Greg Vaneck of Prometheus Burning shares his studio and some insight on his life and work
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh PA. I've lived here my entire life, but have moved over twenty times so far. I've learned to never get too attached to a single location, and to keep your belongings minimal, portable, and if necessary, disposable.
I've been involved with music in some form or other nearly my entire life. In grade school I learned how to read sheet music and could play the Saxophone and those plastic Recorder flute things to some extent. I was also in the choir for a few years before my balls dropped. After that my extra curricular activities soon turned to focusing on Industrial and Grunge music, freaky girls, skate boarding, expanding/destroying my mind, and unlearning all of the brainwashing I received from attending a Catholic grade school.
I rediscovered my interest in making my own music and not just consuming it around 1998 when I could finally afford some gear like a used keyboard and effects pedals. In 2000 I obtained an obsolete Pentium 133mhz computer with a soundcard from Ebay. That opened up a new dimension for me. My life hasn't been the same since.
I've been fascinated with weird sounds and noise for as long as I can remember. By age four, I was already playing on my parents Atari 2600. The thing I remember the most about it are the sounds. I was too young to be any good at the games, but the sounds kept me entertained. Games like Super Breakout, Grand Prix, Missile Command. They all had amazing sounds that have burned their way into my brain. Sounds stimulated my imagination more than anything as a kid. My Fisher Price tape recorder was my best friend. I would put its microphone on the rusted chains of my swing set and record the creepy metallic sounds. I also tried to record the sounds of ghosts a lot, and was convinced my house was haunted by three entities. I used to
think I could tune into them with this toy “Pound Puppies” AM radio I had. Weird shit like that.
My fascination with sound and how it stimulates my imagination is what motivated me as a child, and still motivates me today. I've never grown out of it. Its like therapy for me. Helps keep me sane and deal with my anxiety disorder. At times the noise helps me tune in, while other times it helps me to tune out. And then there are the times where I get lucky and the end result resembles something “musical”.
I am currently obsessed with our Eurorack Modular Synth which we have nicknamed “The BEAST”. My favorite modules in The BEAST are the Hertz Donut and the Tyme Sefari, both made by The Harvestman. I've also been digging on the Sound of Shadows and Plague Bearer modules by Flight of Harmony. The modules I own by these two brands are overflowing with sonic possibilities, and seem to be geared more toward the harsh and experimental side of things which is right up my alley.
I've been a fan of the Audio Damage plugins since their very first releases. I dig their experimental approach. I also like how they design their interfaces to be very straightforward and similar to hardware in certain instances. Propellerheads “Reason” has always appealed to me for the same reasons. Everything is right in front of you, not buried behind layers of boring menus or goofy unintuitive shit. I have a very short attention span, and interface is everything to me. If I can't dive into it and get dirty quickly, I move on to something else.
Workspace and Environment
I am a big believer in establishing the right “set and setting” when it relates to any activity that involves tapping into your subconscious. The studio is my “sacred space”. I try to keep it organized yet jam packed with inspiring gear, art, and imagery. I am constantly rearranging my setup and moving things around, always trying to find the perfect balance and place for everything.
Somewhere very isolated and sound proof. I work very loud, and get weird about people or neighbors or roommates hearing me. It can really effect me negatively if I feel like someone is listening to me. Its like having someone listen in on you while you are fucking. Art is intimate, and I don't like being invaded. Total privacy would be ideal for me. Maybe in Outer Space perhaps?
First and Last Pieces of Gear
Scored a used Yamaha PSR keyboard back in 1998. I can't remember the exact model, but it had some decent features like being able to record up to two tracks. I had no clue how to “play it”, but I figured out how to dive deeper into the configuration and make the default sounds interesting and mutilated. My latest piece of gear is an ASSMASTER fuzz module by Malekko. Its nasty as hell and responds very well to feedback loops.
Gear lusting after the Piston Honda by The Harvestman, Atoner by 4ms, Sem20 by Bubblesound, and the .COM comparator/divider by STG. Also the POKEY synth module by Skrasoft seems to be progressing very well and has my interest.
The Prometheus Burning live setup is constantly changing. After the “It Ain't Dead Yet tour” in 2009, we got tired of lugging around racks of hardware. Now we are trying to compact it as much as possible. Our most recent setup has me on the laptop running AudioMulch, Battery, Reaktor, and some other jazz controlled by two M-Audio midi controllers. I also have a small portable Modular setup for some live improvised chaos. We are running her vocals through the laptop again,
which I can then manipulate in real time. She usually brings along an Electric Violin, AudioWeevil08, Theremin, and some effects pedals.
Not currently, but I would certainly like to give it a try. There are many nights where I sit in the studio making soundtracks to my own imaginary stories and movies that don't exist. It would be quite an experience to do it for real. I think my style of sound design could mesh well with certain types of independent and horror films. I watch a LOT of movies, and have a huge appreciation for film, especially films with good sound design and music scores. Producers like Clint Mansell and John Carpenter are very inspiring to me in that regard. Too many films rely on generic and “canned sounds” these days. Not enough innovation or creative sound design or synth work like you used to hear in the 70's and 80's. I also have a side project called Four Pi Movement, which started out as collaborative effort between Nikki Telladictorian, Nick Vasculator, and myself. Now it functions more like a solo project for me. I keep everything completely improvised with Four Pi Movement, trying to capture raw emotion in real time using Modular Synths, Noise Boxes, and other hardware devices. I am currently collaborating with Theologian, the new project from Leech of Navicon Torture Technologies for the next release. It will be released on Cassette by the ANNIHILVS
I focus most of my creative efforts into “Prometheus Burning” along with Nikki Telladictorian, my partner in sonic destruction and auditory mayhem. We've released material on Cassette, Vinyl, CD and Digital formats on several independent labels since 2001, as well as self-released material like our most recent double disk album “Displacement Disorder”. We've also been touring and performing live since 2004. More info can be found on our website: Prometheus Burning