Name: Mads Kinnerup
Nationality: Danish
Occupation: Producer, composer
Recent release: Mads Kinnerup's Interpolation is out via No Technique December 2nd 2022.

Tool of Creation: Eurorack Modular with Akemies Castle Module
Type of Tool: Modular Synth // Dual voltage controlled oscillator
Designed/specified by: Doepfer Musikelektronik // ALM Busy Circuits
Country of origin: Germany // Britain
Introduced in: 1996 // 2015

What was your first encounter with the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul?

I first tried it in Schneiders Laden. Difficult shop to visit without buying anything ...

Just like any other piece of equipment, the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul has a rich history. Are you interested in it? And if so, what are some of the key points from this history for you personally?

While working on my upcoming album Interpolation, I became fascinated by the different historic applications of FM. Compared to traditional subtractive synthesis, frequency modulation has this degree of counter-intuitiveness to it because it is so much harder to understand how different parameters influence each other.

So I would say that the different historic interfaces for the application of frequency modulation in musical instruments is very interesting to me. There is a huge difference between the analog FM in a Buchla to the digital FM in 80s Yamaha synths.

Also, I would recommend anyone interested in FM to read the book FM theory and applications by John Chowning for a deep understanding of the principles of FM.

What, to you, are some of the most interesting recordings made with the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul?

Actually, I don't know anyone who uses Akemies Castle specifically. I think there is so much new interesting technology coming out these years and I cant really keep track of it. It is gonna be interesting to see what it does to music in the long run.

But some of my favourite artist that I like to think uses FM is Autechre and Mark Fell. Their music has this pure, plastic, transformative and yet clean sound that I really enjoy.

[Read our Mark Fell interview]

What interests you about the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul in terms of it contributing to your creative ideals?

I have been doing a lot of research on implementing frequency modulation in an intuitive workflow, trying to avoid having to use FM in a classic digital menu diving synth or in Max which can feel quite claustrophobic some times.

Initially, I was trying to figure out how to use frequency modulation the best in my modular system. Starting out, I tried using analog frequency modulation with two Intellijel Rubicon oscillators in my modular system. That went quite well actually. However it was a little unstable in terms of pitch.

Then I worked for some months in the legendary Elektron Musik Studion in Stockholm and tried to work with their vast collection of original Buchla 200 synthesizers. Getting to experience this historic instrument was very inspirational for me but it was so difficult tuning it when using heavy FM modulation.

[Read our feature on the Buchla 200 synthesizer]

So I went out looking for a digital FM module in the eurorack format and I found Akemies Castle from the British company ALM. From my understanding, it is an old Yamaha FM chip moded for the eurorack format. Because it is digital there are no tuning problems.

What are some of the stand-out features from your point of view?

The fact that the module has CV inputs all over the place which enables you to modulate the shit out of it, is just perfect.

Prior to using it for the first time, how did you acquaint yourself with the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul? Will you usually consult a manual before starting to work with a new device – and what was that like for the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul?

If you have a general understanding of FM, I think that Akemies Castle is very straight forward. I don't usually read manuals from start to end. I mostly use them if I want to know something specifically.

Tell me a bit about the interface of the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul – what does playing it feel like, what do you enjoy about it, compared to some of your other instruments?

When writing my new album, I have been working with FM with lots of modulation. I sequenced Akemies Castle using a combination of Tip Top Audio Circadian Rhythms for triggers and Orthagonal Devices ER-101/102 for CV. That enabled me to have very precise control over every parameter of the sound.

Because there is no menu diving in these modules, I still have hands on control over every parameter. I think it is a great combination of precision control and playfulness.

How would you describe the sonic potential of the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul?

Analog FM has for a long time been inspirational to me but it usually does not tune very well. Working with Akemies Castle this totally changed my workflow as it bridges the gap between the intuitive control that you have in an analog modular system with the precision you have in a digital environment.

How does the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul interact / complement / conflict with some of the other tools in your studio?

Aside from releasing music in my own name, I am also a music producer producing music for other artists.

The modular system and Akemies Castle is not something you wanna reach for, if you wanna work fast in a session with other musicians. It really requires you to sit down and work lots of hours dialling everything in the right way.

So in those cases where you have to be fast, I would rather reach for a subtractive synthesizer like my Juno 60 or MS-20.

[Read our feature on the Juno 106]

In which way does the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul influence musical results and what kind of compositions does it encourage / foster?

It enabled me to work with this particular morphing FM technique used on my upcoming album where sound can transform from different 'presets' or states.

For example, a snare that morphs into a lead smootly using only one synthesizer voice.

More generally, how do you see the relationship between your instruments and the music you make?

The modular synthesizer is as much of instrument like a piano or violin is. The more you practice it, the more you gain an intuitive and bodily understanding of how small changes in parameters will affect the sound.

This is something that I experience much more with the modular synthesizer compared to performing with a computer.

Some see instruments and equipment as far less important than actual creativity, others feel they go hand in hand. What's your take on that?

I don't see the fascination of instruments and creativity as being mutually exclusive to the creation of music. I am very inspired by technology.

My upcoming album Interpolation took its point of departure from the principles of frequency modulation. That inspired me to make music that consists of very few voices. Using heavy FM modulation, I discovered that I could make a single voice transform smoothly from a lead sound to a chord sound to a percussive sound. Thus I was able to construct music which acts like one transformative mass of sound.

Could you describe working with the eurorack modular with the  Akemies Castle modul on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

The first single 'Morph' from my upcoming album is done using only two instances of Akemies Castle. One for chords and another for a morphing layer of FM craziness. Here you can hear how the sound transform between different percussive states, bass and melody using lots of modulation coming from my sequencers as well from my hands.

I see this as a comment on music which consists of hundreds of tracks which is a tendency for a lot of contemporary music. So in this instance, my fascination of technology drove my creativity.

In the light of picking your tools, how would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

With an educational background in electronic experimental music, I have for a very long time been interested in pushing the boundaries of how music can be performed and produced in new original ways using my own techniques in my modular synthesizer system and self-devolped patches in Max.

I am always on the look out for new technology and techniques that will enable me to push my music into new territory.