Jon Bohm (One half of Saddle Up the Robots) – Sounds of Horror

This past Halloween night, the NYMS invaded The East Village Playhouse for one hell of a show! Sounds of Horror!

NYMS members Dysonant, Jon Bohm (one half of Saddle Up the Robots), DJ Cherishtheluv, Crew Called Self, This Digital Landscape and Ben The Glorious Bastard took the stage for a night of bleeps, bloops and frights. I had the opportunity to virtually sit down with each of the performers and ask a few question about their individual modular philosophies and performance setups.

This week’s interview is with none other than Jon Bohm who performed a Halloween solo set. Be sure to check out his full band’s Instagram to learn more about Saddle Up the Robots.

Jon Bohm

Modular synths seem to be a pretty specific niche.  What draws you into modular vs. standard synths or other options?

 It’s inherently momentary and I find that to be fun. 

Why do you choose to perform live on what can potentially be a fairly complicated setup?

 Because what is life if you don’t bother to challenge yourself?

How long have you been playing on modular?

Couple years. Been doing this electronic music thing for much longer though. Bought my first synth when I was 19.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of modular synths?

Finding time to work on patches. You really do need to put in a lot of hours to make sure a 10 minute performance doesn’t sound like hot garbage. 

…though hot garbage doesn’t have a sound.

What type of music (non-modular) do you find inspirational?  Artists and/or genres.

Truthfully what I find inspiring varies by the day and mood I am in. I know. Super contrived answer. 

My favorite band is Depeche Mode, FWIW.

Can you name a module that inspires you the most?

Far from a unique answer but I think the BIA is just fucking brilliant. It’s rather aggressive but extremely versatile. I love that you can CV the hell out of it and find moments of beauty in between all it’s harshness.

What was the first module you purchased/acquired?

Does the 0-Coast count? That motherfucker is starting to gain a reputation as the gateway drug of eurorack.

If not; Pamela’s New Workout. Opened up so many doors almost immediately and really gets you thinking in a very “non-linear” frame of mind which you need to channel when starting to wrap your head around modular workflows.

What was the last module you purchased/acquired?

Recent acquisitions include a Mimeophon and an Antiphon. I like phon. 

Currently, what is your favorite module?

I really love modules which sort of play along with you. Marbles is a great example of that. Producing good results is very much about understanding it’s “rule set”, if you will. Love shit like that.

That said I would probably (definitely) have a different answer if you asked again tomorrow. 

How do you prioritize musicality vs. the “weirdness” that modular offers?  For example, are there times when you abandon harmony in favor of weird and interesting patches and vice versa?

While I love to embrace that non-linear which I think breeds a lot of that “weirdness”, I do always try to bring it back to building something that’s inherently “musical”. But even what that means is subjective for each of us, I’d imagine. 

Can you give a brief “rig rundown” or “patch notes” from your Halloween performance? 

 4 synth parts: Cwejman BLD2, NE Sinc Iter, MI Plaits, Super Synthesis 2 OP FM (highly underrated module btw)

4 drum parts: MI Peaks for bass and snare, EMW T-Drum (2x) for hats, BIA for general percussive madness 

Fuckton of modulation provided by Maths, Voltage Block, Batumi, Marbles, Clep Diaz, PNW 

Spookyness molded by filters and effects WASP filter, SEM filter, Mimeophon, and Disting doing a bit crush thing 

Then I also brought along a Yamaha Reface DX for some dissonant FM chords. It was Halloween, afterall. 

Follow up Question…I’ve been debating getting an SEM filter.  I have the Wasp currently. Which SEM do you have and how would you say it differs from the Wasp?

I love both. Doepfer filters sound so good and are so cheap….it’s hard to avoid buying them. The wasp as you know is very aggressive and gritty the SEM is a bit tamer but definitely has a unique, spooky character all of its own. I think both are great for creating very atmospheric sounds. Like if I were to write a horror movie score SEM would be the opening theme and the the Wasp would be for a scene where someone gets murdered lol

John Carpenter’s early scores were all written and recorded on SEM. The filter is what gives his stuff such a unique (and fucking awesome) sound.

Lastly, how would you describe your Halloween performance to someone unfamiliar with this crazy modular world we live in?

Like if the score to Suspiria and the noises a dial up modem makes had some sort of evil love child.

Thanks Jon!! Looking forward to checking out your next show!
~Jon (yohan753) 

Dysonant – Sounds of horror

This past Halloween night, the NYMS invaded The East Village Playhouse for one hell of a show! Sounds of Horror!

NYMS members Dysonant, Jon Bohm (one half of Saddle Up the Robots), DJ Cherishtheluv, Crew Called Self, This Digital Landscape and Ben The Glorious Bastard took the stage for a night of bleeps, bloops and frights. I had the opportunity to virtually sit down with each of the performers and ask a few question about their individual modular philosophies and performance setups.

This week’s interview is with none other than Dysonant. Be sure to check out his Instagram to see what else he has going on.

Dysonant

Modular synths seem to be a pretty specific niche.  What draws you into modular vs. standard synths or other options?

I was tired of scrolling through presets trying to find a sound that was close to what I wanted, then modifying that
sound to suit my needs.  I thought I knew how synths worked prior to using modular, but I was really wrong.  With
modular synths your are locked into crafting each sound from the ground up.  I know now that I still have a lot to learn
about sound synthesis and design. I never learned this on fixed architecture synths because, for example, the VCA is
almost always end of chain. On most fixed synths you can’t decide, hey, what if I modulate the VCA with audio?
Learning each building block has gotten me closer to “my sound” than anything prior.

Why do you choose to perform live on what can potentially be a fairly complicated setup?

I never thought about playing live when I was using a computer to make music.  It really lacks that element of danger
where anything can go wrong and then turn into something that goes right. If it is not interesting to me, how can I
expect an audience to be interested? I think using a modular synth is a lot more like playing guitar or piano.  You
need to practice, rehearse and hone your craft. I am not implying using a computer you do not do these things, just
that I approach a modular synth more like an instrument than a studio.

How long have you been playing on modular?

I’ve been playing live for 3 1/2 years and using modular August of 2014.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of modular synths?

Cable management and module arrangement.  I try to arrange my modules so that cable runs are shorter to hopefully limit spaghettification.

What type of music (non-modular) do you find inspirational?  Artists and/or genres.

I am a big fan of dark, heavy, sad and weird music.  I still think My Bloody Valentine is one of the all time best.  Shoegaze in general is very appealing to me because it incorporates all those elements.  Often before I begin preparing for a show, I may start listening to sludge and doom metal for textural inspiration.  Sometimes I listen to techno, hip-hop, jazz and more abstract electronic for rhythmic inspiration.  Often the ambience on the Enterprise is enough to get me going.

Can you name a module that inspires you the most?

The Harvestman Zorlon Cannon.  It is a bit daunting at first, but can be used in so many creative ways.  For example, I have coaxed from it very cool sounding hi-hats, many flavors of noise, chords, clock dividers, semi-random stepped voltages, semi-random rhythmic gates and more.  In fact, with only a quad VCA you could make close to a full drum machine, albeit and very uncontrolled and weird one.  I have had it for over four years and still find new uses for it.

What was the first module you purchased/acquired?

I went all out and got a full Pittsburgh System-90 for my first foray into modular.  I had no idea what I was doing, but figured I wanted something intended to be a complete instrument.  This system really appealed to me because it merged digital and analog modules and seemed to encourage creativity.

What was the last module you purchased/acquired?

Instruō Troika.  I have been wanting a triple analog oscillator for quite some time.  A few years back I got 3 WMD/SSF Spectrums thinking, why not keep it fully modular (i.e. no normalizations) thereby maximizing patch-ability.  The Spectrum is a killer little VCO, but patching 3 to a mixer and setting up routing started to be come a chore and limited my creative flow. Recently I got Troika and find it really friendly to work with.  For the Halloween show, I made the main melody from it and was able to easily modify the sound live for different parts of my set.

Currently, what is your favorite module?

Warmstar Electronics The Bends.  Simply put, it is a 4 channel attenuator.  The magic is that you can input CV or audio and allow the channels to bleed into eachother.  So it is also kind of a mixer. But it also has inverted outputs per channel.  Unpatched it is a voltage source, so creating offset or macro knobs is rather simple.  Because the bleed is controlled by Vactrols you can even use it to create decay envelopes from gates/triggers.  It is kind of an uber utility that I am going to be finding new tricks on for years.

How do you prioritize musicality vs. the “weirdness” that modular offers?  For example, are there times when you abandon harmony in favor of weird and interesting patches and vice versa?

I work primarily at the intersection of experimental and accessible.  So, I do not necessarily prioritize one over the other.  I like to create very abstract music that much of the world would not consider music. The modular synth, with all the modulation possibilities really lends itself to being weird.  I move between these sounds and more traditional musical structures hoping to introduce those unaccustomed to abstract music in a more open way.  Often I will introduce a weird sound, let it sink in for a bit, then begin to modify and warp it into something tangible, like rhythm or pitch.  

Can you give a brief “rig rundown” or “patch notes” from your Halloween performance? 

Oh man, it was complicated.  I’ll try to be brief.  There were 3 voices, bass, melody and chord pads.  Then I had a 4 part rhythm section, kick, snare, percussion and hi-hat.  Pretty traditional, really. Rather than detailing the full patch, I’ll tell you a couple of interesting things.

