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10 Questions: Graham Brinkert

01. How long have you been making music?
about 15 years.

02. When did you start using electronics in your music making?  
When I was about 16.  I began hanging out with a lot of hip-hop producers and a good friend of mine mostly used a Korg Karma.  I loved the sound of the Karma, but it was way too deep and overwhelming for me at the time. Lucky for me, he also had an MS-2000 that just kinda sat there since he bought the Karma. The MS-2000 was something I could wrap my head around, and I used to love visiting his studio and creating patches and learning the basics of synthesis.  Good times…

03. Are you an electronic purist?
Not in the least. I’ve just always been more captivated by the idea of blending the acoustic, analog, and digital into a cohesive fabric (to varying degrees of success.)  I like to think that I have philosophical reasons, i.e. I feel like it represents the times in which we live – and not merely just that we live in the age of technology, but also the conflict, confusion, the intermingling of the world’s cultures, the dichotomy of tradition and progress, etc. etc.  But perhaps it’s really just a preference, and I’m trying to justify my preferences intellectually.

04. What is your current favorite piece of hardware? Software?
Hardware – hmm… Currently, it’s my iPad.  I just love having so much power in a small, mobile solution.  It’s become my new swiss army knife.  I can construct new sounds, provide a backbeat for a impromptu jam, sample things wherever I go, study harmonic theory, or just goof around inside something like Figure or iKaossilator.
Similarly, my new favorite bits of software are Samplr and iPolySix, which are both iOS apps.  Thor is a longtime favorite of mine, and it’s great to have it on the go now also.

05. Do you use canned loops or samples? Why/Why not?   
Yes, almost in every song.  I think it’s my hip-hop background again.  And while I most often mangle them and reshape them into something completely different from it’s initial state, sometimes I just love a great loop.

06. Do you use iPad/iPhone or other mobile computing devices in your music making?
See question 4.

07. Was there a moment of inspiration… a certain track or artist, that ignited your passion for electronic music? 
The bass line to Flashlight by Parliament.  Instantly I knew I wanted to do two things: play funk and play synths.

08. How does visual art/photography inform your music making?
When I was a young boy, I had this book which depicted dinosaurs roaming through full-color landscapes, with volcanoes and wildlife and all that.  I used to open the book to a random page and then place the book on the piano and begin banging out what I thought the picture sounded like.  I was trying reading the music of the picture, though I couldn’t read music and had no formal training and it is likely the reason my parents sold the piano at a yard sale.  However, I still use this method for inspiration sometimes.
Also, I tend to develop instrumental song structures with a visual story as a guide.  The entire Lascivious Limbs album was developed out of a story I wrote in fragmented bits. Each song was based around a different event in the storyline.  Essentially, I created 9 little vignettes in my head, and then wrote the soundtrack to them.  I always wanted to work with an artist to create a graphic novel or even a comic book based around it, but time moves on and so does my focus.

09. Has the internet/Social Media changed the way you make music?
Not really.  The internet has been there since I started making music.  And social media probably just reduced my musical output by way of distracting me.

10. What is your favorite artist or track of all time?
I don’t know how to answer this question.  I could barrage you with a list names, all of which would have belonged to an individual who was – at one time in the past – my “favorite” artist… but alas, I am unable to answer that confidently.  I might just go ahead and say Philip Jeck.  But tomorrow the answer would be different.

However, I can say with the utmost confidence that if I had to choose one band to listen to for the rest of time, it would be Parliament. Easy.

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10 Questions: Daniel J. Davis

Daniel J. Davis 2013 | by Kurt Lorenz

Daniel J. Davis 2013 | by Kurt Lorenz

01. How long have you been making music?
Played in my first band in 1991 – so over 20 years. I started off plating bass, and my first official band was a ska band.

02. When did you start using electronics in your music making?
Very early on, out of necessity. I wanted drums in my music, but drum sets were too expensive and loud. So I got by with a drum machine, and went down an electronic path ever since. It’s just always easier to make music on headphones – doesn’t matter where you live, or who you live with. If you can make music silently, you can make music anywhere.

03. Are you an electronic purist?
No. I use some live percussion, found sounds, and also some acoustic instruments. Although these are often highly treated.

04. What is your current favorite piece of hardware? Software?

Hardware – it’s a toss up between the Waldorf Blofeld and the Korg MS-2000
Software – I’m learning Live 9 right now, and I’m loving it.

05. Do you use canned loops or samples? Why/Why not?
No – I usually make my own. Although I’m not opposed to using factory patches on synths – they are often great starting points for inspiration.

