Animal Collective turn to Korg M3 for next album

Call it “noise pop,” “neo-psychedelia,” or “avant-garde electro-folk,” it doesn’t really matter; the fresh and experimental approach Animal Collective takes to their music creates a sound all their own.

Animal Collective

Members Deakin, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Panda Bear have garnered critical acclaim and gushing blog praise as they continue to redefine their sonic signatures.

Panda’s 2007 blissful solo album, Person Pitch, received tons of applause, making numerous indie “Best of” lists, including Album of the Year from major internet publication Pitchfork Media. He, Avey, and Geologist, put together Animal Collective’s most recent offering, Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is already being received as a musical landmark for 2009. We were lucky to have Panda share his thoughts on creating music, and how Korg products help him sculpt his work.

Take us back. How did you begin your journey as a musician?
I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 or so. Then I moved on to cello and then guitar and drums and a bunch of other things. I really had a good time singing in a choir in high school, too, and I feel like it informed most parts of my process these days.

When you create music for Animal Collective or your Panda Bear releases, do you have any go-to techniques or formula…or is each recording approached differently?
I think I’m a little afraid, or at least wary, of having go to techniques, and I feel like I’d rather steer clear of repeating things if I can. I’d like to stay in a zone that’s sort of uncomfortable creatively speaking, if you know what I mean. I’d say that being in the possession of some kind of mastery and being a beginner are two very similar states of mind. So I’d like to stay as close to those extremes as possible.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is out and receiving great reviews…do you have any favorite songs on the album? Any memorable stories from putting it together?
I’ve gone through a couple of favorite songs, and it changes all the time – which is a good thing, I would say! “No More Runnin” is the most emotionally resonant for me these days, and I like a lot of Dave’s words on that song. There was a tornado one day while we were recording (in Oxford, Mississippi), and it passed maybe only 15 miles or so from where we were. We went outside because we heard the sirens, but it seemed really calm and sticky warm out there. Then lightning struck and the sky lit up, and you could see the massive black triangle off in the distance a little bit.

Korg M3Korg M3 workstation…an Animal Collective new favourite

Why did you choose the Korg M3?
I started making songs on a Korg 0/1W pro that my family had, and I feel that by using it so much I came to understand how the thing worked inside and out. I guess I felt like I had learned the Korg language, if you know what I mean. So when I first heard about the Korg M3, I was excited because it felt like a familiar face coming back. I was really into the idea of the Karma engine too, and how it could throw surprises and twists and turns into the sounds. I really like how you can manage the sounds in detail and how you can kind of rip the thing apart from the inside out.

I’ve also really been into the idea of using current equipment and new technologies and devices. I feel like there’s a lot of interest in older machines and gear, and I’d rather go the other way and try to embrace what’s now or what’s new.

Do you have any favorite features of the M3?
I really like the arpeggiator and the Karma engine. I feel like I can get all kinds of sounds just using combinations of those two. I don’t use a keyboard at all, although sometimes I’ll hook up a guitar with a MIDI pickup, because it’s fun to see how things end up melodically and structurally that way.

How did your Korg gear fit into the making of Merriweather Post Pavilion? What do you plan to use live on the upcoming tour?
The other guys used the KAOSS Pads on the record, for sure. I hadn’t gotten the M3 until after the recording of that release was over, but I’m planning to use the m3 nearly exclusively to make my new songs. I really like how with the M3 and other devices Korg seems to be looking forward, and I’d like to be that way creatively if I can.

Check out Merriweather Post Pavilion and find out more about Animal Collective and Panda Bear at !


Korg M3 products at Dolphin Music

Animal Collective Artist Page at Dolphin

Animal Collective Myspace page


Terry Lawless Merges Math and Music to Program for U2

See how keyboard tech and programmer extraordinaire Terry Lawless supports legendary rock band U2 using a variety of M-Audio gear.

Behind every supergroup are great techs and programmers like Terry Lawless, who supports U2 from the studio to the stage. Lawless laid his foundation in Iowa, studying performance, music education and mathematics in college while playing single and double reeds in both academic bands and combos.

