Talking Sound Design With Biologik – His Latest Elektron Sound Bank, Background and More…
Biologik is a Canadian musician and sound designer. Elektron users will recognize his name from some of the most popular sound banks for Analog Four/Analog Keys (such as Biopads, a collection of beautifully organic pad sounds, released a few years ago).
Following the success of Biopads Vol. I, Elektron recently released Biopads Vol. II, a pack with 120 lush pads, effects and self-modulating drone sounds for Analog Four (Mark I and II)/Analog Keys (you’ll find a demo below).
If you’re an owner of these synths, we think you should definitely get this new collection (it can be a great learning experience, even if you’re a strict ‘no-presets’ musician). Biopads Vol. II really shows what these great synths are capable of. We lost track of time as we went through some of Biologik’s new sounds, and they immediately sparked some interesting musical ideas (tip: get your DAW ready!)
As we all know, sound designers are often ‘obscure creatures’, away from the industry’s spotlight (that is, if you’re not Richard Devine!). This is why we decided to ask Biologik some questions about his work, his latest release and more…
Tell us a bit about your background, about your musical history, and how you got into sound design.
I bought my first synth in 1995. It was a Roland JX-3P. In a few short years, I had collected a lot of analogue synths and was using an MPC as the brain of my studio. However, when the Access Virus came out (around late 1999 here), I sold a lot of that gear. Looking back, it was a big mistake, but, on the bright side, the Virus gave me a huge palette to work with. The flexibility of the assignable matrix was like nothing I had used before. I spent a good long time only make sound patches and not making any music. Since then, I’ve always loved making synth patches. Now, I’d like to think I have a healthy balance between patch making and music production.
You’re well known for your pad sounds…
There’s no secret. I love pads. I love pads a lot. This probably stemmed from my Korg Wavestation programming days. The idea of wavetable synthesis was new to me, and the sounds I was able to generate and evolve were a new area to me. Since this time I’ve focused my music and patches on evolving textural pads. Depending on the synth I’m programming, sometimes I do it in the studio (eg., Moog Sub-37), but others like the Elektron A4, I can take to my bedside and program for hours before I sleep (my wife loves that! Hah).
What’s special for you about your latest Biopads II soundbank?
Biopads Vol 1 was very well received. I’ve never gotten so many messages about my patches before, so when it came time to make more, I knew I wanted to make Volume 2. For me, I think Biopads Vol. 2 showcases the truly unique capabilities of the Elektron A4, and I was able to coax amazing sounds out of it that I didn’t think were possible. It’s my favorite pack that I made to date!
In this pack, I explore odd and strange assignments that might not have normally worked but really clicked here. It’s really meant to be tweaked, as I have a lot of hidden features in there that may need to be activated (eg., turn up filter depth or bring in a silent osc!). I found this pack to be my bread and butter for starting a song.
Who do you look up to in the sound design business? Do you have any heroes?
My biggest inspiration, even though I have no plans to make sounds like he does, is Richard Devine. He has a knack for sound design that’s truly unique. Someone more relatable in terms of sound design are Trifonic. Their sounds are truly inspiring!
When you approach a sound, how do you start? Do you think of a sound that you want, or are you just messing around and see what comes out? And when is a patch really finished?
I always start off with just a plain vanilla saw or square wave and I go from there. Sometimes I have something in mind but most of the time I’ll actually start making patches along with a beat playing in the background. I find this helps me out a lot! I could tweak a patch forever, and one thing you’ll find is that some patches sound really good when tweaking things like the sub osc volume or envelope amounts. I’ve purposely made these playable.
Tell us about your setup. On your Facebook page, I see you have lots of different stuff (OP-1, a modular system, etc.). Besides Elektron’s gear, what are your favorite synths, either hardware or software?
I’ve gone back to a lot of hardware recently. I love the playability of synth, and even though I always had hardware, I found I wasn’t as happy when I used more software. Just a personal preference I guess! I don’t use much software now except to record and mix/master. Another of my favorite synths is the Moog Sub-37. I get along really well with that one. If I had to keep just one it would be a tough call though. They’re both so different and they both have features unique to themselves. Impossible to decide!
Any tips for those wanting to explore sound design?
I spent a long time doing nothing but exploring synths. Get dirty. There’s no wrong way to program a synth. If you get a sound you love, who cares how you got it! Just get tweaking!
Oh, that’s a tough question. I’m really inspired by people who love and use synths really well. Stephan Bodzin comes to mind – he really explores synths in his music and you can hear how all the tweaking changes everything. I also like Lorn’s production technique which uses a lot of tape overdubbing. Even though I don’t do that kind of work, I appreciate the complexity of the tones that come out.
What can we expect from you next?
I’ll have a Moog Sub-37 bank out soon. This one is more in the style of Stephan Bodzin, who also uses a Sub-37 on everything he does. After that, a few more Elektron banks still to come!