As Anders and I live in opposite ends of the world at the moment, we don’t actually share the same studio and basically work on all songs by sending files back and forth over the internet. The end result is a mix of not only our different ideas but also of the different musical equipment we use in our separate locations.
Today I thought I’d give you a little tour of my (rather unimpressive) home studio here in Tokyo and show you some of the gear I use on my side of the Earth!
MacBook, LED Cinema Display, Ableton Live
Thought I’d mention this first, as the fact of the matter is that over the years we have gone increasingly “virtual”, substituting music hardware for their software-based counterparts on the computer. It makes things a lot easier when you’re living in a tiny apartment in Tokyo!
Although our first productions were done on Logic, we switched to using Ableton Live when Emagic was bought by Apple and stopped supporting the Windows platform. (I have since converted to the Mac platform but that is a different story!)
Novation Remote 25SL
While having everything you need within the computer is incredibly convenient, moving dials and pulling faders using a mouse soon becomes tiresome, which is why I use the Remote 25SL to assign actual physical knobs and faders to control the software.
The 2-axis “joystick” on the left also comes in handy and was used to great effect on Inlet to create the swirling delay effects (heard throughout the track but easiest to pick out at around 1:00) by assigning one axis to an EQ and the other to control delay feedback.
Oh, and of course it also comes with a keyboard, which is useful when you are actually trying to play something. ;)
Although I don’t use it as much as I used to, I still dust the Nova off and hook it up from time to time, mainly because it’s so much fun to play with!
Most recently featured providing the bassline on New Skies (comes in at 1:41, with an additional saw wave added at 2:48), I often use the Nova for creating effects and pad sounds too.
Worst feature: Produces an annoying “beep” whenever you push a button, and you can’t even turn it off!
Nord Micro Modular
I brought this little red devil back with me from Denmark on a recent trip home, but haven’t actually been able to make it work in Japan yet because of the difference in voltage over here…(will need to find a voltage converter or something).
The software for generating new sounds that comes with the Micro Modular is beginning to look a bit dated, but sonically it is still an excellent instrument for creating powerful sounds that really cut through the mix, such as the grungy lead on Sphoudeiko Part 1 (comes in at 0:35).
We also used it for the vocoder melody part in Derelict (at 0:30), the recording of which involved Anders holding a microphone and going “wuuuuuauaaababbbzzzzzzuuuuuueeeaaaaaaaa” for several minutes while I tried out different melodies.
I hardly ever use the BCR2000 for production but it is great for live performance and DJing (see it in action in Sub Delay Sessions 6). With all those lights and knobs it looks great in the dark and sometimes I switch it on just to look at it. :P
Sony MZ-R50 Minidisc Recorder
Okay, so this old gadget doesn’t really produce any sound on its own as such, but it is what I used to capture most of the ambient sounds you can hear between tracks on Subsidence. Basically I would walk around Tokyo, Kyoto and Nikko with a crappy stereo microphone sticking out of my pocket and capture whatever came by.
I also have a ton of old Minidiscs containing recordings of old unfinished songs that can serve as inspiration when I get stuck. In fact, Beware was more or less entirely based on audio samples of an old version of Sentient.
…As you can see, not a whole lot of gear lying around, but I suspect it is only a matter of time before we become superstars and can afford to surround ourselves with tons of musical equipment. Hope to do another “studio tour” then! :P