013: pulsewidthmod

I♥SYNTHS: Who is pulsewidthmod?

pulsewidthmod is the solo project of Maeghan Donovan. Her set is emotive and the sounds are constantly evolving sequences that vary from ethereal to abrasive percussions. The result is an eclectic mix of tones and textures with an underlying beat that you can tap your foot to or hopefully… to move you into action.

I♥SYNTHS: When did you first discover the synthesizer?

pulsewidthmod: I first discovered the synthesizer when I was 5. I received a Casio Sk-1 for Christmas the year they came out. Yes, I am giving my age.

I♥SYNTHS: What was your first love?

pulsewidthmod: My first love was really the piano. I started playing when I was either 4 or 5. The Moog Voyager EB was my first analog synth. It intimidated me quite a bit; I didn’t know what all the knobs did and I didn’t really care for the presets so it sat untouched for almost a year. 

My first synth love was the prophet~600. I purchased a six~track first and then started to discover what you could do with the knobs. I quickly sold it to fund the prophet~600. I like to say that the p600 taught me the ways of subtractive synthesis. 

The p600 gave me the confidence and familiarity I needed to dive into the voyager. I later sold the p600 because I acquired a Prophet ’08; I don’t foresee myself selling the Voyager (especially now that it’s discontinued.)

I♥SYNTHS: What’s your favorite piece of gear? 

pulsewidthmod: I really don’t like playing favorites; but if you must, I’d say the DSI Mono Evolver Keyboard. It’s crazy with it’s modulation abilities. You’ve got 4 16 step sequencers stacked on top of one another that are assignable, the digital oscillators provide timbres that the analog oscillators lack. Oh, and then there’s the additional modulation points that are assignable, the assignable envelope and the distortion.

Yeah, I love the MEK. I’ve also got a Prophet ’08. Both have the PE boards installed.

I♥SYNTHS: Any really rare synths? 

pulsewidthmod: I used to have a Siel OR400 but I sold it because I didn’t think it was a piece that I could gig with. 

I♥SYNTHS: What are your thoughts on modular synths?

pulsewidthmod: I think modular synths are absolutely amazing but I also think that they can send one down a slippery slope leading to a black hole of constant G.A.S. 

In the beginning of 2014 I purchased some MOTM kits that I planned on building. Later that year I sold them because I came to the realization that for myself, personally, it could be counter-productive. Building modules takes time, planning out which modules to get takes just as much, if not more time. 

So I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t go down that rabbit hole. I could foresee myself getting too caught up in building and buying and not making music. At that point I hadn’t played any shows and the album I was working on wasn’t done.

Now that I’ve played quite a few shows and I’ve finished two albums; I’ll consider going down that road. Right now though, I have no way to fund the purchases.

I♥SYNTHS: Did you play in bands or produce music before getting into hardware?

pulsewidthmod: I never played in bands; but the desire was always there. I was homeschooled from 5th grade onward so my social skills were always on the awkward side. (I’m still socially awkward to this day.)

I was a piano performance major in college, I played in one ensemble. I ended up dropping out because I moved to Philadelphia after meeting a dude at a NIN concert who looked very out of place. He wasn’t a NIN fan, he was into Indie Rock. At the time, I didn’t really know what that meant. (I was raised in a bubble.) I later learned all about bands from the Lilys, sigur rós, to Neu!. The out of place looking dude has been my best friend to this day.

I♥SYNTHS: How often do you find yourself rearranging the studio space?

pulsewidthmod: Far too often, I’ve moved quite a few times and it seems that the minute I figure out the best arrangement I end up moving. Here are a few pictures of my older setup.

I♥SYNTHS: It looks like you have more room in the new space. What’s the next synth purchase on your list?

pulsewidthmod: An Elektron Analog Keys; I need another go-to synth that serves as the focal point of my live performances for my solo gigs as pulsewidthmod:. I look at the Analog Keys as an equivalent work-horse like the Mono Evolver Keybaord is. 

I would love a DSI Pro 2 also, but since I already have 2 DSI synths I would prefer to get all nice and cozy with another manufacturer. I have an Octatrack that’s been sitting to the side waiting for me to finish my album.

The album for my main project that I’ve been working on for the past ten years from has reached culmination. It’s currently being mixed by someone I’m lucky to call a good friend of mine, Jeff Zeigler of Uniform Recording. He’s in Philly, so II’ve been having fun driving up there to witness the transformation of the tracks. I can’t wait to share it with the world. I haven’t figured out what the album title will be yet.

I♥SYNTHS: Your love for synths is apparent. Don’t have a tattoo? What did the tattoo artist think when you brought the idea to them?

pulsewidthmod: I got my first tattoo in Las Vegas two days after getting married. What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas. The tattoo artist didn’t seem to think anything at all really. It was a job. It was my first tattoo. This is the ADSR tattoo on my left arm. 

This past May I finally got  the rest of the knobs on my right arm. I went to a local shop in here in Baltimore County, Maryland. The artist seemed more into what I wanted than the Vegas dude. His skills were far more superior to the Vegas artist.

I should note that I gave both artists the same image; the Pro~One blank patch sheet. I really do love the sound of the CEM filters. 

I♥SYNTHS: Care to show off some of your music? 

pulsewidthmod: I would love to share some Lilly Wave tracks but would rather wait till the mixing is done and the release is worked out. Until then, you can listen to my PulseWIdthMod stuff.

I recently was awarded a “Best of Baltimore: Soundtrack to the Revolution.” It was my response to the uprising and I released that under my solo name, pulsewidthmod:. You can listen to the album on Bandcamp or Soundcloud

You can read about the album and how the Baltimore Uprising inspired it here: Best Soundtrack to the Revolution: PulseWidthMod – Baltimore City Paper

Here is a new video:

I also have a new EP coming out January 19th called “Right of Passage” Here is the first single: