Welcome to Fret Buzz! my name is Joe
McMurray and I’m Aaron Sefchick and today
we have Paul Gaeta
is signing on from Asheville North
Carolina. Paul is an electronic music
producer and Moog store manager and
we’re really excited to have him here.
Welcome Paul.
Hey thanks. Thanks for having me. Yeah so,
I actually was down in Asheville for
Thanksgiving my parents live close to
there and I had I saw the Moog factory
and I was like it’s time for me to
finally go in there and I dragged my
wife and my brother and we went in there
and I was like a kid in a candy shop and
you guys actually didn’t have any tours
going on and you generously offered to
take me and my family behind the scenes
and got some time to talk to you so
thank you again for that yeah glad you
made it
it’s always a pleasure to have people
were excited to come by and to share
that stuff with him so yes so how did
you end up working for mode were you
already very in the sense beforehand and
then you like you lived in Nashville and
you sought them out yeah so I was
working for a company called Keith
McMillan they make MIDI controllers okay
and our I believe now owned by pearl or
have some distribution with pearl drums
so I worked for them as a sales rep and
an educator and the southeast was kind
of my territory so I’ve hopped in my car
and I Drive and visit all the music
stores that carried our products I did
that for about three years after already
being in music production for quite some
time so overall probably got about 15 to
16 years of music production experience
mostly making like hip hop beats but
also anything from like IDM to techno
other weird ambient stuff but as far as
go ahead did you say IDM yeah yeah so
I’m from Miami uh-huh before Asheville
and when I first got to Miami this genre
of music IDM not to be confused with EDM
was incredibly popular amongst you know
college kids and that kind of thing hmm
I had no idea yeah
so I didn’t quite get to how I started
working for mode so I was doing this
freelance thing and I got a call one day
from a friend of a friend and he’s like
hey I work in the store but I need
somebody to replace me I’m gonna go work
in marketing so five interviews later
Here I am and I’ve been at mogh for
about six years okay
yeah so did you when did Robert Moog
pass away it was at 2005 is correct if
for your time
I guess 14 years ago at this point oh
well yeah and this is his family carry
on business
we are employee owned we’re 49 percent
employee-owned and at one point we may
very well be a hundred percent but it is
a process where an esop it’s a an
employee stock ownership program and it
takes a while to you know make a full
transition usually as far as the family
goes his family is spread out across the
world in innocence his daughter Michelle
runs the Bob Hope Foundation and they’re
awesome they do educational outreach and
go to schools and get involved with
festivals and that kind of thing – very
good yeah Wow so you you do a lot of
electronic music production on your own
I’ve listened to your album the golden
changes from Panther God yeah
when did you start doing Panther God was
that your original name they used for
your deejay stuff or your production
stuff no I was going by pg-13 so you
know cool same initials right PJ yeah
after God and I was I think it was my
28th birthday I had kind of an
experience with the Panther which I
won’t get into too much and it was
actually a Jaguar with a Jaguar that I
had this experience with because of
course most people think there are Black
Panthers there are not right they don’t
exist they’re really dark modeled kind
of brownish colored or they’re a Jaguar
or a leopard or something like that
right so I had this experience and I
started joking with my good friend at
the time about the Jaguar Lord for
Jaguar it’s hard to say that word and he
was like no it’s Panther God that’s your
initials and I was already looking for a
new name because pg13 sounds a little
little sophomoric you know so I was
named up here in the mountains at a
festival while I was playing music so
anyway that’s kind of the story of that
and it’s been I think it was 2010 so
it’s been about eight years so you were
playing at a music festival and you were
you up there like doing like a
late-night set where people are dancing
to your stuff at the time I was a rapper
so I was producing music as pg-13 but
also collaborating a lot with a good
friend of mine named Kent and I was the
vocalist in a project called junk ops
which you know we had put a lot of
effort into that project and we got
booked for a festival up here called tri
numeral so yeah I guess people were
dancing I mean I imagine that like
listening to your I think it’s the
second track on your album dream
you had like I just imagined like late
night in the woods with you know
flashing colored lights and people
dancing I’d had that festival vibe to it
cool glad you glad you felt that way
yeah that record was a very laborious
project it was like a four year process
or a long process to make that right Wow
yeah that’s general that’s a long time
making yeah what was what was your
process and why did it take so long um I
probably made about a thousand sketches
in in that four years and was working on
a variety of different things and also
just trying to make a living
as a freelance DJ musician producer
I gave Ableton lessons for a while and I
was doing the keith mcmillan thing
part-time which involved a lot of travel
so all that and then I went through I
was engaged at the time and I went
through a big breakup which meant
relocating and finding new work and so
it was a there was a lot going on but at
the end of it I’m a pretty slow composer
okay I’m not a player so I’m not the guy
that shreds I’m the guy that plays
something horribly edits it refines it
does ten takes if that doesn’t work get
my MIDI cables out and I program
everything with MIDI and then if that
doesn’t work then the song you know
might go through like six revisions so
I’m a pretty slow producer having said
that I’ve made a new project which is
all about finishing things in like two
to six hours well it’s called Paula
Abdul and there are no since it’s all
sampled and I just put a record out like
three days ago under that moniker and it
took about a year to finish it’s like a
20 minute project so
okay is that the one that had like old
samples of like old jazz tracks and you
were putting yeah behind him yeah it’s a
lot of like Bill Evans and she has jazz
from that era that I chopped up so that
was very cool to hear yeah well that was
actually very very good
I enjoy Thanks yeah I’m actually way
more stoked on doing stuff like that
then the full synth based project okay
um so we’ll see where Panther God goes
I’ve got some some sketches for sure for
another Panther god record but they take
so long no we’ll see alright now that
goes this new ones Paula Abdul Paul dual
impossible to Google I cannot google or
track the progress of this project
almost at all it’s so hard to figure out
how to do that because of Paula Abdul
yeah every every Google search goes to
that yep yeah your Google search engine
optimizations got to be it’s like zero
bad yeah it’s a great name but you may
want to you may want to pick it up I’m
not I’m sticking with it yeah well I
guess it depends on what your what’s
your ultimate goals yeah for it yeah
yeah I you know I make a living doing
doing what I do here at mode and so the
beauty of that is I don’t have to rely
upon my creativity to feed me which I
tried that for a while and I realized
pretty quickly I wasn’t gonna go down
that path yeah well with these samples
from in your Paula dual project what is
do you run into issues with copyright
using those old tracks yeah so I had
literally the biggest opportunity I’ve
ever had in my musical career pop up
whereas somebody from Adult Swim was
like hey can we use some of this stuff
and I was like sure but it’s all samples
and they were like oh no can’t do
anything with it yeah you know that’s
fine so you you’re able to pose
to CDR – what was it Bandcamp and things
like that
SoundCloud but you’re not able to sell
the music is that what it is um I can
sell it kind of you know let’s say under
the radar
fifty thousand copies or units is the
number that I’ve heard you start to get
in trouble if you cross that threshold
of sales right so if you’re for you know
ten years you’re you know building up
your fan base if you reach that fifty
thousand or more kind of landmark
somebody might come after you for your
entire catalogue at that point so that’s
when you lawyer up I guess
but um anything under that typically
you’re for lack of a better word flying
under the radar when it comes to
copyright holders actually coming at you
and saying cease and desist or you owe
us money you need to clear these samples
having said that sites like SoundCloud
can often remove your material if it’s
copy written and there are sophisticated
algorithms for finding it so you know
long story short there’s only so much I
can do with the music I can sell it on
Bandcamp I can usually have it on
soundcloud it’s it’s also on Spotify and
iTunes and YouTube is pretty lenient but
when it comes to licensing and sync
deals I’m out of it’s at a question
right well we enjoyed your project thank
you and hopefully any of our fret buzz
listeners can go and check you out it
Paul Abdul is it Paul or Paula Abdul no
no no Paul Oh Paula do okay yeah
I definitely don’t own that name right
yeah I’m on Bandcamp that’s the easiest
way to to find it and no since you know
actually I did try to put some scent
scent lines in there but
I try to keep it pure whereas the other
projects are very very simple oriented
can we can we jump over to that track
Jehovah for a minute yeah I want to talk
about the sounds that I was hearing yeah
because you’ve got some if if our
listeners listen to the track it’s got
these swells since swells in the
background or not I mean they’re not
that far in the back but yeah there’s
that and then there’s a totally
different kind of the lead synth which I
don’t know if that’s a square wave or
what that was but sine wave but it’s got
kind of a farty sound to it okay good
farty but you know what I’m talking
about obviously right yeah so like a
really fat lead synth sound are we
talking about the first song in the
record second song the dream of town
dreamy tone yes okay so most all of that
that particular recording is Juneau 60 G
no 60 okay yeah it’s a synth from early
eighties it’s considered analog and
rollin made it and it’s actually a
really sought after synth for a good
reason a lot of them are breaking down
so a friend of mine that I was staying
with at the time had one and he’s like
I’m gonna sell this thing so if you want
to use it now it’s your now’s your
chance so I pretty much did overdubs to
layer all of what you hear there on the
bass line which is more I think there’s
like a lead bass sound and that that was
actually a soft set and it was of an
sh-101 which is another roll in kind of
classic 80s okay yeah and what what did
you use to create those swells the kind
of synth chord swells yeah it was it was
all layered layered you know so it was
like pretty
limited palette in terms of the
different different since I used
sometimes I might use like four or five
different instruments but this was
pretty much all Juneau 660 I believe
yeah and then a lot of what I guess you
could call post-production I did have a
guest a guest help me with the mix down
of it and when I say mix down I’m more
mean like some of the effects and edits
and stutters um sound effects that kind
of thing and he passed away shortly
after he made that so I definitely have
to call him out a good buddy of mine he
went by deaf lon
his name is Derek and he and I had a
project together so we were
collaborating a lot at the time and he
was always great at giving things that
final push that final edge in Polish
which you know when you from start to
finish you’re composing you’re mixing
your editing it’s nice to have another
year another perspective and I find that
things come out a little bit better when
I do that so yeah yeah Aaron Aaron does
a lot of a lot of studio stuff it gets
loves the mixing process yeah exactly
what you’re talking about
yeah take it a piece and putting the
final touches on it whether it’s putting
the certain effects on it or just
polishing it up or whatever it is it’s I
definitely understand that enjoy that
process yeah that wouldn’t it took a
little bit longer for me too because
there’s a full modulation that happens
so there’s a section in the song it’s
somewhat but it’s not that noticeable
and that was the goal but it goes from I
think D minor to G or a or something so
there’s a full modulation to now that he
wise and and then what I did is I had
Derek put everything through the another
sampler and he basically replayed and
retriggered everything so there was a
lot of process involved in
song and it was a good example of why
things took so long in that record right
so you that quote that song like a lot
of it is based around that D minor chord
for a lot of the song yeah and is it’s
just kind of holding on that chord right
but you’re doing cool things there’s
there’s a progression and then the
progression the whole thing modulates
but I think I keep the same progression
so yeah um the name golden changes is a
reference to John Coltrane the Coltrane
changes and I am by no means a master
jazz musician but the goal was to imbue
more harmonic complexity in that record
I really started out not knowing much
about theory or piano and looking back
on my earliest works that was what was
lacking so a lot of time went into
having actual chord progressions yeah in
that record so how in terms of your
compositions and progressions and key
changes how do you go about doing that
now versus yeah whatever younger um I
feel like to be really frank I’ve gotten
a little lazy I continue to learn more
and more I’d say complex chords and that
kind of thing as I get older but looking
back there were certain things that I
was doing where I’m like yeah I need to
bring that that back into and part of it
was when you don’t know what you’re
doing you can start you do some cool
things a little bit you know I agree
yeah so how do I do it now I usually
write I write things on paper and I
figure out what chords I’m gonna use
before I even make sounds okay
that’s usually like the best-case
scenario for me right like a bare-bones
yeah I make like a little harmony map
kind of thing
I figure out you know am I gonna go with
some more out there chords or do I want
this to sound a little more standard and
then I actually just write down the
chords and I write down all the notes
and the chords and then if I want to
modulate I’ll figure that out ahead of
time T okay all right so your stat
you’re taking like diatonic chords of
say C major and then you’re you’re
picking the chord progression out on
paper without you don’t even have a
keyboard in front of you while you’re
doing that not usually and not usually
diatonic either I feel like what’s
somewhat plaguing this whole EDM thing
is it’s a lot of the same chords that
you hear so like I’m always trying to
figure out how do I not do that and then
that for me often means more like a of a
jazz approach and the newest music I’m
working on is certainly more modal where
each chord will have its own its own
scale and even if I’m just like two
chords or three chords that gives it a
little bit more interesting flavor I
think it’s interesting with all the the
synths I feel like I mean a lot of the
EDM music that’s out there they have
it’s like when you actually look at the
chord progression it’s it’s not only
different from like wagon-wheel by you
know okra medicine sure it’s like yeah
four chords you know one one five six
four yeah something like that
it’s like that over and over and then
they have some sort of synth lead line
over it and yeah like a dance groove
line behind you know the percussion or
the drums and people love it people eat
it up yeah yeah and you know I wish I
could in my head juggle all the math
that goes goes behind like you know more
complex jazz and for me I just have to
write it down because I had
even following progressions you know I’m
just I didn’t start out playing music I
started off sampling and that kind of
thing so I kind of have to come at it
from the back door and like really jot
everything down on paper or the
old-school way and and make charts kind
of you know I think everybody has to go
through that yeah like everybody I’ve I
have students that they’re like how do
you know all that stuff I’m like well
I’ve done it thousands of times at this
point like yeah you’re not my first
student I did it thousands of times
before I even started explaining this to
kids and now I explain it to kids and
adults almost every day of my life like
yeah that’s it just gets more and more
clear yeah yeah at first you know I
noticed I was like wow I know what
chords are but everything sounds very
vanilla and it that took like a couple
years to resolve just that well why is
my music sound so ridiculously like
classical you know like I’ve heard this
in a million Beethoven you know type
compositions your typical just like one
four or five or whatever and
everything’s just like three note triads
it’s just it doesn’t fly yeah you know
oh man I when you start adding I always
talk about with with my students like a
chord is like a cookie is what I usually
use and explain the de chords you know
cookies made of several ingredients like
flour sugar and butter for instance I
mean there’s other things but a chord is
made of a root a third and fifth and
yeah you know maybe that’s a sugar
cookie but maybe you want a chocolate
chip cookie let’s add a seventh and like
maybe you want chocolate macadamia nut
maybe let’s add a ninth on there yeah
13th in it it helps them to understand
that it’s okay which one’s the
chocolates not that once you kind of get
it it’s uh it helps clear it up to
people to think of it like a recipe yeah
and Hanan with in my I’m not super
experienced with since only I think
analog synths I’ve ever used have been
at the mogh Factory with you yeah but
I’ve dabbled using synths on Ableton and
using the using some sort of chord synth
and adding you know playing a nice minor
9th chord and like slowly adding pitches
on top a sharp 11 whatever it is gives
the it’s amazing what you can do with
the since because they have some so much
as well and the sustain and but it’s
sometimes inspires me using something
like that adding it to my music as a
guitarist it helps me to create
something new and that’s part of what I
thought would be really cool about
having you on
you know we we’re called fret buzz the
podcast cos both Erin and I are
guitarists primarily but I think that
everybody stands to benefit just
exploring synths and what it could add
to your music it’s good to explore other
instruments in general but I think yeah
if you’re in a lull songwriting low just
take some sort of cool synth pad you
know something that sounds like spacey
and cool and put it down and play over
it for a little bit like maybe it will
create something new yeah what happened
to me with one of my one of my tracks
yeah yeah it’s good for inspiration
that’s for sure I know I mean with with
guitarists we have our pedals we have
our boards on all this rack ear that we
can play with and it’s fun to kind of
get into but at the same time with since
it’s the same kind of thing I know
whenever I pull up something in Pro
Tools one of their sins I can get lost
for hours and just kind of pushing
buttons and twisting knobs and getting
into all kinds of crazy sounds I think
for a lot of us who are not familiar
with synths and what they can do yeah
obviously it can be overwhelming because
there’s so much you can’t do yeah and I
even had a producer came out who
actually contacted me recently was like
can you give me any help in this area
because it’s really confusing I’m trying
to get this one sound I’m trying to get
like silky smooth string sounds out of
the synth I’m like I don’t I’m not a I’m
not an expert in sense in any way
whatsoever but I don’t think that you’re
realizing what the tools that you’re
trying to use it’s almost like trying to
put it you know the the square peg in a
round hole yeah I don’t think he was he
had this vision his mind and I don’t
think he was going at it in the right
way okay yeah so can you would achieve
that kind of sound sure I’m not sure he
was going about it in the right way yeah
so I mean I think I think when you have
a certain sound or something like that
with a synth it’s gonna take some time
to sit down and familiarize yourself
with specifically that that sins because
each one is a bit different in so many
ways yeah yeah that’s a really good
point and it’s interesting because I I
feel like I kind of deal with similar
things every day like two common things
I get one would be I’m a guitarist and I
want to make my guitars sound like a
synthesizer and there’s I think a lot of
a lot of people that come in that think
they can plug their guitar into a
synthesizer and just play it actually
had something tell me that last so so
that’s pretty common and usually I
actually end up steering them towards
guitar pedals yeah because getting a
really nice MIDI kit put on your guitar
right and figuring out MIDI if you’re at
this point maybe it’s not the best idea
right right they do make guitar synths
and those are cool too there’s an artist
square pusher who’s known as a bassist
makes electronic music all via MIDI with
you know a MIDI pickup on its base so
you can do those things and then the
other thing you mentioned which I found
interesting is about the I had this
sound in my head I need to get it so I
figure a synthesizers the best way to
get it right right
I find that if you want the sound of a
piano or a guitar or any other acoustic
you probably want that exact sound right
you probably don’t want a synthesizer to
do something similar um and that’s
actually interesting too because in the
70s or even in the 60s when the Beatles
and the Monkees and all these rock bands
were getting into sense what they were
doing is they would go oh we could get
kind of a tuba sound or a flute sound
and instead of getting let’s say an
entire horn section let’s do it with a
synth so they’d fly somebody in and the
guy would patch up this giant modular
synth that costs like $60,000 and they’d
spend hours trying to get something that
replicated an acoustic instrument right
but then pretty quickly people realize
you know what we can get a totally new
sound with the synth so let’s start
using that and I think that’s more where
things went is instead of trying to get
you know a spot-on replicant like
replication of like a horn we can get a
synth horn or a synth something and
let’s use the sound of a synthesizer as
one tool of many in our palette and so I
I like sense for that reason
like I think electric piano has its
place I love electric piano I’m not
typically using a synthesizer to get
that sound right with a synth you can it
has a very unique sound and because it
you know somebody filters and one like
that you can sweep through the filters
and give it that unique sound yeah
that’s what makes the synth yeah versus
trying to make a synth sound like you
know like you said a tube or string
section right download that sample and
do that yeah there’s contact and you
know these great sample libraries that
are pretty accessible nowadays um you
know interesting thing that you said
about the filter too is if you were to
run a tuba through a really creamy
filter like a mug filter yeah the tuba
you would now start to perceive more
like a synth so it’s in the filtering
and the way you remove frequencies and
the way that you can move that filter
that is often the most defining aspect
of a synthesizer not the sound source
not the oscillators right which just go
