Good morning world. What are you wearing?
I started off playing drums when I was a kid and my musical interests slowly migrated toward production and technology. I heard Frank Zappa's "Jazz From Hell" when I was in music school and listened to it 5 times a day for months. That was my introduction to electronic music and it completely blew my mind. Now my main motivation is seeing technology progress while devising new ways to realize sound and music production. This is true for both the analog and digital worlds. I get inspired by Ableton Live as much as I do from a modular synth. I do all of my performing under the name Kamoni (www.youtube.com/kamoni, www.kamoni.net). I have releases under Mek! Music and Black Van Records (search "Kamoni" on iTunes). In recent years I've been more drawn to improvising live and interacting with music in real time.
What are your current favorite pieces of hardware?
The Doepfer modular and Machinedrum have to be my favorites. With the Doepfer, I don't feel any restrictions and I can fluidly patch together any type of sound I want. The Machinedrum has very intuitive programming. I can hack out a beat or even melodies on the MD very efficiently. I've been using the MD for three years now and it never ceases to inspire me.
What are some softwares or plugins you prefer?
I think Ableton Live has helped pioneer the DAW / instrument boundary that many computer musicians are still trying to overcome. I can't imagine performing live with any other software. For me, Live is also a great sketchpad and helps facilitate free movement when trying to put a musical idea together. From a sound design perspective this is very important. Zebra is one of my "go to" soft synths. It's intuitive, flexible and can sound pretty meaty if you program it right.
How does your physical space and surroundings influence your workflow?
My current studio is like a little space capsule. It was designed as an octagon and immediately draws you into a focused electronic music environment. I built it with my bare hands so I have an immediate intimacy with the space. We don't get a lot of space here in New York City and I could probably have a live room and a control room if I set this up in the suburbs. But that's not the point, this studio is very unique and it's DUMBO location is ideal. You can comfortably fit about three people in there, so there's room for a co-pilot and navigator. However, it doesn't feel small and I can freely move around, play the DrumKat, dance, etc.
Could you describe what you might think your ideal location would be?
I think it would be a perfectly isolated environment with natural surroundings. I have never had something like this and it's near impossible in NYC. Maybe inside a 727 in the forests of Maine would be my ideal location.
What was the first piece of hardware you remember obtaining?
When I was in music school I bought a Roland XP-10. That was my first piece of hardware. The last thing I bought was a Behringer calibration mic - not too sexy.
What is on your current wish list?
The GenoQs Octopus is giving me some flirtatious looks. I would also like to start building a Buchla or Modcan modular.
Do you have a mobile studio setup?
Lately, my MacBook and MPC-1000 have been going with me everywhere. Between Ableton Live and the MPC I can do a lot and then bring it back to the studio for further refining.
Do you have a setup for live performances?
As Kamoni I have performed many times with a DrumKat hooked up to Ableton Live or the Elektrons and have just improvised for an hour. I will do a whole lot of pre-production so that I can just freely improvise knowing that everything (usually) will come out sounding good. When I perform, there's never really a set plan so it's always an adventure. For instance, I can play a note on the DrumKat and have and LFO in Live programmed to randomly select from an array of 50 snare drums. Then I can layer those with a melodic note that is determined by the velocity that I hit the pad - all of this in one hit! That is totally exciting for me and for the audience as well.
Have you ever heard your music being played at a public place?
I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's a few years ago and a Crest toothpaste ad I scored came on the TV. Around that same time, I heard some techno track on the radio that used all loop content I created for Ableton - that was very weird.
Are you involved in any music/sound work outside of your own projects?
Most of my time goes into my sound development company Puremagnetik (www.puremagnetik.com). We are constantly creating new content for our customer base and for 3rd party manufactures and publications. I also compose music for commercials with various music houses here in NYC. Recently, I've been performing with NYC artist Atarah Valentine who has an amazing album coming out in a few months.
Photo credits: Rachel Papo