The underground veteran runs us through his machines.
With an extensive discography that reads off labels like Tempa, Rush Hour, Running Back, 50Weapons and Sportiv, Cosmin Nicolae, better known as underground veteran Cosmin TRG, has always wandered through the worlds of dubstep, garage, techno and electronica by his own means.
Now based in Berlin, the Romanian producer is well known for launching Hessle Audio back in 2007 with his classic Put You Down / Broken Heart 12″, in the passed years however his focus has continually shifted to different corners of the dancefloor.
Honing a ghostly sound that forever comes crafted with sharp design, his latest ambient project, Hope This Finds You Well, again sees him explore a new sonic territory, building a collection of music made with field recordings, samples and synthesisers that aims to challenge the way major streaming services craft playlists to boost workplace efficiency.
Catching up with him in his studio shortly before he plays in London alongside Pinch, Beneath and Solid Blake, the producer runs us through some of his favourite machines and processes.
1. Soma Synths – Lyra 8
Any serious Tekkie will know about the Enaran, the telepathic instrument that produces a melody which echoes your state of mind. You just touch it and think of a pretty song. Since I’m not classically trained, I’ve always dreamed of an instrument that plays the melody in my head. Lyra 8 is a step towards that: a synth I can play with my non-pianist hands. It provides texture, context and flow to my tracks, either on its own or through pedals. Most times I just record a long session and pick the segment that fits best.
2. Eventide H9 Harmonizer + Strymon Timeline
I use a ton of software effects and love what they can do. To add character and depth, you can’t go wrong with a few outboard pedals. It’s way to fall down that rabbit hole and end up with 20 slightly different chorus pedals, so it’s good to have some bread-and-butter ones that you can use to their maximum potential. Pictured, the Eventide H9 (went completely OTT and got the most expensive option years ago, you can definitely keep it simple) and the Strymon Timeline. You can control the H9 via its own app, it’s very intuitive and give you a deep, lush harmonic sound.
3. The Mangle
I started making music when hardware wasn’t only inaccessible, it was also deemed quite passé and cumbersome. I’ve used several formulas over the years, and found that I’m not a hardware snob at all – I actually love computers and their golden age of music making capabilities. There are tons of forward-thinking, extremely well-designed and built applications (please don’t bring back the Y2K aesthetics though). One of them is The Mangler granular sampler, which features drag-and-drop modulation and a large XY area with real-time display.
4. TouchABLE Pro
The new version of TouchABLE Pro is a dream to use both in the studio and in live situation. It gives Ableton a totally new dimension and is extremely fun to operate. If you’re a “mouse warrior” like me, you will find this not only liberating, but very creative as well.
5. Cwejman VCO-2RM
I somehow seem to have managed to keep the modular fever under control, and recently even scaled down quite a lot. I’m enjoying the Softube or the VCV modular racks and their endless capabilities. One of the modules that really live up to the hype though, is the Cwejman VCO-2RM – it’s just really powerful and cuts through the mix.
Catch Cosmin TRG tonight at The Cause in London for Unbound Events.
More info and tickets here.