Interview 006: Soft LightingJanuary 22nd, 2014 | Posted by in Access | Bryan Cox | Controller | DX-7 | gear | iheartsynths | iheartsynths.com | Interview | Juno | Moog | Music | Roland | Soft Lighting | studio | synth | synth collection | Synth Records | Synthesis | synthesizer | synthesizers | synthpop | synths | vintage | Yamaha
I♥SYNTHS: What is Soft Lighting? Tell us about the name, the mood and what got you into electronic music.
Soft Lighting: This is my solo music project. I picked the name at a time when I was really getting into photography and learning about lighting. I thought it fit the kind of chill sultry vibe of the music. I first started making electronic music when I was in high school and Radiohead’s “Kid” A came out. That was around the same time music editing software was becoming easily available.
I♥SYNTHS: How do you go about recording?
Soft Lighting: All different processes. Sometimes I come up with the whole song on guitar before I start recording anything. Sometimes I just start by recording one little piece and then slowly adding onto it. Switching up the process keeps it interesting. The songs go through tons of iterations though. I usually have 20 different versions of a song recorded – some in different keys or totally different arrangements or with alternate lyrics etc.
I♥SYNTHS: “Once everything is recorded in, what type of processing do you do on the computer for the “Soft Light” sound?”
Soft Lighting: I use Waves SSL plugins on everything, Melodyne for vocals, Logic’s reverb and tape delay, Ultrabeat and Battery for drum sampling. I don’t really ever use soft synths.
I♥SYNTHS: Did you play guitar before getting into synthesizers?
Soft Lighting: Yup, I started playing guitar when I was 9 or 10. I wanted to be Nirvana and I had an imaginary band that I called “Rex And The Big Gun” – pretty sarcastic for an elementary kid, haha.
I♥SYNTHS: What’s your go-to piece of gear that defines the Soft Lighting sound?
Soft Lighting: I usually choose a different set of tools for each album because I think it helps give that body of work a uniqueness. The first album, “Slow Motion Silhouettes” was all done on the Juno 60 and the drums where a lot of old Casios so it has a real washed out lo fi vibe. “Portraits” was made with the DX7, Juno 106 and Roland drum machines so it has a cleaner more digital sound. Now I’m working a lot with my Virus TI which is taking the sound out of the realm of vintage 80s and taking it to a more contemporary place.
I♥SYNTHS: You love your cats. Are they a big inspiration to your music? What are their names and what synths do they like the most?
Soft Lighting: I actually only have one cat and his name is Ziggy. My wife and I foster litters of kittens for our local shelter so we always have a bunch of new kittens around. They like ALL the synths and ALL the gear – especially hiding in the back of amplifiers.
I♥SYNTHS: As you’re building your synth collection, are you looking for anything specific to add to your arsenal?
Soft Lighting: I’d really like to pick up a DSI Tempest. I’m mainly on the look out for new really innovative pieces of gear – things that can produce sounds we haven’t hear before.
I♥SYNTHS: You’ve recently released some vinyl. Do you think people are starting to gravitate towards using older gear, recording processes and listening experiences?
Soft Lighting: I think a lot of people are reexamining the relationship between convenience and fun. There is this whole new paradigm surrounding music – the way we make it, find it, listen to it etc. Everything is faster and easier. For a lot of people something is getting lost so they are looking for ways to force themselves to slow down and appreciate the experience. Vinyl makes you sit down and listen to a whole album. Vintage synths makes you physically route pieces of hardware and twist knobs in real time. Its just more fun.
I♥SYNTHS: What’s new for Soft Lighting? Are you doing any collaborations or working on a new solo album? Care to share something new with us?
Soft Lighting: I just finished a couple new singles and collaborating on a new Soft Lighting EP with A$AP Mob producer, P on the Boards. He’s a genius and it’s been amazing to work with him and learn from him. I’m so excited for everyone to hear it. No release date yet to announce but you will be hearing from us very soon.