After doing two small in between projects I'm working on my OceanoGraphy album again. I have to be finished by end of September so only 3 months left. Looks like a long time, but I still have lots of work to do. I'll try to update you on the status from time to time on this blog. I use a lot of synthesized sound effects in my music and today I spent a whole day making bleeps, sweeps etc. I always make a lot and then later select the ones that fit in the track I'm working on. I also use different synths to get a good diversity of sound character. Today I used the Moog Minimoog, Roland SH-09 and Roland SH-5. I thought it would be fun to let you hear something of the sounds. So I made a very noisy mix of a couple of tracks of sound effects trough another. I already threw the really bad ones away by the way so this is not all. But it will still give you an idea how much you can do in one day. And more days like this will follow for sure the next months. I never throw them away by the way. If I don't use them on this album, maybe on the next. You never know right :) Well here you can hear the result of today: http://www.synth.nl/samples/OceanoGraphySFX.mp3
Bruce Gall from the popular UK radio show Sunday Synth did a very nice one hour special on my music last Sunday including an interview. It was broadcasted on AR FM radio and also through their web stream. I made a recording from that do that in case you missed it you can listen to it anyway. (sorry for the sound quality) For you convenience I cut some of the commercials out, so it is a bit shorter now. I hope you will enjoy it. You can find a copy here:
I just uploaded some pictures that my friend Chris made last week in my Apollo Studio. He made quite a few of them and last night I sorted out the ones I liked the best and put them in different categories. He used a special wide angle lens to get the most on the pictures. Some pictures can be a bit distorted on the sides because of that. I also photo-shopped myself out of two pictures. I'm curious if you can find them. I'm not that good at it so you should be able to tell ;) We also made some video's by the way. I hope to upload them soon as well. You can find the pictures on this URL:
I know a lot of you followed the construction of my new Apollo studio, but maybe some of you also missed it. So here is the chance to look at it again. This is an overview post with all articles that I wrote during the work that was done on the construction site. More will follow later on cabling, furniture etc. The articles are in chronological order now for your convenience. I hope you enjoy reading them. It was quite a project all in all. It took about 6 months to build this and I'm very happy that it is finished now. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.
Preparation (3D plans and asking permission to the local government)
3D Design (3D plan for myself to get an idea of what could fit in)
Furniture (First ideas how the furniture should look like)
Drilling (Drilling holes in the backyard for the poles of the foundation)
Poles (Filling the holes with concrete to form the poles)
Digging (Digging a big hole for the basement and shortening the pole)
More digging (Digging even deeper and shortening the poles even more)
Water (At maximum depth now, just hitting the ground water level)
Foundation (Construction of the foundation of the basement)
Steel (Construction of the steel work for the walls)
My friend Chris was supposed to come by to take pictures of my Apollo studio last Thursday but it was postponed due to circumstances until this Thursday. In the mean time I'm still moving some synthesizers around in the studio. Here you can see a picture of the Roland SH-2000 that I moved above the Yamaha CS-50. I think they make a nice couple like this :) Both are my favorite analog after touch machines. I hope that after coming Thursday I can finally show you around the studio. So have a bit more patience please.
Bruce Gall from the popular radio show 'Sunday Synth' will do an radio interview with me on Sunday the 28th of June. His show will broadcasted on AR FM in the UK from 10-12 AM (GMT / UK Time). You can also listen to the web stream on the website http://www.arfm.co.uk. The show will be repeated on Monday the 29th of June. The show is two hours in total and about an hour will be filled with this interview and some of my music. We will talk about several topics, but I will surely talk about ongoing and upcoming projects. I hope you will all tune in and enjoy it :)
Sometimes you order something from E-bay and when it arrives and you open the box full of enthusiasm you get pretty dissapointed by what you see. I had that feeling when I received this Roland SH-09 analog synthesizer. It looked like it really took a serious hit. Like it fell down flat on its top. The pitch bender was broken, most knobs were missing, not original or as bend as could be. And two of the keys of the keyboard had cracks in it. In the add the last thing was stated but it was much worse than I expected. I decided that no way it was going to be in my collection in this state. Not every synthesizer I have is in mint condition, but I haven't got anything looking as bad as this.
So I started looking on E-bay for some spare parts to fix it a bit. I found a pitch bender and a set of new knobs for it. So tonight I started opening up the synth and try to replace the pitch bender. Opening it up is not very hard. You can take of the top by just removing a few screws. The pitchbend is in a seperate panel that can be removed after that with just 4 screws. Replacing the pitchbend was quite easy. It is just a piece of plastic that works like a knob on a potmeter. On each side is a spring to get it back in its normalized position. But just push it in between and you are done. So if you ever break a pitch bender on a SH-09 don't throw it away for that.
After that I removed a lot of dust from the inside and put the new knobs on. After that I tested the synthesizer and it looks like it works fine. A few of the potmeters crackle a bit, but besides that it's fine. Here is a pictures of it after I was done. You can still see the cracks in the keyboard and you can see it is old, but I think it is in a reasonable enough state now. I'm going to sell it and find a new one for myself. I want a nicer one for my collection, but for someone that is interested in the sound it is great and I'll sell it for a lower price than usual. I will record some sound effects on it before I sell it. It has a nice self resonating filter and some nice modulation functions.
I know a lot of you are waiting for new overview pictures from my new Apollo studio. And I have good news. My friend Chris is coming Thursday to take new pictures and also film a bit in my studio. I guess that they will be online somewhere next week then. So keep an eye on my blog here or my website. I do have one challenge though since it turned out that the UPS I put in front of the studio is not powerful enough. When I tried to put all equipment on last week when Roland was filming here, everything went out instead :( I will have to upgrade this UPS I'm afraid. For the pictures I'll have to take some power from somewhere else Thursday I guess. I did put up one picture here from my 'synth wall' as a teaser. But I'm sure Chris will make nicer ones :)
I know a lot of you have been following the progress on building my Apollo studio. I'm still working on some stuff and that is why I don't have final pictures yet from the inside. But I do have some picture for you from the outside. I guess you all remember the big hole that was in the ground in our garden, well this is what it looks like now. Here you see our new terrace :) And yes the studio is really below there. Hard to imagine right? In case you wonder if I hear it when someone is walking on top. Well yes sometimes I do hear something. But it is very distant. And they can't hear me on the outside. We tested that. It is a bit like the top neighbors in a flat. But we are happy that the garden is back again since it is becoming nice weather again and we can sit more outside now.
Here is another nice picture I didn't want to keep from you. We have a little waterfall in our garden with a pond in front with some fish in it even. The front shallow part of this pond is actually the roof of my studio. So the fish are swimming literally on top of me. Kind of a nice idea since I'm working on my OceanoGraphy project now. I'm not only under the ground but actually below the water as well. Don't worry there are two separate water proof layers between the water and the concrete so there is not really a risk for leakage or anything. This rounds up the construction of the studio while some other projects like acoustics and cabling are still on going. I will post an overview post in the right time sequence soon for the construction thread so that it is easy to read in case you missed it.
Quite some time ago I sold my Moog Little Phatty and some other stuff to make place for a classic Moog Minimoog. I found a very nice one on E-bay in the USA. It looked great in the pictures and according to the seller it worked perfectly. So I decided to go for this one. I got a tracking code from the shipping but for a long time I didn't hear anything. Then I got a letter from the Dutch postal services that it was intercepted at Dutch Customs and that the seller didn't fill in (all?) the necessary customs forms. Well I have no idea, but they wanted me to check it in. I had to send proof of the payment as well to determine the value. And then I didn't hear anything again for weeks. I called Dutch Postal Services a couple of times, but every time the same story. They couldn't help me.
