Violet Oscillation Pedal: Abstracting specialist shoegaze tones from the genre’s boffins

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Violet Oscillation Pedal: Abstracting specialist shoegaze tones from the genre’s boffins

Words by Peter Hodgson

You'll struggle to find greater appreciators of shoegaze

The genre of shoegaze feels custom-built to attract a legion of gear obsessives, the kind of players who obsess over obscure pedals and processors and get lost in hour upon blissful hour of pitch-shifted, reverberated, fuzzified exploration. Which is as good a way as any to describe Pedal Partners. Another good way is in the words of one part of the Pedal Partners trio, Luca. 

“We’re very much into shoegaze, as you can probably tell if you have one glance at our YouTube channel,” Luca says.

Another third of that ‘We’ is Paige, who operates a creative collaboration with twin Rebecca on Pedal Partners, as well as under the name Abstract In Sound, while Luca has Violet Oscillation, a separate musical endeavour which also collaborates with Abstract In Sound. 

Read up on all the latest interviews here.

“Abstract In Sound is my twin sister Rebecca and I was just really inspired by shoegaze music,” Paige says. “We actually moved to the Thames Valley in the UK where shoegaze was highly associated with in the beginning, so it just came naturally that we spent a couple of years really trying to perfect the sound and the way we wanted it to come across. And as soon as we felt like we got that together, we released our debut single, ‘In Abstract World’. And then just recently we released our newest single, ‘Your Gaze’, which we are very, very happy with.”

As for Luca’s Violet Oscillation, he found himself surrounded by shoegaze, goth, and post-punk music while attending university in Northampton, but also from simply cruising YouTube. “There was a video on YouTube of the International Space Station and it was soundtracked by Slowdive’s ‘Souvlaki Space Station’. That was a big moment for me, discovering that… to be honest, I was in tears when I discovered that, it was so beautiful. So that’s how I discovered shoegaze, and then it was a matter of discovering the bands who were from where I’m from, which is Oxford in the UK, and Ride was from there, obviously Radiohead, who are not shoegaze but they’re the biggest bands from there. And they were all texture-based bands. Slowdive up the road as well.”

Pedal Partners, then, can be considered a sort of portal to Luca, Rebecca, and Paige’s creative musings, together and separately under various guises and multiple media streams, and informed by their mutual love of the shoegaze genre. A big part of it is the Pedal Partners YouTube channel, which serves as a conduit not just for releasing Violet Oscillation and Abstract In Sound music, but also for all sorts of shoegaze-related content, be it gear reviews, documentaries on the genre, or just content that defies categorisation but fits within the general vibe of the shoegaze aesthetic. And like any good shoegaze artist, there’s a lot of talk about pedals. So much, in fact, that Pedal Partners collaborates with various pedal builders to make limited release, bespoke stompboxes that tend to sell out pretty much instantly. 

A recent collaboration with Robert Keeley is one such example, taking the form of the Realizer pedal, a spatial pedal based on the reverb side of Keeley’s Loomer pedal. There were a few production runs of that one, but now the time has come for the appropriately named Violet Oscillation pedal, developed together with Life Is Unfair from Cardiff, Wales.  

“I think Life Is Unfair was the first person to ever send us a piece of gear to put on the channel when we first started it,” Luca says. “We’ve been meaning to do something with them for so long and it just came together perfectly. They’ve done such an awesome job. For five years now I’ve been perfecting how to get the best shoegaze tones out of a guitar and so I put everything I learned into one pedal because I needed the perfect tone for my debut single as Violet Oscillation, and that’s how this pedal came about.”

The pedal is inspired by a range of circuits – there’s a little bit of BOSS HM-2, a bit of Vox Tone Bender, a bit of Roger Mayer Octavia. “So it’s got a variety of stuff,” Luca says. “And then the oscillation part was obviously in the band name so we had to put some crazy oscillations in it. So that’s where things get crazy with the pedal: you turn on the oscillation switch and you can just manipulate the sound to do crazy things.

There’s a bass and treble knob and they turn into controlling the pitch of the oscillations. You can get crazy synth-like sounds, glitch sounds, so much crazy stuff. I’m really looking forward to playing live with it. We’ve got momentary foot switches, so it basically means if I just press the foot switch down for a moment and take it off, I can just do crazy stuff to the notes. Crazy improvised stuff is what we’re about.”

Guitar-wise, Paige and Luca are both fans of Fender Jazzmasters. Paige recently purchased a Fender American Vintage II Jazzmaster, a particularly old-school authentic take on this classic model, but is also known to sling an American Professional II Series Jazzmaster. Luca is a fan of Kurt Cobain and is never far away from the Cobain signature Jazzmaster with DiMarzio humbucking pickups or a Fender Jag-stang. Paige often borrows the Cobain Jazzmaster too. 

Next up for the Pedal Partners creative entity: live shows (Luca is looking forward to returning to the UK and activating an old band under the new Violet Oscillation name), some super secret new pedals, and talking up their new collaboration with Simon Scott of Slowdive, who mastered the Violet Oscillation single ‘A Nation Of Pilots’. “Slowdive is like our favourite band ever, so working with them has just been so, so cool and they’re such nice people as well,” Luca says. “I chased Rachel down the street in Oxford once to give her my band’s CD! She was so lovely. They’re all so nice and it’s great working with them.” 

Catch all the latest from Pedal Partners here.