Interview – deStrict

For issue 16 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular I asked deStrict (a modular using techno producer in Italy) some questions for an interview about his work and use of modular. Here’s the interview. 

I met deStrict as he was getting into eurorack and he was adding that to his studio to work alongside other equipment and software creating more minimal techno. So I wanted to talk to him about life pre and post modular regarding music production arm talk about the use of eurorack in a production context.

Hey Igor, so first of all tell us who you are and what it is you do. It’s easy to skip that as we’ve been speaking for sometime now but it’s good for everyone reading to have an idea of who you are.

Nice to meet you all I’m Igor Lessio some of you know me as deStrict or S!LK or 50% of SKMK I’m a music producer and also DJ. But since i started the music production school most of my time is devoted to that so let’s say I’m a retired DJ and music producer/teacher 🙂 I run Opium Audio and I’m the A&R of the Involuntary movement project alongside Chstiandi Stefano. We can practically say that music is my life.

So how did you get into music early on and what made you lean towards minimal techno?

Back in the days I was 6 and my father was used to keep me awake during Folk bands “after party”. Is where they get aware I was made to play percussions, then music school then bored to death by classics… then late after techno (also hardcore) DJ and party boy. Minimal came form a romantic walk under rain in Milano, I remember I entered a shop called Fluxus and they was selling ambient stuff so instead of get back to the rain I listened some of the CDs… and boom! Fuck there was a way to groove without and kick drum?? WOW I must learn that. So even if I made various genre in my various aliases my love if for small super detailed grooves and 8am after party music.

Before getting into modular synths what were you using for music production?

Like everybody I had a many transitions. Back in the days machines and clock problems then computer only then computer and machines but I was keeping me far form modules for many reasons like the price and all that people that keep you scared telling you will never finish a track with them.

And what was it that started to interest you about Eurorack modules?

I was at a Ricardo Villalobos concert and after listen what he was doing and producing in real time I decided to try it. Then you know, you give me a lesson one day ahaha. The use of modules and their simply but really effective workflow was perfect for my way of work.

Did you have any frustrations or issues working with Eurorack or did it slot into your workflow pretty easily?

Euro slipped in my workflow with absolutely no issues, I can do in same project everything form Euro to sampling to computer and not a single clock issue or problems. I’m pretty happy with that! Plus the real frustration comes from looking into my 300000 samples and find something…. you know that kill me for real!

How are you using your Eurorack system? For drums, custom synths, FX etc?

I use them for everything from synth to drones to percussion. About FX I prefer pedals or VST I still think that there is a lot of work on eurorack to achieve their usability. But you know this is my point of view. Now Eurorack has firmly taken place as a key part of your studio do you wish your system could do anything else? My studio will do what I do, instruments are something that are there to help your expressions but you cannot be a slave to that hardware. I will keep getting more modules I have some in mind but to be really honest, talking about my own style I already have enough to make records till 2050 🙂

To finish on tell people where they can find your music and more about you.

Well if you play records so you can find me as deStrict at this link https://goo.gl/wIa88K on Decks and all major and minor record stores. But if you are my friend you can also play my unreleased music in you next set 🙂 I’m thinking I will avoid releasing my stuff and keep giving it to the right people to test out, itwill be even more underground that way!

 

DivKid’s Month Of Modular – Issue #16

Here’s issue 16 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular, magazine /e-zine whatever you want to call it … Module of the month was from WMD with their Performance Mixer, news was NAMM heavy with Catalyst Audio, Malekko, birdkids, Verbos, Intellijel and plenty more. I also interviewed deStrict to round of the features.

MAGAZINE – https://joom.ag/zF1W PDF – http://www.bit.ly/DivKidMag16

DivKid’s Month Of Modular Issue #15

Here’s the December issue of DivKid’s Month Of Modular packed full of modular goodies like a sweet shop of knobs and holes to stick your cables in … erm, yeah sorry about that mind wonders sometimes … This issue’s interview is with BASTL Instruments and there’s news from Rossum Electro-Music, CV Freqs and AJH Synth. The module of the month was also a kind offering from the gods, or Allan at AJH – however you want to look at it.