I was using WMD Crucible for hi-hats, but it was not spooky enough and too realistic.  So, I had it set to Curved Plate at the highest deform mode.  The trick was sending unattenuated Pink Noise into the pitch input. This gave the hats an almost squishy liquid sound that felt sickening.

The “snare” was made from the Schlappi Engineering Interstellar Radio.  Eric Schlappi tipped me off to self patching the Error Output straight into the input.  This gets you some pretty amazing and gnarly pitched noise.  The trick here was patching my sequencer pitch to the freq input on a band pass filter and another sequencer CV out to modulate the ERROR CV on the Interstellar Radio. Per step I was able to tune in a different noisy snare sound.

Lastly, how would you describe your Halloween performance to someone unfamiliar with this crazy modular world we live in?

Like an early 80s TV horror theme that slowly creeps up and then stabs you in the face with heavy electronic beats and bass.

Thanks Dysonant!! Great stuff…Looking forward to your performance at H0L0 on Dec 20th!
~Jon (yohan753)

This Digital Landscape – Sounds of Horror

This past Halloween, New York Modular Society invaded The East Village Playhouse for one hell of a show! Sounds of Horror!

NYMS members Dysonant, Jon Bohm (one half of Saddle Up the Robots), DJ Cherishtheluv, Crew Called Self, This Digital Landscape and Ben The Glorious Bastard took the stage for a night of bleeps, bloops and frights. I had the opportunity to virtually sit down with each of the performers and ask a few question about their individual modular philosophies and performance setups.

This week’s interview will be with This Digital Landscape. Be sure to check out his Instagram to see what else he has going on.

This Digital Landscape

Modular synths seem to be a pretty specific niche.  What draws you into modular vs. standard synths or other options?

Limitations. I went down the Ableton road for many years, but found the endless options of plug-ins, VSTs, and overall laptop-based experience to be a hindrance in the studio and performing. The modular environment is incredibly rewarding when you dive into your modules completely and use them to their fullest capacity. Fortunately I enjoy reading manuals and taking notes from YouTube demo videos. 

Why do you choose to perform live on what can potentially be a fairly complicated setup?

I suppose the complicated is a relative term in this scenario. Performing with modular is much simpler and requires less to more than the Ableton and MIDI rigs I have performed with in the past. 

How long have you been playing on modular?

I started performing and compiling tunes for a release in late 2018, but I started studying and building my system in 2016.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of modular synths?

Deciding how much interaction I want with the system during a particular piece. My recorded work tends to be more generative while my live pieces feature heavy tactile interaction to influence various points of the patch. Landscape’s All-Flesh pads, Ears, and René are the conduit for those gestures. 

What type of music (non-modular) do you find inspirational?  Artists and/or genres.

This various seasonally, but right now I have Skee Mask, Surkid, and the Patch CV records on heavy rotation. Really anything from ModularField, Markus has great taste. 

Can you name a module that inspires you the most?

The Moog Mother 32 is an endless source of inspiration for me. I programmed a couple banks worth of various sequences that are tuned with the 4 banks in René. I can easily recall a sequence and it plays nicely with the rest of the system. 

What was the first module you purchased/acquired?

I started with the Pittsburgh System 10+ and a Make Noise René

What was the last module you purchased/acquired?

Currently awaiting the arrival of an Endorphin.es Milky Way.

Currently, what is your favorite module?

Maths forever and always, to the moon and back. I try to utilize it last when putting together a patch to add crazy modulation that evolves over time. 

How do you prioritize musicality vs. the “weirdness” that modular offers?  For example, are there times when you abandon harmony in favor of weird and interesting patches and vice versa?

Musicality is the foundation for the pieces I create with the system. I approach patching like a composition. Introducing various elements in order to develop a theme, and then vary upon that theme. The modular approach makes theme variation mesmerizing. I love putting together a generative patch and letting to morph and evolve while I get to sit back and behold. 

Can you give a brief “rig rundown” or “patch notes” from your Halloween performance? 

My halloween patch consisted of three movements. The first movement is a setting the scene/opening theme piece that begins with a Rucci Maximal Drone through a Moog Drive and Chorus pedal. The resulting chord is pretty disgusting and unsettling which is a nod to all of the classic opening scenes of all my favorite Horror films. The Moog Mother 32 comes in with arpeggiated melody and heavy lofi delay. 

The second movement is a derivative of the title tracks from my debut EP “The Face You Wear // Is Not Your Own”. I call this patch the “One Button HandPan” and it is primarily Rings, sequenced by René which is receiving X CLK movement from me tapping on Ears. This patch felt like something that you would hear at a séance in the desert in an attempt to conjure up something dark and ancient. 

