INDRA: Something about my way of making music

Here is my way of composing electronic music:

The tracks usually start with a single element, e.g. a sequence or an arpeggiator. Sometimes I take up these individual elements in the Cubase SX platform and perform there all the needed adjustments until I consider that the final length of the track is achieved. The remaining elements are added after this operation. However this is not an absolute rule in the way I make music, there can be also completely different methods to compose and perform a musical piece. It really depends on the characteristic of the respective track. Sometimes it can be just a drum loop or something else. It only depends on the style which I choose to perform because I don’t make exclusively Berlin School music; I also experiment with other styles, e.g. in Signs. However, there is a topic which I have for each piece in my mind and which I generally follow until the piece is finally developed in the way I wanted. Often the beat is very important and I give much attention to it. This usualy begins with the careful selection of a drum sound from my numerous sound libraries.

Since I use hardware and software synthesizers the recording process can vary from case to case as software instruments are very easy to deal with so you don’t need to do much once you recorded your performance. You just save your Cubase project and everything will be there. On the other hand, hardware synthesizers are more complicated to integrate if you want to have ‘total recall’. However this is not so important to me; While I take up a midi track, I make a few real-time modifications of some parameters in the synthesizer and include them in the recording. Then I make the audio tracks from the midi ones. I do not control my synthesizers over the Sysex Data. I take up the musical section and then go to the next topic. I never liked Sysex dumps and things like that! I transfer the midi data to audio signals. Since one never knows whether one still has the same instruments after a long time is better to have everything saved as audio tracks (this is even better than the use of the freeze function). I don’t rely on SySex data for recalling the synth settings, I just record the musical part and move along. If you wonder how I change things after they’re done without using SySex dumps and stuff like that, I can tell you I never did that!

I like very much using software synthesizers; as a matter of fact they increase more and more their performances nowadays and become very well emulated. I particularly like the Korg Legacy Collection. It makes much fun to play with this nice MS 20-Controller; one has really the impression not playing actually with a software synthesizer. The software-version of the Wavestation finally replaced my hardware output.  The Korg Wavestation Ex was my first Synthesizer  and I used it for a long time until finally it was conceived as a plugin output. In time I had all my synthesizers sold, replacing all with others new, except the Wavestation. I played on it on different occasions and used it also in my last concert from the summer of 2006 at Schleiden (Germany) in the festival organised by Cue Records. But that was its last ‘appearance’ on the stage.

I also like the Hartmann-Neuron synthesizer (the plugin) which is an amazing synthesizer (though pretty unstable).  Then there is of course the stuff from the Native Instruments; I particularly like the Absynth synthesizer because one can make a few really astonishing things using its large potentialities (for example the percussion part I used in ‘The Soldier’s Requiem’ (from the album The Challenge). Finally I use also the Reaktor with its enormous amount of sounds from the ensembles. I’m not really a synth programmer like the guys who program synths from the scratch. These instruments come with a lot of presets and I usually find something I like and use that preset as a starting point until it sounds like I really want it to sound. Sometimes I don’t touch but a few parameters, like some presets on the Roland V-Synth which sound really great. However, sometimes I do modify the parameters of the preset until this becomes practically unrecognizable.

Speaking of hardware synthesizers, I love my Virus Classic (the Desktop version) and the Virus KC which were mainly used on my some previous albums. For example, many of the sequences you listen in The Call of Shiva, The Challenge and Generation were made using these synths. Starting with the album Tara I also used the Virus TI which is a real ‘diamond’   in the synths world and is now my workhorse. It has a very powerful sound and it’s a very musical synth as well. You just go through the presets and it’s likely you could record a track with every one of them. It has a great keyboard too but Roland V-Synth also has a good one, and the Nord G2 as well. Speaking of G2, which I also like for its particular sound, more digital yet very musical sounding, it has this cool pitch stick which is very playable and is able to produce some unusual sounds.

(Bernd Kistenmacher – ‘Synthesizer Magazine’ (#2, 2007))