Friday, December 19, 2008

Frostwave interview

Over the coming months I will be interviewing people who are involved in the manufacture of modular synthesisers, musicians who have been using modular synthesisers and modular effect unit designers.

Paul Perry interview.

Paul Perry is the man behind Frostwave. The mad scientist creator of modular analogue effects like the Funkaduck, Sonic Alienator, Space Beam and Fat Controller which have been used by almost anyone you know into synths or effect pedals.

I fired up my microphone fed it into the Sonic Alienator and ask him questions.

Frostwave, how did that come about?

How it started: at first I wanted an analog computer. The first thing that I

saw that looked like one, was a Korg MS20 in a pawnbroker's in Russell

Street. And then I started collecting..


Do you have a favourite frostwave box?

The one that 'pays the rent' is the Resonator.
My 'problem child' is the Funk.a.Duck - it is very squirrelly, whenever you
adjust a knob you have to tweak the frequency control to get the sweet spot
back, and it is very difficult to play with a guitar.
But, whenever I swear I will never make another batch, I get an email from
someone telling me how great it is, how it is all over their latest album
etc. and so... I make some more. I guess it is more a studio processor than
a stompbox.
The one that actually reduced me to tears during design was the Blue Ringer.
You would think a ring modulator would be a piece of cake, but getting that
last trace of oscillator bleedthrough out is a killer. Now some people get
around this by putting a noise gate into the device, but that is cheating,
and I wouldn't do that. Eventually, after many a layout, and a lot of
dollars spent, it's done.
But overall, you know how it is, a mother loves all her children :D

What was it that got you interested in electronics/ electronic music?

My synth buying was funded by selling secondhand books, and I made the (very

Bad) decision to switch to selling computer books. This didn't go well, so I

then tried importing & selling music software (back in the Sequencer Plus

days). This went even worse.. by that time I had built the Quad midi-CV

converter and that was the start of Frostwave as a hardware manufacturer.

And I became pretty obsessed about having voltage control on the MS20 filter

- so that was the Frostwave Resonator.

Have you thought about making your pedals into modular synths ie eurorack?

I'll never say never. But it definitely won't happen tomorrow.

You seem to love books. Do you have a favourite synth book?

Not as such. Chamberlin's Musical Applications of Microprocessors has been

very helpful. And the Electronotes magazine collection contains much wisdom.

I know at one time you had all the great synths, What was your favourite and why?

For sheer musical sound, the MemoryMoog - but too unreliable.

I would put the Oberheim Xpander in the same class. Great soundtrack synths.

For walking up to & getting a great sound straight off - the MiniMoog.

For sheer convenience, and having 'enough' stuff to be usefully weird, the

Arp 2600

In a league of its own, the VCS3.

The two I kept: the VCS3, and the MS20. And my musician friend Christine

insisted that I keep the SH09. I'm sure she is right..

One I don't want to see again: the Oscar. Incredibly flakey, and to my mind

doesn't have anything special, except that it LOOKS promising. There is no

such thing as a bad synth, though!

Did you ever record/ release music?

Never. I don't even LISTEN to music, unless a customer sends me a CD (which

I always appreciate). The 24 hour soundtrack around me is enough.

Fortunately, I do not have a TV. Even more fortunately, I live alone.

What do you think about the current interest in modular synthesis? Why has it happened again?

I don't think modulars ever went away. The first generation were so

expensive it was mostly restricted to major studios & stars; now -thanks to

VicMod among others! - anyone can have a modular.

I have heard that some people picture you as a surfer..Are you a surfer?

Not a surfer, and I can't even swim. One of my best friends is a surfer,


You have come to speak at VICMOD, what do you think of it?

Any cooperative effort to do anything, has to be good. Vive la Vicmod!

1 comment:

r said...

nice interview.

i'd be interested to know when he would be starting up again? if at all?

or if there is anything in the works new?