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Avey Tare Recommends

The amazing David Michael Portner, better known as Avey Tare, co-founder of Animal Collective, recommends some of his studio essentials.

Photos provided by Avey Tare.

Avey Tare Recommends.
Avey Tare Recommends.

1. Elektron Monomachine

The Monomachine has become my go-to for synth arrangements on stage. I’ve found it pairs really well with the Digitakt. It was the first thing by Elektron that I discovered. One popped up on Craigslist when I still lived in Brooklyn in 2008 and I think I drove to the Staten Island suburbs, or one of the islands, to get it. It's pretty much the foundation for everything on Down There and I spent many hours in my loft sequencing that stuff. I immediately liked how watery and swampy I could make the FM and synth. I think it's really intuitive and that's important to me because I like instruments that are easy to improv with. It’s great to tweak on the fly. These days I’ve been using it to bring the low end and multi dimensional frequencies to my live set. Lots of fun.

2. Yamaha Analog Delay

I discovered this gem of a delay at Adam McDaniel’s first incarnation of Drop Of Sun Studios. He had it in one of his racks and suggested it for something we were working on. I think it was for Cows on Hourglass Pond since we were mixing that with all outboard gear from tape. These days I use it on my guitar and I probably shouldn’t tour with it, because my luck with rack delay units on tour ain’t so good, but I can’t help it. Gives my guitar that extra fluttery marshmallow warmth. We used it a lot on 7s. It has a frequency modulation selector which a lot of ‘80s rack delays that I’ve had over the years have. Pretty crucial for some of the effects layers that are on Sung Tongs.

3. Moog Moogerfooger Low Pass Filter

This has been in the pedal chain for a bit. I think dub music - King Tubby in particular - inspired me to get into this kind of thing. It has that distinct warm resonant filter on it and can shift easily into the low sub territory. When I started thinking about recording the Eucalyptus material with Josh [Deakin] this was a sound I wanted to apply to acoustic instruments. I thought it would help give them a little more of a twist or electronic feel; soften up the brightness and sometimes edginess of an acoustic guitar. I like things getting murky and this pedal can definitely take you there. I started using it on my electric guitar after the Euc period and it’s been locked in ever since. It’s also a very intuitive pedal and can keep sounds moving and changing very easily on the fly.

4. Yamaha CS-50

I first saw this keyboard in a storage closet this guy, Steve Harris, had at his studio in Timonium, Maryland. He was the first gear head/studio person I ever met. I was 15 or 16. Brian [Geologist] interned with him in high school and we bought a Tascam 48 tape machine from him. The salad days. He told me Pink Floyd used it and it stuck in my memory as a cool synth, not sure if that fact is true. Years later in 2021, Tony Rolando [Make Noise] lent one that he had to Drop of Sun, so I messed around with it a lot while recording 7s. It sounds so great. It does these portamento/modulation drops that really speak to me. It's a little dense and harder to wrangle, maybe just ‘cause I don't play one that often, but it has a cool personality. We used it on the song “Defeat” that’s on Isn’t it Now?, the new Animal Collective album.

5. Make Noise Morphagene, Mimeophon, Qpas

Make Noise is killing it right now, especially in terms of what they add to the music community in Asheville. I feel like their systems are always on display somewhere, especially in the summer. They consistently have some kind of sonic event or installation happening. The combo I mention here is great for creating cool rhythmic patterns with samples. We used it on a bunch of the rhythmic stuff on “Lips at Night” on 7s. I feel like I’ve gotten a good feel for it since also using it a lot on Animal Collective stuff. I dig letting the Make Noise system play against the computer grid ‘cause it sort of loosens it up and makes things feel a little more random and patchy. You can get some really unique patterns out of it and the filter is always a good tool for messing around with recorded sounds.

6. Gibson Skylark Amplifier

This amp has been crucial for my solo touring. It's so small, light, and sounds so nice. I’ve spent so many years touring with Fender Reverbs, and don’t get me wrong they sound nice and are super powerful, but for one they are too heavy. This amp has quickly usurped their power in my world. It also has a killer tremolo setting, an effect I’ve gone in and out of using over the years. It’s sort of a one-trick pony kinda thing so I’ve actually been messing around and trying to find unique ways of using it.

7. YouTube

YouTube remains my go-to for finding deep weird or obscure sounds. This stuff is really inspiring to me while working in the studio and I'll often start my day checking out a few things. It’s easy to surf around cool music from other countries via old TV broadcasts or performances from bands I have liked over the years. Recently, I stumbled upon a live DJ set by Jellybean Benitez from the Funhouse in 1984 which has been treating me right. The visuals on YouTube also set the mood while I'm practicing or working on music. I'll throw on an old Chinese circus or compilations of things melting or episodes of He Man and let them run with the sound turned off while I work.

Drop of Sun Studios.
Drop of Sun Studios.

8. Drop of Sun Studios

Drop Of Sun Studios in Asheville, NC has sort of become my music’s second home. I started

working there with Animal Collective when it was in the basement of my friends' Adam and Emily McDaniel’s home. Adam was gracious enough to let us use it more as a practice space when we were writing music for Painting With - the most underrated AC album in my opinion [laughs]. Once, I moved to the area and got closer to Adam and more comfortable working with him as an engineer, I started working there more and more. We mixed Cows On Hourglass Pond there and recorded and mixed all of 7s there as the studio transitioned into its new space. I think they have created an amazing space for working on music. Everyone that works there is awesome and it's the kind of spot that instantly makes me very comfortable, which can be rare in the recording world I’ve found. So many fun instruments and gadgets to mess around with and they also have held really cool and diverse music events, which give a little insight to how they actually work in the studio. I think it is super cool for people to check out.

The woods.

9. The woods

For an amazing, inspiring time inside any studio or practice space, I need some inspiring time outside the practice space. After a few hours of working I will often step out and go for a little hike in the woods. It clears my head and especially my ears which get jumbled and confused after some time. I’m grateful that there’s so much water flowing around these parts. I love heading to one of my favorite creek spots and taking a seat on a rock for a time, soaking in the environment and doing my best to pretend I’m the water running down stream just letting the flow of things take me away. No thoughts or feelings, just nature around me doing its thing.

10. Catalinbread

The good folks out at Catalinbread in Portland, Oregon had us over to their shop in 2019 when we were on my Cows on Hourglass Pond tour. We tried out a lot of pedals, and this was one of my favorites. I try putting it on lots of things, but I really like using it in my vocal chain, especially for live vocals. It has to be reigned in a bit and can go wild, but there’s also something awesome about that. In a lot of ways it has a mind of its own. I don't think it should be relied on for anything too precise, but when I need to send my vocals to another world or break them apart and chop them up, this pedal is there for me.

Synth History Exclusive.

Photos provided by Avey Tare.


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