DivKid’s Month Of Modular Issue #12

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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 – Mylar Melodies

This interview was from issue 11 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular back in August 2016. 

Mylar Melodies is someone I’ll happily say was partly responsible for me getting into modular synths. Alongside the likes of James Cigler and Raul’s World Of Synths there wasn’t much content online for the eager newbie to check out. Like most I went through a ‘filter junkie’ stage and I’m sure most of us are still firmly in that stage of synth equipment use … we all love a low pitched saw through a resonant low pass! Two videos stuck out to me as a real “you have to get into eurorack” moments. First the Livewire Frequensteiner click HERE for that video or hit play below. The second was his video for the Wiard/Malekko Borg 2 filter which you can see HERE or again hit play on the embedded video below.

Not too long after these videos Mylar Melodies was working with Future Music magazine and we “met” online and started talking not long after that. Mylar handed over the video and some of the in magazine article duties to me as he cut back on work for Future Music (thanks again for that one!) as I think it’s fair to say his videos slowed down … he’s a busy boy and you know, life and that! Anyway he’s back with a plan, a killer new video so I wanted to ask him some questions for you fine people to get to know him a bit too.

So Mr. Mylar Melodies let’s go back to the start, when did you get into electronic music, and what got you into modular?

Man, it’s quite a long road. I’ve been making electronic music in one form or another using hardware since around 2000, after a somewhat distant yet deeply kindly relative left me some money in their will, which I put towards getting my first stereo. What better thing to do with money, other than travel – right? My brothers had been drip feeding me music to see if they could push my musical tastes in their directions, and to be honest I was a late bloomer and didn’t really find any music I particularly loved until I was around 16/17. They played me old Orbital, and I remember thinking…hang on, what’s this?! How on earth is this done. Like, how you think the people who make this stuff must have some kind of illicit skills – it’s impossible. And so electronic music had such an allure, it kicked my musical tastes off – that was it. I saw Orbital at the Sheffield Octagon in 1999, and I remember the sense of dread at the strange places that electronic music can take you at high volumes – unnameable emotions, and of course a sense of wonder at the two guys surrounded by all this impossible technology. I still remember the first time I heard Selected Ambient Works I, and the first time I sat in my Dad’s car and listened to Drukqs. I mean, those take that concept to the n’th degree since they’re just utterly timeless and impossible pieces of music. They’re bigger than a person. You genuinely can’t conceive that a person could sit down and dream them up – I couldn’t even conceive how the sounds were made let alone how they were so singularly orchestrated. Anyway – one of my brothers is a DJ and had bought an MC-303 to dabble in production, and he’d bought Future Music for a few months too, so beyond this machine there was a load of back issues lying around. And I started playing with the MC, muting the preset tracks on and off, fiddling with the sounds, and reading the mag. And so with this money I suddenly thought…I’m going to buy some (new) gear. So I did, and I taught myself, bit by bit, to use it. What amazed me was to discover I had a latent passion for it…it wasn’t a fad. It really really stuck – even though I don’t think of myself as a ‘musician’. So I’d always owned standalone groovebox type units and a rackmount sampler (Yamaha A4000 – ace) as at the time we were coming out of the age of samplers and hardware, and moving into a computer age. And later, my grandparents gave me some money which they had saved for me to buy my first car. Now I don’t have strong feelings about cars, but I have very strong feelings about synthesizers. So I thought…right. I’m going to buy a fuck-off analogue synthesizer with this. And I think I wanted the Macbeth M5 but couldn’t afford it, so decided to get a Cwejman S1 MKII instead. (Here’s a recording I made on it: Link) Now that thing is obviously pretty ace, but I have to admit I never quite gelled with the sound. Much as folks love Cwejman, it was just too clean and precise for my tastes – it always did only what you asked it to, and no more. I wanted something rawer, raunchier, more untamed – something that would argue with you. And ultimately I sold it while traveling. Years later, I saw this video: Link – I mean, ouch. Owwwwwch. This was what I wanted. So I had to get back to it, to have a modular again, only this time a Eurorack. And one cardboard case and a shopping trip later, it began, and so far hasn’t un-began. It’s kind of ace and weird to have contributed to Future Music, years later, and be hearing about people getting into modulars from videos we’ve done. CIRRRRRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE!!!!

