In memory of Nicole Bernard

Guidance and Courage by James Bernard

I’ve know James Bernard since the early 90s. When I first started recording electronic music James was one of a very small group of musicians in NY making “techno” (under the band name Influx). He hosted a few after parties and I remember talking music making tech with him all the way back then. We lost touch and years later I noticed his tutorial videos for Propellerheads. I was living in Berlin at the time and I sent him a quick email just saying hello, etc… A couple of weeks later a package with pretty much everything Propellerheads offers showed up at my front door. Since then every upgrade the same thing happened. James it that kind of person and even if you didn’t recieve boxes of goodies if your a Reason user you surely benifited from his amazing and prolific video tutorials. It takes a lot of effort and know how to create those!

This morning I received an email from James that his wife died of Leukemia earlier this week. In true artist form James made some music (above). Peff the number one superfan of all things Propellerheads has set up a donation button for Nicole and James’s four childen the Bernard Childcare Trust. Let’s give back: click here

“While there has been a lot of buzz surrounding other Propellerhead news this week, a tragedy has befallen the family of our friend, James Bernard, PH Artists Relations and Reason Specialist. On July 13, 2011, James’ wife, Nicole, passed away. Nicole was 36 years old and was the mother of their four children, Ava, Chloe, Mia and Asher. People in the user community are leaving their expressions of sympathy on on the Propellerhead User Forum in this thread”. –

Donations: click here

Air Guitar Move

If this was Air Keytar maybe they would have had my sale.

“Nintendo Wii proved that moving is more fun than pressing buttons, Air Guitar Move proves that moving is more fun than tapping and shaking your iPhone. Here’s how it works: Hold the iPhone in one hand like a guitar neck, strum the Ultimate Guitar Pick in the air with your other hand and, yes, you’re now playing air guitar.” –

For more info:


Monnix from Oliver Chesler on Vimeo.

Monnix is a new synthesizer for iOS devices. I created a little video above showing off what it can do. It’s another app I can see having plugged into my audio interface and an Ableton channel. Good for a background sweep or possible an intro. It’s fun to use and I really like the interface. Available now in the App store (link).

“This live performance synthesizer uses three points of touch to control the distribution of up to 16 harmonics, allowing for unique sound effects. Movements can be played back in the Replay page and the pitch altered by tilting the device forward. The Sample & Hold screen freezes the partials according to the selected tempo. FM ratio, jitter and envelope parameters can be set in the remaining pages, allowing for a wide variety of sonic mayhem.” –

For more info:


So the biggest of the all you can eat streaming music services has arrived in America. You can read a mountain about Spotify everywhere so I’ll just chime in with my own opinion.

I feel a little old. I like owning my music. I have a giant record, cassette and MP3 library. It’s stupid I know. And now what? Everyone can just have everything for a monthly fee? That’s unfair! But wait do they have everything? What about Scarecrow “Black Door”? I bet they don’t have that. If they do I will probably join. Can anyone verify that for me? I hear the social sharing stuff is good. Although I think it’s pretty easy to post a Youtube link into Facebook these days. On a positive note I do think it’s pretty futury to have access to all the music ever made anywhere you are. Funny that last part should carry a lot of weight with me.

As a musician it seems this is another blow to making income from music sales. I do make some nice “buy a new synth every now and then” money from my iTunes sales. But the streaming services? You really have to have a mega hit for all those fractions of pennies to add up.

So what do you think? Are any of you loving members of Rdio (the Spotify like competitor)?

“The award-winning music service that’s taken Europe by storm has now come to U.S. shores. Millions of tracks ready to play instantly, on your computer and your phone. Any track, anytime, anywhere. And it’s free!” –

For more info:

Google Plus

I’ve been enjoying Google Plus and after a week or so I think it’s going to stay around. I’ve always been a little annoyed with Facebook for some unknown reason. I live in Gmail and Google Docs and Plus is nice, clean and geeky too. Every time there is a new Social Network or Blogging platform some people give up their blogs. Not to worry Wire to the Ear keeps living here on my own server safe. Join me on Plus… maybe we can do one of those 10 way video Hangouts from our studios and make noise?

“Google+ (also known as Google Plus) is a social networking service operated by Google Inc. The service launched on June 28, 2011” – Wikipedia

Follow me:

Reason 6

Propellerheads will be releasing Reason 6 in September. In an interesting twist and what seems like an admission Record is now gone and fully integrated into Reason. I think it’s a great idea. The best thing about Reason is it’s a tight individual package. New effects: Pulveriser, a compressor, filter and distortion. The Echo, an analog tape echo emulation. Lastly, Alligator which is a pattern based gate. Overall I think it’s a solid and smart upgrade.

“With version 6 Reason reclaims the spotlight. Combining all the features from Record, version 6 adds audio recording and editing into Reason, along with Propellerhead’s acclaimed mixing console with masterfully modeled EQ and dynamics on every channel, multiple parallel racks, all the effects you know and love plus new ones to fall in love with, and much more of what you’ve always wanted in Reason.” –

For more info:

Very Early Nitzer Ebb Footage

I’ve listened to Nitzer Ebb’s first two albums That Total Age and Belief countless times. If I ever want to get revenge on someone in their car blasting hiphop I play the track Let Beauty Loose full volume. It’s exciting to see some very early footage of the band. A few years ago I got to meet the lead singer Douglas a few times. Just as when I met Depeche Mode and Front 242 I purposely kept the talking short because I didn’t want anything to get in the way of how much I love their music. To be a great musician you have to be a great fan first.

“Here you go. I put this video together back in ’84 or thereabouts. It features clips from a couple of their early gigs (parts of which have already been uploaded) along with some library footage I had access to at the time.

This was filmed at “The Hermit Club” in Brentwood Essex, sometime in the early 80s. The fight was caused by someone off camera to the left, disconnecting Bon’s mic. He responded in a fairly reserved way by laying into the aforementioned geeza with an iron bar. Fight (off camera I’m afraid) ensues. You can hear Bon’s sister screaming. She was pregnant at the time and had been pushed to the floor. Happy days. They don’t play Crane anymore. Enjoy Folks.” – pipey1512

For more info:

The Horrorist interview in Sonic Seducer

Sonic Seducer is one of Germany’s large goth/EBM music magazines. One of the writers there Thomas Pilgrim did a Skype audio interview with me and here’s the result (click the image to enlarge).

“Auch der Titel “Joyless Pleasure” hinterlasst trotz seiner Widersprüchlichkeit letztendlich eher einen desolaten Beigeschmack.” –

For more info:

Now this is Fun

One of the many early Depeche Mode songs I love is called Now this is Fun. It’s a song that reminds me of my own youth. It’s a song that seems like it was easy and fun to make. I could be wrong but I hear a Roland TR-808 drum machine and something like an Oberheim SEM in parts. It first appeared as a B-Side to their 1982 hit See You and then later appeared on the album A Broken Frame. Perfect for a summer Friday.

Here speaks the voice of reason
It’s talking to me loud and clearly
And obviously, it’s something to say

Here comes another sentence
It is relentless, it tries my patience
But neverless, it’s for our concern

We can’t see the benefits
So we’ll ignore it or disobey it
And never say that this is fun

This is real fun
This is fun

Buy this song: iTunes or Amazon

Fingerlab DM1

DM1 – The Drum Machine for iPad – By Fingerlab from Fingerlab on Vimeo.

The Fingerlab DM1 is a very good iPad drum machine. I think it ranks up there with the iElectribe and Funkbox. It’s quite fun and easy to make patterns and the initial sert of drum machines sound great. After laying in a basic beat on the step grid you can jump onto the pad page and lay sounds in live. There’s a song mode, effects and a mixer page where you can control sound length and more. Highly recommended for anyone who likes drum machines.

“DM1 is an advanced vintage Drum Machine. It turns your iPad into a fun and creative beat making machine. Easy and fast to use, loaded with 24 superb electronic drum kits and beautiful hyper-realistic graphics, DM1 has been designed for a lot of instant fun.” –

For more info: