Brainfeeder’s synth whizz talks all things machines.
Since first becoming a YouTube sensation 13 years ago with video footage of himself fooling around on a Micro Korg, Austrian synth whizz and producer Oliver Johnson, aka Dorian Concept, has continued to dazzle analogue obsessives and the wider electronic scene with his unconventional approach to music creation.
With a natural ability to express himself through machines and a colourful sonic palette that draws from jazz, funk, hip-hop, ambient and beyond, Oliver brings a level of musicianship and ultimately a singular voice to the underground dance community he often finds himself a part of.
Often amongst fellow aliens as a staple of LA’s Brainfeeder crew, the Flying Lotus led label is where the majority of Oliver’s music becomes conceived, most recently with the follow up to his acclaimed 2018 album The Nature of Imitation in the form of two previously unreleased gems – Toothbrush / Booth Thrust.
We’ve been wanting to get Oliver in for our ‘Studio Talk’ series since we first brainstormed the idea, so it’s an honour to now catch up with him at his home studio where he lets us take a closer look at some of his favourite pieces of gear and creation processes.
This one’s the grandmother. I use it mainly for bass as the triangle waveform just sounds insane in the lows. Obviously there’s fun stuff you can also do when you detune both Oscillators, but this synth really “shines” when used right in the low-ends I feel. Just be sure to give it enough space! It’s funny, because we tend to think that an instrument needs to be versatile or complex in the way that it can be used. But often it just needs to have some kind of irreplaceable quality about it for me to become part of the family. Still haven’t found a bass as clean and warm as this one.
The SH-101 is like the kitchen knife in my arsenal of synths as it always finds a way to cut through the mix. I tend to make very dense music and after hours and hours of stacking layers the SH-10 often feels like the one synth that’ll help me tie it all together.
Besides that I just love how easy it is to play and mess with. And it sounds amazing when overdubbed with itself. It has become the main solo-instrument for my live-shows as well. Waiting for my fusion-rock-guitar-dad phase before using it with the modulation-grip tho.
Well – I thought I would just loose a couple of words on this synthesizer as it’s the one most people know me for. It’s actually a really fun little thing and I don’t want to miss having used it for so long. As the name implies it’s quite small and therefor easy to transport. That’s also probably why I’ve been using it at shows for so long. Which other keyboard would fit into the booth at “Pudel Club”? But besides that it’s actually a pretty thick sounding synthesizer. What’s funny is that people often think of it as an “Entry-Level” synth when it’s actually quite fiddly and hard to use.
Just a beautiful reverb-pedal. It’s weird, because I don’t really like using reverb in my music that much. But this pedal can really help to liven and warm-up sounds that might be a little too dry or cold to begin with. There’s a certain depth to it I haven’t really heard in other pedals.
Eventide really have a reputation for magically making stuff sound better and this one’s no exception. The “Tremoloverb Broken Glitch” preset has become something of a standard effect for me.
This one’s the grand-dad in my set-up. Borrowed this from a good friend for some times now and it’s hard to name a track I haven’t used it in since 2014. Mainly because I really love the filter. It’s also very fun and chaotic and when I’m looking to incoroprate a “weird” element into a track, the MS-10 normally delivers.
I also find it one of the best synths to create drum-sounds on. Many people say that the MS-20 is the real-deal but I like the extra bit of limitation you get with this one. Really something of a staple in my studio set-up.
Toothbrush / Booth Thrust is out now on Brainfeeder.
Buy it here.
Featured Image: Elisabeth Stoeckl