ah because a tuba you don’t have that
option to go won’t won’t won’t well
right and have a resonant filter feeding
back on your acoustic instrument so if
you want an acoustic instrument to sound
more like a synth maybe you just need a
filter right so if you’re using like on
your on a mug synthesizer
it’s got like 40 little knobs in stacks
is that the you’re talking about the LFO
filter is that or they’re different it’d
be a late a low pass filter low-pass
filter um that is most common on really
all synthesizers it’s gonna allow the
lows to pass through the cutoff point
so that’s your threshold and if you have
it set to like I don’t know 40 Hertz you
only hear the frequencies below that and
if you don’t have a sub you don’t hear
anything right um it’s a low-pass filter
it’s like the naming of it is so
straightforward it’s easy to go what is
a low-pass filter but it just allows the
lows to pass through yes sir but you’re
sure you’re oscillating that so it’s
coming in pulses oh right so if you use
an LFO and you route it to the filter
you get that kind of wobble okay or that
movement so though what kind of thing
yeah that’s like reg major EDM sound in
my head very common yeah okay and so
also on the Moog filter are the Moog and
a lot of the other since I guess you’ve
got you can do a square wave a sawtooth
lead and all these things yeah um so
that it’s actually distorting the
electrical signal and giving you that if
you were to look at some sort of
scientific equipment the sound wave is
actually distorted in that way an
oscilloscope yeah if you look at an
oscilloscope an analog oscillator versus
a digital an analog oscillator can
produce a variety of vibrations okay
sound is vibration to buzz and say
saxophones let’s let’s start with
saxophone the saxophone is going to
produce a really buzzy rich bright
harmonically rich waveform acoustically
right an oscillator can produce a
similar wave form called a sawtooth and
it looks like the jagged edge of a saw
that’s as bright and buzzy as it gets
right uh-huh
from there you’ve got sawtooth you’ve
got square waves
you’ve got triangles triangles would be
your smoothest wave form more useful for
flu electric piano these kinds of things
so depending on what kind of a sound you
want do you want really bright
aggressive in-your-face go towards a saw
do you want really mellow do you want a
sub bass with no harmonic content other
than that main fundamental you go for a
triangle right and the oscillator
produces that that tone you typically
have a couple and you can stack them so
now you get something that might be like
a mix of a
saw and a square and you get even more
of a rich wide thick sound you also get
some chorusing now it’s like two voices
singing together right so I have two
different outputs on your on your
synthesizer for that no so like ain’t
built internally into the synthesizer
maybe most synthesizers that mode makes
our monophonic and their single voice so
all of the components they all work
together to give you one signal path
that is going to sound as thick and rich
as possible so your multiple oscillators
go through one mixer section one filter
one amplifier now when it gets to a poly
synth let’s just take the Korg minilogue
which is a like $500 small little kind
of a desktop Polly sent it you can play
four notes there are four signal paths
under the hood so you might have two
oscillators per voice you might have a
toss laters I don’t know what the number
is on that but each one has its own
filter in theory each one has its own
amplifier and you get a complete signal
path for every note you want to play at
the same time that’s why Polly scents
are expensive in the analog world
they’re typically big and bulky it’s
because you’ve got every part on the
circuit board multiply it by the number
of notes you want to play at the same
time and that’s like the new Moog one
that just came out
yeah it’s 16 voice yeah 48 oscillators
so you have three oscillators per voice
for LFOs and the whole signal path times
16 right so yeah
giant circuit board in the back 20 C 20
circuit boards 20 seconds well yeah yeah
that might be the most complex synth of
its kind yeah
sixteen what is a lot of voices yeah
only got ten fingers yeah well and they
coming yeah at first it’s like why do I
need sixteen well it’s a it’s a
three-part sense so it’s broken up into
layers you could have like you play
let’s say ten keys but then you have a
sound come up after that first sound
like a string section well there go
there goes all your voices right there
that make sense
yeah Wow so a big thing I’ve been like
doing some research into these and into
these different since and like Moog
seems to be all analog but they’re also
all these digital synths and I imagine
it’s a lot like you know we have this we
had this conversation we had a guy who
does he works on amps and things like
tube amp versus solid-state amp
people have opinions about an analog
synth versus a digital synth what are
your thoughts on that they are just
different tools and the the whole
conversation is a bit of a moot point in
that if you need certain sounds it’s
very hard to do that on one or the other
tool so if you needed a glassy pad you
probably want a digital sense for that
especially if you want to play 10 notes
at the same time if you want the
thickest richest lushest warmest bass
tone you can get and you want it to
sound like something you heard off an
Emerson Lake & Palmer record you
probably want to Moke for that so
digital is really good for certain
analogs great for certain things they
both have limitations where it gets into
a conversation about what is better is
like it gets down to kind of like what
makes us human an analog synth is
more like a living breathing organism
you never get the same same sound twice
at a fundamental level if you strike a
key on a mode 50 times you get 50
different events in theory on a digital
synthesizer if you hit that key 50 times
you get the exact same event 50 times
