JERIK CENTENO / SMALL CULTURE

Small Culture: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / SoundCloud / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about your current rig: How do the individual parts help you achieve the sound you’re after? Best parts? Worst parts?

Guitars: My two current favorites are my Teisco Del Rey EP7 and the Silvertone (don’t know what model). The Teisco just sounds so good right off the bat with its clean bite but can be so jazzy when you roll the tone back. It’s also the Teisco version of Tone’s Silvertone guitars from Little Hurricane. My red house-painted Silvertone is the most magical guitar I have. It is my go-to when others are uninspiring and it is the most perfect feeling guitar in my hands and against my body. These two are the lightest guitars in the world. I’ve owned the Strat and Tele since high school. The Strat is a great one when going for “arcade-y” tones because of the neck and middle pickup position. The Tele is the first guitar I ever owned that my Dad bought me from the Philippines. It’s Chinese, but I swapped the stock pickups for Texas Specials, which are super hot. The Tele is a great tracking guitar due to the versatility and an easy one to go to for a modern sound. The Farida JT602DCC is solely owned because it is the signature guitar of Two Door Cinema Club’s lead guitarist, Sam Halliday, who is the utmost reason as to why I ever started playing guitar. To the eye, the upside down headstock is so unique, but what’s more unique is the onboard delay Farida built in because of how important delay is to Sam Halliday’s tone. It is also the only guitar I have with a P90. My guitars help to primarily put me into different mindsets. If I want weird tones, I’ll get the Strat; if I want driving guitar parts, I’ll pick up the Tele; if I want to make up lead parts really fast, I’ll grab the Farida; if I want unique guitar parts or weird chords, I’ll grab the Teisco or the Silvertone.

Cons about the Strat, Tele, and the JT602DCC are that they are freaking heavy now that I’ve been playing the Teisco and the Silvertone.

Pedals: The reason why I own two super shifters is because I tried to resell one, but that never worked, so I just put both to use. One is used as a harmonist/chorus to get arcade-y, Rutger Rosenborg-y, Bombay Bicycle Club-y tones (heard on “Too Late”) and the other is to just frick things up (T-Arm setting referenced from St. Vincent). Bobby Bray, the guitarist of The Locust and coincidentally, my electronics and media business teacher, helped me make a Carbon Copy mod that is an expression pedal idea stemmed from the PS5 so that when turned on, controls the delay parameter to make more noise and to frick things up even more! My pedalboard is designed for clean bite, fun, ambience, swells, and madness!

Cons: Pedalboard tap dancing while having to sing, which actually gives me madness.

Guitar Amps: Gibson G20, Fender Vibro Champ XD. Just really awesome amps that help me get the great tones when I need. G20 for jazzy or warmer stuff and the Fender Vibro Champ for the clean bite I love. Cons: Vibro Champ tube just went out and the G20 needs to be grounded, so I kindly backline amps from friends.

Playback/IEM Rig: Mid-2013 Macbook Pro (also used for mixing/tracking), Ableton Live 9, Motu Audio Express Interface, Audio Technica M2 (x3), Alesis Micron.

The best thing about this rig and a main part of the Small Culture sound is my mid-2013 MacBook Pro, which was a high school graduation gift from my Mom. It has helped me achieve 95% of the audio and music related things in my life by helping me produce, record, and mix other people’s and Small Culture’s music. With my laptop, I am able to produce, mix, and merge electronic elements with real-life instrumentation, which is what the sound of Small Culture consists of.

For live, I use Ableton to run my ears and backtracks and just output stereo tracks to FOH. I track, mix, and obsessively love Pro Tools 11. I’ll do pre-production and songwriting in Logic Pro X. My Alesis Micron is the oldest piece of gear I own and it has some cool synth patches, but I primarily now just use it to trigger MIDI.

2. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style/gear?

Since I feel the Small Culture sound can be a myriad of things, “Apartime” is a great example of sound, style, and gear. I mixed majority of “Apartime” hybrid by outputting stems from Pro Tools in the SSL Duality at school and incorporating the outboard gear we had. It helps show my style by the instrumentation and production because Small Culture is about fusing electronic computer-based music with big real-life instruments. I always try to go for huge size with my songs and I find that heavily relying on instrumentation and production.

“Apartime” is the oldest song off the EP and the one that took the longest. I brought a synth pad and vocal doodles to my best friend and live drummer, Ginno Tacsiat, and he laid down the main electronic drum beat and I rearranged it and wrote the rest. I then took it into the studio and had real drums, guitar, and bass guitar added to the end of the song to have a big dramatic scene change. The big factors to the size of the song in the end is the stereo synth bass I have going (actually two different mono synths panned hard L&R). For the electronic drums, we used the stock Ultrabeat drum kit in Logic Pro X and I spruced it up with the SSL Duality.

