Artist to Artist: Tin Man and Patricia

The hardware masters quiz each other on favourite modules and their relationship with space.

Artist to Artist: Tin Man and Patricia

The hardware masters quiz each other on favourite modules and their relationship with space.

A mutual love of hardware brought producers Tin Man and Patricia together; a passion they're exploring through their new project Ociya. 

Individually both have become renowned for their machine-focused endeavours. Tin Man, real name Johannes Auvinen, is synonymous with acid; a characteristic that runs through everything he creates. His work for both Acid Test and his own Global A imprint have shown his innate ability to manipulate sound, particularly through his use of the Roland TB-303.

Patricia AKA Max Ravitz has been on a similar sonic path. His releases for Ghostly, Spectral Sound and Opal Tapes have cemented him as one of North America's hardware masters, and have seen him match Tin Man's unwavering work ethic. 

Something of a match made in heaven, or in space should we say, the pair have just released their first double LP, Powers Of Ten, on Acid Test. Following the release we asked the pair to quiz each other on their stomping grounds, favourite modules and their relationship with outer space.

Tin Man: You grew up in Chicago, correct? Did you collect records? I went once on a three day record dig there. It was like a dream and I found lots records that had belonged to local DJs and some where the DJ had blacked out the labels with a marker so no one would spot their hot tracks.

Patricia: Yeah, I grew up in downtown Chicago. If I had a time machine, I definitely would go back and clue my younger self into some of the music culture I could've taken advantage of there when I was younger. I was more or less exclusively into hip-hop growing up, so I was totally unaware of all the amazing house music going on around me. I would still hear stuff on the radio though, I remember moments like listening to Percolator by Cajmere on my drives to school in the morning, and my dad would crank it and start singing along :).

I was into sampling and turntablism in high school, so I was buying cheap used records to mess with, and I'd also go to an amazing record store in Chicago called Gramaphone records, but I'd be buying underground hip hop cassettes, and ignoring all the incredible house records they had there. For me, most of the records I had early on came from my dad. He grew up in Detroit, and was an obsessive record collector. He would tell me stories about how he developed relationships with the record store clerks, and they learned his taste after awhile, so they'd set aside stacks of records for him every week, and he'd just stop by and buy them. He mainly collected jazz, r&b, soul, reggae, and a bit of early hip hop, and I inherited several thousand records from him, so it was amazing to have that at home. He had lots of original pressings and rare stuff, I even remember he had two sealed original pressings of 'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash that I really treasured in high school.

Having those records was also super eye-opening for me because I connected so many dots between hip hop songs with samples, and the originals they sampled from. I think that discovery got me listening to a lot more types of music, because it was fun for me to make those connections, and hear what inspired all these producers I loved. I'd find samples used by people I admired like DJ Premier, Dr Dre, Pete Rock, Prince Paul, Da Beatminerz, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and hear what sparked their ideas, it was super interesting for me.

Tin Man: We met first at a Bunker party in New York. Most of my life in New York pivots on the Bunker crew. What were some of the most memorable Bunker parties you went to?

Patricia: Well I would definitely rate my first time seeing you play live as one of my favorite Bunkers, that was when they used to happen at Public Assembly. I remember Fred P and Madteo also played that night, both of whom I totally love. Another favorite was seeing Omar S for the first time at a Bunker party, which had Mike Servito and Voices From The Lake sharing the bill. I also got to open for Todd Osborn and JTC at a Bunker, which was a moment for me, as I idolize those guys. Bryan Kasenic is just on it! He also just released a new solo project of mine called Pizzaboy on the Bunker NY label, so shoutout Bryan <3

Tin Man: You worked for a time at the modular synth shop Control. What are the most unusual modules that you encountered?

M: Yes, Control is the best! It's a store run by great musicians and wonderful people. If anyone reading this wants to check out modular synthesizers and is in New York, they should check out Control! I think the most unusual modules I encountered there were made by two manufacturers, a Dutch guy named Gijs Gieskes, and an American guy named Peter Blasser who puts out modules under the name Ieaskul F. Mobenthey. Gieskes designs are usually very unique electro-mechanical modules, for example drum modules that trigger a vu meter's needle to tap on a contact microphone, giving you these amazing metallic percussion sounds, and each individual one sounded a bit different. The Mobenthey modules are just very idiosyncratic and interesting.

Tin Man: Also regarding gear, what are some uncommon gear features you like? I like on the Yamaha Ry-30 drum machine it has a wheel you can assign to different parameters which is odd but cool for a rhythm machine. I also like the various variety of portamento curves on the Alesis Andromeda. A simple idea I'm surprised isn't widely implemented.

Patricia: I love the way that velocity works on the Roland JP-8000. I know you know this, but for readers, that's a virtual analog synth from the 90's that people either love or hate, they have a very trancey sound. With that synth, you can set up velocity to essentially morph between two patches. You start by designing a patch, that will be your starting point, then press the velocity button, and then you can change any parameter you want, I usually make almost a completely different patch, then you hit the velocity button again. Now with velocity on, your softest notes will sound like the first patch, the hardest notes sound like the second, and any velocity in between will interpolate between the two patches. It gives a really unique and cool result. There are other synths made now which can do similar things like the Moog One or the ASM Hydrasynth, but I love the way JP-8000 handles it, it's very simple once you do it once.

Tin Man: You recently moved and I see you have a beautiful backyard. Tell us what's growing there?

