Londoner Ryan Lee West shows us round his home studio, featuring a mixture of hardware rubbing shoulders with acoustic instruments.
Rival Consoles – My Studio
I have been building this for many years. Many things come and go, but what is here has passed the test. At the centre is an iMac, which runs Cubase. I use an RME Fireface 400 soundcard and Mackie HR824 monitors, which I bought ofd a friend recently, because even though they are very old, they sound great!
Synths can easily sound uninspiring, so here is my growing chain of effects. First off, the Copycat tape delay. This is my second one. I love how it breaks up the sound when cranked. The Moog Midimurf I also use to break up the sound into little fragments of stuttered sound. Finally, there’s a simple loop pedal for building layers of ambience.
DSI Prophet 08
This is a great synth which I use all the time. I think it’s best for subtle ambience rather than big massive synth sounds. It has a very deep modulation matrix, lots of scope for complex sounds. I wish the filter was warmer though!
A classic synth again. I use this for very, very simple sub bass ’cause it’s so warm and powerful. It always cuts through a mix.
My Live Room
This is where I escape computers and jam with friends on different instruments: guitar, drums, piano, violin, synth, etc. I think this is really important because sitting in front of a computer is not inspiring. People playing, listening and responding to each other is!
I’ve always wanted an upright piano, but never had the space. I recently got this 60s upright which I love. I improvise on this every day, and record everything from the noise of the hammers to full-on prepared piano.
Who doesn’t like the drums? If you don’t like drums you don’t like life! I love to play. Just lately I have been exploring really quiet rhythms with brushes, which is gonna make its way into my electronic music.
Cheap Mic Collection
I love clicky, textured sounds. So I’m constantly recording things with these…
I have a stereo hand-held device, the Zoom H4N, which I take everywhere and record everything that might be useful, outdoors and indoors. For example, the beat in ‘3 Chords’ is made up of very compressed tape delay switches that I recorded. Simple, but all these things add up to making a more personal and inspired composition.
I also use the Rode NT1a and the Korg contact microphone. I use the contact mic live to create very subtle rhythms via the loop pedal. It’s great for improvisation, because you create more unpredictable rhythms.