I always like to see how modular integrates with other gear and ideas / platforms that were in use before modular came onto the scene for people. So on that note what were you up to musically and what other gear were you using? Did modular stand alone and a self contained thing or did it integrate into the rest of your set up? 

Your music is always the product of the ear you make it with. On computer I end up making tunes that sound like I’ve listened a lot to LFO, Kraftwerk, Boards of Canada, Legowelt, Aphex and Steve Reich, that’s using Ableton Live and all my various outboard and keyboards/rack bits. I primarily treat the modular as a separate entity though that’s about to change. Though, for multi-track recording modular audio, I’m exclusively using the Expert Sleepers ES6 (and which is amazing) lightpiped into Apollo, which sounds absolutely spot on and is just ridiculously convenient, and I have the ES3, the reverse, too so you can pipe audio and CV direct from computer to modular.

Generally I end up treating the modular like a source of inspiration and sounds, which I sample and build tracks on the computer out of. So it’s a case of having a ‘modular session’, record it all in Live via the ES6, then move entirely to computer to build a full track, and pipe bits and pieces back for processing. Or, I use it entirely self contained – like you see in loads of my videos. I remember the eureka moment I paired the Intellijel uStep with the Make Noise Rene, and a drum beat. It was like…holy shit – a track – I’m back to the MC-303 again, but this time it just sounds ludicrously, ludicrously better. And like the way every bit of the gear influences the music itself, my modular music has ended up faster, more aggressive, more acid than what I make on Live.

I’m finishing a ‘computer sequenced’ album at the moment and when that’s done, the ES3 is going to be more in play as I’m going to have a go at something more proto-electro using Push 2 as primary sequencer, sequencing the whole studio, the Yocto, and modular percussion and voice elements live, all from one physical interface. That should be ace – the Push is just nuts.

What led you to making videos? Was there a thing that made you decide to film some modular stuff?

Needing to sell modules! Literally, shifting modules I had for sale. That Frequensteiner video was done by me thinking…Shit. I need to move this on and there are no good videos of it on YouTube, and nobody’s biting my B/S/T post so I’m going to take this into my own hands and try and make people want it. Because it’s amazing, you only just need to hear it doing its thing, you know? And a bit inspired by the approach of James Cigler and ZVex’s video demos, I did. And shortly after I posted the video…I swiftly sold the module. But I first did the Metropolis video (and I’d paid for the module!), not to sell it but just because I so loved the damn thing, and was so happy it existed, and was like, I know I can do this justice, and I really want to be able to show it as fully as it can be done because this module deserves to succeed, to be shown off properly, and nobody else is really going to do it properly if I don’t. Seriously. And of course came another moment where I realised, well, hell, I could earn key modules I wanted by offering a demo for a manufacturer – send me this thing I’m desperate for, and in exchange you show it off properly. You know why you want it, so in turn you want to inspire people, make people get what makes this stuff so wonderful. And it’s amazing the response the videos can get. In many cases the manufacturers either don’t have the time, or mainly don’t specialise in doing videos well. It’s a very different skill-set to making a product…and the risk is spending (in some cases) years developing products that don’t succeed or don’t sell very well due to obscurity or misunderstanding, especially given the competition there is now and how important YouTube is for selling gear now. And these are small companies who can’t necessarily afford to have a flop. I mean, YouTube videos got us both into the format. And still, the absolute best comments are people saying they literally got into Eurorack because of a video I’ve done. That’s wild, that’s so great. I apologise to their bank accounts – but just know that I too have hemorrhaged a frightening amount of money on this hobby, and yet…I still regret selling both that Frequensteiner and Borg.

