- G.A.S. Newsletter
- 72 - Michael Konomos
72 - Michael Konomos
Hello music people 👋
Today in the spotlight, Michael Konomos
Coming from the United States, he is an artist and a musician. Early in life he did not like music but that changed a few years later when he discovered what he liked. He now loves making music to express himself but to also make listeners feel understood 🎶
Read Time: 13 minutes 📰
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Who are you and what is your relationship with music?
I am an artist and musician living in Atlanta (USA).
As a kid, music was this awful early 80’s pop that my parents listened to in the car or on records at home. Or it was the inscrutable theory that my grandmother would kindly try and teach to me at her piano. Or the awful plastic recorders in middle school. It wasn’t until high school when Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana were breaking that I found something of my own.
From then on, I listened to music like it was religion, like there were answers to my life in it. Crying alone in my room to Pretty Hate Machine, or being challenged by Boys for Pele, or blasting Radiohead as I drove my first car.
It wasn’t until a couple decades later that I began to find the courage to start making music myself. My partner was getting an electric guitar and that inspired me. If she can do it, maybe I can too? So I got a Minilab and the rest is history.
Now, I love it. I have so much to learn, and I am trying to learn more theory, but I needed a different way in. The technical skills of being a professional digital artist have helped me be fearless with technology related to music.
Music, for me, isn’t about becoming a virtuoso, though I respect that. My true desire is to express myself in songs that help others feel like I have always felt when I listened - understood.
Which piece of equipment in your studio is essential to your production process?
Well, there are so many that would qualify.
I use the Typhon a lot, I do a LOT in Ableton, but if I really think about it, the Lyra 8. I run drums through its effects, I sometimes will just play the pads and see where it goes. It’s so inviting and immediate and beautiful that it is always calling me. Here’s the crazy thing - I won it! From Thomann. They were doing a YouTube contest. Those things you never think you have a chance at. I still can’t believe it. I can never claim to have bad luck again.
What is the least expensive piece of gear that gave you the most results?
It’s cheap and the apps are cheap and you can make such good music with it. Koala is a favorite right now. My friend Styron introduced me to it. I feel like it does a lot of what more expensive 404’s and Digitakts do. It’s wonderful. Drambo is another app. And so many great apps for the iPad by Hainbach and others.
Sometimes I will get away from the studio setup, go lay on the bed, get ideas onto the iPad in a very playful way. Then race into the studio when something is starting to come together.
Walk us through your process for creating and producing music.
I don’t have a single process because I get bored easily.
There are two general approaches though.
One is that I will limit myself to a single instrument. Just dive deep into this one piece of gear and find what songs it has inside of it.
The other way is that I will start in Ableton, sketch everything out really quickly - a beat, a baseline, chord progression, everything in like 20 minutes, to make myself focus on the actual music instead of being lost in sound design all day, because I ultimately want to make songs, not just jam. And I will go back and start replacing parts with hardware and other instruments.
But to tell the truth, whenever I am playful is when I do the best work. Thinking too much, which I do too much, kills creativity.
What is a production technique that you always come back to?
I got an Elektron Model:Cycles to have a drum machine, but I don’t like it as a drum machine.
It’s a great FM synth, but a weak drum machine for my tastes. So I figured out if I run it through external effects - like the Lyra or the Dreadbox Disorder fuzz pedal, then it can really raise hell. Then you use the Lyra delay and mess around with the time knobs and it sounds drunk. It’s awesome. I could do that all day.
How would you explain your style?
I would use my influences to describe where I want to be, and let the listener decide where I am actually am.
Alessandro Cortini, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, David Bowie, Gary Numan, Queen Kwong, and Portishead are often in my earbuds when I am not making music and on my mind when I am.
What is a big challenge you have as an artist?
As with most people, I have a day job (visual artist), I am a parent, and finding the time is tough. I am very motivated, so I do.
Sometimes I have to do something to ease myself in. Watch some inspiring interviews or gear videos or something, and then get some ideas and get to it. Also my lack of formal musical training, but I am working to catch up on that!
Has building a hardware setup changed your perspective on music or life in general?
It has taught me that as much as I truly embrace digital technology, I care about the tactile. And I think everyone does.
We are humans. We have fingers. We need to touch and interact and actually think with our hands and bodies at times. Digital tools, which I still use a lot, sometimes rob us of that experience.
So, I am grateful for the gear that I have.
One tip on how to spark creativity?
Find a piece of gear that you personally feel drawn to. It can be software as well (blasphemy!) and really just PLAY with it, like a child.
Have fun, explore, see what it says to you. Let it take you places.
A book, movie, article, or album that has inspired you?
Avanti, by Alessandro Cortini
Anything else you'd like to say?
I am working on a concept album called My Father The Astronaut that I should be putting out in the the world later this year. The music and art for it are done, just need to get all the promo materials and videos ready for its release.
The core of the story is from real life events. It has a layer of science fiction, but the parts from my life are more shocking and unsettling than the parts that I made up. At the core it is about grief, which most people can relate to.
Where can people find more of your music and connect with you online?
Best place is Instagram
I did put out an EP on Bandcamp, but there will be more coming later this year.
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