Studio essentials with Desert Hearts Black co-founder, Marbs

Having grown up in Southern California with the now notoriously known motley crew called Desert Hearts, Marbs, an artistic kid, was primarily influenced by legends like Pink Floyd and Tool, whilst also listening to underground hip hop, reggae, and rock, displaying his no holds barred love for all genres from an early age. Flash forward to San Francisco’s Love Fest, art cars roaming the city, house music spilling from speakers, and Marbs’ musical tastes were forever changed thanks to the legend that is Lee Burridge.

Marbs’ musical talents and humble DJ presence command any dance floor with his sounds of mystical darkness and whimsical tribal rhythms; the night sky is the limit for this King of Darkness. With a sound like no other and a determination matched by few, Marbs is sure to continue in his success. 

Marbs kindly spent some time putting together is studio essentials for us to check out… 

“My studio is fairly simple. I acquired a lot of equipment over the years, but some of it I’ve sold now—especially the items that didn’t work properly with the new MacBook Catalina operating system. Now all I use are my two favourite analog synthesizers, the Moog Subsequent 37 and my Dave Smith OB6, along with the Roland VT3.”

Moog Sub 37:
The Moog Sub 37 was the biggest leap forward in my studio and was the first real analog synthesizer that I completely dove into. It’s an incredibly versatile piece of equipment that adds a ton of meat and analog sound to any project. From massive basses to whipping leads or even lush pads, this synth can really do it all as you learn it well. I have a special place in my heart for this instrument because I learned a ton about synthesizers and really broadened my knowledge during the time that I purchased and started experimenting with it. Working with Rinzen and Evan Casey on our Torus EP really pushed me into the deep end of the Moog Sub37 as we used it a ton on that EP. Now I use it in every project I ever start.

OB6 Analog Synth:
Dave Smith’s OB6 was the next big addition to my studio and I couldn’t be happier with the purchase. It delivers undeniable fat, punchy, lush, and warm sonics into every project of mine and has become an integral part of my workflow. The pure raw analog sound that comes out of this piece of equipment has taken my production to the next level and I would recommend it to anyone. Referring back to my Torus EP with Rinzen and Evan Casey, we used the prophet 6 in that project a ton. After that, I knew I needed my next purchase to be something in the same vein as the Prophet 6. When comparing it to others, my decision landed on the OB6 because it just sounded fatter and added extra weight to the sounds I could create with it.

Roland VT3 + Plugins:
The combination of these two synthesizers provides me with the foundation to create the sounds that I desire. Besides that, I use Ableton as my DAW and sampled drums. The biggest addition to the software side of my studio was the Soundtoys Plugin Bundle and the Eventide Blackhole Reverb. I also use the Roland VT3 from time to time and I used it on Beyond the Wall. It’s great to use for Vocals and occasionally sampling. Its reverb and effects add character and complexity to whatever you’re recording.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Marbs for putting together his studio essentials for Decoded Magazine and wish him all the best for the remainder of this crazy year.

About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about many genres of music from Breakbeat and Drum & Bass to Techno and Electronica. A man that lives in a world of bass and beats, Ian is an obsessive collector of music and a true geek at heart, with many years spent in application design.