To coordinate with my New Year’s Eve performance at the Landespavillon in Stuttgart, Partysan Magazine has interviewed me. You click the image above for a readable size or head over to my record label’s website for an English translation: click here
” I played one year for my Birthday. After the show I walked outside of Club Prag and some young German people were leaving and asked me to come with them. I got in their car leaving all my stuff at Prag. A few hours later I was in some other club so trashed I was asking people what they thought of my live show! Everyone in the new club was like, “Who the hell are you?”!” – Oliver Chesler (The Horrorist)
Puremagnetik creates and sells mini monthly sample packs for Ableton, Kontakt & Logic. I recently met Micah Frank at IMSTA FESTA and thought I would follow up with this interview.
I really like your subscription model. Tell Wire to the Ear readers how it works.
Puremagnetik produces a new “Micropak” each month. A Micropak is a small (usually under 600MB) sound set that is very focused on a particular instrument. You can subscribe for $5.75 per month and download the Current Micropak. We keep each Micropak current for 2 months, so there are two Current Micropaks available at all times. You can also buy a full year subscription or buy the entire catalog. Additionally, users can purchase back catalog Micropaks individually – similar to back issues of a magazine.
Tell us about your recording chain. Are there any microphones or outboard processors your in love with?
I mostly program Puremagnetik’s electronic content. I prefer to keep my signal chain as transparent as possible. Good A/D matters most to me. I rarely use compression during tracking but sometimes I like to use my API Lunchbox’s 512C’s as a DI. Our other sound developer Brian produces all of the acoustic stuff in some great studios. He uses all of the Pultecs, Chandlers and Neumanns.
Digital Blasphemy by micahfrank
How do you go about finding the instruments to record? I can’t imagine you own all the toys ToyBox Micropaks!
Sometimes we go shopping (Toys r Us). We also have a great network of studios and synth geeks all up and down the east coast. If I can find a good deal on eBay, I’ll jump on it – Synthi owners speak up! A lot of the stuff I’m working on now is more conceptual so it requires less defined devices.
What percent of your customers would you say subscribe vs just buy a pack they like?
It’s a 50/50 split. Some people like the subscription model. Just as many people are happy grabbing them once they become back catalogued.
What is your most popular Micropak and what are your top 3 personal favorites?
The most popular Micropak is an oldie but goodie – Eight Bit. It is a pack of sounds from a Commodore 64 SID chip.
The Micropaks I like the most are the ones I enjoyed working on the most. I love the ability in Live to reverse engineer the concepts behind some great synths. If you look at Puremagnetik’s Vector, Waveframe and P-50 Linear you will see that I have broken the synths down into their core components and reconstructed them in Live Racks. In Waveframe for instance, I took all of the Fizmo’s wavetable content and reconstructed the whole synth in Live using Ableton Sampler’s modulation functions.
Brian also did the same kind of reverse engineering in this month’s Omnichord inspired pack. In my opinion, this is where Puremagnetik really shines – when we break away from the same old multisampling conventions.
I know you make music yourself. Tell Wire to the Ear readers some of the bands you work or have worked with and some places online they can hear your music.
The only band I have worked with in the past few years is a local artist named Atarah Valentine. I got in touch with him through Ableton and Damian Taylor (Bjork). The highlight of my work with him was this past June when we opened for La Roux at Terminal 5. He’s a very talented singer so I look forward to working with him a lot more in the future.
My big project for the past year is Tectonic. It is a realtime sonification of earthquake data as interpreted by Max and then synthesized by a Kyma/Pacarana system. http://micahfrank.com/tagged/tectonic. For the past few years I haven’t really enjoyed making horizontal music. By that, I mean music that is pre-composed in a given timeframe by a horizontally oriented DAW. I am finding it much more gratifying to create a system like Tectonic or just grab my DrumKat and improvise under my alias Kamoni (kamoni.net) You can see and hear all of the other stuff I’m up to at micahfrank.com or soundcloud.com/micahfrank.
What music are you listening to lately?
Tim Hecker, Robert Normandeau, Ben Frost, Alva Noto, Zoot Woman
Here’s a public offer. If you want to make a Micropak out of my Electrocomp-101 (number 521 out of 2000) feel free but you have to come to my place. I’m not lugging that thing to Brooklyn!
Thanks Oliver! That would be totally awesome. You have just been inducted into PECSGN (Puremagnetik East Coast Synth Geek Network).
I had a great time speaking on the “Geek Out” panel at this weekends IMSTA FESTA. The event put on by Shocklee has pro-audio companies show their stuff in different recording studios at SAE Manhattan. As I approached the street entrance a young guy stopped me and asked if I would buy one of his hip-hop CDs. I was surprised because I didn’t think I looked like a good target audience for him. I asked if he was coming inside and I was surprised again when he told me he had no idea what I was talking about. I let him know he should come up and there would be producers, djs and lots of stuff to check out. He looked a bit afraid and I got the idea he was probably 15 years old or so. Anyway I went in without him and wondered if there was anything at all on the CDs he was trying to sell.
On the 9th floor of SAE there were about 10 security guards in the halls. Once I meandered into the recording studios I knew why: there was lots of nice equipment inside! Immediately I ran into Fady Hayek who is the National Sales Manager for SSL. I was a regular at the Club Cubase meeting he ran when he worked for Steinberg in the 90s. James Bernard had a nice audience watching him go through some amazing tricks and tips with Reason and Record. I love watching him demo stuff. He really gets the software, knows the shortcuts and makes you want to run home and do it yourself.
In the VIP room I met Peter Kirn (Create Digital Music) for the first time face to face. We spent some time thumbing through the latest Keyboard Magazine where Peter wrote the lead story about Moog. We instantly got into the Voyager XL and how it doesn’t make any sense and how awesome it is. I met the Micah Frank from Puremagnetik who apparently I had some emails correspondence with in the past but forgot. Sorry Micah! I briefly met Julie Covello (DJ Shakey) from Warper and we moved to the panel room. We decided to each chat about the one thing that’s blowing us away these days. Peter chose Pure Data and explained in other words it’s the code he’s got a passion for. That it can be on his old desktop machine or his phone and it’s been with him a long time. He’s pure geek for sure! Julie picked SoundCloud and YouTube. I didn’t even consider a non-tangible object so props to her because I think we all spend more time in Social Media than making music (shame on all of us!). I thought her pick was a right on. Micah picked Renoise the old school Tracker that was recently updated. I made the obvious choice to everyone that knows me… iPad! What was unexpected is upon polling the crowd we found that only two people there owned iPads besides me. I showed off iElectribe, SynthPond and SoundPrism. We had a short Q&A where we learned Micah translates earthquake data into sample packs. Yep… he’s a geek too. Propellerheads let me give a few shirts and hats away and it was a wrap. Thank you Jo-Anne for inviting me I enjoyed it greatly!
I will be speaking on a panel with Peter Kirn (Create Digital Music), Micah Frank aka Kamoni (Sound Designer & Founder of Puremagnetik), and Julie Covello aka DJ Shakey (DJ, Creator & Promoter of the Warper Party, Music Collector) on Saturday, September 25 at the SAE, 1293 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York NY 10001.
The IMSTA FESTA is free and should be good fun and of great interest to anyone who reads this blog. It’s a pro-audio manufacturer get together and panel series. It’s from 11:00AM – 7:00PM. Some of the exhibitors include Ableton, Arturia, Bias, SSL, Celemony, IK Multimedia, Image Line, Native Instruments, Pianoteq, Propellerhead, Rob Papen, Steinberg and Waves.
UPDATE: Over 1,000 people are registered. Come on down!
“IMSTA FESTA, a celebration of music software is coming to the heart of New York City. The First IMSTA FESTA started in Japan where it was highly successful for technology companies, producers and hobbyists alike. IMSTA FESTA brings a collection of the top audio technology companies together in an environment where they can interact with music makers face-to-face. If you use music software you will benefit from this event in a number of ways.” – http://www.imsta.org
NPR has posted an audio story on the history of the Vocoder. They interview Dave Tompkins who recently wrote a book called How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop. Grab the book from Amazon (about $20): click here
“If you’ve listened to pop music in the past 40 years, you’ve probably heard more than a few songs with a robotic sound. That’s thanks to the vocoder, a device invented by Bell Labs, the research division of AT&T. Though the vocoder has found its way into music, the machine was never intended for that function. Rather, it was developed to decrease the cost of long-distance calls and has taken on numerous other uses since.” – NPR.org
I’ve always thought Gary Numan was highly underrated. Go back today and listen through his albums and see if you don’t agree. Honest loud real analog synths and interesting vocals. They don’t make them like they used to.
“Gary Numan (born Gary Webb on 8 March 1958) is an English singer, composer, and musician, most widely known for his chart-topping 1979 hits “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” (with Tubeway Army) and “Cars”. One of the first musicians to use electronic synthesizers successfully in rock music, his signature sound consisted of heavy synthesizer hooks fed through guitar effects pedals. Commercially unsuccessful for many years of his career, Numan is nevertheless considered a pioneer of commercial electronic music. His use of themes from science fiction, and his combination of aggressive punk energy with electronics, have since been widely imitated.” – Wikipedia.org
I once also owned every single Front 242 record. I wish they still made song structured songs with Jean Luc DeMeyer on lead vocals. Even still, I am glad for the amazing albums they gave us such as Official Version and Front by Front. I saw them perform at the Palidium in the late 80s. It was awesome.
“Belgian industrial group Front 242 were at the crest of the Electronic Body Music wave, carrying the baton from groups like Throbbing Gristle and Caberet Voltaire, combining their post-punk aesthetic with strong backbeats, slices, samples, and ominous vocals. Their raw sound is married with strong militaristic imagery, chopped-up scenes from television, and even evangelical leanings.” – redbullmusicacademy.com
Like myself Gavin returned from Berlin back to the states. Hip Hop, psychedelic music to homebrew analog synths it’s always good to peak into other’s likes and studios!
“Gavin Russom is a wizard, and not just because his long red flowing mane is reminiscent of a medieval alchemist or because he was once a stage magician. The composer and former engineer for dance label DFA (where he earned the “Wizard” moniker) has been making and unmaking synths since a young age. Gavin thinks of the analog machines as works of art in their own right, blending the aural, visual, and the sculptural.” – motherboard.tv
If you read this blog you would believe I’m a Ableton Live fanatic. That is true however I once loved another. After my early days with Dr. T’s KCS on Ataris and Amigas I went Mac and Cubase VST. Cubase VST was the biggest revolution in music tech that mattered to me personally. It enabled me to start recording vocals direct to hard drive. It’s the reason in 1996 I start my own record label Things to Come Records. With VST (Virtual Studio Technology) I was able to create what I thought was fairly new and unique at the time: techno electronic mixed with 80s style New Wave and EBM.
Enter the 00s and Cubase became too buggy for me to use. It got to the point I was hitting save after each change I made. I was also rendering “safety” versions of songs in case project files would stop loading. Once Ableton Live came out it was over for my friend from Hamburg. That all said, I have friends that use Cubase today and they tell me it’s more stable. I also give credit where do and Steinberg brought so many innovations to the space it’s really amazing. Most importantly I wrote mountains of music using Cubase.
Steinberg has put up an interesting website called Steinberg Museum where you can see the history of the company. There are some tasty flashbacks in the building. Screenshots, interviews and old adverts are all fun for sequencer geeks like me. Check it out now: http://museum.steinberg.net
“Come in and tour this virtual museum which documents the story of Steinberg from its beginnings in the early 1980s.” – museum.steinberg.net
Ethan Winer from RealTraps grabs a panel of knowledgeable people at AES to show you what you think you hear may not be reality. Ethan makes some respected sound treatment products in Connecticut. You can download the non-YouTube compressed audio files to go along with this video here: www.ethanwiner.com/aes
“This is a video version of my Audio Myths workshop from the October 2009 AES show in New York City. In this video you will hear what phase shift sounds like, compare high- and low-end converters, learn about proper test methods, understand why hearing is not as reliable as test gear, and much more.” – EthanWiner
So what do you think? Is it real or is it Memorex?