Featuring pieces from David Smith, Moog, SSL and more.
Elder Island follow on from their 2019 debut album with Swimming Static, a ten track indie-electronica album, full of experimentation and catchy hooks. Named after the agitation and general listlessness felt during the lockdown, the trio is carving out a genre-defying space, with infectious songs that shape-shift and captivate.
Guitarist and synth wizard from the trio David Havard, breaks down what gear they used on this record and why.
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Allen & Heath GS3000
This was the centerpiece of the studio whilst we were writing and producing ‘Swimming Static’. We were on the hunt for this desk for a long time, and were lucky to find a 32 channel version with meter bridge not long before we started the initial sessions for this album. Everything in the studio runs into this beast from a patch bay and as it’s a dual in-line desk you have a recording channel and a monitor channel. We had it setup feeding 2 Presonus Quantum 4848 interfaces so whatever was recorded into the computer gets spat back out again directly to the monitor channel. This made editing the live sessions a dream as everything was laid out exactly the way it was recorded. Very much like working with tape.
Acoustic Research AR18s
If you’re after some unforgiving near field monitors, I highly recommend trying to pick up some of these. The lesser known rival to Yamaha NS10’s. They can still be found at reasonable prices but more people are starting to clock on to them. A truly neutral sounding set of speakers, perfect for long listening sessions and for editing as you can really hear all the imperfections.
Stereo processing at it’s finest. From very subtle tonal shaping to driving a signal into rich harmonics. The high frequency compressor works beautifully at taming harsh cymbals and hi hats. We plugged it into the master bus and never turned it off.
Dave Smith & Roger Linn Tempest
This was my favourite piece of kit when making the album. It was my drum machine of choice and what I would always start with. The pads are so expressive. Many people have gripes with the limitations of this instrument but I found them to be its making.
I was fortunate enough to study under Roger Linn and Sasha Lietman over lockdown. They lead a highly rewarding workshop on creating your own electronic instruments based around a teensy (small computer). There is another one happening this year from June 29th
Dave Smith Prophet 08 Rev2
I just can’t get enough of the Prophet! If I had to pick just one synth this would be it. I had Rev 1 and when they announced Rev 2, I jumped on it. The added features makes it such a solid touring instrument. I also use a tetra live and have a backup of that. That’s a total of 30 prophet voices I have at hand! Overkill or what.
Luke and I got quite heavily into Eurorack on this album. Our modular craze began. I was actually after a Roland System 700 but that will never happen in my lifetime. So after lots of deliberation and hours wasted on modular grid, I went for Intellijel as I wanted a complete system. My first module from Intellijel blew me away. SH-101 on steroids! Anything from these guys will make you happy. Very high build quality and feature sets. I pieced a whole system together into a Waldorf KB37 and even managed to squeeze two spring reverbs in there.
I picked this one up much later into the process of making the album. Moog has always been our go-to for fat bass tone. Luke has a Voyager in the studio and I use a minitaur for the sub bass duties live, but I wanted a bit more for myself. As soon as I realized it has a stereo analog delay that’s fully midi syncable I bought it. We ended up processing a lot of Vocals through this synth as it has a lot of creative stereo trickery up its sleeve.
Origin Effects Revival Trem
The guys at Origin know what they’re doing when it comes to tone. This thing can go from subtle drive to downright nasal. For the most part, it was all I used on my guitar. Straight into the desk. We got very experimental when putting the finishing touches on the album and were processing synths and vocals through it, especially on ‘Feral’.
This isn’t an instrument but a seriously essential piece of kit. Pedals, desktop synths, samplers, anything that requires DC power, this is going to be able to power it, all at the same time. Clean and noise free. It’s what makes our live rigs run smoothly. I’ve lost count how many we have.
If you enjoyed this exposé, have a look at Elder Island’s album film below, showing off some of the aforementioned gear and interviews with the band.
Swimming Static is out now and you can listen here.