He soon started pursuing piano as well, drawing on his mathematical background to master the synths and effects of the day. This firm grounding in electronic music technology gives him tremendous appreciation for today’s powerful virtual instruments.

What projects are you working on?

Right now I’m in the middle of working with U2 and company on the newest CD release. When I am off the road and not gigging locally, I can always be found in my production studio in Santa Maria. I write for two music production libraries, one in London and one in Philadelphia. Of course, I have also been adding session work in the studios around the Central Coast and, more recently, vintage keyboard sessions over the Internet.

How did you get started as a touring keyboard tech?

I got to Los Angeles with degrees in music and math in 1983, the year that the Yamaha DX7 hit. Programming with relationships of numbers made perfect sense to me and I started to get a lot of programming work. A good friend of mine, Todd Grace, was moving from a technical position with Barry Manilow to a playing position in the band and got me the job as the technician. I got my hands on every synthesizer I could and read every scrap of paper about programming. The rest is just application and honing. The jobs started to become very steady.

What M-Audio gear are you using on the road with U2?

I use M-Audio USB keyboards for extra keys. In the show, two of the U2 principals can be seen using an Oxygen8 on stage to play some parts with MIDI wireless to my rig. For special TV appearances and hotel room work, I use a laptop with the FireWire 410 interface. I also use the BX8 monitors when editing.

You also use the KikAxxe and TimewARP 2600 virtual instruments by Way Out Ware. What are your impressions?

Both of these emulations are as exact as I have ever heard. The oscillators on both have absolutely no aliasing and extra garbage when you play extremely low or extremely high. They are the best. The addition of the step sequencer into the KikAxxe was a stroke of genius. I mostly use it to add step filtering into a sound, but the arpeggiating and retriggering makes a great palette from which I “paint.”

How do the Way Out Ware software instruments compare to their vintage counterparts?

I own both an ARP 2600 and an ARP Axxe. I can assure you that these emulations are absolutely perfect! Every knob, every function seems to react exactly the same as the original instruments (except, of course, for the additional features). I am back in the ‘70s all over again!

For More info visit:

M-Audio Oxygen 8 v2

M-Audio KikAxxe

Lisa Harriton – A Smash Hit with the Smashing Pumpkins

Long before joining one of the biggest, multi-platinum-selling bands of the 1990s, Smashing Pumpkins, Los Angeles native Lisa Harriton had already established herself as a respected jazz pianist and singer.

Her jazz background may seem to some an unlikely pairing with the Pumpkins’ sound, but her voice and style on the keyboards caught the ear of bandleader Billy Corgan right away. In 2007, she debuted as the band’s keyboardist and backing vocalist.

With a knack for melody and harmonic textures, Lisa is a key element of Smashing Pumpkins’ experimental style, which ranges from driving, distorted guitar hooks to extended jams and full-on orchestral arrangements. As she embarks on their latest world tour, on the road with her is her essential keyboard—Roland’s RD-700GX Digital Stage Piano.

“The first keyboard that I ever purchased was actually the RD-600 ten years ago. There’s been so many improvements since then! One of the things that drew me to the Roland brand was the touch of their weighted keys. Coming from an acoustic piano background, the touch was really important to me,” says Lisa, “With the RD-700GX, I really love that I can customize a piano sound, which you can’t do with other keyboards in the same way.”

See Lisa in action, and to hear more about how she uses Roland keyboards to amp up Smashing Pumpkins’ sound.

Roland news: Ladytron Talk About Their Gear

Since 2001, Ladytron has been on the forefront of the new, electronic rock movement beginning with their first release, “604.” Some called it Electroclash, but Ladytron, since their earliest days, have never been easy to categorize.

Ladytron (from left): Danny, Helen, Reuben and Mira

2008 has been Ladytron’s most successful year so far, and since the release of their new album ‘Velocifero’ they are playing to increasingly bigger audiences, with gigs at large venues and international festivals both in the UK and in the rest of the world. Though recently chosen by Gibson as one of the best bands from Liverpool, truth is that Ladytron are truly international: with two members from Liverpool, one from Glasgow and one from Bulgaria, they belong to the world.