As I said at the start after making some of your own videos you were then
working with Future Music magazine, then stopped for a while (known as the “the great depression” for some) but now you’re back in full force with monthly videos (and more to come). What’s your plan for videos going forward?

To finally make regular videos again on my own channel – at least one a month, and with bonuses for the folks supporting on Patreon. I’m sort of spiritually going to continue the ‘Modular Monthly’ concept, which can take the form of demos of specific modules, as well as conceptual videos which talk through a patch, or a system configuration idea, or just modular philosophy etc.

Tell us about the Patreon platform and why you’re using that as a vehicle for you pushing forward.

Well as you know – making videos just plain takes a long-ass time. I think probably the shortest turnaround for a video I’ve done is 6 hours from start to finish, and that’s not factoring in the (days, potentially) required to learn and consolidate your thoughts about the thing you’re showing off. Something like the Stepper Acid video is two evenings and an afternoon of shooting, two evenings of editing, and a few hours of last minute polish. And you have sound to mix too, and some colour correction. It’s one thing to do it. I’m trying to keep a quality/engagement and pacing that’s to a very high standard.

I saw Patreon as a way to justify all the effort involved in doing that and producing regular videos, and to give a bit more to people who keep up the support. It’s been amazing to get it to the point it is already, and although it’s not a lot of money, it’s the significance of that money – who it’s from, and the manner in which it is given – which has given me the focus to do it. It’s just really, really nice people who have come out of the woodwork to say: “We’ve been watching and we really like what you do, so here, have a few dollars each month and keep it up”. How nice is that? The last thing I want to do is disappoint people like that – so I’m making videos for them, and making them available for everyone else too.

Your newest video is for the Transistor Sound Labs Stepper Acid, what made you choose that module to kick things off?

I’ve owed Nina & Zoe a video forever, and it’s such a fun thing to start with – it’s a frigging awesome module – very immediate, and very acid so pairs well with the Atlantis. But also it gave me the opportunity to have a proper 4/4-off with Rings in combination with Atlantis, which I think is a particularly delicious pairing. Literally the output of Rings is going into the External input of Atlantis. And I love me a good 4/4, and I think Rings has huge techno potential – how odd yet cool is it to think of a 303-sequencer-controlled guitar?

You’ve just posted on Twitter (if I remember right) that you’re next video will be on the Doepfer PLL. I’m intrigued by Phase Locked Loops and haven’t played around with them myself, how are you getting on with it?

I’ve just plugged it in for the first time tonight. That was one of my $10 Patrons Ryan asking for a video on the PLL, and I was really happy he mentioned it – because exactly as you’ve suggested…I was vaguely aware of it but have never tried one. Perfect candidate. It’s not something on many people’s shopping lists, which I think is the beauty of it, as like all Doepfer it’s very affordable, well made, and interesting. Literally the only other PLL I can find in the format is WMD’s, which is kind of nuts, don’t you think?

It’s kind of a strange hybrid ‘VCO/Hard Sync’ module, which is capable of some freakish tones as it locks on to an input signal. I’m really looking forward to trying it on things like speech, singing (using Radio Music most likely), on drums and so forth, and just getting to the bottom of it. I think it’s going to be ace to demo something that’s more affordable too – and there’s a hell of a lot more to come.

We saw a glimpse of some live improvised modular acid on your YouTube channel around a year ago (click HERE for the video) will you be taking the modular out live again?

Yes, massively. Being the late bloomer I am, I’m only just now starting to truly appreciate how completely fucking brilliant dancing to interesting techno in good clubs is. The techno 4/4-leanings in the Stepper Acid video is not coincidental. I’ve been enormously inspired by two people – Surgeon, with his 2014 Dekmantel boiler room video (Link), and Steevio, who just blows my frigging mind (Seriously, just watch this), and despite talking to him about this very subject (Link to his description of the rig), I still struggle to comprehend the exact flow/system of Doepfer utilities by which he works his magic – the key in his approach is how truly modular it is, it’s absolutely the best expression of modular – next to Richie Devine he’s easily the most innovative and developed modular artist I know. What’s so good about this approach to live electronic music is that it is truly that – nothing is pre-prepared beyond a tuning standard, so as an audience you can ONLY witness something completely unique, a totally unrepeatable performance. Isn’t that the absolute best expression of what live music should be? Let a record be a record. I have no interest in seeing someone who pretends to play live by DJing their tracks, or muting some elements in and out while adding the odd hand-played element or effect send. It’s just not interesting. Instead let’s take risks and give an audience an experience they can only witness because they were there. So I’m trying to build a rig that operates somewhere inbetween Surgeon and Steevio’s techniques, and play some shows built for dancing. I’ll do a video explanation and demo if I can manage to pull it off …

To round off is there anything you’d like to mention or shout out?

Ironically, I want to make a hypocritical reminder – that the gear doesn’t matter. Really.

Zoe of Transistor Sounds Labs pointed something significant out to me recently – You might think Selected Ambient Works 1 was made with incredible gear, with an actual 808 and so forth, but it’s quite clear if you do a little detective work that it almost certainly wasn’t posh gear at all, quite the opposite. “Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and Surfing on Sine Waves are mostly if not entirely digital sounds. Even the 808s are samples on an R8.” (Link to more on that) Probably an R8, FZ1, probably an Atari, Quadraverb and a DX100 – certainly you could do it with that. From these shitty, cheap, DIGITAL bits of kit, comes organic music some of us can’t possibly conceive of how it could be made by human hand. You likely already have everything you need to do amazing work RIGHT NOW, you just need to sit down and do it. Just make music every day. Don’t be precious about it – quantity is far more important than quality because nobody ever sits down and says “Today I will write my masterpiece”. It’s a statistical battle, so tip the odds in your favour by writing more music at all costs. One day you’ll write shit, but the next day you’ll probably write something wicked. Just write. If it gives you goosebumps, it’s good. Don’t stop.
Cheers to Mylar Melodies for the interview he’s a darling and a Yorkshireman hiding out in London (I’ve got a soft spot for him). Be sure to check out his YouTube channel and his Patreon page. Go support him, he’s doing good stuff.

DivKid’s Month of Modular – Issue #8

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Here’s the May issue of the magazine.

Module of the month was Branches from Mutable Instruments. News included Surachai, Cymru Beats, Happy Nerding and Polaxis. Interview was with Ben Davis from Malekko.

Magazine here- http://joom.ag/fW5Q PDF here – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag8

DivKid’s Month Of Modular – Issue #7

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Here’s the April 2016 DivKid’s Month Of Modular.

Module of the month was the Befaco Rampage, interview was Matttech Modular and news featured Mutable Instruments, Feedback and Moffenzeef Modular.

Magazine here – http://joom.ag/aLaQ – PDF here – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag7

Interview – Papernoise

mutant_bassdrum_quickstart1 mutant_hihats_quickstart1In the March issue of DivKid’s Month Of Modular I spoke to Hannes aka “Papernoise”. If you haven’t heard of him you’ve no doubt seen his work with a range of modular companies for promotional graphics, panel designs and it looks ace! I’m definitely a big fan so was happy to have an opportunity to ask him some questions. Check out his work and website for more. http://www.papernoise.net/

This month (well over the past couple of months really) I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Hannes Pasqualini aka “Papernoise”. We’ve got a few things “in the works” as it were but for the benefit of everyone reading I thought an interview would be great to get an insight into how he became “the guy” for eurorack panel design. As you’ll see, I’ve spread plenty of pictures across the next few pages so show off his brilliant design work. So Hannes, clearly design work came first but how did you first come to work with modular synthesizer companies. Was it very much a “by chance” stumble into it through friends or were you actively aiming to work within this community?

