TECH-TALK: Oliver Chesler (The Horrorist)

Posted on 13/12/11

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TECH-TALK: Oliver Chesler (The Horrorist)
We live in an era where music is produced on computers with programs as ProTools / Logic / Cubase / Reason / Ableton Live / ... Some artists prefer analog synths above digital, some stay their whole career loyal to the same brand. Nowadays keyboards and technology became much more easy to use and cheaper for the masses.

Our interviewer DJ Wildhoney had an exclusive talk for Side-Line with some of the most important musicians of the electronic scene about the gear they use to compose songs and to perform live on stage. From today on we will publish every day a new interview with such bands as The Neon Judgement, Vomito Negro, Wumpscut, Pouppée Fabrikk, Monolith, Vive La Fete, Frozen Plasma, Haujobb, etc. Step with us into the studio of your idols and discover how your favorite tracks were produced and which equipment was used for it! How cool and interesting is that?


Remember that punk styled kid in D.A. Pennebaker's (Depeche Mode) live concert film "101"? That was Oliver Chesler, believe it or not. More than 20 years onwards Oliver Chesler aka The Horrorist is a well-respected American hardcore/techno-producer and owner of the Things To Come label. Chesler, who lives in New York and Berlin, released a new album this year, "Joyless Pleasure". You may expect the remixed version of it to be soon out as well. In between recording sessions we asked him a couple of questions...

SL: How long ago did you buy your first keyboard ever? Which technology did it use and do you still own it?

OC: The first synthesizer I ever owned was an EML Electrocomp 101. My father was a college professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and they closed their music program. One day he came home and with all sorts of music equipment for me. I still own, love and cherish it. It's quite a unique semi-modular analog synth with 4 oscillators, a ring modulator, microphone pre-amp and more.

SL: Which computer(s) and software do you currently use in your (home)studio?

OC: I use Apple computers, Ableton Live and often rewire in Reason and Melodyne.

SL: Can you describe all synth gear and hardware you use nowadays? Which piece is the most valuable for you?

OC: Over the years I've collected a lot of things. My hardware synths include the above mentioned Electrocomp 101, a Roland SH-3, Yamaha CS-5, Ensoniq ESQ-1, Korg Monotribe, The Voice Of Saturn (made from a kit), Yamaha TX81Z and a HSS3i (analog audio and video synth). I have a Doepfer Dark Time analog sequencer. My drum machines include a most loved Vermona DRM-1 MKIII, Korg KR-55, Boss DR-110, Jomox MBase 01 and a Jomox M.Brane 11.
I have an Ekdahl Moisturizer spring reverb, an API Lunchbox with a 512c micpre and 527 compressor, TC Electronic Voiceworks plus, a bunch of crazy microphones and an iPad.

SL: When performing live, which keyboards and software do you use on stage?

OC: Ableton Live and some Faderfox controllers. I also have a video wall that plays behind me in sync with the music.

SL: According to your opinion, which are the most legendary synths ever produced? Some examples: Yamaha DX-7, Korg M1, Roland Juno, Roland Jupiter, Roland D-50, Oberheim OB-8, Moog Minimoog, E-Mu Emulator, Access Virus, Kurzweil K2000, Quasimidi Sirius, ...

OC: They are all great but I'll pick the Moog Voyager. It was the best from the past redone with class. If it randomly went out of tune it would be the most perfect object on the planet.

SL: And which are according to you the biggest synth artists/bands ever?

OC: Depeche Mode of course.

SL: Share with us the worst case scenario that ever happened to you live on stage or in the studio!

OC: Years ago I used Cubase, it crashed a lot and used a dongle/key. I had a gig in The Netherlands and the promoter picked me up to drive to the venue in the country side. It was about an hour drive and I would just about make my set. I left the Cubase dongle/key in my hotel room, we had to drive back to the hotel to get it. I don't use Cubase anymore.

SL: The unavoidable question: do you prefer analog or digital synths more? And what's your opinion about the virtual analog concept?

OC: I hear a difference between analog and software synths (analog is better to my ears). However there are sounds you can only make on a computer and I love making music with my iPad/iPhone.

SL: Isn't the digital technology evolving too quick and becoming too complicated for artists nowadays? Today you discover a new instrument and before you have time to explore it completely, an improved (and cheaper) successor is already available...

OC: It's good to limit yourself for sure. Pick just a few key items and make music with it. Too complicated? Ah only for stupid people.

SL: How will the future of creating electronic music look like?

OC: Creation on mobile devices. Live concerts broadcast from anywhere to anywhere. I can't wait to just do a live show pay per view from my studio to the world.

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