Natureboy Flako: Studio talk

“I don’t think technology necessarily means not being natural. Technology can be very much in balance with nature, since it is mostly just trying to imitate or trying to understand something from within nature.”

To say Dario Rojo Guerra, better known as Flako (or more recently Natureboy Flako) has had a varied career thus far would be an understatement. Born in Chile, raised in Germany, recognised in London and now back in Germany, he first came as an architect of spaced out, ethereal hip-hop instrumentals before releasing his first EP, Eclosure, on Five Easy Pieces in 2012. Since then, his work has transitioned into more ambient territory with comparisons as varied and interesting as Vangelis, Actress and Mono/Poly, to name a few.

Following a self-titled EP last year, Natureboy Flako is set to return to the London imprint to release his second album, Theme For A Dream. Through a prism of colourfully synthesised-sound, heart-pounding rhythm and cinematic soundtracks; the album’s narrative is said to be “the exploration of the human inner space, the balance of musical energies and music’s healing capabilities.”

Created using his signature palette of both analogue and organic elements, we caught up with him in his studio to further explore the machines most central to his creation process.

Natureboy Flako…

Stellah Bass Guitar, Fender Telecaster Guitar, ARP Odyssey

The back wall of my humble home studio is where i keep some Guitars and Synthesizers. Easy and spontaneous signal routing and accessibility is important to me. I mostly start creating spontaneously and can’t stand having technicalities in my way too much.

The Guitars are being used almost always in one or the other way. I put flatwound strings on them, which makes them sound a little different. The ARP Odyssey is a great tool to experiment and has a beautifully unique sound. I like using it for top line melodies and noise experiments mostly. I appreciate the lack of memory and being forced to finish / decide on using a recording, since it’s rather difficult to find and match the exact sound again later. Luckily I like to write / draw patches on template sheets. The duo-phonic ability also makes it pretty special and provides an interesting space for creating sounds.

Roland SH-2000, Eko Super Micky, Eko Tiger Organ, Eko Rythmaker, Hughes & Kettner Tube Rotosphere MKI

I love the sounds of the Roland SH-2000. The filter of this early model really sounds “Moog-esque”. It is quite limited in regards to its functions, but was modded and now makes a great instrument for everything from top line melodies to noise experiments. Although the Eko Super Micky Organ is a toy instrument really, the modded vibrato and sustain have transformed it into an amazing and useful instrument. The Eko Tiger Organ has a fairly standard sound, but with a few mods and the H&K Tube Rotosphere (Leslie Simulator) it became really interesting and I can get solid sounds from it. The Rythmaker has a midi mod and allows for midi programming, which opens up a great new world of how to use the drum sounds of this machine.

Roland RE-201 Space Echo, Pearl Pic¬colo Snare Drum, Watkins Copicat MK IV, EarthQuaker Devices Ghost Echo V3 & Space Spiral

The Roland Space Echo is a rather new addition, but has since been a solid and reliable source for many different applications ranging from experimental effects to more subtle vocal treatments. I record a lot of percussion and this Piccolo Snare always provides a great variety of sounds.

I found this Copicat Echo cheap but in rather poor conditions. After a few tweaks, mods and overall refurbishment, it still didn’t sound clean nor stable, but now has a very unique sound to it, that i embrace and like to use on guitars, synthesiser and vocals.

I love these EarthQuaker Pedals. One has an fantastically odd reverb / echo, that can be driven into a feedback loop, the other one is a great and flexible delay effect with modulation capabilities.

Various Percussion Instruments, Dynaudio BM-15

I use various tools and instruments from all over the world to record percussion sounds. There is all kinds of shakers, rattles, clave, little tools to create bird sounds, a huge nut from brazil that sound like a kazoo or Qarqaba’s in multiple sizes. These details often make a huge difference.

Apart from those, I also love recording congas and the Pandeiro as well. They are sometimes very clear in the mix and often treated and manipulated to create rather un-natural sounds. Listening is a crucial part of making music and the Dynaudio BM-15’s have been a great pair of reference speakers to work with for many years now.

KNAS Ekdahl Moisturizer Spring Reverb, Arturia Minibrute, Eventide Space, Handmade Fuzz Pedal

The KNAS spring reverb is also fairly new in my setup, but has already been used extensively. The LFO modulation allows for crazy effects, but also the open spring can be used for many different experiments. The Minibrute is such a simple but powerful modern synth. I just love it. It has become a go to instrument ever since i got it.

The Eventide Space is a very versatile and great sounding reverb effect. I use it for stereo reverbs on vocals a lot, but also for more extreme effects on instruments and other sounds.

This Guitar Fuzz Pedal was build by Alvaro Olivares. Its based on the original 1966 Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face circuit with AC128 Germanium Transistors. It just sounds great and i use it to make guitars and synths scream.

Yamaha NS-10 Studio, Kalimba with Pickup, Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, Juno 106, Dopefer Dark Time Hardware Sequencer

The NS-10’s make a very useful second pair of reference speakers. The tuned Kalimba has been with me for a long time and made it onto quite a few recordings over the last coupe of years. The sound is so nice and calming, that i sometimes just enjoy to sit and play it for half an hour or so. To reference and check stereo images i use a pair of DT 770 Pro Headphones.

The Juno 106 has a great chorus and filter section, which allows for nice combinations to create interesting sounds. I’ve just started but have already come up with some sounds that actually surprised me. I find it really versatile.

Finally this hardware sequencer from Doepfer is adding a very nice way for me to experiment with synthesiser sounds and melodies.

Theme For A Dream is out July 20 on Five Easy Pieces.

Preorder it here.

NEXT: Natureboy Flako: In conversation

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