Interview with Micah Frank of Puremagnetik

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).

photo credit: Rachel Papo

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on September 29, 2010 at 4:07 am, filed under interviews, sounds and tagged , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



Going 8Bit with Yudo iPhone Apps


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s92YywVZSPQ

I once owned a Magnavox Odyssey 2 (Wikipedia link) videogame system. I also spent a good amount of time at two Arcades. Galaxy and Mr. Arcade were their names and sadly they are both gone. I remember there was this gum filled grape candy I used to love. It was like a square Blow Pop without the stick. So no wonder when anything 8Bit retro pops up on my computer screen I stop for a minute and think to myself, “Yeah this is cool somehow”. 8Bitone (iTunes link) looks very solid and Vocoder Synthesizer SV-5 (iTunes link) look useful beyond retroness. I really like making music and every now throwing in the iPhone’s audio.

“This tune is ‘Behind The Mask’ by Yellow Magic Orchestra. So I performed on 8Bitone and Vocoder SV-5 that is iPhone/iPod touch musical apps by Yudo. 8Bitone is retro 8-bit sound monophonic Synthesizer and 4 track Sequencer. SV-5 is authentic Vocoder and polyphonic Synthesizer like a Roland VP-330.” – humanmaestro

8Bitone and Vocoder Synthesizer SV-5 are .99. Insert Coin!

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on November 23, 2009 at 6:16 am, filed under apple, iPhone, sounds, synthesizer and tagged , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



The Blip Festival set to make noise in Brooklyn.


Blip Festival 2008: The Promo from Richard Alexander Caraballo on Vimeo.

Jenn de la Vega from The Blip Festival sent me an email today asking if I would mind mentioning the bit-crushed bleep fest returning to Brooklyn later this year. I love this stuff and will be in NY this December so I will be there with my Joystick. Uh yeah… I said that.

Archaic game and home computer hardware is recast into the unlikely role of musical instrument and motion graphics workstation in the BLIP FESTIVAL 2008, a four-day event showcasing nearly 40 musicians and visual artists occupying the international low-res cutting edge. The Blip Festival takes place DECEMBER 4—7, 2008 at the Bell House, and is presented by Manhattan art organization THE TANK and NYC artist collective 8BITPEOPLES.

Highlighting the chipmusic phenomenon and its related disciplines, the festival aims to showcase emerging creative niches involving the use of legacy video game & home computer hardware as modern artistic instrumentation. Devices such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Nintendo Game Boy and others are repurposed into the service of original, low-res, high-impact electronic music and visuals — sidestepping game culture and instead exploring the technology’s untapped potential and distinctive intrinsic character.

The Blip Festival assembles nearly 40 practitioners selected from the chipmusic movement’s expansive global underground, taking care to represent as many as possible of the genre’s surprisingly diverse styles, geographical and technical scenes, communities, and traditions. The festival’s concert program will be supplemented by daytime events to be announced, including workshops, presentations, and screenings. The Blip Festival’s intended result is to provide a cross-section of a movement currently in explosive flux, teeming with artistic exploration, and poised at the cusp of global awareness.

For more info: http://blipfestival.org/

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on October 11, 2008 at 9:11 am, filed under video and tagged , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



8bit interview. Music from Brooklyn and Second Life.

8bitCihan Kaan is a Brooklyn native who in the early ninety’s made a ton of underground electronic music under the name 8Bit. In fact as he will tell you he’s the original 8bit. Last week I was chatting with Cihan and he mentioned he recently performed live in the online game Second Life. When he told me he made money I knew I had to interview him for Wire to the Ear.

You grew up in Brooklyn saw the rise of techno take place just blocks away from your house with Frankie Bones, Groove Records and the Storm Raves. Tell us in brief your interaction with the “scene” as it was called! Who were some of your friends and what were you guys all doing?

