Ali Wells shows us around his north London bedroom studio. Check out our accompanying interview here.
My Studio – Perc
It’s always been bedroom studios for me. I sometimes have an urge to ask mates if they know of any units or shared studios going but I’ve never really made the leap. My dream as a younger producer was to give up my day job, which I was lucky enough to do, so I don’t like the thought of having to commute to the studio.
Casio SA-1 & Korg Monotrons
Things come and go in the studio but this Casio is super old, nicked from an ex-girlfriend. Some of the pads on Wicker & Steel came from that, with shitloads of spring reverb on them. I say I hate presets but that’s just 100 presets and no editing. Obviously it goes through a lot of processing. The keys are all crunchy but you can just about get a chord out of it.
The Monotrons are fun, mainly for live performance. Go round any producer’s house and they’ll have one kicking around, usually with dead batteries because they forgot to turn it off.
Jomox M.Base 11 & M.Brane 11
The M.Base used to be used for all of my kicks. Now it’s about half of them because both the MFB 522 and the Volca Beats are pretty heavy on the kicks.
The M.Brane’s such a strange thing. I got it because I loved the M.Base so much I thought it’d be as good. On its own it’s a little bit like that kind of minimal sound, very clean and Minus-ey, but through any kind of distortion, especially analogue, it comes alive. A lot of the metallic hits I do are from there, making really weak patches but running them through the distortion so you kind of forget what it sounds like naturally.
Vermona Retroverb Lancet
I really love spring reverbs. I used to have the Ekdahl Moisturizer and the Retroverb Lancet’s replaced that. It’s that kind of metallic sound that probably makes sense with the kind of percussion I’m using. The Softube Spring Reverb plugin’s really good too.
Pro Co Deucetone RAT
The double RAT’s always in front of the laptop. I love it. I’ve only had it about a year but it’s amazing. As soon as I read it can be a stereo distortion or chain the two pedals for double distortion I was like, that’s getting bought. It’s probably my favourite distortion I’ve ever had, and I’ve been through all the Boss pedals and various other things.
Mackie Mixer & TAG-101 Signal Generator
This is a Chinese signal generator. It’s not the greatest build quality but it was less than £50 off eBay. They’re used in schools to teach kids. You’d have it wired to an oscilloscope to show different waveforms and frequencies. It’s nice for me to have something that’s just got one knob for the frequency. I’m not the most musical person in the world, so sometimes if I’m working on a remix and I can’t find the right pitch or chord that I want I can tune into it there and then use a spectrum analyser to see what frequency you’re hitting or use pitch shifters to build a chord. It’s quite handy for the musically inept like me.
Ableton Live, Adam A7 Monitors & Korg Volca Beats
The best thing on the Volca is the kick. It’s really worth buying for that. I like the hats too – the grain thing on them’s really good. I’m doing a remix at the moment and it’s the first time I’ve really worked with it. There’s a Volca panel in Max For Live to help you work with automation and sweeping the grain of the hi-hats around is quite fun.
I love the Adams. I’ve got the Sub7 under the desk too, so I’m sure the neighbours love that.
I love The Rough Guide To Techno. Any book like that dates instantly. You wouldn’t even try and publish something like that these days. Some of their predictions are amazing, like ‘This guy’s released two 12-inches and he’s got a bright future ahead of him’. Who? There’s a photo of a really young James Ruskin in there too which is quite funny.
The book by Blixa from Neubauten glows bright green in the dark. I bought it and I never realised until one day I noticed this glow in the corner of the room.
Retromania by Simon Reynolds is alright. He kind of sets out his argument and hammers it home, finding as many examples as he can to back it up, but how can you have any music or art without some reference to the past?
The Power And The Glory is out now on Perc Trax.