Name: Steven Weston
Current release: Steven Weston's 5-track EP "Blank Dust" will be released 2nd July 2021 on Steven's new label Blank Dust.
If these thoughts by Steven Weston piqued your interest, visit his personal website for more information and music.
Steven Weston: "My first actual studio was on Hackney Road next door to The Premises. Apparently my old room was Dido’s writing room. I shared it with my friend Craig Lowe (who also is an electronic artist), but sadly the building got demolished and turned into flats, so we had to move out. It was falling apart when we moved in, the ceiling fell down (luckily only on top of our flight cases), it needed a good tidy, but the sound proofing between the rooms was amazing and it had 2 huge windows. I had a set of NS-10s that I got from the old foley department in Abbey Road and a Quad 520F for monitoring. I think we used an Audient interface and I had my rack of synths. Juno 60, Moog Little Phatty, Prophet 6, Microkorg, Bass Station and a few little toys.
My first ‘set up’ though was in my flat when I moved to London in 2007. I had a small Focusrite Interface, a MicroKorg, a Novation remote midi controller and the old black MacBook. I was working as a runner in Metropolis Studios at this time and touring with Ladyhawke. So if I needed a ‘proper’ room I could get some down time.
Right now my studio the Static Room is in Finsbury Park. I still have all my old gear from my previous studio but now I use a UAD Apollo 8 as my interface. Monitoring I have the NS10s but I mostly use the Focal Twins. I have a Dave Smith OB6, Prophet REV2, Korg Miniloge XD and a modular synth. These 4 synths are now on every track I make. I don’t think I could be without them. I have a 60s Premier Drum kit, an old Wurlitzer Spinet Acoustic Piano, Jazzmaster, Telecaster, Strat, 1977 P Bass … so many toys to play with.
I had a 16 channel Calrec desk for awhile. It was amazing but honestly I just find mixing ITB easier and quicker. I would sum through the desk and on the groups I had a Joe Meek SC2.2 Stereo Opto Compressor, an SSL G Clone and a stereo Calrec compressor on the desk. It was great, but also kind of annoying. Old gear needs maintenance and there would always be something odd happening. I sold the desk and the Joe Meek, but I still use the other bits as inserts in Ableton.
I have used Ableton since V2. My Dad’s friends Phil and Dog gave me a crack. Phil and Dog made the bootleg for Mylo Vs Miami Sound Machine. I remember we went to watch Mylo at the Cockpit in Brighton, Phil had made up a white label of it and gave it to Mylo. Mylo then put it out, and it was a hit.
The reasons why I buy new gear depend on what it is that I am after.
At the moment I want some saturation, so I am thinking of getting a pair of Looptrotter Emperor 500 or the SSL Fusion. I usually want something specific when buying new outboard or recording gear.
I have recently just got into modular synths. As a session keyboard player and synth fan all my friends were surprised I never delved into the world of modular. However, this year I decided to take the plunge and now curiosity gets the better of me. The weirder the better, the less I know the better. The modular for me is my playground as I am still learning it, and what it can do.
For my work, Ableton and computer technology is key. I use Ableton as a tape machine, an instrument itself and as a general creative tool. Certain synths work better for me than others. Velocity sensitivity is a must, which is why I love the OB6, Rev2 and Minilogue. I am able to use velocity to manipulate the filter cut off and amplitude. This is what helps to make my synth sounds breath and feel more real, like a guitarist would do when playing their instrument. These are modern day synths, and I love my Juno 60 but it does not get used as much because of this.
Ableton has really changed the way I make music. I can use Tools and Logic but I work differently in Ableton. It’s quick, it makes me think differently, I use it as an instrument. I can route anything to everything. The MIDI capabilities are amazing, and I can use it in the studio and one stage.
With my live show it’s all about technology. I am running 2 Macbook’s, one with Ableton and one with Resolume. All my MIDI is talking to each other, and MIDI is talking to Resolume. So if I use the cutoff filter on my REV2, Resolume see’s that and manipulates the visual that is playing. Without this technology my live show would not be able to do this.
AI is interesting to me, as I am currently involved in a project where we are experimenting with Synfire. I am giving it 8 bar phrases and then seeing where it takes it. It is for a virtual reality art piece I am working on with Tupac Matir at Satore Studio (we have already done one VR project together called Cosmos, which I performed at Venice Film Festival).
I can only speak on Synfire, whilst it is interesting, and can come up with some odd things … I don’t really like it. It can maybe help to speed up a process, but generally you have to ‘feed’ it everything. If you don’t, then I personally do not like what comes out.
My modular synth though can sometimes take on a world of its own. I patch it in and just let it run and its basically just doing its thing. In the same way I have to feed it some information, then it just kind of ‘runs’.
Do my tools have co-authorship? Not sure, as someone ultimately needs to tell the computer what to do. I personally probably don't see a potential for deeper forms of Artifical Intelligence in my music. Not unless it was a quick way to see if a certain sound or melody would sound better on a different instrument.
A computer that never crashes, that would have the best impact for me."