Yea, everyone lived within a two mile radius of each other, Sheepshead Bay/Canarsie/Marine Park/Avenue U. Lenny Dee of Industrial Strength Records had barbeques at his mom’s place (now a russian health insurance fraud clinic) with all the acts on his label so I was there as much as I could be without being invited, hehehe. Frankie and Adam were over on the west end of Avenue U and I had street beef with the west end Avenue U Boys (AUB) so I couldn’t really stretch over there too much without threat of escalating my beef (in a nutshell, my best friends brother was Avenue U East Side crew leader who was missing so ppl thought I had some connection to that). Heather Heart was making the Under One Sky zine and lived the closest to me and on any day you would see her wandering Neck Road with a tb-303, hunched over walking home. Thats a clear image for me because I was a drugstore delivery boy and I would see Heather all the time walking around with some vintage acid toy. Most of my crew was the “younger” lot of rave kids, so although I was one of the first promoters of Storm Rave I was primarily converting skaters and punks to the new rave scene of the time. There was never a full acceptance into the older generation of techno ppl, most of the kids I brought in were still wide-eyed about techno and there was a sense that this optimism made you less of a hardcore head. I don’t think that was true. After the Storm we all became NASA elite and I remember Moby performing every week. One night me and Moby talked about my new demo I was pimping around on Cassette (the OHMZ cassete) and he wanted to meet 8bit - Liveafter his show, but that night my bag of tapes got stolen so the transfer never happened. Later in the night I was depressed in the chillout room and Ernie (a kid who ran around with an Ernie doll on his neck) found the bag, but it was too late. Around that time I hooked up with Super Mario who was starting a hardcore label with Joey Jupiter of Atomic Babies and put out my first 8Bit record Tweeked, which he took privilege to completely cut apart to make DJ Friendly. That record actually is mostly all that red box you gave me along with the Oberheim you also gave me. The 707 I bought from the buy-n-sell for $50, and the Amiga I used for samples obviously was left over from before the scene. After Tweeked came out (it was a white 7″), Curious George and Deitrich Shoenemann from Prototype 909, hooked me up with job at Moby’s old label Instinct and I packed his records in boxes all summer. I hope that answers your question, I’m really flying over lots of details and probably forgetting lots of people along the way.

Tell us a few of the most memorable events (dare I say Raves?) or nightclubs from back then.

The Storm Rave in ’93 the warehouse in Shaolin was like the Thunderdome scene in Mad Max; burning cars, people dancing on rusty metal barrels. It’s a root memory I have I always mine from when I’m making a track. Frankie screaming into the mic that we were future. Never seen party like that since. Also, remember we had no style back than, so for the most part it was a diverse set of kids (not yet called ravers) all gathered listening to this new future music. It wasn’t a poseur thing at all — in all these academic papers on the rave scene I read about, people seem to forget that techno really emerged as a movement, not a style. It was Dinkins’ New York when you were still allowed to break in to places and bring in Speakers and equipment. Storm raves were always great parties but other events that stood out were the outlaw parties thrown around the neighborhood, the Gerritsen Beach swamp parties were nuts, not only could i ride my bike to the party, but everyone would be there and the music was insane, all in a swamp marsh. I tried to recreate that in the scene in “Refuse to Fight”8bit - Logo when the crew is staring into the fire, the video I directed for Frankie. Seems like parties were all over back than, under the highway, under the bridge, whereever we had access to a dark spot with concrete around.

Darker memories come later when I was too hopped up on psycedelics particularly at NASA, one night I lost my mind and the beats sounded like machinations from Hell and I thought the dancefloor was a shark infested pool. I actually leapt into my boy Evan’s chest trying to get some of his positive “E” vibes. Of course that didnt work and I quickly fell into a fear and loathing type of head and pulled a blade out on the guards who were trying to quell me (I was trying to jump into Dante’s chest, Scotto’s chest, etc). They threw me out and all i remember from there is walking around in the winter on the west side of manhattan with my clothes ripped off.

Since this interview is for a music tech blog let’s talk gear. Compare how you made music in 1994 to 2007. What was your computer set up then vs. now? (more…)

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on March 31, 2008 at 4:23 am, filed under interviews, live performance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.