Maral Salmassi’s Konsequent Records are about to release a new album, ‘Kripascular’ from German producer Kernel Existence (Tobias Draeger) on 4th December. We got Tobias to show us around his studio.
Studio Set Up
Welcome to my studio in Berlin. This is my music trolley that I have built for myself. I designed it so that everything has its place on it. Everything that is not on the trolley I have sold. It is very ergonomic so I can sit comfortably in front of it or work standing up. Everything is either connected to my soundcard or patchbay. My soundcard has 16 inputs but unfortunately, this is not always enough. For sequencering I use the MPC. It controls everything. The drums come from the Tempest and the MPC, my dynamic duo. I only use the TR8 when I want to have a 909 sound quickly.
When the track is finished I record everything through my tube-summing mixer and then I cut the best parts together on my computer. My computer is 13 years old so I don’t use plugins with it, it is my tape machine. For EQing and compression I use only Metric Halo DSP plugins. They are extremely precise, neutral and razor-sharp.
My beloved KAWAI 100f. It is simply incredible – it is always amazing how versatile a synth can be with just one VCO. For me, it’s a technical design masterpiece. It sounds so warm, defined and crispy. The filter can scream without hurting. The envelope (2xAD) is so fast and steady. Incredible. It is a little younger than me. From the late seventies. I gave it the Kenton CV Kit as a present and its sequenced by my TB03 via the ACL Sinfonion. For me the better 303. Well… It sounds like a 303 without sounding like a 303 (hahaha). You can hear it best in the track ‘Opi’ from my album. This machine is pure magic and I want to use it all my life.
Vermona Graphic Equalizer
The secret weapon from the German Democratic Republic. My Vermona Graphic Equalizer. In the eighties this EQ was club standard in the GDR. They used it with every PA. My grandpa used to say “It sounds like a spade full of mushrooms” which is to say that it was and is anything but neutral. That’s why when the Berlin wall came down it was quickly replaced with eqipment from the West because its reputation was anything but good and it was sold for very little money, or it was simply given away.
In the nineties, it experienced its comeback. You could hear it very often on Basic Channel productions – it has this very special sound. There are 2x12db EQs with fixed frequencies. With both in series, you get 24db. That’s how I use it most often. What makes it special is the overdrive of these frequencies, so you have a frequency saturator instead of an EQ and you can hear it in almost every production of mine. Mostly on the FX sounds. I like to use it with my other EQ also in mid-side situations. The Vermona takes over the middle as a rough saturator and my Laney EQ takes over the sides. The Vermona Graphic Equalizer is a great companion!
Moogerfooger Ring Modulator
The Moogerfooger Ring Modulator. After the many ring modulators I have tested, I can say “There can only be one!”. It is simply the greatest. Its drive alone justifies its purchase. It sounds great and is incredibly versatile if you use the connectors on the back fully. But funnily enough I use it 95% of the time in one way only – but always, without exception!
Since I work a lot with huge stereo drums, I gain space on the sides but lose punch in the middle. It also gets bad if the track is played over a mono PA. That’s where the ring modulator comes into play. I route all drums over a mono channel into the Moogerfooger. There I set the drive that is still a bit dynamic and then I tune the saturated mono-drums into the track. I mix it down so that you can just hear them. This way I get the punch in the middle again but still have the width in the sides. Works always. I am every time amazed that it’s there as after a while you don’t really hear it anymore – but the moment I mute it all the drums collapse.
ACL Discret Core Ladder Filter
The ACL Discret Core Ladder Filter. I used to think that one LP Filter is the same as another LP Filter. Then I noticed that there are different types. Curtisfilter, OTA Filters, Ladder… etc. I worked in a synthesiser store for many years and my department was the modular corner. I have tested and compared each filter in all imaginable situations. For pads, basses, drums etc. and this filter surpassed them all. Incredibly precise but very warm and “thick” like no other. It is present in every production of mine.
I even had to buy a second one because I want to use it everywhere. Furthermore, it is unbelievably well equipped. Three audio inputs that you can drive into a beautiful saturation if you like; 2xCV for the cutoff 1xV/OCT and 1xCV for resonance. It also has four separate outputs. 6db, 12db, 18db, and 24db, where the resonance comes from the 24db. It sounds incredible when you take the 6db output but the resonance comes from the 24db. Never before heard of levels of crispy. With its many inputs and outputs, you can easily patch a highpass or bandpass filter out of it with just a few other modules. You can hear it on every, really every track of mine. For me the best filter in the world!
Yes yes the Rainmaker. So much has already been said or written about him. But he is and remains my favourite effect. Whether subtle or striking, he can do it. It is more than a delay. It is the apocalypse! When nothing runs anymore, when you have no ideas, when you are blocked ask the Rainmaker. I’m sure he has an answer for you. No kidding, you can fart into the Rainmaker and an opera comes out at the end. Unbelievable but true. The track ‘Mory’ from my album is the Rainmaker. The starting point was two short filtered saw´s that go through the ACL Ladder Filter, a little reverb and then went into the Rainmaker. Then I just modulated with my Expressive E Touché filter, reverb and rainmaker and that’s what came out. Only the small 16tl HH still comes out of the Tempest. I love it!
PS: Also the percussion line of ‘Octone’ is mainly made with the Rainmaker.
My winky cat and my little budda. My wife and I used to go to Southeast Asia every year before this misery. Somewhere in Bangkok on a market, I found the Budda covering his ears. This is to remind me to never make too much noise to protect my ears. Well. Anyway, I think it should also simply bring happiness and joy. And he smiles so beautifully!
And every year in Asia I thought to myself “This year I will buy a winky cat !” I love cats – especially when they wink all the time. But funnily enough, I didn’t buy them in Asia but here in Berlin at my favourite Vietnamese store. She always looks so nice too. Sometimes I wink back.
Pictures by Liv Toerkell.