click here to read the most recent additions
to the arsenal.
The DVOA live set up is essentially the
same as the studio format, with different wiring, the
bulk of which is housed in a custom shock mounted
flight-case.The hub is a TASCAM 414 porta studio,
which recently replaced a 10 year old Tascam
porta-one. All of the DVOA albums,
with the exception of How Hollow Heart (which
was recorded live to DAT) were recorded to a porta
studio. No bouncing was used. Often, less than the
available 4 tracks were used. Until I got the 414, no
effects were added post-recording.The Glae Bastards track
is the only DVOA work to be recorded in a studio. The
other components of the flight case are: Boss
SE50 (my original processor) Alesis
Quadraverb II, Alesis 3630 Compressor with
gate, Mackie 1402 mixer, Ibanez
VL10 volume pedal. I recently got a Tascam
DA20 DAT machine for mix down. Prior to this I
used Jean-Yves' portable Casio DAT or rented a DA20 or
30. If I need to, I use The Miller Block
Studio in Vancouver.
Microphones are vital to my work. All of the first three
DVOA albums were recorded with extremely cheap and nasty
mikes. Fine for studio work but I can't use them live due
to feedback problems, so I've tended to use Shure
58's for vocal work and an endless stream of
contact mikes that I break with alarming frequency. I
went through 5 alone during last summers tour. I recently
discovered a cunning contact mike stuffed and sealed
inside a bottle cap which is ingenious and very
responsive. As ever, I have to be conscious of hiss from
fx and microphones. Hiss is the bane of the porta-studio
users life, but I've got it cornered and whimpering right
I have access to some conventional toys,an electric
guitar, acoustic guitar and a Roland S-10 keyboard,
a trumpet, banjolele (a
hybrid banjo-ukelele), strum stick, rain
stick, balalaika, kalaimbas
(thumbpiano), metronome, harmonica,
flageolet, panpipes, recorder,
whistles etc. However,my prized
collection are toys bought during my travels...
Toys R Us has to be the ultimate DVOA
musical store. My favourite vocal processor right now is
a "Jammin' Unit", a small
microphone-amplification device with a conical megaphone.
Beautiful early Fall-like distortion. "Michael Said
To Me," from the new Spasm cd,"Smear," is
a good example of the Jammin' Unit in action. It also has
pitch and volume controls. Comes with a number of sounds.
I have two models: one has samples that sound like they
were lifted from a Hanna Barbera cartoon,
the other haship-hop/techno sounds. I use three
dictaphones for "samples." The last track on
How Hollow Heart features many random voices culled from
my collection of dicta-tapes.
You'll hear a womans voice on every one of my recordings
(somewhere,often buried deeply). It's Elaine.
About 5 years ago I plonked a dictaphone in front of her
and asked her to sing some of her Catholic school songs.
I never consciously pick a tape to use. I haven't
catalogued them. Many of them date back to my time in Zoviet*France. I walked from the Central Station
in Newcastle once up to Ben's house. I put the dictaphone
pocket and recorded my walk. I think that tape has been
used in just about every show I've done. It's still one
of my favourites. I always use radios. New
Words Machine uses radios randomly switched
on and off. The first two tracks are heavilly composed of
radio and dictaphone samples. I always use them live.
I've done several shows here in Vancouver and have used
live broadcasts from NW98's Canucks hockey games. I like
their unpredictability. Just like the hockey team. I
recall seeing AMM live at the Western
Front here three years ago: In the middle of the
performance Keith Rowe tuned into one of
the sadly profuse rock radio stations. The audience burst
into laughter. Quite a memorable experience.
Another favourite toy is a sound collection device given
to me by two friends from Bochum in
Germany. It's loud and has over 30 stored sounds from
hammers, drills and helicopters to nursery rhymes.
Beautiful. I have lots of wind up toys (heavilly featured
on New Words Machine). Chinatown in
Vancouver is a great resource for these. Radio
Shack is another happy hunting ground. My
beloved Godzilla came from there, as
well as Mister Skateboarder, who has a
lovely motor in his arse, perfect for prepared guitar. A
while ago I stole Elaine's ladyshave. She had to buy
another. I use it all the time for laying over the
strings on my guitar or strum stick, again,a marvelous
source of resonance for prepared guitar work. Hats off to
Keith Rowe from AMM for creating this marvelous
instrument called the prepared guitar.
The guys from Individual Totem gave me a
Fisher Price (quality product)
telephone toy that has four telephone sounds. I use
chopsticks for playing percussion devices and have a
number of percussion mallets for the same reason. I used
to be a drummer but gave away my drums. I now use nothing
more than household objects. A copper log basket is a
favourite source. I often use an old hollowed out
acoustic guitar with a contact mike, tapping the body,
with a meaty delay-gate added.
Hafted Maul used a lot of
sounds from my stringed instruments. I have some
beautiful Mexican clay flutes that I keep safely stored.
I have other fragile instruments that I simply can't
bring on tour with me. Ray Man in Covent
Garden, London is an exceptional store for
third world instruments. I've spent many a happy hour
there. Finally, I borrow pieces of equipment from friends
or simply use whatever is available. As an avid toy user
(abuser) I am fortunate enough to have been given many
gifts from friends. They are all assembled here at my
loft: some day I must take some photographs of them.
Every toy tells a story.
(Most of my techniques relate to fx that I have
programmed on my SE50 and QV11)