Joined: Jul 06, 2004
Location: The Hague, NL
G2 patch files: 3
|Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:14 pm Post subject:
Andi Vax, an interview
Subject description: by Wout Blommers & Kassen
|NordLead2 and NordLead2X sound design.
Andi Vax, an interview
By Wout Blommers and Kassen.
The following announcement drew our attention…
|Brand new double soundset here from KissFM award winning producer, Andi Vax! Nearly 200 bass, leads, pads and fx makeup this twin pack.
Perfect for all of your progressive / minimal / electro / tech house tracks, but can easily be fitted to manyother genres.
These banks are primarily for Clavia Nord Lead 2/2X,but the midi sysex also works with DiscoDSP Discovery 2/3.Click thepicture:
We did some research on the net and the first question is: "Who is Andi Vax:Producer, Remixer, Composer?".
Andrey Vakhnenko, aka Andi Vax aka Hardphaze, was born on the 4th of july 1979. He lives and works in Kiev, Ukraine. Andrey studied at the guitar at the conservatory.He's been involved in music production since 1994.
In 2002 Andrey establishes his first psytrance project - SynSUN (in “trance” stylistics). From 2004 to 2008 SynSUN has released lots of singles, remixes and 4 official albums, the latter to be issued by Israeli major Phonokol Records (AstralProjection, Yahel). In 2005 Andrey won a first prize at Guitarist contest+ “Gitarist of March” title for his “Magic Fly” track. In 2006 Andrey launches his new house project - “Andi Vax”, getting favourable comments from Ukrainian, Russian and European DJ’s (DJ Tiesto, DJ Lady Ace) from the very first works.From 2006 to 2008 a list of singles and remixes have been released by “Andi Vax” project that obtained appreciation from leading DJ’s and producers, and ranked top positions in promo charts and tops of “Juno” (GB), one of the biggest commercial music resources in the Web so far. In 2007 Andrey issues a video tutorial “Mixing Secrets” as a free guide for sound producers worldwide, this tutorial was later translated into English and Spanish. Nearly all “Andi Vax” works rotated on the radio, hitting the highest rated positions. “The Game” was ranked as one of three best tracks according to Top DJ “Dance Залежнiсть”. “Da Bomb” was included into the KissFm (a prominent Ukrainian dance radio station) - Top Hits compilation.
“I Feel You” track 4 weeks on the 1th place @ KISS FM’s Top 10.
“Devochki” track 4 weeks on the 1th place @ KISS FM’s Top 10.
“Vselennaya” track 5 weeks on the 1th place @ KISS FM’s Top 10.
“Supertzar” track 3th place @ KISS FM’s World Top 40.
Andrey is an author of some of the factory presets to one of the most popular dance musics ynthesizers – Access Virus (SNOW version). Besides participation in Virus presets production, Andrey is a beta tester for Steinberg (CuBase creators, NoComments)In autumn 2008 he participates in organization and becomes a co-owner of British lable “HardPhaze Productions”, producing and releasing Electro, Techno and Minimal. Apart from many young producers willing to release their works at HardPhaze, the label has been supported by Will Bailey, Electriqa and Mike Harris. Miles Dyson has expressed an interest in cooperation with HARDPHAZE after the completion of his world tour. Andrey is an author of several technical articles for young producers, published at leading Ukrainian DJ magazine - DJ.AM.ANDI VAX was awarded as “Best New Producer of 2008” from Kiss FM Dance Radio.Attending “ANDI VAX” live performance that involves hardware and guitar creates an outstanding impression on the audience! Andrey use his guitar for playing synth sequences,solos and effects live.[source: Andi Vax bioeng]
In the beginning.
- On stage you are using the NordLead2 (X, I assume?). What were the particular reasons you have chosen this synth?
- There is always NL2 on stage in SynSUN live setup. The are two reasons.
First of all, it is the best best sounding VA-synth and it’s always perfectly cut through the mix. Software synths are drowned out in the mix but people always hear Nord Lead screaming as hell! Second reason is NL2 is very TWEAKABLE instrument. It has the best and simplest GUI in the world! Third, THE KNOBS! Just turn it and you will understand it IS the instrument. Rock solid, wild screaming beast! The bad side of NL is lack of effects. You are always need to use a Reverb/Delay effect processor. Sometimes we use our Korg R3 synth to replace NL2. R3 has keys and some cool effects onboard. It is not very good as “cut thru the mix” sense (I can compare it with novation x-station/v-station).
