Music has coursed through the veins of Ross Tones, a.k.a Throwing Snow, since his youth, playing in bands with his brother as a teenager. Since those instrument-wielding days, Tones has moved around England, spending time in the “northern wilderness” and London before currently settling in Bristol. With each new residence comes new influences stemming from the scenes and sounds of the cities. It comes as no surprise then that the musical history of Tones’ life has led to the mosaic-like production of Throwing Snow’s discography, as genres such as dubstep, post-rock and house have left an impression on his output.
True to his kaleidoscopic background, Tones has produced music under other aliases, such as Alight, and as a part of projects such as Snow Ghosts and Vellico, in which he teams up with his brother. His new single Vulpine sees Tones return to the familiar face of Houndstooth, the fabric-run label that released his debut album Mosaic back in 2014. Portraying interlocking rhythms at 85/170bpm and also flaunting a morphing time signature routed in 5/4 over evolving arpeggios, the record showcases Snow’s musicianship and also his versatility as a producer.
In celebration of this hotly-anticipated release, we asked Tones to give us a little tour of his studio, showing us the setting in which he hones his ideas, and the gear he uses to compose his masterpieces. Check out what our guy had to say below.
About a year ago I was extremely lucky to find my perfect studio space. It’s surrounded by woods
and is part of an old building so I affectionately refer to it as The Castle. It’s a base for all my projects (Throwing Snow/Snow Ghosts/Heathen Rites/Everything Falls Apart/and more) as well as any compositions I do for film and TV. I’ve been collecting and working towards this space for about 15 years, and it’s set up to be as comfortable and creative as possible (it even has a tiny skate ramp!).
Allen and Heath Sabre Desk
I acquired this desk from a friend of a friend and it was the motivation to for me finding a bigger space. I’ve set it up for several purposes, it can be used to record and mix in several different ways depending on need and I really love the EQs.
Patchbay and Rack
This is crucial to all the routing that is possible. A signal can go either straight to the computer or to the A&H desk via outboard effects in any order or combination, and back again. Also I still love that Akai S900.
My live setup is always ready to go and consists of an Electron Octatrack, Novation Circuit,
iConnectivityAudio4+, and two iPads running Volt and Samplr. The Roli Seaboard Block is an MPE
keyboard that I use to play the Volt and other MPE enabled synths. The audio ins on the Audio4+
can also route anything I plug in to either Samplr (the best music app ever invented) or to the
Octatrack making it very easy to expand.
This instrument means a lot to me. It’s my family’s piano that I saved from being disposed of a
long time ago. A few years back I managed to get it out of storage but it was badly water
damaged. My favourite use for it is as a reverb. If you play sound at the strings with the sustain pedal down, you get a epic ghostly tuned reverb.
Ableton, Push and K-Mix
I’m a big fan of Ableton Live and the Push as the hub of recording. The K-Mix is a great little mixer with many functions way above it’s form factor. It’s a sound card and can be used standalone as well.
I love using instruments of all types and have become a magnet for other peoples broken or
unused gems. I record them through a variety of mics (including my beloved binaural mics) and
have a ‘mic snake’ so that I can easily record on the other side of the room or even outside, if the acoustics are better, without being tied to the desk.
It’s hard for me to single out any particular piece of kit here, because they all have their unique flavours and uses. I’ve got a little set up formed out of the MFB Tanzmaus and Dominion Club sequenced by the Arturia Beatstep Pro and processed through loads of pedals. I especially like the Zoom Multi FX pedal and the Carloine Meteore for unpredictable madness. Also close to my heart are the Critter & Guitari Organelle and the Teenage Engineering OP-1. The Organelle can be anything it wants to be, especially with the introduction of ORAC which allows you to build and order module chains and has some great open source patches from the Eurorack world.
I enjoy using external FX but these tend to vary from project to project. However the Elektron
Analog Heat and the Oto BAM are used on almost everything to give warmth and space.
Grab your copy of Vulpine here.