Carbonish interview

carbonishLong time iOS buddy Dave aka Carbonish works on an oil rig. But that does not stop him from developing his music which, can only be described as intense synthetic dark wave for noise lovers!

Here Dave answers some questions and gives cool insights into his working methods!

ZL – Please tell us some of your musical background and why you now choose to use iOS apps exclusively?

DP – I got into music towards the end of my schooldays, just as synths were appearing as a mainstream alternative with the likes of John Foxx, The Human League and Gary Numan.

Specifically, it was late ’79 and i snuck off to my my first gig, a Numan concert in Brighton, and at the thunderous sounds from the opening bass synths reverberating through me, i was hooked completely.

I managed to scrimp and borrow and got my first synth, a mono Moog Rogue and learnt synthesis basics on that, followed after a while by a tinny, hissy Crumar Trilogy to back it up. I got involved playing in bands soon after, but they were all short lived fun things up til i the late 80’s when a few mates from college formed an ‘electro-thrash’ outfit artily named ‘The Chyldren’.

Although it was still fun, we started getting serious, got good kit and gradually improved to the point of self-releasing our own vinyl album (vinyl… those were the days!). It got limited interest (overseas) just as the band imploded and that was that.

I carried on with the equipment i had, i even still have the Atari running Pro24, but focussed on writing rather than performing, finding it far more enjoyable and rewarding. I did get involved in another band later, Elysium, through a bass playing 60’s nutter mate of mine which had a lot of promise but seemed to just fizzle out.

There were a lot of influences in that band. That was a real shame.

As with most people life carries on and i ended focussing on career and family, and working in a studio took time i never had so that became an occasional hobby, but always remained a dream.

Then, last year i started hearing of people creating music on an iPad, mobile, free of the necessity of being shut away in a studio space, and after a search finding the likes of SmiteMatter i got introduced to the community on SoundCloud, so i bit the bullet and the rest is history (or at least on soundcloud anyway)!

With my job i spend a lot of time away, working out in the North Sea on a fixed rotation, and to switch off i spend my evenings wrapped up in my next track, developing sounds and mixing.

Do you see a distinct advantage of apps over software?

Apart from the ridiculously low price of apps, the abilities of them improves almost monthly.

The programmability of these things and their sonic diversity is catching up rapidly with what the far more expensive software synths can do, but what people forget is you’re dealing with an iPad or iPhone here, not a dedicated laptop, it really is chalk and cheese.

Additionally, as with any synth or instrument, they all have their own sound, their own way to do things so i guess its a case of ‘if the glove fits’, but at least with apps the pricing is such that finding one that doesn’t suit os not so hard on your wallet!

For me though, by far the most important feature is being able to take everything with me when I’m away, and the iPad is perfect. I don’t use any outboard gear, just the touchscreen to control everything so I can travel light and fast.

Why is your music so dark?

That’s a really good question, one that i actually have no real idea what the answer is. In life i’m a positive, happy kinda chap, so i’m guessing that this is some kind of balance, some counterpoint to my general being.

I’m always drawn to music that makes an impact, from classical works right through to electronic and rock stuff, anything that grabs you and demands you listen again, and so my current ethos follows that route, to find and create menace, dread, edginess in sounds and formulate tracks around them, and then to go off and create other sounds to link into it if i don’t have them already in my library.

I’m getting heavily into the soundtrack/scape side of composing quite a bit. My initial foray ‘Thalassofrantic’ is based a lot around my work offshore and related imaginings. Its been intriguing to not hold to a popular format and just let the sound guide the direction, and for a first attempt its been pretty successful in a local soundcloud kind of way.

I think i still have one more track in me to complete that segment of work and already have the next theme in mind. All i know at the moment is it will be called ‘DarkWeb’ and i have a few ideas in the cooking pot.

I still enjoy putting together ‘proper’ tracks, more accessible tunes, but these have been taking a turn for darker themes too recently.

I tend to chop around with styles and vibes depending on what’s going on around me and how i feel as i start a track – i don’t think i’ll never be pigeonholed into one particular genre!

Favourite apps and why?

DP – Everything i do winds its way into Nanostudio. Everything. I’ll use synth apps, and more recently Guitarism, record sequences or create patches and either ACP them directly or use Audiobus into Audioshare… and ACP them!

The capabilities of Nanostudio with the Eden synth and the TRG sample pads are just superb. 16 tracks is plenty for a full on track and using the Eden’s configurable dual X-Y pads gives enough manipulation to make any noise sound interesting.