Every Small Culture song is about or includes very important people in my life, so “Apartime” was about a trip my Mom and I had to the Philippines when my Grandmother passed away and it is the song about how important and how much of a trooper she is. Half of the song title comes from having started the song in my Mom’s apartment in Hawai’i about 6 months before my Grandmother’s passing, how I work part-time at Fashion Valley, and because of how I sing “You took the time” in the chorus.

3. What’s the one “holy grail” piece of equipment you’d buy if money was no object?

Oh my gosh… Probably an SSL Duality or a Neve 8058. An SSL Duality because that is the first console I ever learned off, which is at The Art Institute of California – San Diego where I graduated and the Neve 8058 is what Guy Charbonneau has in Le Mobile. I heard recordings from a Crossroad festival that he did and just those preamps alone made the live recordings so freaking huge.

4. I’ve noticed you’ve got two older Japanese-style guitars alongside two new Fenders. Why not go all vintage or all modern? What are the drawbacks for either? Benefits?

The only reason why I own the Teisco and the Silvertone were out of pure luck. The Silvertone, I came across at a swap meet at Qualcomm for $35 (also where I got one of the MXR Carbon Copies for $5) and the Teisco came out of a packaged barter (included the Fender Vibro Champ XD). Ironically, I use the Teisco and the Silvertone for gigging because they are much lighter to lug around since I have so much stuff to carry (pedals, playback/IEM rig, laptop). It’s so much easier on my life and back because I’m a pretty small dude. I’m very indecisive and I’m always the person who is in the middle, so I guess that’s why I both have vintage and modern guitars. A benefit is just the myriad of tonal and mindset options.

5. You’ve got “Always play 110%” highlighted on your volume pedal – that’s refreshing in these days, where a lot of musicians seem less than passionate onstage. How do you balance playing your hardest and with 110% effort/energy vs. playing your songs technically correct 100% of the time? Does that matter to you? Or are you able to do both?

I always try to do both because they both highly matter to me. If you’ve ever been to Max Idas’ shows with his band called The Chili Banditos or see Craig Schreiber drum in The Verigolds, these are two guys in San Diego that give every show 110% wherever and whomever they play to. At one show, Craig hit his head on his snare and started bleeding like a gusher candy, but he still finished the song and at every Chili Banditos’ show, I feel more home than my own apartment while screaming with Max to each of his songs. I get chicken skin to these shows because they break down the barrier between performers and audiences and put their hearts out for the world to see. To me, “Always play 110%” is a written reminder because I easily get lost in setting up gear and it’s a goal to let it all out just like Max and Craig. I am fortunate to be able to practice with the guys who help me play live as much as we have been (Max, Cameron Wilson, Ginno Tacsiat), so practicing and having such solid musicians in the band help. I strive to do both and have the confidence because I wrote the parts and have been with them since day one. Ever since high school, I’d also practice like how I’d be moving at a show; it helps to build the muscle memory. You just have to come to terms to just try your best to do both, have fun, own it, and show who you are. You should play 110% all the time because it’s a blessing to be up onstage when others don’t have the opportunity, so I say do it, leave it all out there on stage.

6. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise?

I’d say depends and there are a ton, but if I had to speak just about one, it’d have to be Chris Hobson. He can play instruments, but he was my senior project teacher and is hands down one of the best engineers and producers I know. He helped to connoisseur the sound I was trying to obtain with Small Culture and my engineering chops. He’d help put me back on track when I’d stray away from the sound Small Culture is and when I’d doubt myself as an artist and engineer. He’s the kind of producer and teacher that helps you to achieve your artistic vision without making it into his thing. He helped me to not care about what was technically right as an engineer and to just go with my gut if I liked something and it sounded good. I’d talk to Chris a lot and many of our conversations boiled down to his points that music is subjective, it is all taste, and that if I liked something to run with it because we are making art. From him, I fully understood how much engineering and producing music is an art form.

7. What do you have coming up that we should know about?

Shows:

June 3rd Album Release Show at the Che Café with Splavender, The Chili Banditos, Hit Me Harold, and Yung May May. [INFO]

June 18th Show at The OB Template

News:

Debut EP now for sale via iTunes.

Stream it on SoundCloud.

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DJ PNUTZ

DJ Pnutz: Facebook / Bandcamp / Twitter / Instagram

1. What’s your current set up?

I’ve got two turntable setups on either side of my production desks. My main DJ set up is two Technic 1200s and a Rane 64, the other setup is two 1200s and a Rane 56. For my production setup, I have Ableton Live 9.5 Suite, an Akai APC 40, Roland Gaia synthesizer, an Ensoniq ASR 10, and a DBX 166 compressor. I also like to use a Korg Monotron ribbon synth and my Roland 307 depending on the type of sound I’m going for. I’ve got some cheap electronic drums that I’ve sampled from occasionally as well as a couple of old keyboards, a musical saw, and various percussion instruments.