MAGAZINE – https://joom.ag/PhWW PDF – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag15

 

DivKid’s Month Of Modular Issue #14

Here’s the November 2016 magazine issue 14 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular. There’s a relatively new company as module of the month, news from BugBrand, Erica Synths, Malekko and random*source and the interview from this issue was with Justin from Abstract Data.

MAGAZINE – https://joom.ag/tqVQ – PDF – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag14

DivKid’s Month Of Modular Issue #13

Here’s issue 13 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular. This marks a year of the magazine so I thought a style change on the front cover and inside was due. The module of the month came from 4ms. News included XAOC Devices and Special Stage Systems. Finally there was an interview with Erica Synths.

MAGAZINE – https://joom.ag/RTfQ PDF – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag13

 

Interview – Ginko Synthese

This month I’m interviewing Jan from Ginko Synthese. He makes the awesome Sample Slicer, TTLFO, Grains and more. With a line of a DIY cases and new DIY modules there’s loads going. So I thought we should have a chat!

Hi Jan, I don’t think we’ve ever spoken about anything other than your own modules. Let’s start with some background, what got you into music?

Oh that is a long time ago… I learned flute when I was a young kid. But I really have difficulties in focusing on things I am said to do so teaching me something is quite difficult ;). I had a private teacher and as I hardly practiced at home she thought it might help if I write my own homework, so I got an empty notebook to write down my own ideas about music in musical notation. This helped me a lot and I really liked it! When I went to the middle school we got an early old grey big computer and there was a program on it where you could cut phrases in pieces and rearrange and pitch them, and all monophonic. And as there was only one sound sample “You’ve got mail” on that computer (I really did not know how to make a new one) So my parents went crazy and asked my brother to put some software on the PC for making music. This led me to tracker programs like ST3 and Fast Tracker. But the first experiences of cutting and rearranging one single phrase led me in the end to one of my current products.

How did these experiences lead you into technology and more specifically
eurorack?

My addiction of making music on tracker programs led me into hardware in the beginning. Tracker programs make lots of use of samples and they had weird names like 303, juno, ms20 etc. I really had no idea where those weird names came from so I started to investigate and reallized soon that these names came from real instruments. So I wanted a hardware synth from that point!.. but I was young and did not had any money and could only affort an Electribe EA1, a Roland U220 and an Atari 1040STF to sequence them. I felt like I was the king of hardware :D. But my taste of music was developed by listening more and more to experimental music and especially the U220 made me disappointed in my idea of hardware. I wanted more glitchy weird sounds instead of those bread and butter sounds and I started to experiment with circuit bending and dreamed of a big modular system. And from circuit bending the step to my big dream was a logic step forward, first I simply put those circuit bend stuff behind panels but I became more and more skilled in electronics.

How long were you into eurorack before making your first module the TTLFO?

I have been into eurorack for a few years before making the TTLFO. I
had a little Doepfer rack, a PAIA and some DIY modules and wanted
to make something like the TTLFO just to put in my rack. I thought it
would be a good Idea to make a few to cover the costs. I asked on
the web if there where people who where interested in one and to my
surprise there where more people interested than the amount of
modules I ever could make!

The TTLFO was DIY and assembled, then just available as assembled.
But now you have a new range of DIY modules to compliment your
assembled ones. Is DIY a specific goal for you to support with the
modular community?

Behind all my products there is an idealistic idea of making them affordable for everyone. I started ginkosynthese to make modules I wanted to have myself but did not had any mony so selling them was just a way to cover the costs but since I did not had any money of my own I had (and still have) the feeling that you should make products for a fair price and DIY is a way to keep them more affordable. But after a while I realized that the first PCB’s I designed for the TTLFO where to difficult for many people as there where a lot of standing resistors and they where not layed out very well. I learned a lot and my new designs are easier to solder and that makes me comfortable to make DIY kits again.

Was it the DIY ethics that led you to making your own line of cases?

Yes! Those ethics are really important for me as I have had struggled about money for many years and want to keep things affordable for others. And as I had the opportunity to use a laser cutter daily in my workshop it was a logic step to make those DIY cases. Last winter I moved my workshop to an amazing new space but without the laser cutters so I have to find a way to get those cases back in stock and as money is still a little issue I have to find a right moment to invest in all the parts I need to get them back in stock.

