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Aphex Twin x Tatsuya Takahashi: A Meeting Of Minds

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Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, interviews former Korg engineer Tatsuya Takahashi about their collaboration on the Monologue, microtunings, and a whole host of subjects.

Here’s a short excerpt from the interview:

RDJ: I think the monologue is very nice looking, small, very cute and very capable. At first I thought, “Oh, it hasn’t got this, it hasn’t got that, etc. etc.” But I very quickly realised you have turned these limitations into advantages, which is really quite something special. I really mean that. The lack of extensive features makes the whole thing much more speedy to work with.

TT: That’s got to be the best compliment. And it’s a way of thinking that runs through all the synths I’ve worked on, from the volcas and monotrons to the monologue. I think with electronic instruments we’ve got to a point where software can do most things. But I’m a fan of gear where less is more – where the simplest controls can give you the most creative freedom.

RDJ: Yes, I like this approach. It’s true, I do it with modular setups as well. I’m lucky to have loads of modular gear but I prefer to make small systems now and leave everything else in another room where I just try things out before committing them to a more thought out config.

Of course us musicians always look at something new and we see if it does what we expect it to. And this is OK. But we shouldn’t overlook something before actually trying it out, try and get into the head of the designer first. I try and do this. It’s difficult sometimes to push your ego and expectations out of the way for a while, but if we don’t do this we won’t learn anything new. That’s not to say that every designer’s head is worth getting into, but we gotta give it a go sometimes.

TT: This is exactly the reason I really enjoyed working with you. I’d send you a prototype and a day later you’d be sending me a dozen emails about how the drive circuit actually controls gain and dry/wet at the same time. Or how some menu option wasn’t working completely as intended. You would give everything a chance. You went through every single menu option and went after some easter eggs, like finding CC34 VCO1 pitch! In fact, you were the best ever beta tester. Guess you wouldn’t be after a day job tho…

To read the full interview, click here.

A handmade sequencer by Tatsuya with a Korg Monotron.
A handmade sequencer by Tatsuya with a Korg Monotron.
Early Volca ideas and a schematic for the Monotron.
Early Volca ideas and a schematic for the Monotron.
Tatsuya's workspace.
Tatsuya's workspace.