I haven’t made any music in recent years, but there was a time where it’s virtually all I did. Below are a collection of recordings I made. Most are just loops: some good, some not very good, most incomplete. All were made on my own at home using recording software and various MIDI/audio gear.
1996-99 – First recordings
Collective Unconsciousness, 1998
I have no op, 1997
I was in my mid-late teens and living in Northern Ontario. After hearing Skinny Puppy, I was completely blown away and knew I had to know how to make sounds like that. So, I threw aside the guitar and bass I played in my early teens to focus entirely on electronic music with an emphasis on synthesizers and sampling.
Internet resources at the time were limited (as was my dial-up modem connection) so I picked up a book titled The MIDI Companion: The Ins, Outs and Throughs, and read it cover to cover. I’d pick up expensive issues of Sound on Sound magazine, and haunt Sonic State and SynthZone to learn everything I could about MIDI, audio, electronic music production, and all of the hardware and software that made it possible.
I had picked up a used Ensoniq ESQ-1 keyboard, and taught myself how to use Cubase VST (v2.x?). I had it running on a Pentium PC with Windows 98 SE and an “AWE32” sound card to step up from the Soundblaster 16. I don’t remember how much RAM or hard disk space the PC had, but I’m sure it was laughable. I think I used Goldwave for audio editing.
1999-2001 – SOUND-TEST
I have no op
in the jungle crawling
In late 1998 I moved to Ottawa for college. Soon after I picked up a used IBM ThinkPad with Pentium II processor and whopping 192 MB of RAM.
Around this time I discovered the miracle of emulation, and started toying with the idea of using retro game sounds. I was the ultimate hipster: using NES and 80s arcade game sounds before it was cool!
I also attempted a few video game remixes, and submitted a Kung Fu remix to game remix site Overclocked under the moniker “badlsdtrip”. /cringe
River City Ransom NES (boss music remix), 2001
Kung Fu NES (remix), 2001
Contra NES (“Snow Field” remix), 2001
Shinobi Arcade (remix), 2001
Other gear I used at this time was a Yamaha TX81Z rack, and I had picked up a Mackie 1202 VLZ mixer. Love that Lately Bass patch.
Despite having gear, most of the music made during this period was done using Fruity Loops. I intended to use it as a scratchpad, but fell in love with its simplicity and especially its limitations. It helped me focus in a way that full-blown sequencers with endless possibilities like Cubase could not.
During this time I also taught myself basic web development, and put up a web page with tracks I made under the moniker “SOUND-TEST”, named after the sound test menus in old console and arcade games.
2004-2006 – FAKE ACID
can u dig it, 2006
OSAP/fake acid-are you feeling anything, 2006
medicine man, 2006
In 2002 I moved to China. That was such a huge change that music took the backseat for a while.
Later that same year, I returned to Canada and moved to Montreal. After getting settled, I started collecting gear and making music again.
I was listening to a lot of psy trance and acid techno, and it heavily influenced my work.
On the production side, I dropped Windows for Linux and started using seq24, a fantastic minimal interactive MIDI sequencer.
My setup was:
- Pentium II ThinkPad running Debian with Fluxbox
- Ensoniq ESQ1
- KORG MS1X
- Clavia Nord Lead 2 Rack
- Novation Bass Station Keyboard
- Novation Drum Station Rack
- Emu Xtreme Lead Rack
- Korg Poly 800 with black keys (!!)
- Mackie 1202 VLZ
- Boss DS-1 distortion pedal
- Shure mic
I spent a lot of money on gear during that period, but I still wanted more. That’s the thing about G.A.S.
Looking back, the gear had very little to do with the quality of tracks I did. I should have focused more on technique instead of reading reviews and articles on gear websites and lusting over new hardware.
2006 – present
In 2006, I decided I needed a change. I sold all of my gear, moved back to China, and spent the following years living in Shanghai and traveling. In place of music, I put my creative energy into programming and app development, and that is where my focus has been ever since.
The last track I made was thrown together with – ironically – an iPhone app.