The band has an effortless way of combining old school technology within a 21st Century context — and always with strong songwriting. Known for their high-energy live shows, the band is able to translate the same excitement and mood of their studio productions to the stage.

Ladytron relies on a mixture of different Roland synthesizer technologies, from some of the earliest vintage pieces to the latest workstations. Roland Product Specialist Dan Krisher met up with the band in New York during their tour for their latest release, “Velocifero.” Present were Mira Aroyo (keyboards and vocals), Danny Hunt (keyboards, guitar and vocals), Helen Marnie (keyboards and vocals) and Reuben Wu (keyboards and vocals).

In this interview for Roland, the band discuss their new CD, their songwriting process and how Roland gear fits into their enigmatic and compelling sound.

Dan From Roland: We’re here in New York, just before you go on stage. So what would be your ultimate live show, if you had unlimited time money and resources?

Reuben: The North Pole. We could fly everyone out.

Danny: Soulwax told us about this urban myth about the black Amex card. Apparently one of its default functions is to be able to hire a jumbo jet and fly your friends all over the world anytime.

Helen: And ideally no sound check!

Mira: And lots of pyrotechnics. Lots of lions jumping through hoops over us while we were playing.

Dan From Roland: I didn’t expect so much “Vegas” from Ladytron.

Helen: No, not so much Vegas..

Dan From Roland: What would the lights be?

Danny: Well, we really like the lights we have now.

Mira: Maybe more of them.

Reuben: Like maybe a million of them.

Dan From Roland: The band has a new release out. What’s the concept behind it?

Danny: It’s a long playing format with thirteen songs, called “Velocifero.”

Helen: But we all don’t say it like that.

Reuben: I say, “Velo-KI-fero.”

Helen: I say, “Velo-SO-fero.”

Danny: And it’s out now, and it’s been going well. We’re touring it at the moment. This is the first time we’ve really toured before an album came out. We’re playing seven songs off it.

Danny and his Roland keyboards

Dan From Roland: Last time we spoke, you described your process. You recorded this quickly, in December I believe. Was the process the same or different this time?

Danny: Similar process, but with little pockets of development.

Mira: It’s just that we really don’t have a process. So it’s easy to say it’s a similar process, because we don’t have a set process. So it was the same lack of process.

Dan From Roland: That’s probably one of the elements that keeps things moving forward and staying fresh all the time.

Reuben: Yes. This was thirteen happy accidents.

Dan From Roland: How did your Roland gear play into the new recording?

Danny: We had the V-Synth [GT] , the Fantom, the SH-201 and the Juno-G. Most of the recording was done in Liverpool.

Mira: Then we requested for other things to be there when we finished up in Paris. We specifically asked that an SH-201 be there in Paris to use.

Danny: There’s a lot of [SH]-201 on “Ghosts and “The Lovers.”

Reuben: We used a lot of SH-2 and SH-9. There’s always a lot of old school stock.

Danny: Juno-6, too. We used Fantom piano on “Runaway,” and on “Verses,” there’s a V-Synth patch called “Orgone.”

Dan From Roland: How’s the tour been going?

Danny: Really well — biggest so far. Biggest crowds, biggest venues.

Mira: When you have a new album out, it’s all more exciting and fresh.

Dan From Roland: For your millions of Roland fans, what are you using on stage?

Danny: We’ve got the Juno-G and we’re using the [SH]-201 of course.

Dan From Roland: And you use a lot of BOSS pedals too. You use these with the guitar and keyboards, right?

Reuben: We’ve got the Space Echo [RE-20] pedals. They’re our favorite toy.

Danny: They are brilliant.

Reuben: They’re so cool!

Helen: Definitely.

Danny: It’s amazing — if you’ve got a static instrument, the Space Echo gives it all this life and chaos to play with. Especially by pressing and holding the right hand pedal, which was this trick we learned about from the ‘net. That wasn’t in the manual.

Reuben: It’s made out of metal and has the same look as the original one, the same color scheme. It’s just authentic.

Danny: We’ve got that [RE-20] going through a couple of the keyboards and guitar as well.

