Our sound is created entirely on vintage analogue synthesizers from the 1970’s and 80’s. We find these beautiful time machines, most of which have no preset memory, create an environment where sculpting patches is essential, resulting in our own unique sound palette.
The very sound of an analogue oscillator detuning against another is a thing of inspiration, and often an entire song will evolve simply because a particular sound was stumbled upon whilst tweaking pots and sliders.
The analogue synthesizer for us it the centre of our music. It’s a man made machine that seems to posses a soul, provided you are willing to search for it! As much as our music is about the lyrics and the melody, it is about the exploration of pure synthetic sound.
We are not a political act, our love of electronic music has always been about losing yourself in a synthetic landscape of melody and sounds, where anything is possible and your imagination the only boundary. We’ve always appreciated song writers who have honesty, sincerity and who’s songs stand for something. However we also like the idea that the song can provide enough building blocks for the listener to apply their own meaning.
Morrissey never explains the meaning of a song as he wants the individual to get their own personal message from it. That’s a really beautiful and honest approach which has never stood in the way of creating a connection between him and his loyal fans.
In Kubo songs we always have a story or a message, sometimes personal, sometimes reflective, often dark and menacing. But we tend to explore these ideas within themes or genres in quite a cinematic fashion that leaves room for interpretation by the listener.
Our songs explore subjects we are personally interested in, which ranges from Science Fiction, to Avante-Garde cinema, to more introspective lyrical content, but we always ensure there’s a tender heart beating within. The soul of the machine.
3. You are electronica or electronic music?
It’s extremely hard to pin point electronic music or artists these days. If you look further into any electronic artist, there’s plenty of sub genres at play. We’ve both recorded different types of electronic music over the years and we’ve been very eclectic in our work.
Kubo is a very special and unique project for us, which has come together from years of writing, recording and releasing with other acts. With a starting point of October 2012, this project evolved rapidly, probably because Kubo represents where we’re both at in 2013 musically and thematically. Once we sit down to write a song together it happens very quickly, with little time for navel gazing. This gives our music a potent edge that represents a reaction to the sounds and subjects around us at the time.
Kubo very much represents a return to our roots musically. When we first started making music together whilst at school under the name ManSeries, the music we created was very minimal in its form. Listening back to those early demos was the catalyst that triggered this project, and as such we used them as a ethos to base our sound on, a sound which today is described as synthwave/minimal electronic. This is a scene that has exploded within the last two years with labels like Genetic Records and Vocoder Tapes, and we are very excited to introduce our music to this dedicated and discerning audience.
4. Where is electronica heading?
We can only speak for the type of music we create together as Kubo. Electronic music as a vast genre continues to move forwards, but we are also at a point where it is looking back, some genres more obviously than others. We’ve seen this nod to the past for decades in rock music, but with the relatively recent birth of electronic music as a popular form we are only seeing it now.
This is something we are embracing in Kubo with open arms, we adore the music we listened to as teenagers but mainly we are listening to the output of our contemporaries, so we like to think our own output is relevant to the minimal electronic genre today whilst taking inspiration from its magnificent, underground past.
With the steady growth of minimal synth music we feel the European labels are releasing the better quality music and acts, and we are blown away by the standard out there. Where it is heading? Who knows, but we are enjoying the experience and with over 25 years of electronic music exploration behind us, we feel ably equipped to contribute to the genre in a meaningful way.
5. How has your music making process changed?
When we first scraped together savings a teenagers to buy synthesizers electronic music composition was moving from voltage controlled sequencers to digital, MIDI based devices – computer based sequencers were yet to be introduced. These stand alone digital sequencers, some with just tiny LCD displays, provided a very linear approach to song creation which left little room for re-arranging or exploration.
Fortunately making music today is very different. Voltage control has returned to the studio in the form of analogue sythesizers, both old and new, but with the ability to easily communicate with these devices via CV-Midi convertors the computer can now be at the centre of composition.
The vast possibilities the likes of Logic Studio provides means these vintage machines, created before the advent of the home computer, can exist perfectly next to the latest iMac. Endless exploration of sequences, beats, structure and mixing means we no longer have to view our songs in a linear fashion, and for us this has opened vast possibilities and allowed us to push our songwriting further than we ever have before. We can now view a track as a whole, not simply as a linear timeline, and this allows us to evolve the song in both directions until the perfect structure has been created.
With endless possibilities at your fingertips, we feel its important however to set boundaries within which to work. As a rule we allow ourselves six basic tracks which include – drum beat, bass line, sequence, lead riff, chords and vocal – pretty much the limitations imposed upon us in the late 80’s without access to unlimited multitrack recording. If the song requires it we will add more tracks, but using this as a guide it ensures the songs don’t become over produced, allowing the beautiful synthetic sounds room to breathe. This simplified approach to the music is also the foundations of the minimal and synthwave electronic movement, and one which ensures the sound of the synthesizer remains the soul of the music.
6. Whats the best thing about Live gigs?
Whilst Kubo have yet to gig, we both have extensive experience in this area. Since 2011 we have been putting on pure electronic live music events in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. These hugely popular events, which go under the banner ‘Night of the Machines’, provide an opportunity for artists whos music is pure electronic, to play live to a captive audience in a stunning environment.
Playing electronic music live can be less engaging for an audience than a gig featuring more traditional instruments. This has become even more apparent with many electronic musicians today playing live from behind a laptop. For us seeing an electronic band live was always about not only hearing, but also seeing how they translated their sound from the studio to the live environment.
With that in mind, and our experience of playing as individual artists at Night of the Machines, our intention with Kubo is to play live using analogue synthesizers that the audience can see and appreciate. This will give the live experience an edge that is missing from a set performed solely on a laptop. With Aidan providing passionate live vocals we also have the beautiful contrast of man and machine, something that has always been present when electronic music is at its best.
Roland Jupiter 8
Roland Jupiter 4
Roland System 100 (101 + 102 Expander)
Roland Juno 60
Sequential Circuits Pro One