06. Do you use iPad/iPhone or other mobile computing devices in your music making?
Yes. My iPad is basically a dedicated Animoog machine, and totally worth the price just for that. I also enjoy Thumb Jam.

07. Was there a moment of inspiration… a certain track or artist, that ignited your passion for electronic music? 
The production, engineering, and sound design of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.

08. How does visual art/photography inform your music making?
It rarely does.

09. Has the internet/Social Media changed the way you make music?
Yes – and I recently disconnected from almost all of social media. Not that I ever got popular or anything, but I’m taking it back to the underground – I’ll release stuff, but I’m no longer going to obsess over hits and likes, and I just won’t care on a personal level. I’ll just release stuff and if people discover it, cool. It’s too easy for me to get caught up in the social media thing.

10. What is your favorite artist or track of all time?
Favorite artist….toss up between Eno, Lanois, Harold Budd and Marconi Union.
Favorite album of all time – U2’s Unforgettable Fire.

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10 Questions: Nordmach

 

Nordmach

Nordmach

1. How long have you been making music?
I’ve been playing in cover bands since I was 18. So roughly 29yrs. And I’d say I have been writing original music on and off for 18/20yrs.

2. When did you start using electronics in your music making?
Almost right from the start. My first two synth I purchased were the Moog – Opus 3 and the Moog Rogue. I remember trading in the Opus 3 against a Sequential Circuits Drumtrax and a Sequential Circuits Prophet 600. I got a lot of use out of those at that time.

3. Are you an electronic purist?
I’d say no. I like to take music for just what it is. I don’t know why one gets hung up on things like this and feel we should just take music as a whole no matter where, what or who it comes from. Although I totally understand why people like to limit themselves for a album or song etc. to certain amounts of gear or technique etc. Those things are always fun and are purposeful.

4. What is your current favorite piece of hardware? Software?
My favorite piece of hardware? Hmmmm…Tough one here for me because I find I don’t get tied to very many things hardware wise. But to give you an anwer I’d have to say…Of course my Mac, my iPad and my Novation LaunchPad. Where my favorite piece of software is (without question) Ableton LIve. It does everything and more than I’ve ever wished for!

5. Do you use canned loops or samples? Why/Why not?
I do use samples from time to time and I don’t understand why some people get hung up on that. It’s funny how some will feel using a sample library is cheating and at the same time not get hung up using a cut or loop from an old record. You are just using it for inspiration and to me either use is like jamming with a bunch of guys in a band looking for something to spark a fire. And I don’t feel like any of use are re-writing the book in a musical sense anyway, if you know what I mean here. I think in the end it’s in the artists hands to create something around or with whatever is being used sample or otherwise. It’s up to you to make it your own. So many creative tools out there to change that sample into something else. But again it’s all at your discretion. Sometimes a sample can sound so great it’s hard to change it.

6. Do you use iPad/iPhone or other mobile computing devices in your music making?
Yes I find myself usually humming or singing into my iPhone all the time. Where with my iPad I find myself using my apps to write actual parts or sketches when in transit or away from the studio and my iPad is also used a lot at rehearsals and gigs as well.

7. Was there a moment of inspiration… a certain track or artist, that ignited your passion for electronic music? 
Geez, so many! Probably some of the very first things I heard inspired me from my mom’s old records like Elvis and the Beatles of course. But I remember the first time I heard Yazoo – Upstairs At Erics – I was blown away! Early Depeche Mode, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwork records I found inspiring. I loved a lot of pop music growing up – Scritti Politti, Gary Numan, Kajagoogoo, Howard Jones etc. I remember being really, really blown away at anything Trevor Horn touched – Art Of Noise, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and things like that.

8. How does visual art/photography inform your music making?
I do use it from time to time to set a mood but not a lot. Or course if I am doing a track for a indy movie or commercial using the visual is everything. But I don’t necessarily use it a lot in my own music though.

9. Has the internet/Social Media changed the way you make music?
Internet/Social Media is pretty much the best thing that has happened to musicians period. From checking out a plugin to purchasing it quickly to marketing and meeting with others for inspiration or collaborating. For myself it’s harder to keep the time I spend online in check than anything else.

10. What is your favorite artist or track of all time?
– Fave artist would have to be BT (Brian Transeau). I just think he’s outstanding in musicality and electronic skill level. I cannot narrow a specific track down cause I just have so many favorities when speaking of BT or other artists I love!