Again you offer pre-assembled and DIY cases, is seeing the end user with a complete Ginko Synthese system something you’d like to see?

I don’t know if that is what I want as the fun part of modulars is that you can combine modules from other builders as well to create your own personal ideal synth. But I am working towards a little complete line I call the GRAINS line for now as the GRAINS is the first module I designed in that range. It will be a super affordable compact series of only 4HP modules and all only available as DIY.

Your Sample Slicer is a unique module in how it presents live sample recording and mangling. What led to that module? Were you chopping lot of samples on other devices prior to you creating the Sample Slicer?

The sampleslicer is for me the module that resembles my first experiences in making electronic music. It has everything to do with the phrase “You’ve got mail” I talked about above.

What’s next for Ginko Synthese? Anything specific you’d like to tell us?

Since I moved my workshop to a new extremely creative space I have worked hard to build up my studio and have our own bar and a stage. I am going to use this to get other people involved in making music and give them a change to play on a proper PA system for small audience. After the summer there will be several studio sessions where artist can use my studio for free. Results will be released on tapes. All these things give me a lot of energy to develop new products. But there are already some products almost finished to release; some new products in the GRAINS line (a filter, a small sequencer and a feedback distortion) and a sequencer as add-on on the TTLFO.

Finally, anything you’d like to add before we finish?

I love your video’s!!!! They inspire me lot of times.

DivKid’s Month Of Modular Issue #12

issue12

Here’s issue #12 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular from September 2016. The interview is with Ginko Synthese, news featured Mutable Instruments, Music Thing Modular, Thonk, Qu-Bit and Malekko. The module of the month was the TipTop Audio Z-DSP.

MAGAZINE – https://joom.ag/QDsQ PDF – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag12

Interview – Ben Davis

 

This interview is with Ben Davis from Malekko and is from issue 8 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular. Click HERE for that magazine issue. 

malekko-logo

This month I chat to Ben Davis from Malekko – Hey Ben (good name by the way), tell us who you are and what you’re doing. People that recognise you will most likely know you from recent work designing modules with Malekko.

I’m originally from North Carolina. My first musical instrument was the guitar which I started playing in elementary school. I didn’t get into synthesizers until much later. The thing that got me interested in synthesizers was most likely discovering artists like Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher. I picked up any keyboard or drum machine I could get my hands on to get started making electronic music. I made a few tracks but never released any of them. I started building a Synthesizers.com system probably around 2008. At this time my mind wasn’t open to the possibilities of a modular system and I basically used it as a keyboard monosynth. I eventually started learning some of the unconventional uses of this 5U synthesizer. This system sounded great but wasn’t quite what I was looking for as far as making really experimental music. I saw people like Richard Devine and Surachai posting pictures of eurorack modules and I had no idea what they were at the time. I started doing some research and realized the eurorack format was a better fit for me. I sold all my 5U and over the next few months had filled up a 12U rack. This was around 2010 just as more manufacturers were getting into eurorack. I played shows around North Carolina performing solo and as part of an industrial band called Mecanikill. I’ve always enjoyed performing live and my focus with Malekko is to make modules that work well in a live rig.

Have you worked with anybody else before Malekko regarding modular?

storagestripYes, I moved to Michigan 3 years ago to start the company Macro Machines with my friend Nico Raftis. Macro Machines started with a module called the Storage Strip which took advantage of the MIDI capabilities of the Mungo 0 series modules. These modules could all pick up on program change messages allowing them to save and recall multiple presets. The storage strip made it possible to manage these settings into 16 locations and sequence through them or recall them manually. We also put out a dual 4:1 switch called the Dynamic Destiny. Nico has been working on a new module called the Omnimod which is a complex modulation source and should be available soon.

So what experiences music or technology based led you to eurorack?

