2018 has been a landmark year for Irish live act Hybrasil. Aside from closing Ireland’s famed Electric Picnic festival, he has also played in Ibiza alongside the likes of Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Sam Pagagnini and Len Faki at Amnesia, closed the Michel De Hey x Game Over stage at Thuishaven ADE, released on Gregor Tresher’s Break New Soil, and also traded Dublin for a full-time move to Berlin. All of this comes hot on the heels of a vastly successful and inspirational few years, whereby Hybrasil’s music has been supported by the likes of Richie Hawtin, Dave Clarke, Laurent Garnier, Carl Cox, John Digweed, Adam Beyer, Nicole Moudaber, Luigi Madonna, Gregor Tresher, Danny Tenaglia and Alan Fitzpatrick.
A well-known member of Ireland’s techno community, Hybrasil has played on the legendary Space Terrace alongside the likes of Juan Atkins, Paul Ritch & Marc Houle and even supported techno royalty Jeff Mills at his sold-out Orchestra tour at Dublin’s Bord Gais Theatre. With Hybrasil’s label of the same name beginning to earn continued support from some of the scene’s best-known names, 2019 looks set to be the year Hybrasil rubber stamps his name as a full-fledged member of the techno elite.
That being said, we asked Will to do a bit of consumer research to take a look at the synth market and list his recommendations in pricing brackets ranging from under 500 euros to money being no object. He then gave us a guide through his own studio set up speaking about some of the most influential pieces of studio kit which he owns himself.
This piece is based on Thomann pricing in euro
Under 500 euros
If I was speaking with someone who was starting out on a 500 euro budget, I would definitely advise them to purchase a Maschine Mikro, which comes in at 238 euros. When you are starting out you need firepower and real value for money so don’t get caught up in the gear hype. The Mikro is compact, USB powered, it has an extensive sample library of 1.6 GB, you can upgrade for the Komplete Select software bundle, its light and easy to travel with.
Maschine works standalone or in your DAW (Ableton/Logic etc), you can also download the iMaschine app for your iPad / iPhone for 10.99. So you could sketch ideas while you are on your daily commute and develop those ideas when you get home to your studio. There was a time in my life where Maschine was the absolute driving force of my studio, it’s a great piece of kit and a really solid starting point for anyone.
At this moment in time I am trying to buy a Moog Sirin, which has a limited production run at 3500 units and it is priced at 719 euros. The Sirin is a compact dual oscillator analogue synthesiser module based on the Moog Taurus Bass sound engine. It was created for the Moog House of Electronics experience in LA. From the demo’s I’ve heard it sounds incredible.
Bearing in mind that the Sirin might be tricky to pick up, I would also advise people to check out Elektron’s Digitone, priced at 699 euros. It’s a versatile 8 voice FM synth module with a Multi-mode Filter, Overdrive and 2 assignable LFOs for each voice. It also features the legendary Elektron step sequencer, which is polyphonic and you can set individual track lengths for interesting polyrhythms.
If money was no object
Without doubt, if money was no object I would get a Neve 5088 mixing console. A 32 channel desk will set you back 149,000 dollars. I worked on a Neve console for years in Temple Lane and Grouse Lodge Studios. If you know how to use a Neve it is an instrument in itself, it’s a remarkable feat of engineering.
I really miss working on mixing desks, there is absolutely nothing like it. I have spent hours on these machines, once I fell asleep recording vocals at a Neve Desk, I had been working for 2 days straight and my brain just switched off. It sounds crazy now but when you are at a desk in a studio working on something you enter into your own universe, the outside world ceases to exist until the job is done. Days roll into nights into mornings and onwards again. Computers aren’t the same, I don’t care what anyone says, there’s a soul to a mixing console.
5 most influential pieces of studio kit
I picked up the Roland TR-909 in 2016, that was on my list for a long time. I was playing before Jeff Mills at the Bord Gais Theatre for his first Irish Orchestra show. We needed a drum machine for Jeff on the night, so I bought one. I also wanted to make sure Jeff had a solid machine any time he was playing in Ireland. To me that machine is like a family member.
In 2018 I challenged myself to remove the laptop from my live set so I picked up an Octatrack. To be honest, it’s the hardest piece of kit I have ever learned. It’s broken many people, you need to persevere with it but once you break through that point where you want to throw it out the window, you really begin to love it. I’m still learning new things about the Octatrack, it’s incredibly versatile. At some point I would like to drop my laptop from my production work and work within the machine. That’s the next step I guess.
Korg Electribe ESX-1
The first piece of kit I ever bought, as a drum machine the Electribe sounds incredible. It’s got these massive analogue hi hats with a lot of energy, it blows a lot of samples out of the water. The kick drum is really solid as well, when I started playing live, this machine went everywhere with me. It sounds good on a sound system.
Elektor Formant Modular
This brute of a machine sounds like nothing else I’ve ever heard, I purchased it from a second hand website in Ireland called Adverts, when I saw the picture I figured, ok that will fit in my studio nicely. When I went to pick it up that was a different story, it is built like a small bomb shelter and it needs to be kept on a bench, it’s too heavy for any sort of normal table. It is a rare machine, built in the 70’s and it sounds incredible.
Native Instruments Maschine
A Maschine controller of some shape or form has been in my studio since 2010, at one point it was the nerve centre of everything I was doing creatively. The Maschine Jam Controller was also at the centre of my live sets when I was playing live with Ableton, I had it controlling Ableton and sequencing my TR-909. The MKIII is my favorite to date. It’s a really solid build, has an inbuilt sound card so you can work on the road with it and it’s USB powered. I’ve been using it a lot the past 6 months.
Hybrasil’s Inanna / Time to Change (ft a remix by Danny Serrano) is out soon via Ronnie Spiteri’s Kenja