Helen: Danny just goes off into his own world. He forgets what he’s doing, and all we’ve got in our in-ear monitors is all this echo.

Danny: You know what happens is that we’re both using our own at the same time! You look at me thinking it’s me, and then I look at Reuben and he’s got his foot on his using it too.

Reuben: [to Danny] Sometimes you play with the intensity knob. You are playing, then hit intensity and get this massive feedback from the keyboards — it’s great.

Mira, using FX pedals with her Korg synth

Dan From Roland: What happens after the North American tour ends?

Mira: More touring!

Danny: We’ll probably be out until next Summer.

Mira: Lots more big festivals.

Helen: We do a couple of support slots for Interpol, then all the big European festivals. Then we go to Australia. Then back to the UK and Europe.

Reuben: We could actually tour for years and years until we decide to put a new album out.

Dan From Roland: Can you tell me what the next single might be?

Danny: We think it’s “Runaway.” What do you think?

Dan From Roland: Well, I’m into “Tomorrow” and definitely “Burning Up.”

Danny: A lot of people say that.

Helen: Maybe we release all of them as singles.

Danny: Thirteen singles!

Look out for Ladytron everywhere in 2008. For more information, check out

Read our Hooking up Guitar FX Pedals To Keyboards article

Pink Floyd Keyboardist Rick Wright Dies, Aged 65


Richard Wright, one of the founder members of Pink Floyd, died yesterday (Monday 15th Sept.) after battling with cancer.



Wright, besides playing the keyboards, also wrote some songs for the band and even sang some of their material, early in the Pink Floyd career, including “Paintbox” and “Remember A Day”. Though those songs were overshadowed by Syd Barretts’ genial early work, they still represent that early, psychedelic pop side of Pink Floyd very well, and there’s much to be said for Rick Wright’s knack for writing such breezy, gentle tunes as these – both essential staples in any collection of early, non-album Pink Floyd tracks:

Pink Floyd performing Wright’s tune “Remember A Day” on French TV



Early Pink Floyd promo video, Rick Wright sings “Paint Box”


Guitarist David Gilmour said: “He was such a lovely, gentle, genuine man and will be missed terribly by so many who loved him.”

Writing on his website, he added: “And that’s a lot of people. Did he not get the loudest, longest round of applause at the end of every show in 2006?”

Wright’s spokesman said in a statement: “The family of Richard Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, announce with great sadness that Richard died today after a short struggle with cancer. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.”

Rick Wright was a self-taught keyboard player and pianist, and his liquid, intuitive playing and use of effects such as Leslie speaker and echoe boxes, greatly enhanced the Pink Floyd sound in some of their best and most seminal albums, from Floyd’s debut “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” to “Echoes” and “The Dark Side Of The Moon”.

Wright (left) and his Pink Floyd bandmates in ’67


Wright’s work on the title track of “Echoes”, with it’s amazing use of the Leslie Rotating Speaker, is one of the most classic keyboard parts in rock’n’roll, and is still greatly appreciated by keyboard players today. It was one of the highlights of Pink Floyd’s film “Live In Pompeii”, and here’s “Echoes – Part I” for you:

Wright, a founder member of The Pink Floyd Sound – and other previous incarnations including Sigma 6 – met Waters and Mason at architecture school. Despite his important role within the band, Wright was forced to leave Pink Floyd in the early 80’s, after working on “The Wall”, due to artistic differences with Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters.


When Waters eventually left Pink Floyd, Rick Wright resumed his role in the band, working on a string of successful comeback albums such as “The Division Bell” in 1994, that kept the Pink Floyd flame still burning bright, well into the 90’s.


In 2005, the full band reunited – for the first time in 24 years – for the Live 8 concert in London’s Hyde Park. Fans worldwide were rejoiced to see Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Rick Wright and drummer Nick Mason together onstage again, and it was one of the highlights of the event.

Pink Floyd at Live 8


There was much speculation – or at least hope – that Pink Floyd would reform and tour again.


The band never confirmed the rumours, and now, with Rick Wright’s passing, those hopes are dashed forever. Rick Wright is now joining Syd Barrett at the Great Gig In The Sky…