The PA and backline hire industries have been around for almost as long as electrified music has been a thing. It’s a tried and tested model in the rock domain, but how does this translate into an increasingly electronic world?
Newcomers Resonant Music are a business who specialise in providing synths, drum machines and MIDI peripherals to Melbourne’s thriving electronic music community. With an impressive arsenal of awesome gear at their disposal (and an encyclopedic knowledge on all things electronic), we thought it was time to have a chat with founder Jack Holland, to talk business, Batman and desert island synths.
Can you give us a quick overview of Resonant Music, what services do you provide and how long have you guys been around?
Yeah sure! We're a musical equipment hire company that specialises in the wonderful world of electronic instruments. We are still the new kids on the block and have been operating for just over a year now. Our goal is to provide flexible hire periods on all our equipment with a focus to Melbourne's amazing musicians. From anyone who is just starting out, bands and artists who may need something special to use on that next album or even a try before you buy, we've started this for them really.
Was there a ‘lightbulb’ moment that made you decide to set up shop or how did it all come about?
I guess it was sort of a lightbulb moment. I've always been doing it for friends really. Someone might have just got a copy of Ableton and I would lend a MIDI controller to help get started or others thinking about buying a synth I already owned and would let them borrow. I'd been asked multiple times "have you ever thought about hiring any of this out" but never knew how I would do it.
A couple of years ago I pitched the business to a few clever friends who not only loved the idea but could help in what is actually needed to start a business. From this we formed a partnership, developed a business plan and started what you see today as Resonant Music.
Who’s involved in the business and what are your musical backgrounds/areas of expertise?
So Resonant Music is run a lot like Batman and Alfred. On the front line is me, Jack. I'm the one you want to chat to about the toys and gadgets. I handle everything from sales, deliveries, setup, purchasing, customer support and our online content. I studied audio engineering but worked my way into music retail and then wholesale shortly after. The majority of my career was spent at Australasian Music Supplies where I worked in the purchasing department for quality control. During my time there, I set up and fixed everything from guitars, banjos, drums and pedals while also providing assessments on new products. On top of this I have been a drummer for over 20 years playing in various rock bands through my 20s but my biggest passion has always been in producing electronic music, mainly techno!
My Alfred is Katherine, she is the one pulling all the strings behind the scenes. Apart from keeping me in check, she handles everything from accounting, legal and our website. Her background isn't musical but is in project management, this is why Resonant Music was able to start and operate smoothly. We’ve both grown up loving electronic music, I’m just the one who has the understanding of how it’s made.
What do you think are some of the obvious advantages of going with an Electronic Specialist like Resonant, when it comes to hiring electronic music equipment?
We really wanted this to be something different from what was already available with other companies. There are so many different approaches to making music today especially producing electronic music. We understand not everyone is a road hardened touring musician and some may just be tinkering around in their bedroom casually.
Our gear can be used in so many different ways on the stage and in the studio and it's understanding different techniques and styles that sets us apart. You may be a player and like something simple and intuitive, a producer that prefers to sequence tracks and likes more hands on control of parameters or even a sound designer that loves a mod matrix and a bit of menu diving. With all these different styles playing different genres we want to help our customers choose something that suits their workflow or even expand on what they might not have known.
Being situated in Melbourne’s inner north, you guys are located right in the heart of one of the most fertile and supportive musical communities in the country. How has the reception been since you’ve opened up and have you had any memorable bookings of note?
It's obviously been a bit of a weird start for us. We've been running for just over a year with six months of those spent in a pandemic. In saying that we're excited of what's to come as it's already been pretty awesome for us and the reception from everyone has been really positive. Our most memorable booking so far came at the start of the year when we hired out our Moog Sub-37 CV to techno giant Reinier Zonneveld for Babylon Festival at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
Are you guys primarily supplying gear for the studio/recording side of things or do you let people hire for live shows as well? What’s the minimum/maximum hire period?
