Friday, January 21, 2011

Music For A Desert Island - Shotguns Part Four of Four

Shotguns is a musician who hangs out on IDM Forums. His interview has been split into four installments.

Obscure Robot: What is your desert island software or hardware?

Shotguns: So, on the software tinge, I would have to go for Reaktor. Why? It's like having a warehouse full of circuits and modules that you can put together as you wish. Also, it includes 100's of friends who offer you things they've built for free.

In terms of hardware, I'm a nut for distortion and guitar pedals, so I'd have to bring a case of those and I would probably bring my trusty MS2000B. I love this synth. It's technically not the "best" synth I own, but it feels like an extension of my fingers and it just makes a lot of sense for me.

Obscure Robot: true, though the internet might not work on our desert island

Shotguns: I know, I'm bringing my hard drive with the user library though!

Obscure Robot: I'm a big fan of the MS2000 as well, but tell me about some of your pedals. Keep in mind that you are limited to carry-on luggage on your desert island trip.

Shotguns: This is my carry-on luggage

Obscure Robot: I see a DS, KP3, netbook, wiimotes, NES, MD, and oldskool Akai drum machine (not an MPC) and some black boxes. also a midiman interface. and an orange pedal. maybe a line mixer in the back?

Shotguns: Yeah. the Akai sampler is an s-20. there's a netbook on steroids, there a padkontrol, the top rack unit is the Alesis 3630 (classic nuke compressor), the NES runs MIDINES, there's wireless Sennheiser headphones, a soap bubble machine, the ipod touch, a boss ds-1, the DS, MidiMan interface, a Mssiah cart for Commodore 64, the elektron monomachine, a microphone and yes, the KP3. Also, in the lower right corner there's a little usb stick that makes any computer into a nice ASIO machine!

This is mainly my live/performance rig, so there's a lot of emphasis on performance and jamming. Live interaction is heaploads of fun!

Fits nicely in a carry-on and includes a lot of things that aren't that common in most rigs.

Obscure Robot: I guess we have to assume that the island has a mixer and sound system. Hopefully the party planners took care of that for us :)

Shotguns: I do enjoy the Elektron Monomachine a lot though. It can be used for pretty much anything. The built in synths are obviously very nice, but the sequencer and external midi tracks are what makes it.

Obscure Robot: I'm getting back in to hardware myself. It was fun working in pure software for a while, but nothing can come close to the tactile response of hardware

Shotguns: Exactly. I like both. I wouldn't want to live in a world with only one of them. I like controllers though, especially creative ones!

I also like the quirks of hardware, which makes the discussion of "DAW sound engines" quite redundant to me - because most of the stuff I've ever made any money from has had the 12-bit Akai sampler on it in some way.

Obscure Robot: What is interesting about the S20?

Shotguns: Very clunky matrix-based editing and the sweet, sweet sound of 12-bit. I approach sounds very different when I choose to resample them through it. The clunky editing really makes everything sound a lot different and it's actually quite adept at real-time tweaking.

The MPC's are too big and expensive to lug around and I wouldn't want to full-on sequence anything anyways. It's all about just being able to throw it in there, tweak it and re-sample it whenever you need to bring something different into the mix. Sure, it uses floppies, but only in the sense that it saves the audio on them. You don't have to bother with it to any further extent.

Obscure Robot: does it do x0x style sequencing?

Shotguns: Yes, but very, very simple sequencing. I actually really like using MPC swing templates on the computer and most DAWs can handle that these days!

Obscure Robot: EBay prices seem very reasonable too

Shotguns: Definitely! It's a bargain and most people wouldn't get any more use out of a MPC 60 either.

Obscure Robot: when you bring your MS2000 to a desert island, what synths are you leaving behind?

Shotguns: Ouch, I don't even want to think about that... The ones it'd pain me to leave behind would be the Moog Prodigy, the ARP, The Mopho Keyboard and the Analogue Solutions Leipzig.

Very nice ones that all do their own things. Apart from the ARP I'd never sell any of them either. I can't afford the ARP, as much as I love it.

And you know what? It's actually a bit too brutal to be able to use. It's very, very hard to fit into a mix.

Actually quite heartbreaking. But yeah, my main advice to people looking into old gear would be German eBay. Loads of sellers, but not many buyers.

Obscure Robot: If you could give the world one idea about composition, what would it be?

Shotguns: That's a great question. I would bring up the importance of flow. I actually approach most of the tunes I write as scripts. Sounds weird? Well, your branding is hopefully strong enough that your music already has main characters, so from then it's all about putting them into new situations, letting them grow and show off new sides of themselves. You can also introduce new environments and smaller, recurring characters. Start off somewhere, take the listener on a journey and have the ending either wrap everything up or keep them hanging.

Obscure Robot: I like the idea of main characters in music. Maybe because I have an intuitive idea of what you mean, but can’t readily explain it.

Shotguns: Exactly. Neither can I, so I let the music do the talking. It's nice to afford yourself to do that.

Obscure Robot: If you could give the world one idea about sound design, what would it be?

Shotguns: I would stress the importance of not over-complicating things. The end result should be to offer a musical idea, so make sure that all your decisions work towards complementing the idea - not just simply showing off how adept you are at utilizing technology.

Obscure Robot: Can you expand on what you mean by a musical idea?

Shotguns: Just the musicality of it. Don't let your sound design overpower the musical intent of the piece. Let them complement and feed off each other and try not to over-do it.

Obscure Robot: If you could give the world one idea about marketing, what would it be?

Shotguns: We could talk about this one for ages, obviously, but in the end it's all about figuring out who you are and staying true to it. What's your ultimate goal and what are your pit stops on the way there? Think it all through and make sure that you'll be able to deal with the hardships of getting there. Now, I hate the word "fan", but if you've got something going, you will find supporters who will want to help you. Utilize them in a way that helps both of you and never take them for granted. No matter what you think, no one will ever care more about your music than you. The Internet is great for promotional purposes, but if your demographic allows it - try good old fashioned guerilla street marketing. Are you going to a gig to see a similar artist? Get there a bit earlier and hand out fliers for your next gig. Sure, 80% of your fliers will end up in the gutter, but I promise that you will make some genuine supporters and that alone will give you something to think about when you encounter hardships and have to contemplate giving up.

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