Korg France Interview
KORG FRANCE INTERVIEWS A ROBUST AMERICAN
Korg France wanted to know more about us Robust Americans and asked if we would participate in this online interview for the artists section of their site. The translation from English to French got pretty garbled so I thought I would post the full interview here in English as well.
- Hello Randy,
Firstly : can you introduce yourself and your current activity(ies)?
I would like to start by expressing a big thank you to Philippe Brodu for giving me this chance to talk a little about a synth I'm very passionate about. Hello everyone! My name is Randy Wilson and I am the owner and lead sound designer of Robust American Patches. I also own and operate a project studio known as Ape Studios in the Cleveland, Ohio Area. Splitting my time between the 2 can often be challenging, but I love what I do so it's always worth it at the end of a long day.
- Since how many years do you play with synthesizers?
I've been interested in music and sound design since I can remember. When I was very young, my family used to vacation in Canada for 2 weeks every year. The camp where we stayed had an activites building with a beautiful old piano available for anyone to play. I met a very cute French Canadian girl there named Denise. Her whole family was in a traveling band that toured all over Canada and France. She taught me how to play "Cars" by Gary Numan which was a huge hit at the time. Almost immediately after that I got my first synth. The Sound Gizmo by Fundimensions in 1980. It was a handheld sound fx synthesizer with presets that you could tweak. I still have it. A few years later I got my first musical instrument, the Casio CZ-3000. I've been addicted to synths ever since. Later on I enrolled in a few music theory courses in high school for which I am forever thankful.
- Did you start creating your own patches from the beginning?
I think, like most beginners, I started out by trying to recreate some of my favorite sounds. Mostly stuff I heard in movies like Close Encounters, Flash Gordon and Excalibur. This was a learning experience but I didn't know it at the time. It taught me some of the terminology and a few basic elements of sound design.
- I discovered some tracks you created on Soundcloud, they are really interesting and we all (French KORG team) really liked them. What is your musical background? Have you ever played in bands? Worked on albums?
Growing up I had 3 older brothers that all had different tastes in music. I was a sponge and soaked it all up. Everything from Acid Rock to Herb Alpert & Sergio Mendes. When I was 16 the band I was in started playing shows in the local bars. We were covering bands like New Order and Depeche Mode in a classic rock town. It was funny when it wasn't dangerous. The tiny studio where we recorded our first original song demos had a Moog Modular set up in the control room. The owner told us that Bob Moog himself delivered and installed it. It absolutely blew my mind when I heard it and solidified my passion for synthesized sounds. The band ended up moving to Chicago in 1989 and quickly fell apart. I started working in a small studio there and eventually became a partial owner and lead engineer. The studio was a small project studio compared to the bigger studios in Chicago but we managed to land a few high profile gigs. I ended up doing some remix and production work for Mute Records, Matador Records and Fire Records of London as well as producing music and sound fx for video games by Activision and NewKidCo. During all this I was also recording and producing countless local artists in every genre from metal to hiphop. Somewhere in there, I think around 2002, I also produced music and sound fx for a series of national TV ad campaigns. I worked on projects for Nickelodeon, TV Land and Reprise Records.
- Today you propose Patches for the Korg Prologue. What was the first feature that you loved about this synthesizer? And now, afer months of use: Are there any features you like mainly on the Korg Prologue?
When I heard Korg was releasing a Flagship 16 voice analogue poly, I was floored. I wanted those 16 VCOs in my life. The digital oscillator, at that time, was an unknown quantity. I figured it was just the icing on a fat analogue cake. When the Prologue arrived, I immediately compared the raw sound to a few other modern analogue polys in my arsenal. The Prologue was brimming with life while some of the others sounded static, sterile. So the immediate draw for me was the 16 voices of analogue goodness. I knew within a few hours of playing it that the Prologue would become a substantial part of my current rig. Then, when the user oscillators started to appear, it was like adding another universe of sound design possibilities each time I loaded a different oscillator. It's the synth that keeps on giving by reinventing itself when you load another oscillator or fx. Simply Brilliant!