In ANDI VAX live performance is use my guitar (with midi pickup) as midi controller. And I play through Reason with my guitar. Reason is good software. Not the best sounding one, but it eats a little CPU and offers you a tons of possibilities in “live performance” context.
In the studio I use Nord Rack 2 (original 1998 year model). It is MUST HAVE instrument for all trance (psychedelic, full on, progressive, etc) and house users. I don’t like NL3/Modulars because of different sound. NL2 sounds much more analogue to me. NL3/Modular is not bad, it’s just not sounding right to me
- Do you think the Nord Lead is able to be used as a multi-purpose instrument or do you see the synth as a special performing tool for specific tasks, like lead or bass sounds?
- When I got my first synth it was Access Virus TI. I was amazed how different it can sound! It is because of effects and other cool stuff. Nord lead is not in the same league. For me it is perfect instrument for FM-like sounds (bell, dx-7 stuff) and lead sounds. If you like Infected Mushroom stuff – it is all Nord (Modular 2). And I must mention Nord Lead PAD sounds. It is a visit card of it! Powerfull but very CLEAN. I think this is because of filters. Virus sounds cool but not that clean. Sometimes you need virus fatness. Sometimes – Nord Lead pure clean meaty sound This I like in hardware synths – it all has different character!
- When playing a new synth for the first time most musicians scroll quickly through the banks of patches and won’t take enough time to try out each sound of its own, e.g. to play a melody line, chords or at least tweak the modulation wheel. As a professional sound designer what is your opinion of the factory presets of the Nord Lead?
- hahaha! Actually, I read manuals when I get any synth. For example, I learned the virus TI manual after about 7 days and only after that I start to produce tracks with it.
The main reason is you must fully understand how to tweak sounds that in your head. Also, it is stupid to buy 3000$ device and can’t use it on 100%.
- Are there any factory presets used in your published music?
- No. I don’t like preset music. At this moment I am really in love with my brand new DSI MOPHO analogue synth. You can get really amazing sounds just using Feedback function and feeding something in the input. I will release soundbanks for MOPHO because it is my favourite beast ride now! It is the best 400$ spent!
About the parameters or, to put it simply: the knobs…
- Which properties do you think a good sound are a ‘must have’ when to be used as a lead sound and which parameters do you think are important to this particular qualities?
- For lead sound I always use harmonically rich waveforms. It can be square/saw (VA) or some crazy formant stuff. The main principle: PEOPLE MUST HEAR YOUR LEAD! Also, there is a very important moment I call “liveliness”. I often assign some parameters on aftertouch and modwheel because your sequence will be boring and sounds too mechanical without automation of these parameters.
- And which properties and parameters are important to a good bass and pad sound?
- For bass you need to know about “length of note” and “filter ADSR parameters”.
It is the best way to make a punchy and solid bass or it will kill the bass sound forever!
- Which parameters and routings do you find important when creating new sounds, so you use these always and at first?
- Factory preset sound with saw wave and filter cutoff on maximum
- And which parameters and routings do you seldom use? (The orphans of the Nord Lead are in my opinion the Ring Modulator and Osc2 KBD Tracking)
- Ha! You should know about “Ring Mod” – it is killer for uplift sounds and cool house/techno effects. Just listen to Deadmou5 he is using RingMod (on his ARP 2600) in many tracks. KBD Tracking – yes, looks like I don’t use it at all
The Nord Lead’s different modes.
- On stage, which mode do you mostly use, like Program mode, Performance mode and Percussion mode? (Note, Performance mode isn’t the same as Layers, although it can be used that way)
- Do you use special configurations, like the use of four Slots set into Percussion mode which is programmed into different sounds, so when limiting the keyboard range the Nord Lead and controlled by Midi the synth is capable to produce at least an eight sound multi Layer (Thirty-two is the maximum)?
