From a young age, Stuttgart native Michael Baumann was exposed to the worlds of jazz, hip hop and early house through friends from the American military bases and record shops of southern Germany. For Baumann, Hip hop was the first passion in the early eighties. It wasn’t until the nineties while working at a record shop that he really became immersed in the house sound that was coming over from Chicago.
Since those early days he has made a name for himself as both Jackmate and Soulphiction. While as Jackmate he pursues a more dancefloor orientated sound, Soulphiction is the home to his smoother, jazzier work. You can still hear the strong influence his early days as a hip hop DJ had, through his sound palette, dusty textures and approach to sampling. He has found homes for his work on some of the scenes most respected labels, including Pampa, Delusions Of Grandeur, Freerange and his own Philpot imprint. More recently, he appeared on Local talk with his new album, 24/7 Love Affair.
He has kindly taken the time to break down the key pieces of equipment in his studio that create the Soulphiction sound.
Nord Modular G2X
This is my favourite synth ever! I already rocked the G1, and I love the concept of having an extensive modular environment at hand in one box! From synths to sequencers, and even outboard FX, everything is possible within this machine!
An editor gives you real-time patching, manipulating and saving options in the machine, unplug it and your good to go live! I bought it in 2003 and have used this on nearly every track I’ve made since. Most of my basslines and arps stem from this machine and I also use it just to get inspired! Being digital, this synth can still sound pretty raw, and it has a massive punch for directness in its sound, which also makes it easy to mix. Would never part ways with this, as it’s become pretty rare to find, and also quite expensive.
Akai MPC 4000
As a DJ and hip hop head from the early ‘90s, I love sampling as a sound source, and the MPC series up to the 4000 model have always been in my studio from the beginning. Most of my beats and sample flips are made on one of these. I love the tight sequencing, phat sound, and the modulation-matrix of the 4k, as together they make it a perfect workstation! Having a whole synth voice for every sample also makes it a great machine for sound design. The sequencing is a bit static here, as there’s no step sequencing, so I combine it with my Octatrack for this reason, then record the sequences back into the MPC as audio.
Me playing live in the past was mainly based on the 4000 or the 2000 MPC models, using the two MPCs like a pair of turntables, as it meant I was able to manipulate and arrange on the fly, mixing between them with a regular DJ mixer. It replicated the same environment I use in the studio, when I summon different machines through a Vestax PMC 27A mixer, using the EQ’s and crossfader to jam out grooves. From banging out ideas to complete tracks, the MPC 4000 is my choice for everything drums related, and its great fun!
An old/odd drum machine with a very distinctive groove, and the ability to sample (two sounds) in 12bit giving it an overall nice sound.
You can record parameter tweaks and really jam out beats on this lil’ machine, perfect also for live use. The swing is really special compared to a lot of machines, the hats sound awesome, and the drift is making even 1 bar loops interesting for infinity.
This machine already changed hands a million times, being borrowed out, rented out and being stolen once, but it always found its way back into my studio, so I’d call it family.
If you’re into sampling, this is your weapon of choice! Endless streaming power, parameter locks, a crossfader to manipulate every parameter, and a proper sequencer with probability steps makes this a beast! Only takes seconds to come up with a great idea, you can pre-sequence and manipulate incoming sound along with tweaking existing samples beyond recognition.
Got this slaved to my MPC which means I’m able to sample and trigger it via midi… perfect live solution, playing stems, triggering synths, and also being able to record loops as transitions between songs.
The only downside is the ridiculously small display, that makes it quite hard to keep everything in sight, you’d rather go by memory here. In the studio I connect it to a turntable or anything making a sound, it’s an endless inspiration!
btw…this is also great to include in your DJ sets, recording or playing loops, or manipulating the mixer output directly with filters and FX!
Telefunken 676a pre – amp
Like with my chosen instruments, I look for a proper/direct sound, so I don’t have to waste too much time on the mix later. Everything must sound great from the beginning, so over the years I’ve tried many different pre-amps, and used them for everything from recording vocals to live instrumentation, and I stuck with this lovely pre-amp by Telefunken.
It makes every audio signal sound fabulous… being tight at the low end, while having a certain gloss on the high end. It makes vocals cut through every mix, and amps up every part of a track to perfection. It’s these small things in your recording chain that make value, by not wasting time on its parameters, but doing exactly what they are made for, like proper monitors and cables…
24/7 Love Affair is out now via Local Talk.
Buy it here.