All the patches heard in the video below are part of the free bank of patches we created for the kick-ass oscillator known as Blinds. Blinds is a 3rd party oscillator for the Korg Prologue and the Minilogue XD. The Prologue OSC-16 (in the video) was released only in France with "Blinds" and 20 free patches from Robust American Patches preloaded at the factory. The video is in French but I think you can translate the subtitles. We've also added our old soundcloud demonstration where you can hear more of the patches without the talking. Again, the 20 free patches above were created exclusively for Blinds. Edouard, the creator of Blinds, went the extra mile and created 16 versions to facilitate users who might have Blinds loaded into a different oscillator slot.
- In some of the patches that are preloaded into the OSC-16, we realized that the only sound source used is the Blinds oscillator. How did you discover this amazing oscillator by Edouard Digital? What seduced you about this oscillator?
I first heard about Blinds on one of the audio forums I frequent. It seemed to me that it had more base functionality than the other oscillators that were available at the time. I purchased it and immediately got to work learning it's cababilities. I was amazed by the shear amount of basic tones it could generate. So, I created some presets for Blinds exclusively. I mean, I didn't even use the VCOs at first. I wanted to put the spotlight completely on Blinds. The little bit of time I spent was quite rewarding. One of the first things I noticed when working with Blinds was the interaction between the various parameters. Changing a parameter setting doesn't always have the same result. It depends on the other parameters to some extent. Some settings even result in no sound at all. This is a good thing as it shows that the user has been given enough control to get into trouble. I like that. I also very much like the fact that it has it's own LFO. In fact, I've been meaning to ask Eduoard about different shapes for the LFO. A random shape setting would be my first choice. I would love to have several versions of Blinds, all with different LFO shapes, loaded up in the Prologue. (Hint Hint) :)
- Can you talk about the different sound banks for the Korg Prologue that you propose today for sale on your website?
We are currently offering a total of 165 custom patches for the "stock" Korg Prologue. No 3rd party Oscillators or FX are required to use the sounds. Volumes I and II account for 130 presets that make heavy use of the VCOs and the layering functionality. Lots of very lush strings and pads using both layers. I swear you can hear the bows on the strings in some of these patches. There are also plenty of soaring leads, 29 to be exact, and beautiful arpeggios. Vacant Lots is one of my favorite sounds in Volume I. It has a soft electro-mechanical tone with low velocities, but turns into more of a melancholy synth tone with higher velocities. It's also extremely thick in the lower octaves. Our newest offering, EDMDROP1, is a mini bank of 35 patches that focuses more on the digital side of the Prologue. This bank features drums and percussion, basses, plucks, leads, wobble mayhem and sound fx. EDMDROP1, as the name suggests, is geared towards modern electronic music production. Larger than life sub basses, booms, hard hitting kicks and snares. This new bank also features many sounds that include expression pedal assignments under Edit Mode 4. To put it another way, many of the patches use the expression pedal to modulate the LFO beat divisions while locked to external midi clock. This little feature is quite handy for modern production styles. If you do not own an expression pedal you can still access the parameter by using CC 24 and simply drawing in the automation in your sequencer of choice. When in the studio, I prefer to automate the LFO rate knob itself when needed. I would also like to announce the release of a brand new bank of sounds for the Tom Oberheim, Dave Smith OB-6. The Oberheim multi-mode filter is truly one of my favorite filter designs. We hope to have this available for purchase by the time you read this. Which kind of brings me back to the Prologue.... I immediately purchased the Custom Mod FX filter pack from DirtboxSynth when it became available. I even corresponded with the creator while he was still in demo mode about a few tweaks to the bandpass filter that significantly improved it's overall character. Having those filters on board takes the Prologue into some new territory. In fact, I've been excited to play around with some of the new sounds from the EDMDROP1 bank. I'm sure everyone reading this understands what a resonant HP filter can do to a kick or snare drum.
- If you have a message to pass for all Korg Prologue users: what is it?
The Prologue is a very capable player's synth. It begs to be played, knobs and keys, in real time with all those controls at your fingertips. And, adding a new twist is as easy as loading a new oscillator or fx. So stop reading this and go make some noise already!