now why would I want it to be different
every time well if you play a piano you
strike a key on a piano hammer hits a
string you’ve got heat friction gravity
and everything else going on in the
physical worlds affecting that sound so
you can strike the key 50 times you get
unique events every time and same with
playing a guitar you can’t replicate the
same sound so that’s where it gets into
this more heady discussion about analog
versus digital does do you think in
general analog I mean I guess you said
it’s a richer thicker sound but can you
get a digital synth and still get a good
fat tone oh yeah in fact if you need
precision if you need that bass to sound
very very specific way every note every
time you you strike the key you might
even want a digital synth for that now
here’s where it gets even more
interesting most analog cents are
hybrids most all of them starting in the
80s so they use the best of both worlds
and that’s just that’s the norm so when
people get into the whole analog versus
digital thing they may not even realize
that most of their analog scents are
also hybrids there’s digital
architecture in there too yeah
memory so if you want to store a patch
if you need MIDI if you need more
precise LFO s that can be synced to your
computer’s tempo things like that
they’re all
if you were going to like if I wanted to
get an actual simp or get like get more
into it yeah well is it better to just
like get something on the computer and
start messing with it that way is it
better to get a digital synth and learn
on that is there specific models that
might be good for a person trying to get
like I want to beef up my tracks I’m
still a guitarist but I want to have
some texture underneath my tracks and
maybe like maybe my I want to experiment
with putting some lead lines or bass
lines with the synth for like where is a
good place to start
yeah well there are certainly more
affordable options than ever it used to
be you know in the 60s you’d have you’d
have one option right you’d have a but
you add modes right in the 70s then you
had art and Moog ARP and then true you
know you saw Roland and Korg and other
companies enter the the mix well now
you’re talking about
hundreds of companies making great
synthesizers so it’s really competitive
and there are so many options that it’s
almost like there’s no wrong way to get
started now I will say this using a
mouse to program a synthesizer it’s
really hard to learn what is going on
because you’re only able to adjust one
parameter at a time you’re typically
starting with presets you might not ever
know what it is that knob actually does
you might be listening and intuitively
kind of oh that does this when you get a
hardware synthesizer with a limited
number of options you tend to learn how
that thing works and so I’d say any
analog synthesizer is a really good
place to start we make one called the
verge dot it’s a little kick it’s
unbelievable it’s $200 having said that
that minilogue I mentioned is a good
polyphonic analog scent it’s like 500
and so stuff like that just wasn’t
available even like you know a decade
ago add that at that price point so
those are great I’ll also mention these
little pocket operators by teenage
engineering this one is the tonic this
thing sounds as good as an 808 it’ll
cost you $90 you fit it in your pocket
yeah so there’s certainly no shortage of
tools and of course when it comes to
cents you’re also you’ve also got drum
drum synthesizers so this is kind of a
drum synth sampler because the 808 is
like a drum kit on Ableton that I pull
up exactly yeah so that’s what it that’s
what that refers to
well drum samples if you were talking
about the tr-808 which was an actual
drum machine that you know there was
like a 909 and an 808 and there are both
just legendary drum machines that go for
crazy money if you can find a vintage
one but yeah you’re right you can get
the actual sounds everywhere I mean that
you could download them in the next 10
minutes onto your computer in a way came
out of the 80s you know people like Run
DMC and whatnot like that made it really
popular yeah and then the 909 became
really popular for house so that like
that kind of like hi-hat that open
hi-hat yep you almost can’t hear a house
track without those those hats that’s
like the thing that really gives it that
like 90s house sound or 80s house sound
that goes yeah yeah that’s quite you
talk about hardware and your hands I
liken that to a lot of the compress
and limiters and yeah rack gear that we
have as engineers yeah you can do
plugins it’s the same thing you know
he’d grab a mouse and you kind of turn
knobs and versus actually getting your
hands on something different it’s a
different experience when you I could
actually you know play with a drawbar or
you know kind of actually feel exactly
what’s going on within the the the
hardware when you’re touching the knob
or flipping a switch or you actually
need to hear it
versus like use it as a said use a mouse
or even a MIDI controller where you do
have multiple knobs and you can kind of
manipulate them it’s she is not the same
thing yeah
the more fun you’re having I think the
more inclined you are to to dig in and
to keep keep at it
yeah I agree but finding the right tool
that’s going to be an individual journey
in fact when I started I started with an
MPC so no synthesizers no drum machines
I had CDs and I would actually be
sampling from CDs right onto the MPC and
then my next gear was I think I bought a
little Roland SP 505 which had some like
an 808 or a 909 kind of those sounds in
there and I could sample into that and
it had effects so having like reverb
delay now those things really helped and
then eventually I got a synth and I got
a record player and for a while that was
that was it that was like your classic
hip-hop studio said oh and I do
recommend starting with the sampler even
it’s not a synthesizer it can’t produce
say its own tones but the world is kind
