Synthesizers, the mysterious synthesizer. I must admit, in the early days of my music career, synthesizers seemed cheesy and dated. After some time, I started to play around with the stock synth programs in FL Studio and then updated to the Native Instrument plugins. I spent time and started to learn the in’s and out’s of NI Massive. It was at this point, I started to realize that a synth is as cheesy or cool as the song you produce.
But I digress. Since we started this band, we have opened our mind to what can be done with a synthesizer, both analogue and digital. We couldn’t care less about the analogue/digital argument, its stupid. Shut up and make good music, I couldn’t care less if its 1’s and 0’s or transistors and capacitors. Write a good song, ignore the people who say they can tell the difference between the types of sound generators. The song is the hard part.
We decided to record our new album using a combination of digital and analogue synths, some in the box some outside the box. Of course, there is a ton of sexy guitar, bass and whatever else, but ‘electronic’ instruments are also used. We like that old distorted sound, we want weight to the sound and we want emotion. On our first album, we stuck to more classic synth sounds but this new album we recorded with Sune Rose Wagner (of The Raveonettes), we tried to create some new sounds. Sune Rose opened our ears to many of these new sounds and it was incredibly refreshing and exciting.
1) Waldorf Streichfett - String synth
This is a digital synth that sounds incredible. Some people across the internet described it as ‘dated’ but let me tell you, this thing is not dated. The sounds you can get with this compete with some sounds from our Roland JX-8P, a synth we relied heavily on.
The Waldorf Streichfett can do gorgeous strings to insane gritty hell on earth. Pump it through an old Yamaha SPX90II and you will be in synth heaven. And that is JUST the string side! There is another side to this that can pump out incredible bass and electric piano sounds. If you want a small, portable, easy to use machine, this is it. We figured it out in minutes. It’ll be part of our live show for ages.
We are using the Streichfett live, in stereo now. It is huge sounding. People can get obsessed with digital vs analogue synths, but come on, it sounds amazing. We have a ton of digital plug-in synths that sound amazing, i’m glad someone finally released an easy to use, incredible sounding synth for live and in studio. This is a great synthesiser for kids as well, it is incredibly easy to learn.
2) Roland JX-8P – Classic 80’s Synth
This thing is a beast. Known for being on many classic albums, including The Cure. We love the presents, particularly the Cello, Fat Fifths and string sounds. They are all incredible. This is a true analogue synth, perhaps one of the lesser known classic Roland Synthesizers, but nevertheless, it booms.
The problem is programming it, its nearly impossible. You can buy a special controller for this, allowing you to adjust the parameters, but they cost more than the synthesizer! A full analogue synth that will explode your speakers if you want. It is, the best sounding synth I’ve used. Its raw, rugged and a beast. Again, we put it through a Warm Audio Tonebeast, crank the gain and bam…you are in another dimension. This was used on most of the songs on our album, most heavily on a song called “Someone Else.”
3) Korg SV1 – Modern, Powerful and Sexy
A workhorse, sounds great, looks great, works great. Great keys. Just great. But Heavy. It is our main synth and our main midi controller. We use this keypad and then use a Quatro Midi Thu to send to all the other synthesizers. The SV1 is an incredible flexible and easy to use poly synth. It feels like a piano as well.
4) Roland SE-02 A new synth to the mix, small and mighty. This mono analogue synth packs a punch. We used this for some bass.
5) Roland TR-8s – Drum’s
This is our go to for drums, live, in the studio, practice. This thing is incredible and more people need to know about it. Its all digital, but you can add any sample. As a “rock” band, people are often surprised we use a drum machine, but when they see us play live, they get it. Is different, unique. It is an incredibly powerful machine. If you spend time with it, you will be able to do almost anything.
6) Manther by Melekko
Love the Manther, analogue monosynth. Deep bass, cutting leads. pretty hardcore and tough to tame