Intro: Not how, but why

I’ve been making music all my life. I was raised Mormon and, like any good Mormon girl, I took piano lessons. Since then I’ve played a good half-dozen instruments, but ultimately I love electronic music, and that’s what I want to make. I’ve been trying for years, but it was always frustrating and unsatisfying in ways that I couldn’t articulate. But I finally figured it out and I’m going to share it with you.

Think about a kick drum, the sound it makes — that boom, low, thudding, powerful. You stomp the shit out of the pedal and it makes that noise and it feels right. It’s intuitive; you understand that the action that you’re performing is creating that sound. Playing the drums is great.

If you’re making electronic music, maybe you’re making exactly that same sound, a sample of a high-quality kick drum recorded with fantastic studio gear… but you’re making that sound by clicking your mouse. Or by hitting a key on a keyboard, a pad on a drum machine. You hear boom, boom, boom but you feel dink, dink, dink. Electronic music is a hyper-abstract process, with your actions completely divorced from the sounds they’re producing.

Maybe some people like that. I don’t, and I never realized how much until I realized there was another option. That realization came for the first time when I saw Author & Punisher perform (if you aren’t familiar, look him up. He’s cooler than me. He’s cooler than everyone). Even though I knew that his instruments are mostly MIDI just like the keyboards I hate, his performance matched the sound of his music in a deeply visceral way. He seemed connected with the his music to an extent that I never imagined was possible with electronics. Raw, brutal music that was raw and brutal to make.

I don’t want to copy the guy, and I have neither the skills nor the equipment to do it even if I wanted to. Instead, what was important to me was the inspiration. I finally understood why I hated keyboards. I knew that I wanted to create something where I felt the music I was making, where I understood it on a physical level as well as a mental one. I wanted to create my own interface that made it natural and intuitive to produce the kind of music I’m drawn towards. And fortunately, I have just enough technical background, and just enough drive to fumble around blindly until I figure something out, that I’ve been largely able to pull it off.

The rest of this blog will mostly be technical explanations of how my gear works, for people who are interested in understanding it or maybe want to create something similar themselves. But I wanted to take a minute to get up on my soapbox and explain why this was worth my time.

Thanks for reading,

80KV

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