- Never use my NL in Performance mode. May be it is a shame on me but it is true
I am an “in the box” guy. I like to stack sounds in DAW not in synth itself. May be it is the reason my presets sounds good in Single mode (or Layer mode or Program), hehehe.
- Have you ever pushed the Nord Lead into its extremities like Pseudo Additive Synthesis (the Hammond sounds) or Pseudo Granular Synthesis (very fast running LFO’s and Arpeggiators)?
- Actually, I don’t like Hammond sound at all . I like DX sound and Rhodes sound. And when I need to make some DX-like bells, I am always use Nord Lead. Very fast running LFO’s and Arpeggios – I call it “8bit stuff” . I use this leads on SynSUN’s “We are the world” album (50/50 – Virus/Nord Lead2).
- I often compare sound design and mixing as preparing a tasteful meal, in which the mixing is the cooking in the kitchen, where the sound design is the making/growing of the ingredients (Bad corn never bakes tasty bread). Some sounds are wonderful when played alone, but are falling apart when used in a mix. Could you give some advice about sound designing on the Nord Lead concerning this?
- True! There are tons of good sounds (alone) but when you try to put it in the arrangement, you are disappointed. I tweak all my sounds to sit very well in the mix and sometimes you can think “wow! It is so flat and clean!” but it works in the mix. Also I want to make something special, unique. Anyway, I hope you will be surprised when you listen to some sounds I made.
- When producing Madonna’s album ‘Music’ Michael Beardon and Mirwais Ahmadzai praised the Nord Lead as being an instrument which fits and cuts wonderful in a mix. Do you have the same experience, in the studio and on stage?
- As I mentioned before, NL is the number one VA for “cut through the mix” leads. I often receive tracks for mixing (andivaxmastering.com). And if it was made with software synths I just make the same parts on Nord Lead and add them to the original material. It always works! Another good side of NL – you rarely need an EQ! It is already sounds good and without unpleasant resonances (as many software products).
- I will not ask which is the best of the two, but can you point out the differences of the most significant properties and features of the Access Virus and the Nord Lead?
- As I mentioned before, it IS the main reason I like hardware synths. DIFFERENT character. It is like decide what is the best: blondes, brunettes or reds
They are DIFFERENT! And this is cool.
But, let’s return to real stuff Nord vs Virus.
I always decide what to choose based on character of sound I need. Also, there are styles of music with some LAWS For example, if you made psy trance or fullon – Nord Lead is the best choice for some sounds. If you made progressive trance – choose Virus and you will not be disappointed! For house/techno stuff I like to use analogue stuff like DSI, Moog and ARP. It has character best suited for this kind of music.
And do not forget – your audience get accustomed to THIS character of sound. I mean, if you made psy trance leads on Moog – it will sound a little bit strange (just listen to VOID stuff).
- You play a type of music that is typically made using a (home) studio, yet you also perform live on stage. How do you deal with that? Is your live performance based on the restructuring of previously written material or are you also improvising new material on the spot?
- It is prepared material + live performance/improvising. I think, playing LIVE, consisting of all prepared material, is boring. And there must be an element of show! Because I think we gonna entertain people who visit SynSUN or ANDI VAX live performance.
- You regularly play to large audiences. There seems to be an opposition between the minute hand movements used to control electronic instruments like laptops, synths and mixers and how only large movements like the waving of a hand will be perceptible to the audience who may be far away. How do you convey to the audience what you are doing? Do you feel it's important for them to understand what is going on or is that irrelevant in the larger context of the performance to you?
- It is a very good question, actually. Many artists think they play for yourself. They can check mail, play tetris or tweak knobs for 2 hours and don’t look what’s happening on the dancefloor. I think, people must rest on parties. People must get satisfaction. And in this case, you should prepare a project (we use Ableton Live) with one thing in mind – “YOU MUST COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE ON THE DANCEFLOOR”! Just visit Raja Rem’s full power show and you will understand what I mean!
- Often electronic instruments are marketed as being especially suitable for certain styles of music and equipped with banks of sounds for those styles. This is convenient for the music industry and possibly for a lot of musicians but it does lead to questions about the individual performer and his relation to his instrument. Have you ever longed for a instrument that didn't yet exist or had one modified to suit your specific needs? Do commercial instruments offer enough room for customization to you?