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10 Questions: Fake Empire

Fake Empire - Scott Brown

Fake Empire - Scott Brown

1. How long have you been making music?
When I was 17 I discovered the drums. All my friends were playing guitar at the time so to get a 3 piece grunge band going someone had to sacrifice their dream of being the next Kurt Cobain and jump behind a kit, it turned out that I had a natural flair for drumming and a life long passion began. Over the next 10 years I was in and out of local bands as a drummer but eventually life took over and music had to take a break. When I was 31 I could’t stay away any longer, it was time to get back into music, but this time I wanted to take control of the process and write and produce all the music myself. It was not only the best way to fit it into the timeframes I had available but I really wanted to push myself and the creative process and see what I could do alone. Needless to say it is a huge learning process, particularly the production side of things but I really enjoy the challenge.

2. When did you start using electronics in your music making?
When I got back into writing music I knew it was going to be heavily electronic, I already had a Mac so it was the logical place to start exploring how I could make music.  I invested in some new audio gear to cover the basics I would need and started to teach myself how all this crazy electronic stuff worked together. I wanted to achieve a sound something in-between Massive Attack and Nine Inch Nails who both make great use of electronic equipment. I am fortunate enough to be able to pick up most instruments fairly quickly so getting into synthesizers was a fairly easy transition and something I am now really passionate about. My goal is to fuse electronic and live instruments together as much as possible.

3. Are you an electronic purist?
I am all for experimentation using whatever medium achieves an interesting result, whether it be acoustic, electronic, digital or analog – everything has it’s place in making something truly creative.

4. What is your current favorite piece of hardware? Software?
I really dig the Native Instruments Maschine but my current favourite is the Novation Ultranova analog modelling synthesiser. It’s a highly functional beast and bridges the gap between analog and digital nicely, It can be a little temperamental but the more I use it the more I appreciate it’s rich sound and capabilities. It has been a great learning tool and helped me understand basic synthesis principals in a more direct way, there is definitely something wonderful about the “hands on” nature of hardware over software. I also recently discovered Izotope iris which I think will become an important part of the Fake Empire sound, the way you can layer and morph samples to create something very unique has some interesting potential.

5. Do you use canned loops or samples? Why/Why not?
Samples – yes, but only sampled instruments. There is no way that I could assemble an orchestra and record the resulting music, I don’t have that kind of hardware or the budget to make it happen! But I can purchase a piece of software that has professionally sampled orchestral sounds, which is essentially the next best thing. And because these samples are the real deal, actual orchestral instruments recorded live you can barely tell the difference from the real thing. I am not a fan of using other peoples loops and tend to create my own if I need glitch effects or beats, using canned loops takes away the fun.

6. Do you use iPad/iPhone or other mobile computing devices in your music making?
I use an iPad as a midi controller for my DAW. It’s a great way to keep the process rolling without having to spend to much time stopping to click tiny icons on a screen. I have played around with a few iPad synths like the Korg iMS-20 app but I haven’t used them on any tracks yet.

7. Was there a moment of inspiration… a certain track or artist, that ignited your passion for electronic music? 
I have always been a huge fan of Trent Reznor. His “Year Zero” album was a big influence on me and his work on the social network soundtrack was definitely inspirational. Another group I love and take great inspiration from is Massive Attack (and 3Ds side projects), their album “Mezzanine” blew me away and is still one of my favourite albums of all time. More recently I have become obsessed with Apparat and the way he fuses live and electronic instruments together to create this amazingly emotive sound.

8. How does visual art/photography inform your music making?
I have been a graphic designer for over a decade and am currently the Creative Director at a web development company, so the visual arts definitely have an impact on my music and process. I create all my own album artwork which tends to happen as the tracks are being made so they definitely inspire each other, sometimes one medium may influence the other and vice versa. I am also starting to explore video which has some great creative potential, I really want to create a project that will fuse music and video together in an original way so hopefully that will happen sometime soon.

9. Has the internet/Social Media changed the way you make music?
It has definitely made it a lot easier to connect to other musicians and collaborate regardless of location. I recently worked with File Transfer Protocol on a cover of the song “Mad World” and we are creating a short film about working together on opposite sides of the world – there have been several moments during this process that I have been thankful for the existence of the internet. It really is amazing to be able to share what you create with the world independently.

10. What is your favorite artist or track of all time?
Such a big question! to narrow it down to a single artist or song seems impossible. I have fairly eclectic tastes, anything from Elliott Smith to 16 Volt and everything in-between. I think Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack are probably my 2 favourite artists of all time as I mentioned earlier, they hold a very sentimental place in my mind as they wrote some of the songs that influenced me at a younger age. I am always getting obsessed with new bands and artists and these days people who are working independently and releasing their own music are much more inspirational and rapidly becoming my favourite artists – people like The Ghost of 3:13 and TraisKin amaze me.

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