Workspace and Environment: Jeswa
Greetings! I am opening up a communication line where you can get in touch if you have any suggestions or comments. trash(at)thedeepelement.com. Also, Justin will be performing on Sunday at Subterranean in Chicago. I will be helping out with processing and might do a quick grind Surachai set. Flyer Here. So if you're in the area, stop by, it's even free with RSVP. We hope you've been enjoying our series and blog and judging by the amount of hits we get, apparently you are! To finish off the week, we have an elegant studio from Jeswa. Promise me you'll have a good weekend or I'll make it Tuesday tomorrow, it's a new feature in Logic 8.
I was born just outside of Philadelphia and moved to Florida when I was 7, from there I moved to Cape Cod and lived there for 5 years, then in Texas for 8 years, then in Miami for 13, and now I hang my hat in Western North Carolina.
I got here in a pickup truck with a cargo bed full of cacti. No kidding. No really, Florida's going to go underwater, so I moved to the Mountains.
I have been making songs for as long as I can remember, I used to record songs to this old variable pitch tape recorder on the family piano when I was 8 or 9. I got really good at editing, knowing exactly when to pause and punch in again. Looking back it's not much different than what I do now. I kept up with the piano until I heard about MIDI, the piano keys got dusty after that. I've been releasing records for 16 years or so (since 1991), Romulo Del Castillo and I started Schematic 11 years ago and it's all gone downhill ever since. :)
What is your favorite piece of hardware?
The personal computer is my favorite piece of hardware, it's my favorite because it can be anything. I would say the Doepfer/Euro-rack modular but I'm secretly fond of another younger and sexier model. Also, the Lavry DA10 has changed my life and no studio is complete without a fuzzy logic rice cooker.
Give me a good sequencer & sampler, a bunch of lush effects, and a plugin chainer and I'm content. Kontakt, Battery, Reaktor, FM8, Doppelmangler, DtBlkFx, SpectrumWorx, GRM Tools ST, Michael Norris FX, Xlutop Chainer. Chainer is amazing, Logic is getting wise to the game of plug-in re-ordering (in the mixer section), but there's still a long way to go. Parameter randomization, layering multiple instruments with multiple effects and being able to change the order on the fly and map all the automation on one track is too easy. I have Chainer patches that I can make entire songs with a single snare drum sample. I use Nuendo on the PC, Logic on the Mac. I love using Max/Msp and Reaktor to gut other people's patches. I must say that last year I made tons of music with tons of free & open-source software, lots of plug-ins and free little apps. The kids are catching up.
How do your surroundings influence your work?
My last studio was an old cigar humidor. It was great, but there were no windows and I was working with a Genelec surround system with a massive subwoofer. It sounded amazing in there, but it was claustrophobic by comparison to my current workspace. The space I'm in has far more natural sunlight than any other space I've worked in.
I knew I needed a change but I thought all the widows would be a distraction. Surprisingly I'm able to get to work writing right away. I used to have to wait until the sun went down and the dogs stopped barking until it felt right,
maybe it was because my other workspaces weren't as appealing as the one I'm in now. Regardless of the space, I've always been one to keep it minimal. My setup for the last 10+ years has been more or less the same - A bunch of computers, out of sight & earshot and as clean & minimal a setup as possible. I've always had one modular or semi-modular (Roland System 100, Arp 2600, Doepfer A100) through the years to get out of the box with. There are a very few VSTi synths I love, IMHO there are no mediocre ones, sorry.
Are you involved in any sound work outside of your own projects?
I've done two films scores as Phonecia (with Romulo Del Castillo), along with a lot of commissioned works for exhibitions and gallery events over the years. That kind of work has become even more common than remix requests for us, so it's become part of what we're about as Phoenecia. Rom and I are art fags anyway, we're both artists and art collectors & we've curated our share of events under the guise of being a record label. We started Schematic to satisfy our musical and artistic conquests, so we're right where we want to be as far as extra-curricular activities are concerned, I recently started working with Richard Devine on a commercial music venture. I'm excited to finally be working with him. He's been breaking a lot of ground in that field for a while now. It seem like all of the good car commercials and video game intros these days have been scored by Rich or someone who sounds like him :)
Do you remember your first piece of gear?>
My first real piece of gear was an Ensoniq EPS sampler. From there I started collecting analog gear in pawn shops. It was the late 80's/early 90's in North Texas and the shelves were stocked full of dusty synths. After a year or two I had so much gear I had to move my chair out of the room and work sitting at the edge of my bed. I would have completely abandoned MIDI because I was using so much din sync and triggered patterns, but I've never strayed too far from my sampler. It's my sonic camera, and reality still has so much to offer. Besides, contorting reality is equally as enjoyable as creating new realities, for me at least. For some reason I have this need to fuse things synthetic in nature with organic ones, like in my dreams, the unknown always being thrust upon the familiar in a controlled environment. Once again, not much has changed.
Whats on your wishlist?
A Buchla 200e, Holophone H2 Pro, Dangerous Music Monitor ST, and a Yamaha DM-1000V2. Livewire Chaos Computer & Audio Frequency Generator, a Plan B Model 21 Milton Grande and a Model 21B Rhythm Box with the touch strip controller. Oh, and a Rhodes AM Series with 73 keys. And while we're at it, I'd like a Baschet Piano, a Moondog Dragon's Tooth, a Harry Partch Marimba Eroica, and a couple of Harry Bertoia sculptures. If I only had one wish it would be for the computer industry to stop making cute little computers for my mom & make the CPU quantum leap already.
What does your mobile setup consist of?
A MacBook Pro 2.4 (with a 25 GB boot camp partition), an RME FireFace 400, and a pair of Ultimate Ears UE-10 Pro in-ear monitors. For mobile recording I use a Sound Devices MixPre, two Byer MC 930's, a K-Tek carbon pistol grip, a Zoom H4, and my trusty Buck Strider 880T
What do you use live?
The Phoenecia live set is 2 laptops running Logic with 16 instances of Battery 3, 4 instances of Kontakt, 2 instances of Reaktor, 2 instances of FM8, and a bunch of bussed & chained effect plugins.
Besides the samples being triggered by battery and Kontakt, there are no audio files used. Oh, and we also use an Eventide Harmonizer and a contact microphone.
How many physical locations have you had your studio setup in over time and how have they changed?
Answering this question makes my back hurt. I ran out of fingers when I added them up. This is my 11th studio setup, hence the minimal setup. Regardless, I would walk my gear over hot coals and through pirhanna-infested waters to get to a better spot, but I think I'm good for now :)
Jeswa can be found with Phoenecia, Soul Oddity, Schematic, Bleep, iTunes, Forced Exposure
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