“I have the gear that I have because I want it, not because I need it” Hypoxia|
When did you start making music, and how did you first get started?
“I started writing and performing at a rather young age. It began with playing guitar – typical backyard punk and hardcore bands, then progressing to playing with drum machines and tape machines, and flirting with industrial music ideas and influences. It was about 1995 when I attended my first ‘rave’ and went down the rabbit hole of electronic music.
“This kicked off a lifelong dedication to producing electronic music and releasing records. I got my start working in recording studios all over the greater Los Angeles area at the age of 17, having access to the gear in off-hours while slowly but surely building my own home studio – piecing it together with bits found in pawn shops and early eBay purchases before the inflated prices of vintage used synths. I was also right on the cusp, in the late ’90s, of getting into the whole new generation of software synths and DAWs.”
Tell us about your current setup
“I’m currently working in a home studio – it’s been the same room in the same house for the last 15 years! It began as a mostly hardware-based studio with just a computer for multitracking. The studio began to evolve into doing almost everything in the box. During that period, I sold a lot of hardware and found myself productive working on a computer… but I’ve always been a person who draws inspiration from instruments, and those dark days of working only on a computer started to feel stale. Now over the last eight years, my hardware collection has taken over the room, and I’m having more fun than ever.”
What DAW (or DAWs) do you use, and why did you choose it?
“I learned how to use logic when it was still a windows application, and it was always my go-to DAW for everything. As I worked in studios tracking drums and other instruments, Pro Tools was what I was working on for most of my ‘dayjob’, but within the last five or six years, I’ve been exclusively working in Ableton. I find Ableton an incredibly fast environment to work in, allowing me to get the creative ideas out of my head fast without bogging down the process with technical complications. Recently, I’ve also begun testing Bitwig out for live performance, and it’s a very seamless transition.”
What one piece of gear in your studio could you not do without?
“To be honest, I don’t think I have one single hardware instrument in my studio that I absolutely need. I have the gear that I have because I want it, not because I need it. At the end of the day, I can be just as productive sitting on a train with a laptop and writing music with mostly software, but I find hardware instruments inspirational.
“If my studio was on fire and I could only save one thing, it would definitely by my computer, but if I had to select one instrument, it would be my smaller modular system – it’s a 12U/104HP Elite modular case filled with 95% Make Noise modules, and I get the largest amount of dynamics from it when it comes to ideas. It takes about 15 minutes of messing about with this system before whatever writer’s block I had is solved.”
What’s the latest addition to the studio?
“Just recently picked up an ARP 2600 clone, as well as an arp 1601 sequencer. I’ve always dreamt of owning an ARP 2600 but honestly, I just couldn’t justify the price for another monophonic synth.
“A friend of mine owned a real 2600 as well as the clone, and felt he needed to get rid of one. It was one of those last min offers someone calls you with and you just can’t pass it up. I grabbed it and figured it needed the 1601 sequencer to complete it! I absolutely love it.
“I’ve been able to isolate the instrument in my studio only using the 2600 clone and my computer, and come up with tons and tons and tons of ideas almost instantly.”
What dream bit of gear would you love to have in your studio?
“An EMS Synthi AKS. I’m not even sure how I would practically integrate it into my daily use of creating music, but I would definitely figure it out. I’ve also been itching to jump into API lunchbox modules, but i’m hoping to save my bank account for the time being!”
When approaching a new track or project, where do you start?
“It truly depends on the project, if i’m working on more Drumcell material, then of the time I start with some some sort of rhythmic loop or idea –whether its something I’ve created on a drum machine or some rhythmic loop picked up from somewhere else. Then the whole track is built around that particular groove, or new grooves created from that. For my Hypoxia material, those compositions begin with selecting one instrument from my collection, taking it out of the studio and isolating myself with that instrument, trying to create something compelling within that instrument’s limitations.”
What are you currently working on?
“I just finished up a handful of Hypoxia releases that have already come out recently – and there are more coming very soon. I also just completed a full-length album. For the time being, I’ll be focusing all of 2018 on all-new Drumcell material.”