Head of Imprfct Records, co-founder of FOLD and respected techno producer Voicedrone shows us around his studio.
Voicedrone: My Studio
Welcome to my studio right in the heart of the ruins of Canning town (London). Due to a busy schedule and not being able to spend enough time here I named it ‘Red Orphan’. This is the mothership that assists me to cut waves in the sea of creativity. Every single item has a practical and emotional connection to me. In short, we’ve been through a lot together, from the walls of Berlin to the boroughs of artistically-forgotten London. For the past 3 years, I’ve moved ‘Red Orphan’ maybe four or five times and I’ve finally found sanctuary within the walls of the 24-hour arts institution called FOLD. I’ve built this room myself from scratch, from the first screw to the last acoustic panel, and I must admit that acoustically it sounds better than any other room I’ve been in previously.
Thermionic Culture ‘Culture Vulture’
In the first photo you are looking at my favourite piece, the Thermionic CultureCulture Vulture. It’s the only studio unit from them dedicated to adding valve produced-harmonic distortion to sounds, without solid-state components in the way. This unit is very straightforward; it’s RAW, WILD and RICH, Three basic types of distortion give you enough to be blown away forever. I love to experiment with it, from a singular instrument channel to the whole master track. Triode valves give an exciting ‘musical’ effect, while Pentode mode adds odd harmonics which makes the sound super aggressive and characteristic. The only downside for me personally, is losing sub frequencies which easily can be retained by mixing it with the dry sound.
Sequential Circuits TOM
The second piece is one of my favourite drum machines, the Sequential Circuits TOM (Model 420) from 1985. One of the first drum machines to steal sampler technology, it’s digital, grungy, dirty and a great noisemaker.It allocates samples between 4 voices rather than hard-assigning them to channels, allowing it to play up to 4 copies of the same sound at once. The combination of a huge programmable pitch range, volume and pan, and allowing the playback of sounds in reverse makes it a rare pick from the drum machines of that time.
Apart from the factory sounds which are quite similar to the Oberheim DMX Sequential, the manufacturers conveniently put a cartridge slot on the machine for adding additional sounds. These cartridges are hard to find, so currently I am using an EXFADE cartridge which includes 4 banks of sounds (808/909/DMX/CONTEMP). I know you can also expand it to hold 16 cartridges, which can be selected without unplugging and replacing EPROMs (which can get damaged by ESD or bent pins). Human Factor Mode makes the grooves shuffle more and makes this unit a top pick for me.
Roland Space Echo
Next one in line is the essential family member of ‘Red Orphan’, the legendary Roland Space Echo RE-201. Back in 1974 when my father was about to graduate from university and run away from the Soviet Regime, Roland managed to nail both a product number and a cool name with the release of its legendary RE-201 ‘Space Echo’. Bet my father didn’t have any clue at the time that in a few years his only son would put him and “Space Echo” in one sentence!
Every time I open the lid it sends me straight to space, the alien-looking multiple tape heads is enough to make me cry with joy. It’s a noisy and big unit, but the moment you see the tape, the only thing you want is to get lost in it. Everything you send through it comes out gold. Simply put a drum loop through, lean back and listen to how it sharpens into focus and groove! It has a very characteristic spring-based reverb which can be considered as the weak side of the unit, but this really depends on what you use it for. Sometimes when I can’t access my studio I really do miss the noise of its swirling tape loop.
If you go through my studio setup you will see that, I am really fond of synths and drum machines (amongst other pieces) that are older than me. The next in line is Mono/Poly by Korg. I don’t really know where my father was in 1984 but KORG was up to something very exciting for us still yet to be born.
It offers a little bit of both worlds: it’s both a good mono synth or polysynth which, creatively, can offer more than you can imagine. It has 4 VCO’s which can be shared in 4-voice Polyphonic mode, or linked in Unison for a versatile monophonic lead. Each VCO has its own level, tune and waveform-type control. It has an absolutely stunning VCF(filter) section, as well as 2 envelope generators, one for filter and one for the oscillators. You’re never gonna get tired of its chord memory and the effects mode in which oscillators can be synced in a variety of ways.
Roland Jupiter 4
Heavy (it provides a great arm workout), chunky piece of history from 1978! One of the first polysynths with an incredible arpeggiator, two powerful unison modes and two poly modes. Don’t let the single VCO mislead you, Jupiter-4 is still a fat-sounding monster, even in poly mode.
It has the fastest LFO that can bend any sound and soul into total dystopia (Let it warm up for a while before using it). Your mind will be blown away at how well the J-4 can sit in the mix (sounding almost humble at times). I think in this section I can agree with my father! We both love Duran Duran!
My modular rig is a very powerful tool. I never use it to make a whole track but love to use it – it is indeed enormous fun to get lost in, but I’ve worked out my ways to escape it!
Endorphines FURTHRRRR GENERATOR. Inspired by Buchla’s Programmable Complex Waveform Generator Model 259. (Don’t be fooled if you think it’s a clone – it’s more and FURTHEEEEEER!) It’s a dual oscillator module with super-advanced waveshaping and modulation capabilities.
Intellijel Dixie II. A bit wider than original Dixie (6hp instead of 4) with a convenient 8-position octave switch for fast access to coarse tuning.
4MS – Dual Looping Delay. Modern twist of crystal-clear digital delay. It’s the best module to synchronise your transients.
XAOC industries Batumi. Named after a beautiful city in Georgia, Batumi is an incredible, pure voltage-controlled, quadruple digital LFO module.
In the last photo you can see all my relics of war, tears and love that I have been collecting. They have heard my music more than anyone in this galaxy. If they start to shake during the process then it means I’m on the right path of my journey.