98 - Pothole Hotline
Artist Interviews 🎶 Studio Tours 🎛
Hello music people 👋
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Today in the spotlight, Pothole Hotline
Coming from the United States he has a deep-rooted connection with music. Started with piano lessons but soon discovered techno and trackers. In 2016 he stumbled upon YouTube videos about eurorack synths and he was hooked 🎶
Some of my favorite eurorack modules:
Other stuff I use a lot:
Elektron - Digitakt
Akai - MPC Live II
Roland - SYSTEM-8
Teenage Engineering - OP-1
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Who are you and what is your relationship with music?
I grew up making music.
My parents forced me to take piano lessons when I was a kid (and I'm glad they did!). I stuck with it for about 11 years, and my teacher always yelled at me for playing everything too fast. I was always drawn to high-bpm stuff.
In high school I played the trumpet and french horn. Then I discovered techno and trance and was immediately hooked. While all of my friends were listening to Nirvana, I was listening to random techno compilations.
I've lived in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon nearly my whole life, and for a long time the electronic music scene was happening far, far away. Also, the internet barely existed when I was in high school, so I had no idea how people were making electronic music.
I eventually discovered trackers and made music with FastTracker 2 for YEARS, downloading samples from wherever I could find them. My first synthesizer was a Korg MS2000 (which I still have!), and I learned sound synthesis by playing around with it.
I eventually started doing stuff with plugins, but it wasn't until 2016 that I started watching YouTube videos about eurorack and decided I needed to try it.
I bought a Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms SV-1 and KB-1 sequencer and I was hooked. I've built my modular system up over the past 7 years, and it's the most fun I've ever had making music.
I mostly just make short videos to highlight synth patches, but every once in a while I record longer tracks.
My "day job" is doing software QA for a health and wellness company. It would be exciting to make more money doing music stuff, but that's not my main goal.
Which piece of equipment in your studio is essential to your production process?
I'm a modular synthesizer guy, so my big eurorack case is definitely my most critical piece of gear. The case itself was actually custom built by a talented friend of mine.
If I had to choose one specific module, I'd say it's my Malekko Voltage Block. I use that sequencer for everything, even as a sort of 16-step waveform generator to control things other than pitch.
What is the least expensive piece of gear that gave you the most results?
Probably a 10 dollar piezoelectric contact mic.
I've connected that thing to all sorts of junk and recorded it, then used the sounds in my drum machines and in the modular system.
Walk us through your process for creating and producing music.
Most of what I make is posted to Instagram, and I create synthesizer patches very, very quickly.
It usually begins when realize I haven't used a specific module in a while, so I start playing with it, and when I have something unique, I start building around it.
Since I'm mainly recording video, I use OBS and a webcam, with the audio passing through a mixer and Scarlett audio interface. I like doing it that way because the audio and video are already sync'd up.
I edit in DaVinci resolve, where I use the built-in equalizer and run everything through iZotope Ozone just to fix little issues.
It's been a very long time since I did anything in a DAW. Even the full-length tracks I've released are recorded in a single one-track take. That will probably make most people think I'm insane.
Sometimes it takes 75-100 takes to get a recording I'm happy with.
What is a production technique that you always come back to?
Varying the length of notes always makes things sound so much more interesting, and in modular, depending on the gear you're using, that can be a challenge.
One of my favorite things to do is use an envelope generator that lets me control the fall/decay time of the envelope, then use a sequencer to "play" the lengths.
In my setup, I mostly use the Malekko Voltage Block to control the fall time on Maths.
How would you describe your style?
I spent years struggling to sound more like other people and fit my music into a specific genre.
Eventually I realized that for me, trying to sound like someone else is a limitation.
It's a critical part of learning, but I had to forget about genre and external influences to create my own sound.
I get great ideas from other people and then modify them for my own equipment and tastes. I'm like Dr. Frankenstein - I take pieces from all over the place and build my own musical monsters.
What is a big challenge you have as an artist?
For years I've wanted to get better at doing live performances.
One day I want to play a live set with my modular synth. I still haven't gotten comfortable enough to try it. I think I just need more practice.
Has building a hardware setup changed your perspective on music or life in general?
It makes a huge difference having a machine that I can customize to make music in exactly the way that makes sense to me. Because the instrument is so familiar and works the way I expect it to, using it is almost like meditating.
I use it to relax and relieve stress, which has had a huge impact on my life. And on top of that, it's allowed me to be part of a huge community online, which is amazing.
One tip on how to spark creativity?
This is a horrible thing to tell people, but I'm going to do it anyway: BUY NEW GEAR! Every time I get something new and think of all the ways it will interact with what I already have, it gets me excited to play around and do new things.
For me, a lot of creativity comes from combining things in unexpected ways. If I can't afford new gear, I go watch people on YouTube demo equipment I already own; I always seem to find something new to do with old gear, or something I forgot about.
A book, movie, article, or album that has inspired you?
This is cheating, but the synthesizer documentary "I Dream of Wires" inspires me every time I watch it. I love the history behind these crazy machines.
And it's probably cliche to say it, but Blade Runner still has a vibe that sneaks into everything I do. That movie wouldn't be the same without the Vangelis soundtrack.
Anything else you'd like to say?
I make my music in a corner of my basement where my clothes washer and dryer used to be. I think it's amazing how many people are out there making music with whatever they can find. There are a lot of good examples of this on the G.A.S. Newsletter!
I can't wait to see what the community of indie electronic musicians looks like in 10 or 20 years, it's going to be amazing.
Where can people find more of your music and connect with you online?
For jams, knob-twists and pad hitting videos go to G.A.S. Instagram
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