- I always count “series” instruments as “not unique” Just look at the guitar world – all good musicians has it own guitars. Stevie Vai, Joe Satriani, etc. Steve Vai likes to made something really really bad with his instrument and his guitar even has a handle! My guitar is regular Yamaha 420 model but all details was replaced and some was added for my needs (roland midi pickup and fernandes sustainer). Your question forced me to think about “ANDI VAX Signature” midi controller for my live performance.
- To many modern musicians the sequencer is their main instrument yet it seems like many sequencers are set up more like devices for data entry, storage and recollection than as instruments for spontaneous improvisation. Do you feel this is an issue? How do you deal with translating your ideas and feelings to data in the sequencer? Is there room for improvement?
- I have used Cubase for 7 years or something. I tried ALL DAW’s and stuck with Cubase. It is not very stable because sometimes I like to use crazy/buggy 3rd party effects and instruments. But if I have an idea in my head I can translate it in the box with no problem in 99% of cases. Of course, EVERY product can be improved. It is MARKETING stuff
- Some of the styles of music you play/compose are very popular and have an established tradition of how these styles sound, maybe even what they
‘should’ sound like. How do you deal with personal emotional expression within these styles? Have you ever felt a conflict between what you wanted to express and what you thought would be popular?
- If you “made it for money” as Frank Zappa said you should find a border behind “what people needs” and “not shame on you before colleagues” You should love what you made. Also, you will need a good manager who knows in what direction you must go. And of course you family who supports all your ideas. And of course you must be healthy person. I will tell about this In my next movie “ANDI VAX – Answers” (Will be released in Q4, 2009).
- It seems like many electronic musicians like to listen sometimes to acoustic or band-based music in their free time. Do you? If so do you feel this inspires or affects your own electronic music?
- In my free time I listen mainly metal/rock/ambient stuff. Sometimes I listen to modern electronic guys like Justice and Dusty Kid. I am interested in music with fresh ideas only.
I like Frank Zappa. He is the most unusual composer I’ve ever see.
I like Prince – the genius pop and jazz composer. Really inspiring!
I like Limp Bizkit, Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment and Jordan Rudess. I love virtuoso!
I like modern ambient composers like BT, Shpongle and Shulman.
In trance scene I like Bliss, Sub6 and Infected Mushroom. Infected Mushroom is hard to describe as trance these days but their music is very interesting and well produced.
Bliss is my favourite psy trance producer. I do some tracks together with him and I must said he IS Bliss! I learn many interesting and creative techniques from him.
- The electro-music.com forum is mostly oriented around the USA and Western Europe, and the Ukrainian cultural situation is not well known by most readers. Could you describe the Ukrainian and -in particular- Kiev situation in a nutshell? Are there ‘western’ influences and what are the channels through which this information reaches Kiev (like internet radio stations)? Do you feel that traditional Ukrainian music affects the music currently coming from your area? Does it influence you personally?
- You should understand that Ukraine was a part of USSR. It was 70 years of mind terror. My dad told me about prohibition on listen of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath.
All music our parents can listen is soviet hymns and songs. All radio stations (including “The Voice of Americe”) was prohibited. I grew up in 1990’s when USSR was destroy by USA (it was a CIA plan since 1950’s) and it was bad for country but good for me because I had the possibility to listen to what I want. The main problem of exUSSR producers was too oriented on east (Europe and USA). In 2009 it is not a problem anymore. I get many demos for my label Hardphaze which i run with Ry Thomas from people around the world and Russian/Ukrainian tracks are very good in quality and idea sense. Today we are all have the internet! And every month I make collaboration tracks with European, Brazilian, Israeli artists. There is no iron curtain anymore and it is good in cultural sense! I don’t familiarise myself with traditional Ukrainian music at all. I grew up as USSR child. We are all listen to Bolshevik hymn’s and politics songs. But recently I finish a remix called “Stereoland” introducing Ukrainian ethnic singing and flutes. I must say “it IS unusual!
So, thanks to Kassen and Wout for interesting questions!
It was a big pleasure to answer and some of it inspires me really!
Big respect to all Hardphaze, SynSUN and ANDI VAX fans around da globe!