As you say! It really was a thing that happened by chance, or better as the result of a peculiar chain of events. If you had asked me 5 years ago about getting into modulars I would have said: “no way man!” I’m not going to buy into that money-eating habit!” (laughs). I was more interested in chiptune stuff (C64s and Game Boys), circuit bending, DIY and in building small desktop synths. Through my engagement with the chiptune community I first learned about Olivier Gillet’s Shruti-1 DIY synth (the predecessor of the Shruthi, notice the lack of the “h”). I had to email Olivier a couple of times, convincing him that I had a great idea for an enclosure, until he finally sold me one of the few kits he had made. The
Shruti-1 was one of my first proper DIY projects, after the SammichSID and a couple of Atari Punk Consoles. From there I got more of his synths and started to regularly post and comment on his online forums. As a graphic designer I come from illustration and comics. I had posted some of my works on the Mutable forums and apparently Olivier was aware of them. When he got the idea to make the 4-Pole Mission Shruthi he asked me to work on a movie-poster-like promo postcard. The 4-Pole Mission was a morphing filter and the name was inspired by the movie The Thing (the Carpenter remake). From there we kept working together on several other things: we did the Yellow Magic Shruthi, which featured an illustrated sticker and PCB graphics by me and my wife Elizabeth, various graphics for the Anushri and Ambika synths and redesigned the Mutable Instruments logo, visual identity and website (together with fellow graphic designer Patricia Plangger, who was a co-worker of mine at the time) Then, as we all know, Olivier got interested in modular synths, and developed his first 4 modules (Braids, Peaks, Grids and Edges) and since we were already working together he asked me to take care of the graphics. When he asked me if I was interested in working on something like this, I immediately said: “hell yeah!”, even though I didn’t even have a modular synth at home. Given that I couldn’t possibly design anything for a system I didn’t know much about, I borrowed a couple of modules from friends to learn more about it (Olivier also sent me a bunch of things he wasn’t using at the time), my bandmate Michele sold me his old case (which was basically a Doepfer DIY kit and a couple of wooden planks, held together by tape). That was how I started my journey into modulars.

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Who was the first company you designed panel graphics for?

Definitely Mutable Instruments, though Hexinverter followed shortly after. A friend told me that Stacy had was looking for somebody to design a logo for Hexinverter and I immediately contacted him. For some time these were my only clients in the modular community. I was lucky to start with them, since they really make amazing modules, which of course helped a lot in spreading my work as well.

Do you get involved beyond the design stages? Working alongside companies with module ideas, helping them get started etc?

It’s really hard not to do that! The thing is: often new clients approach me asking for a combination of panel, logo and visual identity. In these cases it’s often small makers, just starting out. To be able to create a good logo I need to get pretty deep into what people do, why they do it, who they are, what their motivation is, etc. Often these things aren’t fully conceptualized, so I end up helping them to get started in some ways, defining their identity beyond just the logo. Another thing that might happen is that somebody has a new idea for a module and just wants to see how it would work as a panel, or needs feedback on the functionality. In these cases I get involved in the design stage pretty early and sometimes even get to shape the functionality. Lately this happens more frequently, for example, for Black Market’s upcoming Colour Palette Standalone Edition (the pedal), I was part of the core design team from the very beginning. It’s really exciting for me to work like this!

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Your designs have something unifying about them, I can tell when I see something from Papernoise, but I can’t put my finger on what that is. Each module company has distinct and varied themes running through them. What’s your approach to creating something unifying both for the company and regarding your ‘style’ … if you’d say you had a style.

