I thought it'd be neat to catch up with him again and ask about some of his recent pieces.
Synth History: Can you tell me about the inspirations behind the guitar synth and the components inside of it?
Love Hultén: My friend Shelby aka Catbeats approached me with this YouRock MIDI guitar in early '23 and asked me to do something fun with it. I had a quick glance at it and wasn't convinced at the time. Never done a guitar build before and I figured there's only so much you can do with that, conceptually. But I accepted out of sheer politeness, of course. The ugly thing ended up collecting dust under my working desk until Shelby brought it up again nine months later. I was still very skeptical, but guilt did its thing and I gave myself a deadline.
I had a small chiptune synth called NESPoly collecting dust for some years as well, and figured this might combine well as a sound engine for the controller. It's a very minimalistic synth with just two knobs, and would go well with the whole guitar concept. Shelby also had the idea of a backlit dome hosting avatar figures. These cats, gnomes and such should be replaceable for different occasions. I like domes, so why not? He approved of the NESPoly and I started taking the guitar apart, looking into customization options. The insides looked promising and suddenly I felt inspired. Did some quick drawings and ended up with this monumental tilted rhomboid shape, and that's that. I added some sparse but weird detailing and decided on a silver finish with red accents. The thing is powered by a built-in power bank and only has the one mono output, just like a standard guitar. I added a transparent strap made from extraterrestrial skin and this thing started to look like the lovechild between Maywa Denki and DEVO. Very happy with it in the end!
Synth History: The 'Sebastian' Crab synth is so cool! Can you tell me about that one? How does it move?
Love Hultén: I did a strange commissioned synth setup a while back. The client was an ex-diver and we talked about using ocean exploration as a theme. He also wanted some kind of audio visualization and I came up with this dancing crab, a mechanical concept based on solenoids combined with MIDI note triggers. It was tricky getting legs and claws to move organically, but I got it right eventually. The full range of MIDI notes are manipulated and transformed into 12 solenoids triggers - legs, claws and eyes. This was done using an Axoloti Core and a custom MIDI>trigger board. It was a successful project in the end, but I did feel that my crab deserved more and started to plan out a more dedicated and personal project. That's how Sebastian was born. He was now in complete focus, bigger, better and redder. The project is divided into two parts, crab display and synth console including a modified Korg Volca FM. The display can be hung separately on wall or be placed directly on top of the console.
Synth History: How long did the 'wall synth' take to build and what were some of the inspirations behind that one?
Love Hultén: The Wall Synth is probably one of my most ambitious projects, mostly due to the array of synth hardware that went in there. The client had a lot of amazing gear just laying around his studio, and respectfully wanted to use it all. But even I have limits, and at one point I just had to tell him to stop [laughs]. I had previously made a wall mounted setup, the SOMALAB - inspired by Dieter Rams BRAUN hifi unit from '65. I wanted to try something similar, but this time vertically. The client wanted some kind of patch bay to be able to route and chain all the different hardware upfront and on the go, and I decided to use a Matrix Mixer from Erica Synths and hardwire everything internally. It makes patching fast and effective, and the mixer also has these very handy save and load functions.
Synth History: What is inspiring you the most right now, could be anything?
Love Hultén: Well, commission projects are very inspiring today. My work is 90% clients and 10% personal stuff. And generally while doing commission work I'm longing for more personal and weird things, but right now I'm really into my clients and their ideas. At the moment I'm working on a strange synth installation including toy sewing machines, that's undoubtedly fun. I'm in a very fortunate position where I can say 'yes' to fun and 'no' to boring. But in terms of more personal stuff, I want to try something furry soon, a sound installation using hair or synthetic fur. We'll see.
Synth History: Out of all your works, do you have a favorite?
Love Hultén: While the more versatile setup projects are fun to work on, I guess I'm into simplicity. I'm a hands-on type and hate menu diving, the less knobs the better. Sparse, well thought designs with pure concepts like my Bivalvia Synthesis, CHD-4 and the Polystepper are definitely favorites. I'm also very proud of my MELLO synth. I was quite bored during the processing of that one, but it ended up surprisingly elegant. Plus, it sounds amazing.
Synth History: If you could build anything - without limits - what would it be?
Love Hultén: Well, apart from that furry sound thingy I'm craving, I would like to approach more full settings in the near future. Not just objects put on a braggers shelf out of context. I want to work with the room, creating a complete atmosphere. I've had interesting offers, producers wanting me to do full studio interiors and such but nothing has been realized so far. It's a big investment, no doubt.
Synth History Exclusive.
Interview conducted by Danz.