Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Manchester Week: The Sanfernando Sound

THE SANFERNANDO SOUND is the music production moniker of Jason Sieu Persad. Born in the city of San Fernando (Trinidad & Tobago) and now based in Manchester (UK), Jason makes music because he’s fascinated by synthesizers, drum machines and any gadget (preferably with small, flashing lights) which produces odd sounds. He is currently working on his second remixes for indie-electro bands Starlings and Kites and is collaborating with singer Maighréad on fresh material.

I first heard The Sanfernando Sound before I started this blog when he brilliantly remixed She's the Queen's 'Sleepwalker's Curse' about 5 months ago.  His remix repertoire also includes Two Door Cinema Club and Anoraak.  We've recently had a good conversation on hardware synths via email, so he's a bit of a 'kindred spirit' in terms of the love of synth hardware and drum machines.  Read below to find out about his collection, and be sure to check out a patch he's gifted to us using a free plugin.

1. Describe your sound.  What are some of your influences?  Who are your old and new favorite artists?
"I’d call my sound “Science-fiction Pop Noir”- it conveys the dark, atmospheric, evocative sound I try to create.  And at least it makes you think- better than just saying “electronic”!

The music I first fell in love with was the atmospheric electronic pop of the 80s, at the heart of which was the synthesizer and the studio. Pet Shop Boys, Bronski Beat, Erasure, Blancmange, Thompson Twins, Blancmange, Thomas Dolby and Tears For Fears are all major influences on me. Artists I really admire now are Diamond Cut, Fear of Tigers, M83, Vitalic, The Presets and Rex the Dog. Rex the Dog live shows are great fun and Jake Williams is such a friendly guy- Jules Schimmer and I had a drink, a dance and a chat about Korgs with him.  The Presets [are] definitely my favourite modern electronic music band- Apocalypso is one of my favourite albums of the last 10 years and one of the most played thing on my iPod."

2. What is your hardware and software collection like?

"I’ve been fascinated by synthesizers since childhood and collecting them has always been a compulsion. It took me four years to save for my first decent synth as a teenager. I used to travel to different music shops pretending I had the money to buy something and play on the synths until I’d start getting funny looks from the staff. I collected manufacturers’ promotional leaflets and kept them in a file. I was not cool, but I did have my own obsession which was infinitely better!

Now, I have quite a few hardware synths. Some are in various states of disrepair and don’t sound too good. Those which consistently get used are my Korgs (MS2000, M1 and Poly 800), the Akai SG01v (it’s ugly, cheap-looking and very under-rated) and the Novation Xio. 

I get a lot of satisfaction out of playing all my hardware synths. That kind of physical connection with the instrument always inspires me to write something and also keeps me thinking about music and synthesis. If I solely used a computer and a mouse I’d run out ideas very quickly. For me, it’s not just about making finished tracks. The mental process before the production begins is just as important.

As far as software goes I really like the LinPlug Free Alpha,  Iblit and daHornet, all of which are free. At the other end of the spectrum, the Korg Legacy collection, Z3TA+ and Sylenth are all outstanding synths. The GForce Virtual String Machine is beautiful too."

3. Outside of synths, what is your production setup like?  Do you have any favorite plugins?
"I use Cubase which I’m in love with. I wouldn’t use anything else. Your DAW is a personal choice; whatever happens to work for you is all that counts. I’m very into midi and its manipulation. Also, I really like the Cubase bundled effects. When it comes to third party stuff, the PSP Vintage Warmer is superb. It’s an analogue-style compressor that simply adds bags of tube warmth to anything you put through it. Sugar Bytes Effectrix is great fun on vocals but should be used sparingly!"

4. How do you typically start a track?

I don’t have a fixed way of starting a track although I never start with a beat. The impetus could be a sound or production technique that has inspired me recently or some melody that I’ve been carrying around for a while. There’s always a set of inspirations and ideas floating around in my head. I make a lot of notes in an attempt to remember all the things which cross my mind when I’m not in the studio. Starting a track is never a problem. Now, finishing something off- there’s a challenge!

5. What are your live shows like?

"The last time I truly played live I was 18 with long hair halfway down my back. I was playing the bass in a band that was one part heavy metal ,one part Red Hot Chilli Peppers and one part Hendrix. Times have changed… I still love Hendrix though! I do plan to start DJing and doing Ableton sets, but it’s just getting the time when there are tracks to be written and music to produce…"

6. How long have you been making music?  What inspired you to start?

"I’ve been making electronic music for about 7 years. It was something I’d always planned to do since becoming interested in synths as a kid. As a teenager, playing the bass in rock bands took over. Then there was university. One night, after going clubbing and finding myself back at a friend’s flat for the after party, I met Jules Schimmer and we started talking about music production. I would probably still be talking about music and not making it if I hadn’t met him. Anyway, I haven’t looked back…"

The Sanfernando Sound has also given us a free taste of his programming style using a FREE mac/windows compatible soft synth.

"The patch I’ve provided is for the LinPlug Alpha. There’s a free version available from the LinPlug website or you can get it with Computer Music magazine. The sound is a saw wave pad with the sonic interest coming from the envelope on the filter. Further timbral change can be introduced via the mod wheel which is routed directly to the filter cut-off and also to the amount of LFO which is itself routed to filter cut-off. The audio demo uses a small amount of EQ, compression and ping-pong delay, all of which are native Cubase plugins."

The Sanfernando Sound - Saw Pad - Audio Demo by The Synth Symp

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