Good question. I believe designers shouldn’t try to be artists. Being an artists is all about expressing yourself, being a designer is all about turning form into function and function into form. So what I try to do with each new client is to create a visual style that matches that their identity, help modular users in using and understanding a module’s functionality and in general doing my part in creating great, playable and enjoyable instruments. But of course there’s two factors that still contribute to a style of some sort: first of all, no matter how hard you try, there will always be your personality in anything you make… you just can’t help it, and I admit that I’m not really trying that hard to suppress that either (laughs). The other thing is that people contact me because they have seen my work and like it. That’s great since I want people to work with me precisely because we feel the same about the style and the approach to visual design, not because they need a random guy to “do the graphics”. I should mention that I often work together with my wife who is also part of Papernoise. Some of the designs we made in the last years, like the Alright Chronoblob or the Sonic Potions modules, are really a combination of our respective approaches. She has a more handmade, cute and cartoonesque style (she also works as an illustrator for school and children books), which is often a great counterpart to my own style. Then it also depends if we’re talking about graphic design, or illustration. As an illustrator I pursue two distinct but very defined styles. One with my “real name” and one as Poka Bjorn. The first style is what you can see in the Hexinverter promo stuff, it’s inspired by retro sci-fi and horror illustration and in general is a bit more realistic and detailed. Stuff that would go well with a John Carpenter soundtrack. My Poka Bjorn stuff is more colourful, whimsical and cartoony, I like to think of it as going well with uplifting chiptune tracks, or Solvent. You can spot one or the other approach in my graphic design work as well, even where you wouldn’t expect it. If you look really close, the Indian decorations I make for Olivier’s modules share the same linework style as my Poka Bjorn illustrations, though admittedly the end result is very different.

Do you like to be left to ‘run wild’ with ideas or revamping existing branding and working alongside the companies?

The projects I like most are the ones where somebody just comes to me with a vague set of features and I can go crazy coming up with ideas! This can happen with redesigns as well as with from-scratch projects. In the end I always work alongside with the companies, since as I said, it’s all about turning their identity into visual material or their ideas into a usable interface. But of course some are more strict and others leave more space for me to “run wild”.

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Finally, can you tell us about anything you’re working on to be released this year? Obliviously not sharing private company secrets but is it safe to assume most of the people you work with have new designs in the works?

Right now I don’t have many secrets to keep. Some of what I’m working on has already been announced at NAMM: The previously mentioned Black Market Standalone Edition Colour Palette is one big project I’m fully immersed in right now and another one is the faceplate for WMD’s Performance Mixer Other things will be presented soon at Superbooth, among these check out the new panels I’ve made for Sonic Potions and Frap Tools. There’s some older project, which are still going on. The Soviet-space-race-inspired modules from Tsyklon should land sometime this year (some of these can already be pre-ordered from their website: http://tsyklon.com/) and Rabid Elephant, another new face on the market, also should have their first module coming. Of course both Mutable Instruments and Hexinverter are currently very busy coming up with new designs and ideas, which keeps me pretty busy as well. On the non-modular front, I have been working with Japanese developer Ju-X on a new freezer plugin called Frosting (which should hit the web soon) and am tweaking graphics for Fxpansion’s upcoming sampling drum machine app/plugin Geist 2, which is currently in Beta stage. With Ju-X we also have a bigger project in the works, a multi-track looper called The Cake, once we get Frosting out, that will get some updates as well.

A huge thanks to Hannes for his time letting us get to know him and his work. Be sure to head to http://www.papernoise.net/ to check out his work as well the Horizontal Pitch site here – http://www.horizontalpitch.com/

 

 

DivKid’s Month Of Modular – Issue #3

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Issue #3 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular from December 2015.

Module of the moth was the AJH Synth MiniMod VCO, interview was with Logan Erickson from Low-Gain Electronics and news included new TipTop Audio Z-DSP cards, Mutable Instruments Rings and random*source going eurorack.