of your oyster when any sound can become
the tone for your you know bass line or
your your lead or whatever you want
right how does that work a sampler I’ve
never used the same blur you typically
have some sort of pads or triggers on on
if it’s a hardware sampler and very
commonly you’ve only got like say from
two seconds to like a couple minutes of
sampling time and you can edit the sound
so that when you trigger it on the pad
it starts where you want it it ends when
you want it to you can filter it and
time stretch it quite often think of it
as like a really stripped-down drum rack
in Ableton like an MPC was basically
like the precursor to your kind of drum
racks in Ableton where you have these
pads that you can you can retrigger in
you can throw any sound you want into
those cells how do you get like a
hardware sampler how do you get like a
kick drum sound in there it’s already in
there can you pull from like a CD or an
mp3 the track right percent of the kick
drum um so when I first started you know
I would just find that part on that that
album on the on a CD at first and then
it was you know vinyl and tapes just
kind of cue it up hit record on the
sampler grab that kick but I’m also
probably getting a bunch of other stuff
I don’t want so then I trim it so that
it’s nice and tight and hit hit delete
on all the other stuff and continue that
process then of course you’re sampling
from different records because you might
get a kick from one record a hi-hat from
another and a snare from a completely
different record so then you have to do
some tuning and and filtering to get the
three to sound like a kid and it’s just
a really good process to go through
because you learn about envelopes you
learn about filtering and trimming and
editing so I think a sampler is a good
place to start to you let’s go back to
this kick drum thing yeah yeah like I’m
gonna kick drum a boom you’ve got yeah
like a fraction of a second and you’ve
recorded that one little bit are you
then using an EQ to take out all the
other stuff and you’ve got like if a
kick drums it
50 to 100 Hertz someone there you’re
like literally filtering out everything
above 100 Hertz in below 50 in order to
just get the sound of that kick drum
from that half a second sample so what I
would be looking for and this is gonna
give you maybe a new respect for what
people do with sampling so in the very
earliest stages write-ups like with SP
12 SP 1200 right let’s talk about this
for a second one of the early kind of
classic hip hop samplers that you hear
Pete Rock he used it a ton DJ premier I
think as well so golden era early boom
I think it had two seconds of sampling
time okay so your kick your hat your
snare your samples everything total had
to add up to no more than two seconds so
that’s a pretty big challenge right and
what you’d be looking for is on that
funk record or that soul record the
break right and you try to get maybe a
loop maybe like a 1 second 1 bar loop or
you’d literally get just the kick and
you’d hope it was isolated so that you
didn’t have the base underneath it maybe
you did maybe you used it then you’d
proceed and you’d find like five or six
records that might work together where
maybe it’s just one or two right but you
chop them all up so that you just have
the kick did you have any filters on SP
12 1200 I don’t know I don’t think so
maybe a low-pass but you certainly you
probably couldn’t high-pass you probably
couldn’t cut the Rumble out from the
record but yeah point being is that’s
like the beginnings you had very little
tools and then with with time the MPC
became the norm now the MPC just had a
low-pass filter so you could trim the
sample you could I think you could
reverse it you could time stretch it but
to time stretch one sound would take
like a minute you’d hit go and then
you’d like you know clean your room
and you come back and it might be time
stretched well if it’s not time
stretched the way you want it you’d do
it again
so more than anything you would be
chopping things in two parts to get it
all to lock into the group and it meant
you spent like I used to my process used
to be sample records for the entire day
chop them at the end of the day and then
at night make one beat I can do all that
in like I can make an entire song in two
hours now with the similar process but
yeah it’s just really slow and in time
time concede yeah so why would you do
that now if you can if I can go on
Ableton and pull up like it came with
like a hundred different drum racks yeah
I’m doing the 808 in the 909 and all
that why would I not just use that most
people would not do it the old
old-fashioned way anymore if if they are
they’re looking for a particular sound
and I will say that it is a very a very
specific process to try to get your
computer to sound like those old
samplers because what I didn’t realize
when I first made the switch to logic
was logic doesn’t have necessarily a
sound you have to put those compressors
in there you have to find you know maybe
a vintage tube amp simulators because
NPCs have this hardware based and you
have a lot of analog electronics in
there that give it a sound which is
punchy and warm and fat when I switch to
logic it took me at least two years to
make anything but complete garbage I was
like everything sounded brittle hi yes
sterile you know I didn’t know about
reverb really I didn’t know about
compression so it was it was a process
to recreate that sound and I really to
be honest I say it’s taken me a decade
to learn how to get
sound so maybe I maybe I should have
stuck with the sampler you know I mean I
hear what you’re saying but at the same
time you’re that much better at creating
the vision at a quicker process yeah
yeah you you don’t necessarily have to
rely on libraries or anything like that
if you have a specific sound that you
want you can go after that and pretty
quick yeah – yeah that’s why you’re also
an educator because you know you can you
know help people along with that process