People can hire all of our gear for whatever they need, live included. We do take a bond and have our terms and conditions when hiring but have made this as easy as possible for customers simplifying the process. Essentially as long as you return the gear in the exact condition as you received it and in the time you hired it we don't mind where or what it's used for.
Our hire periods are as flexible as you are. When booking any gear we have two hire periods on the website to select from, one day and one week with a price indicating both. If you are after a different time frame from than the pre-selected hire periods this can easily be arranged when booking.
With the number of tweakable parameters found in the hardware side of electronic music, it definitely pays to have someone more experienced to bounce questions off. Do you guys offer little rundowns on pick-up, just to help people get their head around the gear?
We sure do! When hiring we have a 15 minute time slot allocated to give our customers a run through of all the basic operations from signal flow, using the parameters, setting up, saving and browsing patches and how it can be connected. If being delivered we can show you different ways it can be integrated with your existing setup and if you require more time you're more than welcome to book us in for longer at an extra cost. We consider this one of the most important things at Resonant Music so please don't be afraid to ask any questions at any time, we love it.
Resonant are renowned for having one of the nicest collections of synthesisers around. Do you have a personal favourite? What would be your ‘desert island’ synth, if you could choose only one?
My personal favourite in the Resonant collection is definitely the Minimoog Voyager. For me, it's everything I look for in a synthesiser, it has such a massive sound but so simple and versatile to control. The one that surprised me the most though is the ARP Odyssey, I was kinda talked into getting it not really being a fan but after playing it for a bit realised how impressive and fun an instrument it really is.
As for my desert island synth that's probably the hardest thing you could ask me! At the moment it would have to be the almost unobtainable Moog One. Everything from the sound, to the interface and features are incredible and seems like a pretty perfect choice to be stranded with. Some close contenders though and ones I'd definitely like to add to the Resonant arsenal would be the Sequential Prophet X, UDO’s Super 6 and Black Corporation’s Deckard's Dream.
Outside of the synths, what other gear do you guys have for hire?
We definitely have a focus on synthesizers but are looking to expand our catalogue even further with more drum machines, MIDI controllers and effects. At the moment we have a couple of really cool drum machines like the Roland TR-8S and the Sequential Tempest. Our MIDI keyboards/controllers can be hired by themselves but were purchased with our desktop synthesizers in mind, these can be supplied as an option to customers at a discounted cost when combined with a desktop synthesiser. We also provide accessories such as stands, audio and MIDI cables.
Which article of gear in the Resonant Music inventory sees the most action and why do you think this is?
Our Moog Sub 37-CV, ARP Odyssey and Korg Prologue are probably our most requested. I think their price point is really appealing to a lot of people who may have some entry level gear and are looking to get their hands on and play something a little better.
Do you guys offer pick up/delivery?
Yeah we offer both. We have a flat rate of $35 for delivery in metropolitan Melbourne and a further $35 for collection. For any areas outside these locations delivery and pick up charges will be agreed with the customer. Alternatively, customers are able to collect and return the equipment free of charge from our Brunswick location.
What’s next for Resonant Music?
We're constantly looking onwards and upwards at the moment. We have some really cool ideas we're planning to get stuck into on top of expanding our catalogue even further. Diving into the modular world of synthesizers is something you will see in the near future. We're looking to provide a range of different modules and euro racks where customers can essentially pick and choose modules and build their own synthesizer for hire.
We've just started a YouTube channel where we are putting up demos and how-to's with not only the gear we hire but also for plug-ins and DAWs. We also want to learn more about what our customers are keen on, keeping up to date with what people are interested in is an important goal for us and something we will always pursue. The reality is the more people hire the more we can buy!
How do we contact Resonant Music, and what’s the best way for Mixdown readers to make a booking?
As we are only a small outfit and I’m quite often out on the road the best way to contact us is via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can of course give me a call on 0410367702 for any questions and bookings. The best way to make a booking is through our website though. We have a really easy online form for all our gear and once completed we get in contact ASAP to finalise.
Check out Resonant Music's inventory in greater detail over at their website.