"Tinker until something clicks": How Karenn made 'Grapefruit Regret' - Tech - Mixmag

"Tinker until something clicks": How Karenn made 'Grapefruit Regret'

Techno super duo Karenn also reveal how they’ve taken their latest album on the road

  • Interview: Gavin Herlihy | Photo: Simon Leloup
  • 27 February 2020

Firstly, how did you record the album?

Usually we’ll tinker on one or two machines each until something clicks. Then we’ll start recording and jam on that idea. We’ll go through the recording to cut out bits that we feel can work towards a track, and build from there. The main sound sources came from the modular, the Digitone (amazing for percussion), the Minilogue and a couple of VSTs, plus a mix of outboard and ITB stuff for processing.

Read this next: 5 of the best modular software plug-ins

Were there any eureka moments?

Most of the album came together quickly – four of the tracks were written in the first eight or nine days. We knew we were missing a single, so one morning we made a crazy synth patch. We thought we were on to something but decided to take a break to give it some space – and when we came back to the studio it was one of those moments where the tune writes itself. The result was lead track ‘Crush The Mushrooms’.

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You normally improvise live. Have you had to change your set up to play album tracks?

We’ve just switched the set-up, swapping out a bunch of synths and drum machines to freshen up the sound. It’s still largely improvised, but now we’re using a proper drum machine, rather than sourcing drums from the modular – so we have the ability to recall different drum patches and patterns and rely less on programming all the beats on the fly. It’s still tricky to play our studio tracks live because we’re not using a sampler. Generally, though, we try to use the studio to distil and build on what we do in a live context rather than using the live show to showcase studio work.

Read this next: 10 of the best live modular sets you can watch online

What are the most essential instruments in your gear bag for this tour?

Putting some processing on the master insert of the desk has been a game-changer. Previously we were just running our desk mix dry into the system, but now we’re using the BOUM by OTO Machines to add some compression and light distortion, and it’s been super beneficial.

Read this next: 5 of the best modular gateways

Karenn (Blawan & Pariah)’s debut album ‘Grapefruit Regret’ is out now on Voam

Karenn’s live set-up:

1 Boss RC-505 looper

2 Eventide Timefactor delay pedal

3 EHX Bad Stone phaser pedal

4 Elektron Digitone synthesiser

6 Strymon Deco saturation pedal

7 Audiowerkstatt Midi Restarter

8 Arturia Microfreak synthesiser

9 OTO Machines BOUM compressor/distortion unit

10 Eventide H9

multi-FX pedal

11 Boss RC-505 looper

12 Modular system with oscillators/sequencers

13 Elektron Model:Samples

14 Analogue Solutions Europa sequencer

15 Strymon Big Sky reverb pedal

16 BugBrand PTDelay unit

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