It’s the Red Dog Music Sunday Spotlight! This week, we meet:
Hello! Who are you, where are you from and all that good stuff.
I’m Rob, originally from the West Country, where if you spill the scrumpy on yer suede boots, it der make ‘em shiny. I’ve lived in and around Edinburgh for nearly 40 years, getting a lot of my gear from Red Dog, or the old Sound Control before it was bought over.
Tell us a bit about the music you make.
Seen From Space is eclectic electronica, mostly ambient or IDM (a rubbish term don’t you think?) with a good helping of Berlin School influences. I make it my business to be familiar with as many genres as I possibly can. I also sing, and play guitar and baritone ukulele. My wife is a classically trained professional singer who plays the soprano uke, and we do our own arrangements of standards, and perform for friends and family to loud acclaim.
I’ve long had a passion for sacred choral music, and I sing with Calton Consort, doing 3 gigs a year in Canongate Kirk in the Old Town. The standard is really very high, and of the whole choir I’m probably the LEAST proficient in reading the dots! The music can be very challenging, and in a chamber choir there are no passengers. More than once I’ve found myself singing one-to-a-part in a huge 16 part texture. Not for the faint-hearted, and lots of homework involved!
When did you start and what made you want to start making music?
When I was 7, my mum decided it would be smart if I had piano lessons. I was not consulted. I kept going with it, plus being in the choir, all through school. I’d been intrigued by electronic music right from the early musique concrete days of cannibalised lab gear and tape splicing. I bought my first synth (a 2nd hand Mono/Poly) from Sound Control in 1983 when analog was considered passé, and my second, and then my third – a Supernova II which is still the main keyboard in my studio.
Stage or studio?
Studio these days, apart from choral concerts and private gatherings. In the 80s I played in a band called A Whole New Jungle, and for 10 years or so after that, I did a lot music for live theatre.
What gear do you use to make your tunes?
A few hardware synths, and an ancient (2008!) MacBook Pro which can’t run recent software. So I’m stuck with Logic Pro 8. Omnisphere is my favourite soft synth, version 1 of course. It’s a total rabbit-hole universe of sound design and seems inexhaustible, so I don’t mind too much that I can’t upgrade.
My methods changed completely when I got the Elektron boxes: Octatrack and Analog Four. I now pre-produce stereo stems and loops in Logic, drop them into the Octatrack and use scenes to radically remix them. I synch up the A4 and and record to stereo back into Logic. The finished pieces you hear on SoundCloud are all done in one take.
And what is your choice bit of gear and why?
It has to be the Octatrack because of its pivotal place in my workflow. Although for its sound and character I wouldn’t be without an Access Virus. It’s hard to pick a favourite. Unless I regularly reach for an instrument to do a particular job in a tune, it can quickly find itself on eBay. So the survivors are all brilliant in their own ways.
Where can we check out your tunes?
There’s a big SoundCloud playlist on my website http://seenfromspace.uk, plus my very popular Elektron video tutorials. Some of these have over 20,000 views and very appreciative comments.
Red Dog Music Sunday Spotlight is your chance to get your music in front of the world, and our chance to discover some great new sounds. If you want to be featured in this weekly column, you can get all the details here.
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