MAGAZINE HERE – http://joom.ag/hjDp PDF HERE – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag3 (right click download / save as etc)

Interview – Mutable Instruments on Braids

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This interview is from Issue #2 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular back from November 2015. It was also part of the process of putting together my article and video on Braids for Future Music Magazine

When thinking about speaking to Olivier from Mutable Instruments many
questions spring to mind. I thought I’d keep things focussed by keeping theinterview questions about one module. That module is Braids. Which is one of my most used modules.

How did Braids come about? What was the idea with putting so many synthesis types in one module?

Around the end of 2011 I started collecting little bits of waveform synthesis code for what was going to be a factory-made version of the Ambika polysynth. My goal was to cover as many different audio generation processes as possible that could provide raw material for synthesis, and simultaneously to simplify the control scheme for these, by coming up with two well calibrated parameters covering a wide range of sounds within a given technique. I started with the Shruthi oscillator code and tried to push things further in terms of quality or control. About 20 or 25 of Braids’ synthesis models originate from that time. Then a couple of
things occurred: first I realized that a lot of the stuff I had written did not really make sense in the context of subtractive synthesis, so it would be out of place in a polysynth. And then, around mid 2012, I got really
sick of the polysynth project and ditched it. This is also the time I was starting to play with my first Doepfer modular system…

It became obvious to me that all these digital sound sources would be great in a modular system – there was nothing like it in the Eurorack format, probably because the few digital module makers at the time
focused on “deep” modules; while there are many sound generation techniques that are just tiny islands of sound you certainly can’t package into a big, deep module. Another idea came in… When I was patching the Doepfer system, I often found myself saying “hey I like this patch but it’s using all my VCOs and half my VCAs, can I have this in a box with just these two knobs and CV inputs that stick out, so that I can build something else on top of it?” – there were things I was building all the time like two or three sync’ed VCOs enveloped by the master VCOs for which I wanted a shortcut. I started adding these mini-patches to my “oscillator inventory” project.

As Braids has developed it’s now essentially a full voice. With envelopes
for tone and/or volume control. Was that the original idea? A multipurpose voice in a small space?

No, the original idea was not to make it a full voice. If I wanted to
make a voice module, there would be some kind of looping envelope/LFO
accessible on the front panel – probably an analog filter too!

Originally, I just wanted to give the ability to directly send a trigger to the module and get something to happen – sort of like the “Strike” input on some MakeNoise modules. So the original firmware had a built-in envelope that modulated the TIMBRE parameter, with just a few settings to make it louder and faster… and what happened is that almost as soon as the module was released, people asked me to make this built-in envelope control the VCA too – many were using Braids for percussive hits and they didn’t want to waste a VCA and envelope for that. With each firmware revision I added more and more settings to this built-in envelope – to the point that now it has A/D time settings and amounts for 4 destination.

This way of using the module is interesting because it deviates from the norm of building a single entity, a single mass of sound with the system. Instead, the modular becomes an orchestra with different performers each of them made of a single module or a small group of modules, and complexity is achieved not by interconnecting modules, but through layering, or rhythms. This influenced the design of the following modules in which I tried to provide ways of making the
module usable as a standalone source (for example by adding a built-in VCA in Tides, or a built-in drum sound source in Peaks).

Was the openness and power of soft synths inspiration for the device? And bringing that to a modular format that still offers hands on control.

I used csound in the late 90s and it always served me as a “map” of what’s possible in terms of synthesis. But I haven’t used softsynths throughout the 00s and 10s.

You can read my article on Music Radar for Future Music Magazine on Braids by clicking right here. Go on, click it, you love it, you know you want to.

DivKid’s Month Of Modular – Issue #2

Issue #2 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular from November 2015. It seems like such a long time ago now.

Module of the month was the Erica Synths Dtech VCF, interview was with Olivier Gillet from Mutable Instruments about Braids and news included the Mordax Data, Audio Damage Neuron, Alright Devices Chronoblob and Mutable Instruments Warps.

MAGAZINE HERE – https://joom.ag/xsjp PDF HERE – http://bit.ly/DivKidMag2 (right click download / save as etc)