Neel on his One Instrument track, “The Morning After”
One Instrument‘s latest release is a track from Rome, Italy’s Neel using just the Roland SH-01A Synthesizer. We chatted with the DJ/Producer about the creative process of the song, his favourite Roland gear, and how he started his other music projects.
What inspired you to select the Roland SH-01A Synthesizer for this EP?
The SH-101 is absolutely my favourite Roland monophonic synth, I own the original which I used quite a lot, not only for basslines, I always found it very simple to use and super versatile, especially for percussion or any kind of rhythmic parts.
I came back from Japan with the TR-08 Rhythm Composer and the SH-01A Synthesizer. Once I arrived in Rome I connected them in the studio and started to play with them, first of all, only with the SH-01A.
I recorded many takes and ideas, only using that one and really liked the machine.
It is very close to the original one – perhaps not as “fatty” as the original but it’s very stable and an, in my opinion, a good compromise.
How did you use it?
I used it in many different ways. For this EP I just started to build a track based on an internal pattern.
I turned it on. I liked one pattern and left it playing while I was manipulating and modifying everything, from the envelope to the modulation, and so on. This was the first approach – I was exploring the machine and its potential.
I started to record a first take and then recorded layers on top of the original take, changing the time and scales in order to reach a full spectrum and have more harmonics to play with.
This is how “The Morning After” was born, and its release on One Instrument came a few months after!
What do you like most about hardware instruments?
Without going too deep, like touching the analogue vs digital topic – for me they are both important and relevant – hardware gives the possibility to look out of the box. I don’t like to “add squares with the mouse on a midi pattern” with a computer, I love knobs!
Also having an hardware instrument in front of me makes me focus on what I’m doing. In my experience if you focus only on a few instruments you will be able to get the best out of it.
My career in music started pretty much like any music lover. When I was kid I was surrounded by 7” records and spent days just listening to records until the point I began to DJ. I was 10 years old when I got my first turntables, a Technics SL-BD20 and an SL-D20, both belt turntables, a mixer which I built together with a good friend and genius – yes, he was building stuff at the age of 10 – crazy!
I feel lucky to have a friend like him, especially at that time. We grew up in a village of two thousand people: there was nothing related to what we were doing or what we were experiencing – we were two aliens on a humble and lovely piece of planet earth. Since then I never stopped. I went further on everything which was related to sound, from its science to sound design, production and mastering.
I started mastering when I was 20 years old, and I have loved doing it since!
I meticulously studied and dedicated myself to it, and I still do. I consider the Mastering as a form of art. Clearly you need to have deep knowledge about the science of sound but there is not a clear technique behind. Every project is different and the goal is to make improvements while staying true to the core of the musical idea, never chancing the vibe and flow of a track.
Spazio Disponibile happened naturally with what I was doing alongside Donato Dozzy and our manager Dion Verbeek. After years of producing and performing with Donato as Voices from the Lake, we decided to build this project all together.
We have been always very happy with the results, and it’s heartwarming to see how the label has been gained recognition in a short time.
With the label I started to do something I haven’t even thought to do: discover new talents, believe in their music and help them to achieve the best results in what they wanted. Until now we released fifteen records and I’m satisfied with all of them. This year we launched a short label tour across April and May. All nights were following the label’s concept with no time table, no line up, and a jam session between artists based on improvisation. This tour was a peak point for me. We were able to deliver exactly what we wanted and once again I want to thank all the artists involved, and Dion who is the man behind all this – the hidden hands behind all those projects.
Is there any other Roland gear that you’re using right now?
I own a TR-909 Rhythm Composer, SH-101 Synthesizer, Juno-106 Synthesizer, R-8MKII Human Rhythm Composer, TB-303 Bass Line, TR-707 Rhythm Composer, TR-606 Drumatix, TR-505 Rhythm Composer and many more Roland instruments. They are part of my life and I can’t see myself making music without incorporating at least few Roland instruments.
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