“Once I got my Moog Voyager, my world shifted. I dropped everything for synthesis” Bana Haffar|
>Los Angeles resident Bana Haffar has been making quite an impact on the modular synth world in recent years, hosting Modular On The Spot, a nomadic monthly series of outdoor synth jams, alongside her own creative compositions. 2018 has so far seen her land on Make Noise’s inhouse record label with Matiere, a stunning two-track EP of extended modular compositions. FM caught up with Bana earlier this year to discover more about her creative impulses…
When did you start making music?
“After a series of quite unfortunate piano lessons at the age of eight, I switched to violin. In my teenage years, I switched to bass and started playing in local metal bands in Dubai, where I was living at the time. Once I got my Moog Voyager, my world totally shifted and I dropped everything for synthesis.”
Tell us about your studio...
“I’m currently building my electronic music studio in my apartment in LA, which I share with my partner Rodent (Eric Cheslak) who is also a modular synth player. I say building, because in my previous life as a session bass player, most of my recording was done in pro studios rented by record labels. Now that I’ve left the industrial musical complex and shifted to the DIY electronic music world, I’m having to start from scratch in a way and rebuild my arsenal. Most of my gear consists of Eurorack modules, a Moog Voyager, some pedals, and a few stand-alone desktop synths.”
What DAW do you use, and why?
“Pro Tools for ease of tracking.”
Which one piece of gear in your studio could you not do without?
“This isn’t really a piece of ‘studio gear’ but I use my Zoom H6 recorder a tonne, as a sort of mobile sonic sketchpad. I always have it plugged into my mixer and record snippets of ideas as I build my patches. I like to grab it and go when I go on walks or long drives, to listen back to the sketches instead of having to mix and bounce every track from Pro Tools.”
What’s the latest addition to your studio collection?
“I recently picked up a pair of Focal Alpha 65 studio monitors, very happy with them so far.”
What dream bit of gear would you love to have in your studio?
“A Roland Space Echo. I’m a huge dub head.”
When approaching a new track or project, where do you start?
“I’m constantly taking patch notes and have an ever-expanding list of things I want to try. If I don’t have a clear idea of the piece I’d like to build before I start, I go to my patch notes and draw inspiration from them.”
Can you tell us about what you’re currently working on?
“I plan on putting out a second studio album this year and I’m currently sifting through the dozens of live and studio recordings I made in 2017. I’d like to put out a cassette of live performances as a personal DIY project. I’m also doing a short artist residency with my partner at the University of Pennsylvania in the spring. The other thing we do every month is host Modular on The Spot Los Angeles, so that’s another of my ongoing projects.”