing, or to test  musical ideas whenever inspiration hits.
  • Arturia MicroBrute: This is a recent addition: for the time being it was mainly used as a Bass Synth (for example, in The Looper Song).
  • Korg’s Volca Range (Beats, Bass, Keys and Sample): These are the core of my little setup. Indeed, I devoted a page to resources and tutorials on these little synths, (and also most videos on my YouTube channel). The Volca Beats is my main drum machine, although I mostly use it for synchronizing the Volca Keys, and as a very peculiar metronome. The Sample was the machine I didn’t wanted to buy, but has been a surprise to discover. I use it both as a rhythm machine and as a granular synth. Indeed, I ended up doing a tutorial series about it, launching my YouTube channel.
  • Waldorf Streichfett: A string Synthesizer: used as the main synth in The Looper Song.
  • Korg Monotribe: This monophonic synth (with a small drum kit) was my first piece of gear. I rarely use it, but it has been revived lately as a CV-controlled second tone source for the MicroBrute (see this post and also this one for the tutorials).
  • Korg Kaossillator 2 and Mini Kaoss Pad 2: A very limited synth and a little multi-effects processor, which is also a nice secondary sound recorder… I would like to use it as a portable recorder for sampling audio, but it eats through batteries., but I managed to create a few songs exclusively with it, in the Ambient Kaoss Series.
  • Korg Monotron Range: These three small synths (Monotron, Monotrom Duo and Monotron Delay) are mostly used for their MS-20 clone filter and also for small glitch and percussive sounds.
  • Guitar Pedals: Nux Time Core (My current delay pedal), Behringer FX600 (Digital Effects Processor) and Behringer RM600 (Reverb).
  • Other gear (Controllers, Metronomes, Interfaces):
    • Roland/Edirol PCR-500: My main MIDI controller.
    • Korg NanoKontrol2, NanoPad2 and MicroKeys25: Portable MIDI controllers.
    • Korg SQ-01: Also a recent addition…
    • Nux PG-2: Tuner, Metronome, Equalizer, Basic effects processor and “amp simulator”… a crappy, crappy piece of equipment I only use to make noise.
    • Focousrite Scarlet 2i2 (main USB-audio IO), MidiSport 4×4 (USB-Midi), and Behringer UCA-202 (secondary USB-audio IO).

As for software: most of it runs on my main laptop (a Toshiba Tecra with an Intel Core i5) under Arch Linux: Ardour (DAW), Pure-data, JAAA and JAPA, for helping me with my mastering (which is still a little bit sub par)… I rarely use any other software now.