There’s always a wishlist of things that could make it even better, but in itself, for £13 you have a ridiculously good composition tool (immense kudos to BlipInteractive for this app!).

I actually quite enjoy the fact there are some things missing in all these apps, it focusses the mind and encourages us to think of other ways to do things, often leading to a fresher, different sound than you get ffrom the standard way of doing things.

I’ve tried most of the rest of the sequencer/audio apps and for me, it’s as close to perfect as i could hope. I’ve heard rumour that Blip is working on something new, maybe a replacement for NS, but i hope the overall workflow and current abilities don’t become compromised for the sake of jumping on any bandwagons.

Describe your workflow…

As i mentioned earlier, my music is always inspired by the sounds from which it is made, so i start by fiddling with synth apps, changing presets or initialising the sound and starting from scratch.

Something will click in my head and i’ll fine tune it from there. Sunrizer is my favourite source, i find it so programmable and (once i eventually move up to an iPad4 – or 5 by the time i get around to it) look forward to the Audiobus (or equivalent) future once a single fully featured midi/audio app appears, although i hate the idea of losing the simple audacity of Eden, it will end up happening eventually (similar to my affecton to my Atari and Pro24!).

Anyway… once i have the sound i’m after i’ll always have some kind of riff going with it and i’ll either record it in app and copy it or copy the sample directly into Nanostudo directly. Depending on the sound or loop, it could be pasted onto a TRG pad or onto one of the Eden instances and record the riff from there.

I usually have 2 or 3 TRG instances set up, one for drums, one for samples and another for vocals (not used too often… yet). This effectively adds 48 tracks for samples and uses up only 3.

My basic mixing is always carried out with Nanostudio’s mixer page. Having 4 effects slots,per channel is a godsend, as i almost always use the wave-shaper or compressor along with the eq effects before adding any others, so there is a decent amount of twisting always available.

This is the point where things get loaded to soundcloud, usually privately first to check levels etc first before going public with any demos. On the occasions where i want to take a track further, i’ll go through the rigmarole of breaking the track down and exporting to Auria. On an iPad2 Auria is a pain, but Auria’s quality is amazing and untouchable so far.

Favourite iOS artists and why?

This has to be SmiteMatter for a lot of reasons. As well as being the first iOS artist i discovered when investigating buying iPad, being a true professional on the iOS scene, having an excellent, varied ambient release already under his belt and another in progress, being an open and honest reviewer and an active, genuine and enthusiastic twitterer too.

To me the guy really is the Godfather! He knows how to operate professionally and sets a good example of how it should be done, no matter what genre you choose to produce.

In addition though, there are a number of people out there either having started on or producing using iOS devices, a couple of inspring ones have been the Oxford Ambient Collective creating some really beautiful piano & ambient pieces and also Mr Gladstone (Faeom on soundcloud) who has the iMS-20 doing some really amazing things, but there are so many of us now and the number is increasing all the time along with the demos we’re producing, we all just need to slow down and create those perfect masters.

Past musical influences?

My biggest influence was always Gary Numan, both in the early days and his more recent darker albums. He’s hit form again after more years than I care to think about!

Back in the day there were a lot of stranger sounds and styles around, Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget, OMD’s ‘Dazzleships’ album was a really cool experiment (commercial suicide, but a classic). Bands like Einsturzende Neubauten and a lot of underground noise/punk/electronic had quite an effect on me, realising music wasn’t all about being about sweetness and light, or even tuneful necessarily!

If it made an impact, had an effect on you, it had achieved its reason. I followed into the rave culture of the late 80’s and 90’s, but lost a lot of what was going on in the underground scenes, but always remained with a fixed foot in the ambient/drone scenes that were continually evolving.

More recently though, with the advent of online music, retailing and the like, my mouse soon found its way through youtube and spotify, to the likes of Fuck Buttons, Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never, Animal Collective, other acts pushing awaty from the norm and reigniting a passion in me again.

What are your goals for your music?

For the moment it’s to get a fully iOS mastered EP ready and out. Whether its the ‘Thalassofrantic’ EP that i’m just wrapping up demo-wise at the mo, or if it will be the new ‘DarkWeb’ EP which is my next project I do not know.

I’d love to get a break into film or TV work, get something featured there and a baseline drawn in the sand showing what i do, that really would be the start on setting my sights higher. I don’t really know if I could release a traditional album, my sounds are usually quite abrasive, maybe a tad too far from the run of the mill stuff that gets interest, but that is what i like doing and i’m not of a mind to change away from that.

I’ll always search for things that sound right, but not conventional. Sum’s me up pretty well!”

I highly recommend Daves blog which links to his soundcloud too:


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