My first experiences with modular were with software like Bidule, Reaktor and Max/MSP. While these options were very capable they just weren’t fun to use and took so much work to get results. I had a 5U system for a while but there were really no options to expand it other than to essentially create a Moog modular clone. The main attraction of eurorack was the amount of options available. When I got into it years ago there may have been 20 manufacturers or less. Today that number has gone way up and looking through sites like Modulargrid can be overwhelming with the number of modules available now. I really enjoy the immediacy of using eurorack. It’s fun to just plugged things in and start making sound. I got an Arduino Uno shortly after getting into eurorack. I was doing extremely basic stuff like turning LEDs on and off to just learn programming because I’d had very little experience writing code up to this point. My first things I worked on were gate/clock modulators and simple sequencers. These never turned into anything beyond a breadboard because of my lack of knowledge around analog and simple stuff like how capacitors and opamps work. Eventually through trial and error I learned the basics of getting a module to work standalone as opposed to using an Arduino hooked up to a breadboard. Out of necessity I learned how to create schematics and lay out PCBs. I use a program called Diptrace which I would highly recommend to anyone beginning to make modules as it’s very intuitive unlike other software like Eagle. Thanks to services like OSH Park I was able to affordably prototype some early designs and still use them to this day for initial prototypes. With Malekko my focus has been making modules that are made for live performance. This usually means making things as small as possible which has led me to learn how to solder stuff I wouldn’t never imagined possible to do by hand. Many of the new modules I’m working on are based on the Teensy LC which uses a QFN package type. Soldering this for the first time was a nightmare but after learning the technique and having proper magnification I’ve soldered them a few times since with no issues at all.

You designed the Varigate4 (click HERE for a video from me) and are working on the ADLFO as well. What’s next and do you see DSP / coding as your strong point?

I’m no expert at any one thing I do but I believe my main strength is that I can take a module from concept to finished product (schematic/pcb design, soldering, programming). I would say programming is what I’m best at. Up to this point the hardware side of things has been learned as I go to support what I want to do with the code. I actually don’t have much experience with DSP programming. I’m looking at a few platforms to start doing experiments with this summer. Many of my module ideas are based around sequencing, clocking and interesting ways of creating rhythms. I’m always trying to think of unique ideas that haven’t been done or making modules that perform functions that would’ve previously taken many modules to accomplish.

For example, the Varigate 4 allows for something I’d not seen in modular by being able to set probability within a sequence of a step triggering. I’d seen this applied to clocks but that wasn’t as predictable as what I created. Also the repeat function of the Varigate 4 is hard to replicate without using a few modules.

Finally anything you’d like to add?

I’ve just got home from Moogfest where we showed the Varigate 8+ for the first time. At the time it had only been together for about 2 weeks, but the code was more than 90% with only some minor things left ot finish. We got a lot of good feedback the few days we were there and I’ve come up with a few cool things to add to it. I also played a live set over the weekend using it which helped me figure out some things that would make it more friendly for live performance. The Varigate 8+ is my main focus right now and we plan to have it out this summer for $599. I’m also working on a few other projects as I have time which may be ready some time this summer or could have to wait til NAMM. Keep an eye on Malekko’s website or Muffwiggler for new nnouncements. We’ve got some really cool stuff in the works that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Thanks so much for having me this month. I really enjoy your work. I’m always recommending people check out your Varigate 4 video if they have any questions. Keep up the good work, looking forward to upcoming videos from you.

A big thanks from me to Ben Davis for the interview, it’s always great to get to know people a bit more and I’m excited to see more of his work in future Malekko products too.

And … why not take the opportunity to share a couple of others Malekko videos.

DivKid’s Month Of Modular Issue #9

issue9

Here’s the June issue of DivKid’s Month Of Modular. We’re catching with these daily posts now!

Module of the month was the WMD Multimode Envelope – which is ace! News included the Abstract Data Octocontroller, Peter Grenader / EAR, Vintage Synth Lab VCF-74 and Skinnerbox CV4LIVE. The interview was with Datach’i.

Magazine here – https://joom.ag/uOPQ PDF here – http://www.bit.ly/DivKidMag9

Module of the month – May 2016

branchesMutable Instruments Branches how I love thee … your colours, your knobs, your little black buttons. Ok my writing doesn’t leave much to be desired and neither do my lame love poetry attempts. But I like being daft (just in case you didn’t realise).

Branches is great! It’s a dual Bernoulli gate which in simple terms is a one input two output device that operates “coin toss” logic. There’s two channels, control over the “weighting” of the outputs and the channels will link. It’s really useful and very fun.