And then yesterday suddenly they were at my door asking for cash payment of the import tax :( That was to be expected but still a setback, since it was not cheap. I didn't have the money at the time so I agreed to pick it up today from the post office. And I did that this afternoon, so it finally arrived today. I got it out of the box right away but decided to leave it acclimatize for a while before I would try it on. I found a nice spot for it in my analog corner and doesn't it fit nicely there? After dinner I tried it out and it works perfectly! And how nice it sounds :)
And I really love the look of the wood that is on it. I don't even know if it is original or not by the way. My friend Hanz did tell me that this one has the old type oscillators on it judging from the smooth (not ribbed) modulation and pitch bend wheel. These old oscillators tend to sound a bit warmer than the newer ones I understood from various websites. But since I never played a Minimoog before I can't compare that. What I DO know is that it is so much nicer than the Moog Little Phatty. It sounds very nice and analog indeed and much warmer than the Moog Voyager RME that I still have as well. The only disadvantage is of course that you can't save any presets on it. But that forces you to make unique sounds right :)
And that is exactly what I did the last two hours. Making sounds. I already recorded some nice sound effects. The auto modulation of the filter is really nice on this machine and even the white and pink noise sounds great. The filter is unbelievably smooth and I love that already. The only thing lacking on it for me is Midi, but I understood that it is possible to retro fit it on the Minimoog so I'll probably do that as soon as possible. Another very clever thing on it by the way is the 440 Hz button to tune it easily on hearing. I'm sure this is a synthesizer you will hear a lot on my future productions.
I have some exciting news for you. My next album 'OceanoGraphy' will be officially endorsed by the WWF. I'm allowed to use their name and logo on this project since they support the idea behind the concept of the album which is of course about the Earth's Oceans and the creatures living in it. This is quite an honor for me. In return I decided that a part of my revenue from this album will be donated to the WWF. I'm very excited about all of this, because I think this gives the project a lot more body all together from the start. So if you buy this album later you will in fact also support the WWF! I'm currently still working with my designer Bart Auceps on the artwork of the album. I hope you will like it later. I would like to thank the Dutch brand of the WWF (WNF especially Marlou) for making this possible!
I recently found a very nice Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 on E-bay. This is one of the great classics of course and I'm very happy with it. It used to be a REV 3.2 but it was upgraded to REV 3.3. This gives it more memory locations for presets and also it has Midi now. I moved it just above my DSI Prophet '08. Nice combo :) But when the Prophet arrived unfortunately it was not OK even though the add stated that it was recently serviced. The first thing I found is that the keys were sticky. When you pressed them some of them didn't get back up or came back very slowly. So I immediately mailed with the seller. He told me that all the bushings were replaced and it should be OK, but that maybe it needed a bit of lubricant.
I decided at that point not to install it in the studio but first go to my engineer. He opened it up, looked at the keys and found that a very thick grease was used on the keys. So he actually removed a lot of that grease and adjusted some stuff to make them work properly. After that we turned it on to test it and it didn't work at all :( We found out quite quickly that the -15 Volt from the power supply was not working due to a broken power regulator on the heat sink on the back. After about an hour we fixed this and then it worked like a charm. I contacted the seller about all this and he immediately agreed to pay the costs of my engineer. That was very nice of course. So a little trouble at the beginning but now it is a very nice addition to my studio :)
I have released my previous two albums during the E-live festival that is organised yearly by my record label Groove Unlimited. And my upcoming album OceanoGraphy will again be released during this festival. This time it will be held in Oirschot instead of Eindhoven in the Netherlands on the 17th of October. On this event I will be present with a stall and you could pick up the album there personally if you like and be among the first persons to have it. You will also be able to pre-order it from Groove Unlimited and get it send to you on the day of release. More details will follow soon. You can read more about the E-live festival on this URL: http://e-live.groove.nl. I'm working at the moment on the artwork of the album with my designer. I hope to show you some results soon.
I know some of you follow my blog for my DIY projects, but I'm afraid they are on hold for a while. Even though I have a lot of electronics already done, as you can see in the picture, I just don't have the time to finish them. The reason is that I'm working on several music projects at the moment and they all have strict deadlines. Of course this is what comes first for me. It turns out I lost too much time building the studio and I'm not even totally finished with that. But I will pick it up when I have some more time again. So don't worry it will come :) I just need to focus the coming months.
Please buy my music if you like what you read or hear on this blog. You will find the sales links for my music when you click an album below. You will support me and my record label so that I can release more music in the future.