Back again on Synth History is the wonderfully talented musical duo Boy Harsher. This time, sharing some studio essentials - complete with photos from their studio!
From Boy Harsher: This gear list is basically the history of Boy Harsher, all of this equipment played a major roll in what we created.
This is what I started making music on. I was just having fun, but it was actually teaching me a lot about the fundamentals of electronic music and music theory in general. I feel comfortable picking up any piece of gear after spending years messing with the MPC. It’s also so powerful. You can make an entire album on that thing alone.
2. A computer
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I certainly did. It can be a big investment, but it will pay itself back 100 fold.
This thing is the workhorse of all of Lesser Man. So many good samples and patches. Plus cool a sequencer and arpeggiator. Really cheap too!
We actually don’t own one of these. I’ve always borrowed them to record. The 106 is the #2 on Lesser Man. It was so important back then, because it’s so simple. I wasn’t wasting time flipping through a million settings.
5. Ableton Live
Major game changer. Before Ableton I was using my MPC to sequence into pro tools, which is a horrible time consuming work flow. Ableton opened up a million new possibilities. Also it was so easy to learn because of my time with the MPC. Little backstory: I was coming from a spot where I thought laptops were lame, I thought I was a hardware purist. Then I saw Cienfuegos play. Alex would rip these heavy sets with just a laptop running Ableton, some shitty interface, and a mic. It was the punkest thing I’ve ever seen and I was immediately converted.
So yeah I was a laptop guy now. I started downloading all the free VSTs I could find. I found a lot of cool 3rd party sample based synths that ran off Kontakt.
There’s a million cheap and powerful VSTs out there. I had a lot of luck with this one. The brooding drone on “Keep Driving” was made with this.
8. TAL Bassline
Sounds like a SH 101! The best one I’ve heard. It’s the bassline in “Lost”.
Plug and play, best way to connect to an external synth.
Same deal, connect an external effect in the least confusing way. You can drop an external effect on an external instrument. That’s a single track. You need like 4 tracks to do that in Pro tools.
I’ve got all my external gear controlled by this thing. Connecting an external synth is just as easy as opening a VST and it takes way less CPU.
I’ve got the rack version. I love it. This thing has the wildest sounds out of all my gear. You hold down one key and it tells you the history of the world. There’s also hundreds of aftermarket patch banks. I’ve spent days just going through them. This things all over Careful (Fate, The Look You Gave).
13. Sysex Librarian
Fast and easy way to load sysex patch banks. Apparently there’s some better software for windows, but for mac this one is pretty solid.
Sweet child of mine. I’ve been using SH-esque sounds since the beginning, but it just feels nice to have the real deal in the studio. I still use it a ton and I feel like I’m almost a professional.
This is a real pro synth. All the digital aspects are amazing. 1000 presets, controllable midi cc on every parameter, and it’s rock solid. Also analog beast! Sounds so good. All over Careful (Tears, Face the Fire, Fate).
16. Pro Tools
I’m getting back in the saddle. When we’re about 90% done with a song I bounce the stems out from Ableton and bring them into Pro tools. PT is much superior for tracking vocals, mixing and editing. Also it's really refreshing to look at the song in a different context. There’s techniques in PT I don’t use in Ableton and vice versa. So it's cool to attack the song in a new way. For example I don’t love the midi workflow in Pro Tools so a lot of the overdubs we do aren’t quantized, which I think adds a new dimension.
Credits: Boy Harsher.
The pink stuffed animal in the last photo is their dog's (Bear) favorite toy and it's name is Gonzo.