The third and final movement is a driving patch which a nasty, pulsing bassline from the PGH Synth Box running through a heavily modulated Warps. The Mother 32 introduces another arpeggiated melody derived from the opening theme. I imagined this in some super-stylized, neon-drenched, ultra-violent fight scene from deep-space Hell. Throughout the set the Mother 32’s Assign out is sending and LFO out, but the reset hits at varying times.

Lastly, how would you describe your Halloween performance to someone unfamiliar with this crazy modular world we live in?

In a modular system, as in life, moments are unique in and of themselves. A charge, turn, or push causes catastrophic reactions that disappear as quickly as they came. A modular system makes recreating performances nearly impossible, resulting in a unique performance each time it is interacted with. These tracks are a collection of moments captured within the modular system.

Thanks This Digital Landscape!! Nice to learn about what makes your modular mindset tick…and I can’t wait to hear your next performance!
~Jon (yohan753)

DJ CherishtheLUV – SOUNDS OF HORROR

This past Halloween, New York Modular Society invaded The East Village Playhouse for one hell of a show! Sounds of Horror!

NYMS members Dysonant, Jon Bohm (one half of Saddle Up the Robots), DJ Cherishtheluv, Crew Called Self, This Digital Landscape and Ben The Glorious Bastard took the stage for a night of bleeps, bloops and frights. I had the opportunity to virtually sit down with each of the performers and ask a few question about their individual modular philosophies and performance setups.

This week’s interview will be with none other than DJ Cherish the Love. Be sure to check out her Instagram to see what else she has going on.

DJ CherishTHELUV

Modular synths seem to be a pretty specific niche.  What draws you into modular vs. standard synths or other options?

Knobs Knobs Knobs! And Patch cables! I am also a huge fan of DAW-less improvisation as well as collecting expensive modules like they are Pokemon. Kidding! Sort of. I love the fleeting aspect of modular in general. It’s like a constant lesson in detachment and enjoying the moment. And them modules are so cute and exciting to get a hold of, like candy. I am happy to introduce them to my young students, but looking for ways to put modular in their lives in a way that it’s not inaccessible/prohibitive due to cost. I would love to someday create an inexpensive synth build that is easy to own… 

Why do you choose to perform live on what can potentially be a fairly complicated setup?

Most instruments I play, I feel, the sound comes from me. Modular I feel like takes more of that, and I feel like I am coaxing the sound out if it. So cool.It’s a challenge, and I feel like I am constantly learning when I dive into.

How long have you been playing on modular?

This is my first year! After a seven-year synth hiatus (all things synth sounding left with my divorce) and I am so happy to revisit, discover, learn and teach from here on.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of modular synths?

Understanding the flow, the options, so many options, figuring out how to achieve what I envision in my mind. Modular is full of theory and science, yet so unpredictable! At this Halloween performance, I learned an awesome lesson about shifting and phasing between my modules. I had set up at 4:30pm, once I turned the volume back up hours later to perform, without an updated soundcheck, it was a totally different pattern than the one I was mentally preparing to play my violin to. I love this about modular, all the surprises, so you kinda have to learn how to throw away perfectionism.

What type of music (non-modular) do you find inspirational?  Artists and/or genres.

Hip Hop/Trap, Ambient, classical piano, violin and dance music are on my mind when I tweak the knobs. Rhythm and Flow’s winner, D Smoke, is inspiring me a ton right now.

Can you name a module that inspires you the most?

Make Noise Morphagene, I want that one next, or MATHS, or the Make Noise Pressure Points Touch Controller.

What was the first module you purchased/acquired?

Doepfer Wasp, I have used the synth in the past, and it’s so cool to have the module.

What was the last module you purchased/acquired?

Tiptop Audio Bass Drum 808, and I’m about to get the cowbell, because more cowbell!!

Currently, what is your favorite module?

I am super inspired by my doepfer A-178 Theremin module, it’s an awesome trigger! 

How do you prioritize musicality vs. the “weirdness” that modular offers?  For example, are there times when you abandon harmony in favor of weird and interesting patches and vice versa?

I think that the priority is expression in the way that makes you light up inside and makes your brain get all stimulated. Sometimes its melodic, other times is rhythmic, then the rest of the time, it textures and randomness, all of which I love to discover thru modular. I just want to weave a cool moment, and hopefully, I had hit record!

Can you give a brief “rig rundown” or “patch notes” from your Halloween performance? 

On Halloween, I used Serato to playback a terrifying live recording of the Hagibis Typhoon that hit Japan in early October, a moog DFAM, Mother 32, 2 doepfer theremins, doepfer wasp, Earthquaker Devices Arpanoid and Organizer, Yamaha electric violin ….. and, a machete!

Lastly, how would you describe your Halloween performance to someone unfamiliar with this crazy modular world we live in?

My performance was creepy, bleepy, textured, and crunchy.

Thanks DJ Cherish the Love!! Awesome answers…and I can’t wait to check out your next performance!!
~Jon (yohan753)

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