Avatism/Maenad Veyl: Studio Talk

An audio engineer by trade, Thomas Feriero, better known as renowned Italian producer Avatism, records electronic music and operates Parachute Records alongside friends Clockwork and DJ Tennis.

Releasing music since 2011, Avatism’s unique brand of muscular dance music has seen original compositions and remixes on an array of respected labels that include Nonplus, Vakant, Decca, and R&S.

Continually experimenting with sound, Avatism often takes his music into territory under new aliases, having recorded as House ov Leaves and one half of CW/A with Clockwork, whose 2015 gritty electronica album Words Unspoken, Acts Undone drew inspiration from classic UK Jungle and early Warp material.

His latest project, Maenad Veyl, has seen a release sees the producer focus in on his early influences of hardcore punk, jungle, metal and ambient, with a recent release on Rotterdam’s Pinkman Records that veers into some of Feriero’s most fierce work to date.

With a full project as Maenad Veyl in the pipeline, we speak to him from his Milan-based studio where he lets us in on some of the machines most central to his creative process.

avatism studio

Solid State Logic X-Desk

I went to the School of Audio Engineering (is that still around?) and they taught me that if I ever wanted to make anything “professional” I’d have to run it through an SSL mixer. At some point the owner of SAE bought Neve (as in, the whole company) so they added it to the list but I stuck to the original instructions to avoid any risks and complexities.

Anyways, a few years ago I bought this unit and now everything I make runs through here. I do most of my mixes ITB but I always try leaving the digital domain at some point and I usually do it through the X-Desk. I’m not sure if I do this because it actually sounds better or because it’s cool and this thing was kind of expensive. It doesn’t warm things up in any way, but it has become an essential tool in “opening up” any mix I work on, whatever that means. In any case you have to admit that as far as summing boxes go, this is the coolest looking.

Retevis R-321 Remote Radio Speaker

This thing is terrible but so is my voice. In some bizarre way they cancel each other out, and the end result is so bad it goes full circle.

In all seriousness, I use this for vocals, finger drumming and texturing noises over finished tracks. On “Who You Could Not”, on the Death & Leisure 12”, I ran it through to a small Fender guitar amp for the vocal bits and ended up leaving it on for the rest of the session because it created this warm buzz/feedback that really glued the track together.

To be completely honest I doubt there is much difference between this, the walkie-talkie you had as a child or any other random radio mic/speaker on Amazon but hey, to each their own…

avatism studio

ARP Odyssey

I used to have an MS-20 lying around here and that thing was noisy. Not “kinda noisy”, as advertised, it was so gritty people were telling me and Fra (of CW/A, Opus 3000 etc.) to send it back to Korg. A few years later my luck struck again and I got this fucked up ARP Odyssey. The noise is so loud you almost can’t use this to make music, but I use it to add simple, heavy drones that I mix at the back of most of the Maenad Veyl material. A lot of the tracks on the ‘Somehow, Somewhere They Had Heard This Before’ tape comes from ideas that I first sketched with this unit.

avatism studio

AKAI Cassette Tape Deck

My friend Clay gifted me this a few years ago and it sounds beautiful. I used to mess around with it a lot but always thought it was a bit extreme until I changed setup so that I could use it as an “effect” within Logic, or just route is as a send and have used it on almost every project since. All of the Maenad Veyl stuff, most of the Nonplus as Avatism and a lot of the material on the forthcoming Parachute 12” were ran through this at some point.

avatism studio

Knas Ekdahl Moisturizer

This is basically a spring reverb with an exposed spring tank, a filter, an LFO and CVs on the back so you can mess with it using other gear. As a bare reverb it has a lovely retro sound but the really cool thing is you can “play” the springs with your hands or by sticking random objects between them. I had loads of fun with it when I first got it but I’d be lying if I told you I’m not tired of punching, stabbing or placing beer bottles on the springs nowadays. Luckily I recorded hours of me using it and I stick these effects all over my productions and use it as a regular reverb now on a daily basis.

Fabfilter Pro-Q 2

Everyone has that one friend that just spends all day glued to Instagram, or some other social app on his phone. You know what I mean? At dinner, while watching a movie, while at the pub with friends? Well… Uhm, I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, but let’s say the Pro-Q is to me what Instagram is to that guy. And if Instagram was my Pro-Q, rest assured I’d have six hundred trillion followers.

Life’s not fair though, so all I’m left with is some experience using this razorblade, ultra-functional EQ that makes everything else look and sound like it came bundled with Windows XP. Mid-side? Sure. Auto-gain? Yup. Resizable windows? Why the fuck not? Don’t even get me started on the Spectrum Grab feature and this thing’s analyzer, I can see sound now, and it’s all thanks to this bad boy.

avatism studio

Treatment + An Actual “Studio”

I’m not going to be the guy that says you need this or that to make anything and I am sure someone won a Grammy last year with just a laptop, headphones and some pizza but please, if you’re going to invest in anything, then put your cash in treatment and getting an actual decent space. I see so many pictures of people listening to 10,000-euro modular systems on glass tables in an empty square room with awful speaker placement. Why?

Moving to a well-treated room gave me the best improvement over anything else I ever bought.

Somehow, Somewhere They Have Heard This Before is out now on Pinkman Records.

Order it here.

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