and show them the ins and outs of how to
go about that versus yeah well here’s a
preset and I guess here we go
yeah yeah I think that’s an interesting
discussion too because going back to
your your kind of first point there
about why would I or a question why
would I do that thing this way today you
wouldn’t necessarily but your if you
have that experience under your belt
you’re so much better off I think
because like let’s say Ableton if that’s
your first tool it’s literally like
having a 30 million dollar studio at
your fingertips
with infinite routing capabilities
sounds pre-loaded etc etc so you know
you’re you’re gonna it’s going to take
some time to figure out your sound and
how to imprint a particular sound onto
your recordings onto your your
compositions so that’s why I tell people
even though they never they never listen
they never really go oh yeah I’m gonna
get a sampler from the 80s that only has
10 seconds you know a sampling time and
I’ll just start from scratch
most people want instant results you
know so yeah they want the thing and
they want it now right for you Paul and
absolutely actually Joe as well and
actually all of our listeners there is a
wonderful podcast called twenty thousand
I’ve probably mentioned it before in the
show but they had a episode at the
beginning of December called boots and
cats mmm and it’s all about the 808 and
the sounds that hip-hop had and on the
classic you know since it was a
excellent episode it just kinda reminded
me and awesome yeah it’s very good
episode yeah that 808 is really stuck
around oh my gosh yes it’s it’s funding
out you have like an entire genre of
that’ll sprout out of a bit of hardware
mmm like we talked about
EDM really let’s just say it dubstep
with the LFO to the filter you know
won’t won’t whoa whoa right so you
couldn’t really do that until you had
digital LFO s and then a good way to
change the rate of the LFO because you
could easily turn a mod wheel up on a
mini Mogan go whoa
but if you wanted it locked into a grid
you needed like a computer right right
okay so there’s dubstep and then with
like the 808 people started doing more
than the 808 could with those same
sounds they’d sample the kick you know
it was actually this is kind of weird
it’s actually out of the box out of the
hardware not tuned to a note it’s
between G and G sharp I believe so it’s
a tacky with everything pretty much
right well so what people didn’t care at
first then with the more modern trapped
sound a lot of times there’s no bass
line the bass is the kick and they tune
the kick and they overdrive the kick so
it goes doom doom doom doom doom and
that sound you know you hear it in pop
music every day it’s it’s the it’s the
sound of pop music really right now yeah
that’s so funny I’ve heard that so many
times and I didn’t realize what was
I don’t know if I thought they were like
coupling the bass and the and the kick
together just playing them at the same
time I realize it was just the kick
thing tuned I don’t know this the exact
way that they made that kick at the
beginning for that sampler but I do know
that you can get an 808 where what you
do is you you use a filter on a
synthesizer you turn down your sound
sources and there’s a feedback knob
labeled resonance on the filter so you
turn the feedback all the way up it’s
like holding a mic up to a speaker now
you’ve got a feedback loop and you use
the filter cutoff and you tune it let’s
say 240 Hertz some bass note right you
can tune it very precisely then you
strike a key and it goes doom doom doom
you put that through like overdrive or
saturate errs and you’ve got an 808 so
it may be that a filter
you know once again is responsible for
the sound of that kick yeah it’s awesome
yeah so many ways you can manipulate
sound so cool yeah the different colors
you can come up with oh and with plugins
now oh my gosh it’s I mean I’m a big fan
of universal audio plugins I’ve gotten
Apollo that was a game changer for me
yeah they sound great they’re affordable
ish and the plugins sound better than
great I think they sound just
unbelievable yeah Apollo sir
the twins great great things to have
yeah yeah now that’s your digital audio
interface correct yeah it’s analog
modeling that they do for the plugins
and the hardware actually has
computer chips in it that run the run
their plugins right so you don’t need a
super fast computer right to have
high-end plugins running it’s like I’ve
got this focusrite scarlett yeah so just
with the Apollo twin you’re gonna get
you can adjust the sound
that’s coming in to your computer before
it even gets there to make it sound
better is that kind of the idea so
interesting you can you can have plugins
for monitoring purposes that will not be
actually printed to audio so like let’s
say you want to sing through compression
and reverb or rap through it or whatever
you can do that without making a you
know an unchangeable decision or like
it’s not going to be printed to audio
right yeah because I hate saying like
I’m singing you take I need reverb on
yeah it feels terrible to sing without
reverb right so you have that option and
they have a whole library of plugins
that do that are like very precisely
modeled after famous hardware so like
lexicon reverbs you know vintage
limiters you a 11 whatever Evers like
all those consoles
everything’s been meticulously modeled
so that it sounds like analog Hardware
very close to it they even have like
modeling that can happen so I think I
think within the plug-in if you change
the type on let’s say a tube amp or
something that the circuitry is really
like the signal pack gets rerouted in
the hardware so you actually get
modeling of like different amps and that
kind of thing in the most precise way
possible so it’s really good stuff
and that is where we’re going to leave
it today join us next Thursday as we get
into part two and dive a little bit
deeper into this synth don’t forget to
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