Patricia: Yeah my wife and I moved to North Carolina so that I could take a job working for Moog Music. We found this house we loved from the 1920s that has all these nice Japanese details. The garden is definitely the nicest I've ever had at a house. It's full of imported Japanese flora, several varietals of Japanese maple trees, it even has a koi pond. It's kind of overwhelming learning about all the maintenance involved, but it's magical to have in the backyard!

Tin Man: If you wrote a video game soundtrack what would the game be like?

Patricia: Too many ways to go here, I low key love video games! I think my ideal choices would be a sci-fi game, a JRPG, or a Metroid-vania style game. Something where I can use a lot of synthesizers. I'd also be curious to try making some 8-bit retro game style music for a game. There is a musician named Disasterpeace, (whose stage name I don't love), but he's scored a few games that I've really enjoyed the music on, I'd probably aim in a similar direction, but with my own vibe to it. I would love to score a video game someday!

Tin Man: Our record has a "space" theme. I was reflecting on my interests in outer space. I'm no space nerd, but as a child I built hobby rockets. I read about the X plane pilots and those cowboys who first started flying out of the atmosphere. I loved Solaris by Tarkovsky. As a fan of Drexiya I loved the turn in the story towards the end when they go to outer space. What is your relationship to outer space?

Patricia: I have a funny association with space because I had a serious girlfriend my senior year of high school, and the concept of space was so overwhelming to her, that she would get panic attacks if you talked about it with her. Now I can't think of space without thinking of her all wild-eyed, rapidly breathing, haha. For me the space has always been fascinating cause my mind can't wrap itself around the idea of infinity. I always feel so tiny when I think about the scale of it all. I'm also a huge sci-fi fan, and I love how many ideas have been conceived of when thinking about what space could hold.

Patricia: What was the first piece of electronic music gear you acquired? Was it something that stuck with you, or just a stepping stone that was within your budget at the time?

Tin Man: The first piece of gear I got was the FM module from Yamaha, the FB-01. It was 50 bucks. I still have it. It's a presets only version of the DX7, so budget FM. It was interesting because it forced me to figure out how midi works which took me a minute to grasp. Then I got a Roland Cr-8000 drum machine and then a Tr-707 both for about 100 bucks. I still have the 707. I made the mistake of recording my Acid Acid album with that as the master clock and the timing is very bad. If I had used any other Roland drum machine it would have been solid, I think that is the only one in the line with timing issues. The Cr-8000 I sold when I left LA. I got rid of lots when I moved.

Patricia: Was there a specific moment when you realized your musical practice was going to revolve around the 303? What inspired that focus in your productions?

Tin Man: I did not envision the way I would use the 303, but I had fallen in love with that sound early on and knew it would be a focus for me when I started. Of course, I had to save up for maybe three years to get the first one. After finally getting one I was even more enamored with the sound and vibey-ness of working with such a character filled machine. It's very quirky and there is lots of give and take working with it.

Patricia: If you were to point to a classic 303-user who inspired you the most, who would it be?

Tin Man: My 303 style doesn't blatantly sound like the classic Chicago sound, but I think those major influences are still at the base of my writing. Armando, Adonis, Phuture are still for me at the core. Its all very funky and rooted in funk. Many people talk about House and Techno being rooted in disco, but I feel Acid House shows how important funk is in the lineage of dance music. I like to write melodic acid, but it doesn't feel right if it doesn't have some funk to it.

Patricia: Obviously approaches to music shift over time, but are there any techniques you find yourself using consistently when mixing tracks in the studio?

Tin Man: I often try to approach things as a non-musician. I always need to remind myself to not work too hard on the music part of music. In the end sounds, emotions, stories, weird little shapes, and bits of melody are more interesting than "well thought out" compositions. So, I always try to remind myself to wear the listeners hat and not miss the simple magic.

Patricia: Engineering nerd question: Are you an EQ before or after compression kinda guy? If you fall into the "ambi-eq-placement" category, when do you use which?

Tin Man: At the moment I am recording with "four part" mentality; drums, bass, melody, harmony. I am tracking all at the same time, but the are all processed separately before recording. That way I can get the whole ambience-eq-placement equation already sorted while tracking. For example, the Jupiter-8 for pads (harmony) runs through a filter bank and then into an effects unit before the computer. The bass runs though a compressor then effect. The other synth through eq and effect. The drums (minus the kick) through a compressor. I'll keep most stuff pretty dry from reverb and leave that for mixing. I would say I'd rather eq after compression, but its usually a mix of both.

Patricia: You live in Austria, but grew up in California, when did you move? And did that shift in surroundings have a big impact on your practice and sound?

Tin Man: I moved here in 2007. Gosh, it must have had an effect. Probably, it made things a bit softer as life is easier for me here than it was in LA. Probably if I had stayed in LA I would have gotten more angsty.

Patricia: Was there a "straw that broke the camel's back" moment when you decided to pursue music professionally? If so, what was it?

Tin Man: Well yes, the move over here was the moment to give it a shot. There is such a huge variety of ways that people jump into the whole game. I was more of the studio nerd early on and terrified of playing shows. I slowly built up a catalog and a sound and then got into playing live. It was kind of amazing how much I began to enjoy playing live considering how shy I was at first. I made a deal with myself that I would continue to make a go of it as long as I still had the passion for it.

Buy Powers Of Ten. Follow Tin Man.

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