Modular Williamsburg Brooklyn

In my quest to find a place in the NYC area to buy Modular synth modules I came across MeMe Antenna. It seems they recently started carrying an interesting collection in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sometime next week I will head over there and check it out! They are located 218 Bedford Ave (Corner of N5 inside Mini Mall) Brooklyn, New York 11249.

“MeMe Antenna, annex of Concent Productions Inc. , is a gift & music store, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. We carry vintage jewelry & furniture, idea stationary, vinyl record & CD, rare synthesizer, local brands merchandise, and more….” – memeantenna.com

For more info: memeantenna.com

Brooklyn vs Bronx

Here’s two dance off competitions. Both are awesome in their own ways. I know humans are crazy everywhere but in the USA we know how to push it. Make sure you watch the end of Bronx vs Brooklyn… eat that China.

“Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music,[1] used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting.” – Wikipedia

For more info: youtube.com/user/dcole74

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

Muff Wiggler Brooklyn

September 2010 Wiggler meetup from Pete Shambler on Vimeo.

Here’s a nice video from a meetup in Brooklyn of members of the Muff Wiggler forum. DIY meets modular.

“… Muff Wiggler enjoys scaring friends, family, neighbours and cats alike with bizarre and frightning electro-analog mayhem.” – muffwiggler.blogspot.com

Visit the forum: muffwiggler.com

Bent Festival 2010

I went to the Bent Festival a few years ago. I remember walking into The Tank and immediately playing with a typewriter that was hacked/tuned to play music. This year’s Bent Festival continues to bring New York’s live Circuit Bending concerts, installations, workshops and lectures. The festival is this weekend April 22-24, 2010 at 81 Front Street in Dumbo (Brooklyn).

“The Bent Festival is an annual art and music festival celebrating DIY electronics, hardware hacking, and circuit bending. Each year we invite artists from across the country and around the globe to perform music with their home-made or circuit bent instruments, teach workshops to adults and children alike, create beautiful art installations and to generally come together, face to face, and showcase the state of the art in DIY electronics and circuit bending culture.” – bentfestival.org

For a lineup of artists and things to do: bentfestival.org

In memory of my Roland Juno-106.


Get To Know Your Gear: Episode 1
from Blorp Corp on Vimeo.

Sometime around 1996 I was living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn (actually I was in Midwood). I came home from a European gig to find myself locked out of my apartment. My keys wouldn’t open the door as they did many times before. I quickly realized someone had tried or possibly succeded in breaking in. I called the police and six officers entered my small one bedroom. I was told to remain in the hall. The female officer of the group came and and told me, “It’s not pretty in there. You’re going to be a little upset.”.

That was the understatement of the year. Everything was gone except my DAT (Wikipedia: DAT Recorder) tapes and Electrocomp-101. Now when I mean everything I mean everything. They took my food, underwear, soap and bed too. Gearwise two TB-303′s and a ton of other pieces you would find in a typical 90s techno guy studio were gone including a loved Roland Juno-106. So this morning I smile knowing I’m safe, I have my old tunes on DAT tapes and my Electrocomp is still as large and heavy as ever. Needless to say all my studios since have been armed and alarmed.

Related post: Secure your recording studio from thieves.

Daptone Records hit by thieves.

Daptone Records

Last September I did a post titled, “A look at Daptone Records Studio in Bushwick.“. They are a great label and studio who keeps a candle brightly lit for pure analog recordings. Unfortunately some hard news came my way today:

“Friends and associates,

As you may have heard through the grapevine by now, Daptone was broken into last night. Unfortunately, there was a lot of equipment (mics, pre-amps, monitors, turntables, guitars, amps, computers, etc.) stolen and damaged. It is going to take us a while to go through everything and take full stock of what was stolen, and we are not supposed to touch anything until the cops come back to collect fingerprints so we can only guess what’s missing from some mic drawers and cabinets.

And, no, we did not have insurance. We had been shopping around with different companies earlier this month but had not signed a check, so nothing was insured. We are working on replacing the gate in front, installing an alarm system, and getting insurance, but it is President’s day so it’s not going as quickly as we would have liked.

Nydia’s computer was stolen (which wasn’t backed up) and the modems/ phone system was ripped out, so we’ll be relatively out of commission for a few days.

I would like to ask for everyone’s help first in keeping an eye out for all of our stuff showing up on ebay/craigslist/local music shops, and secondly (and more realistically) keeping an eye out for good deals on headphones, mics, pre-amps, etc. I could really use a heads up on any kind of studio package for sale or studio equipment to be possibly bought or borrowed as soon as possible. We have a session scheduled for Friday to lay down some music for (I know this sounds surreal) Rod Stewart, and I’m going to have to get the studio running by then. I know I’m going to need to find headphones, cables, mics, and pre-amps by then. I’m not sure what else yet.” – Gabriel Roth, Daptone

I’m actually building my new studio in Manhattan and spent $2500 on steel doors and another $1900 on the alarm/surveillance system. I know that money and the moola going to insurance is well spent. For a list of tips every studio owner (large and small) should check click this: Secure your recording studio from thieves. Remember if someone breaks in and your inside: Shoot to kill!

For a list of what was stolen from Daptone: click here

Moldover shows us how to mod an Oxygen 8.

By now we all have a bunch of old spare controllers lying around so why not hack the hell out of the them? Luckily Brooklyn native Moldover has posted this video showing us exactly how to do it. You need controller (duh), a screwdriver, some plastic, rubber, scissors, glue and a permanent marker. The marker is optional because it’s only to make things, “look cool”.

The hilarious thing is all he does is pull out some keys, glue rubber on the rest of them, draw on the case and assign controllers to stuff. I have to say this is completely stupid and awesome all at the same time!

Related post: To perform live with controllers: Controllerism

Hard drive stolen right out of computer during set.

I was just checking out this post on the Brooklyn Vegan blog about a gig Matthew Dear had last week. Apparently he was playing at Galapagos, a club/art space in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and someone pulled the cable out connecting his external hard disc and ran with the drive. Of course his set crashed and the gig was over.

Matthew, who was celebrating his birthday yesterday, had been playing a killer set for 2 hours or so. Suddenly he got a message on his computer saying that his hard disk drive was unplugged… The music stopped, he checked and found out that the drive was actually missing… basically someone STOLE his hard drive in the middle of his set and ruined the all show!!! – brooklynvegan.com

There is also a long thread over at the Ableton Live forum about it. You can find lots of colorful comments including the expected “he was spinning MP3′s he deserved it”. A more useful comment I found from Ableton forum from member “hambone1″ was that he should have had a Kensington Lock. Agreed! Check out the thread: here

I have all my music equipment insured even when it’s on the road. I also state in my booking contract that the organization is responsible for security and any losses I incur. I usually ask whomever I put on the guestlist to keep a watch out for me (yes I am paranoid). My old music studio was just a few minutes from Galapagos. Williamsburg is an increasing great place but as the rents rise people of lesser means are pushed out. I always though this caused a clash especially when you throw drinking, drug dealing and nightlife into the mix.

photo credit: 100five