2. What piece do you use most often?

Most often I use the APC and Gaia recording into Ableton. I tend to use a lot of samples which I’ll sometimes run through the DBX (especially if I’m sampling drums). Second most, I love to play with my Roland 307. I’ll just sit on the couch in the living room, plug in some headphones and make some really old school-sounding electro stuff.

3. How did you get into producing?

Making music is something I’ve been interested in since I was a child. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I got a small Casio keyboard for Christmas and started teaching myself to play by ear. In 5th grade, I started playing the snare drum and got a full drum set a couple of years later. In high school, I became more interested in electronic/hip-hop music and had so many ideas for songs that I wanted to make. I felt like I was always remixing songs in my head, so for my graduation present I asked for a set of belt-drive Gemini turntables and a small 2-channel Vestax mixer. I eventually saved up enough money for Technic turntables and a Pioneer 500. My first real piece of “gear” was a Yamaha djx keyboard. It has a sampler in it and a huge bank of typical stock sounds. It was a lot of fun to play around with but a couple of years later, I got a used Roland 307 and that is when I really started getting serious. Around age 22 or so, I began using Sound Forge and Acid. I’d sample records, flip them around a bit and add some additional sounds from my keyboard and 307. I practiced this way for a few years until I was given a copy of Ableton Live. That has been my main DAW ever since.

4. Are there any challenges, as a woman, in such a male-dominated field?

I would say the biggest challenge I face as a female producer is the fact that no one knows I’m a female. Most people just assume that I’m a guy. It bothers me because I don’t like people to think I make good beats “for a girl,” I just want them to think that I make good music…period. I didn’t get into to DJing/making beats because my boyfriend did it either, I got into it because it’s something I personally was interested in.

5. What projects are you working on?

I am in the final stages of mastering my second solo album that I’m releasing on June 6, 2016. This will probably also have a 45 single to accompany the release just as my first solo album Rackmount did. After that is competed, have a few emcees who I am collaborating with and will be releasing albums with them also.

Be sure to see DJ Pnutz at the Air-Conditioned Lounge on Thursday, May 26, for the record release of her new album, The Good Wife’s Guide To Beatmaking. [INFO]

Many thanks to J. Smith (of NBC SoundDiego and Parker & The Numberman) for this interview.

DJ ADAMNT

DJ Adamnt: Facebook / Twitter / InstagramBandcamp / SoundCloud

1. What’s your current set up?  Technic 1200 MKII, Vestax PMC 06, Roland SP 404sx, Roland SP 303 and Ableton 8. The process is pretty basic. I sample records into the 404sx from my mixer. Create the beat all on the 404sx, I chained the 404sx to the SP 303 so all the sounds come out from the 404sx through the 303 and into Ableton.

2. How long have you had it?  I’ve had this current setup since 2014. The SP 404SX was the latest addition to my current setup. Prior to that, I only used the SP 303.

3. What piece do you use most often?  The Technic 1200 turntable

4. What’s the next thing you have your eye on?  MPC 1000

5. Are you working on any new projects?  Skeletons LP with FVCK FVCE for HELLNOTE and a beat tape with ARTOO for IHAA Records.

Many thanks to J. Smith (of NBC SoundDiego and Parker & The Numberman) for this interview.

BAKKUDA

Bakkuda: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SoundCloud / Website

1. Tell me about the cool stuff in your photos: Best parts? Worst parts?  My computer is awesome! I recently acquired it and it’s a beast. I also love my speakers because they handle my habit of cranking the bass up too much really well. The worst part of my studio is probably my headphones. I need to get some legit headphones that don’t bleed sound as much when I’m recording vocals. But they’re not too bad, they get the job done for now. If something isn’t working or sounds like crap I don’t keep it around too long. I’ve gotten midi controllers, tried them out, returned them. It’s all part of the process to finding the perfect gear that works for you. Producing on my computer, using Ableton, allows me to get the electronic pop sound I want but it also gives me tons of room to play. Some songs are super pop, some are more weird and use unconventional sounds and beats. I just love experimenting!

2. What is your favorite piece of gear and why?  I’d have to say my new Neumann TLM49 mic and Universal Audio Solo-610 preamp. I don’t think I can pick just one of them because they kind of go together. They give my vocals a nice warm, rounded feel and I can get that super upfront vocal sound that you hear a lot in pop songs nowadays. I struggled with finding a good mic/pre for a while, and it’s a really important component to my studio because I’m going for a very vocal driven sound, so they needed to sound really good.

3. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style?  I’m really proud of my song “Skills.” To me, it’s the perfect blend of dark pop and ethereal electronica. It’s bold and different but still catchy. It’s a very sexy and empowering song and one of my favorites to perform. But my sound is seriously all over the place so it’s hard to pinpoint just one song that represents Bakkuda overall.

4. What was the first piece of gear you bought and what are your thoughts on it now?  I don’t know if this was my very first piece of gear but I got an Akai APC40 when I decided to do solo electronic music and performed it all myself. It works directly with Ableton and allows you to trigger loops and manipulate sounds. It’s very easy to use and I would recommend it to anyone, but especially those new to electronic music.

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about?  I just put out a new single “Beloved” which you can check out on soundcloud.com/bakkuda. I’ll be putting out the full EP on June 1st and I’m super excited! It has a little of everything, sweet ethereal ballads, dancey pop tracks, indie RnB sounds. I can’t wait. I also have a show April 22nd at MaryJane’s in the Hard Rock Hotel SD with my good friend Natalie Emmons!

DANIEL CORRALES / PRGRM

PRGRM: Website | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

Daniel Corrales: Producer / bassists / synths

1. Tell me about your current rig: My live rig with PRGRM consists of two parts: a live bass rig and a live electronics section where I sub-mix sequences, synths and vocoders.

For my bass rig, I’m currently using a 4-string Musicman Sub Bass. I used to own more bass guitars but unfortunately, those got stolen years ago. Personally, I love the Sub Bass for both touring and recording environments; you can produce some sweet sounds with it and I don’t have to worry about it getting banged up a little here and there. One thing I initially didn’t like about it was its physical appearance, therefore I modified it by covering it entirely in black spray paint (it use to be garnet with a silver pickguard, I know dude, eww).

As my main amp, I usually use an Ampeg SVT Classic paired with an Ampeg 4×10 cab, but the SVT Classic is at the shop. As a replacement, I’m using an Ampeg BA-115 combo. I wouldn’t compare it to the SVT Classic but it’s great for touring as well, it’s compact and powerful enough for live settings, plus it also has its own D.I. output. The SVT Classic can project a beast tone but also has the downfall of weighing a ton! I’m really considering keeping it in the studio after I get it back. Either that, or pairing it with a smaller cab.

My pedalboard consists of a Boss TU-2 tuner, Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi, TC Electronic Corona Chorus pedal, and the Pro-Co Rat. My main tone comes from the Rat and Corona pairing. I usually bring in the Muff when I want parts to sound fatter and aggressive, or just want to annoy someone. The only thing I would change about my pedalboard is replacing that Bass Big Muff with the British version for guitar.

For the live electronic section, I’m using: a Mackie 12FX 12-Channel Mixer to sub-mix, a MacBook Pro (Logic X) to run the sequence, a Korg Pad-Kontrol to trigger the sequence, and a Micro-Korg for synths.

I’m thinking of running our sequence some other way, or through Ableton, I don’t know, something that allows more live interaction. An extra pair of hands maybe? Can I use my?…oookkay, moving on.

Every part of my rig is always a work progress, and is subject to change depending on whatever the band/project needs. These are some of the effects pedals that I’ve been looking into adding to my rig: MXR Carbon Copy Delay, Pro-Co Turbo Rat, Sans Amp D.I. Driver, some kind of bass compressor, and a proper pedalboard/case.

2. What song of yours (or your band’s) do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style? The song “Hourglass” would the best portrayal of my sound. A slightly overdriven and modulated tone is noticeable from the beginning of the song. That tone stays the same until the end, when the electric bass changes into a synth line. This arrangement idea is heard in other PRGRM songs too.

3. If money was no object, what’s the ‘holy grail’ piece of gear you’d buy? There is all this gear that could fit that description. For this I would say a vintage Rickenbacker Jetglo Bass, black finish with all cream bindings on the body and neck, large triangular pearl inlays, and the original black layer pickguard.

4. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise? Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead. I admire him for different reasons, but I really love how he is all over the place and constantly changing styles, he is a multi-instrumentalist, and he also scored a creepy soundtrack to one of my favorite films, There Will Be Blood.

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about? We have a couple of pretty exciting shows coming up this week. We play with The Fever (from Germany) and Badabing on Thursday, March 10, at The Merrow. [Go here for more info.]

Our label Beta/Noise.Records is also promoting a night for Summer Twins’ (Burger Records) tour on Sunday, March 13, at Tommy’s Casino in El Centro, CA. PRGRM and The Regrettes are also scheduled to perform that night. [Go here for more info.]

After that, we have another date scheduled in San Diego on March 26 at The Ken Club, with The Slashes, Blood Ponies, and The Foreign Resort. [Go here for more info.]