sol andersson
log 002

Entering the DIY culture can be a bit confusing at first but for me it’s always been a kind of necessity. Sooner or later I always found myself dealing with some kind of need  to modify my live setup, regardless if it’s hardware or software. Also when making music not always for music itself but as a tool of exploration of thought it can be rather difficult to find music scenes willing to book you or labels to distribute the music. That’s where the community comes in, even if you find one other person or several they will play a crucial part in your development, both musically and personally. Then there’s also the economic aspect. A lot can be said about economy and the role it plays on so many levels but in this case we’re talking money. Simple but not simple at all. Let’s face it, everything around us has a value, that means every idea you get and you want to realise needs some kind of budget. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s just the way it is. I’m not gonna get into it much more for now but if you don’t have the luxuary of a teacher, mentor or someone else that you trust, the best thing to do is look, listen and learn how other people got things to work out for them, either it’s a lifestyle in general, a concert to organise or hardware you want to hack.

I get ideas of stuff that I’d love to do rather often and at a much faster pace than the income flow of my finances allows. What I do is I just write them down somewhere until I
can see an opening of how to finance that specific thing. Some ideas I’ve had for years and then there’s theese inbetween things that just falls into your lap and somehow it feels important (even if it’s a bit unclear why) but you can’t just let the opportunity pass. There’s something interesting there that needs to be explored and is sort of already in line
with the ongoing mindset. Like the cassette decks I got hold of (for free) last year. Even though I already had a two year plan already figured out the cassette decks stood out in
the big pile of electronic that were to be thrown away. There were a lot of cd players, dvd players a few vinyl players and even speakers but the cassette decks just caught my interest at once. My curiosity started a few years back when realising the tape culture were serious about a second wave (comeback if you like) and that was also something I’d followed with interest. Some will ofcourse argue that it never left but I guess it depends who you’re talking to. So, I guess it wasn’t that much of a coincidence after all, rather it all just fell in place and the time had come for me to explore the potential of the cassette deck.

The drawbacks were a few…
1. I had no idea what I’d do with them
2. How did they really work?
3. I had no workingspce
4. and no basic equipment for hardware hacking
5. and then there was the budget, or lack of

Once I got my idea sketched on a paper (as you can see in log 001) I defined the needs for the soundobject to work. Things like; I want separate motors, tapeheads, speakers etc.
In reality that basically meant taking apart a lot of cassette decks and use different parts of them to create something new. The next big step was to learn about electronics and
mechanics on a completely new and basic level. The last few years I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to try out high end studio equipment, different mixing techniques and cooperate with mastering engineer Johannes Ahlberg.  

One of the things I was forced to learn rather quickly when starting to perform with live electronics as a duo was the importance of having a working, or at least functional, setup often within a few days until the next rehearsal. The next thing I learned is that a live setup always changes, it’s never really ‘finished’. There’s almost always rrom for improvement and who doesn’t want their setup more fun, stable but versatile and smaller? I’ve intentionally avoided getting my hands too dirty in any sort of hacking (software, hardware or coding). Since i know it’s much too easy to get lost solving all never ending problems and questions that arises from failure. So even if working with the cassette decks stretches over a two year period, it’s still important to me to actually get some sound going and to be able to work with the object, not to create or recreate it. Therefor it’s been of utmost value to me have people around me that understands this and respects my decision on wanting to keep focus on the music.

What the cassette decks made me realise was that I didn’t actually know how an object so familiar actually worked. I felt kind of dumbstruck and stupid about this and decided this truly was a weak link in my body of knowledge that needed my immediate attention. The following months was spent on youtube trying to get my head around the basics of electronics, all theese things I always taken for granted that they just work somehow, like batteries, multimeters and tapeheads for example. Two months later my teacher in composition finally gave me the advise to look up Nicolas Collins and his book Handmade Electronic Music. That was a huge personal breakthrough and a great guide of what to think of when starting out with hardware hacking.

What was my budget for this grand plan? I admit, none, zip and zero. Christmas was getting closer and I still didn’t know how to make ends meet. I decided to put some time and effort into applying for some scholarships. I just couldn’t wait for money to fall down from the sky since I most probably would fail the deadline. In Sweden we do have scholarships of all sorts but being above 30 while studying can be really tiring at times and cuts you off from a lot of them. That directs you to the other type of scholarship you can’t apply since you’re studying. Work? yes I do, but as some of you know it doesn’t always add up. The plan was (and still is) that it will work out in the end, somehow. Meanwhile I had to start getting my hands dirty. I set up my workingspace in my one room apartment and bought the equipment when money allowed it. You just gotta work with what you got even if it’s not much.

March 29, 2017

All tracks marked MS2 in following log posts are recorded live impros, no editing whatsoever has been made.

 

 

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