Transcription: 0335 - Ned Rush

Released: August 2, 2020

Darwin: Okay today, I have the great pleasure of actually talking to somebody whose career I've been following for quite a while. I've been doing it in the background on the down low, but his name is Ned Rush and he does all kinds of stuff. First of all, he's an active developer. You does a lot of work with both creating max for live devices and he does sample development. He has just under an infinite number of videos on YouTube. Very active on social media, and really is engaged a lot with electronic music production. So I'm really excited to have this talk with Ned. Hey man, how's it going?

Ned Rush: Hello. I'm very well, thank you for inviting me on. It's very nice to be amongst all these fine names on this show.

Darwin: Yeah, I feel very lucky to talk to each and every one of them and frankly, I feel very lucky to talk to you. The first time you came on my radar was ages ago. I think it was probably the first time I saw you on social media. You were hawking some sound packs of glitchy sounds. And I was like, "Hey, I'll give that a try." And it was really, really a pretty fantastic pack of sounds. I really enjoyed it. And, I've been a secretive fan ever since. And so, congratulations on staying in the game for quite a while and really expanding it to a lot of different things.

Ned: I guess - have lots of fingers in various pies as it were. I guess I don't really know what to do. And most of the time I dabble around with things that come and go and plow a lot of my time into one thing and then, you know, abandon it and move onto something else. But yeah, it's all generally to do with making electronic music I suppose, or performing it.

Darwin: And that's actually a really important point because right now you are running these, what you call, a micro festival on the weekends called More Kicks Than Friends. Can you talk a little bit about what that is?

Ned: It's come about because of lockdown. I've got a background in putting on events, although mainly just locally in my town and I've always quite enjoyed the programming part of putting on an event. And I guess the curation is the proper word, and planning the night and making a nice flow, like looking at how acts can go into another act and then into another act. And I've always wanted to do a festival in real life, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. And when lockdown started, I was sitting around doing nothing, and I was just like looking at - I mean, my three main go-to places on the internet are Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. And I was spending equal times on each of them. And I was noticing just more and more Zoom podcasts appearing on Facebook, and I found myself watching the first five seconds of all these Zoom podcasts of about eight people just staring into their webcams, waiting for it to start.

And I was thinking, "Well, all right, this is interesting. I like people, I like to hear people talking, but these are all electronic musicians talking, you know?" And then I would move to Instagram where I would see this thing. I see a lot of [it] right now, which I find quite contemporary is this kind of top-down aesthetic of people, just gently massaging electronica with a nice Instagram filter and, like, boutique pedals and Eurorack, and doing little micro compositions, you know? Cause you only get a minute on Instagram and finding it all very relaxing and then just thinking, "Oh, why can't someone do an entire... like, I want four hours of this!" So I started just approaching people and thought, right. I'm sick of... No, there's nothing wrong with Zoom podcasts, but I was a little bit like, "Oh, I want to see some music. Because we can't go out. We can't go to gigs. Everything's canceled." So I just approached a few people and then it went from there, and now I'm going to do episode 14 this week.

Darwin: Wow. But you're not doing one minute segments. Because I know that these things, the one that I watched was well over two hours long. And so you're not doing one minute segments. You're you're having individuals do a full-on performances.

Ned: Yeah. Each set is about 30 minutes, sometimes a bit longer. And you know, I mean, people can do whatever they want. It's visually - the aesthetic that I like is the the one that I talked about. But I'm getting in all kinds of things, people have been doing full on multimedia pieces. Some people just film it on their phone and their living room. You know, some people just film their desktop on their computer. It's all very open, but the emphasis really is on performance of sorts, you know? I guess that's it, really.

Darwin: What's interesting to me is the way that you have that as one portion of your video production work. But there's another portion which is this really intense interaction with Ableton Live. And, very specifically, you will pick a conceptual endeavor and you will dive deep - whether it's trying to do Autechre-style beats or Aphex Twin style work or, you know, diving into faking guitar playing or whatever. You really - it's almost like you pick a conceptual conceit and then you are going to dive into the use of Ableton Live to pull it off. And it's interesting because, where the More Kicks Than Friends thing is very much a shared community performance thing, this is more of a specific community and a teaching kind of thing. And so it's really a different orientation, but it's still part of your, your video production world, right?

Ned: Yeah. I mean, I don't really know what my YouTube channel is. When people would say to me, I really liked your tutorial videos. I would cringe and go, "Oh, I don't do tutorial videos!" And then I started to think, "Oh, maybe I do actually." But I sort of in a similar way to the festival thing, I started it because I stumbled upon someone else in about 2009, when YouTube was pre-monetization and still videos of people filming each other falling over or whatever. I sort of stumbled on this guy who was using Reason [version] 3 and filming himself, using it and talking about it. And I'd never seen that idea before and I found it really engaging and I thought I'm going to do that. And so I just started doing it. I had no - I was like, well, I'll just make videos about that too.

Like I know about this, I'll do a video about that. And then people started liking it and I just started doing more and it was always something I had going on the side because I wanted to really push myself as a musician and release albums and do tours and do that sort of more old fashioned musician stuff. But then this thing actually started taking off where I was starting to get more recognized for doing that. So I thought, well, I suppose I better maybe not look down the nose at this, so I've just stuck with it. And anytime I have an idea that I don't want to keep to myself, then I just think, "Oh, this would make a good video, you know?" I mean, to be fair, I don't have a huge amount of ideas that I want to keep to myself, but there are a few things, and it's not really particularly that they're great ideas.

It's more just like specific workflow there. You know, if I find a thing that I think, "Oh, this would make a good video!", then I just do it. Cause I've always just quite liked just sharing ideas with people - even before I started doing YouTube videos. If I was hanging out with my music technology, friends or whatever, I would always be like, "Hey look, do you know that you can do this, look at this thing." And sometimes they would be like, "Yeah, that's great..." - and then never use it; but that doesn't matter.

But talking about the pre-monetization thing, I've also not really moved with the times on YouTube. Like these days, it seems that there are a lot of people who are quite motivated by the revenue rather than the content. And I've never really, I mean, I only started using YouTube thumbnails about two years ago, you know, I don't do the "Smash That Like Button!!!" - well, I do, but only to take the piss, but like, I'm not hungry for the subscribers or for likes or shares or whatever. It's like, it's also a bit of a personal space for me, you know, where I can just put headphones on, make the mic sound nice. And then I'm in a little space now where I can do and say what I want and no one's going to stop me.

Obviously not say what I want. You know, obviously, I keep my language under wraps as best I can, but yeah, it's a little free space for me to improvise. Or sometimes I might make little comments about what I think about music generally and you know, but they're not tutorials - like I'm going to show you how a compressor works. It's more, it's more like, "Hey, look, what happens if you feed do a feedback loop, feed the reverb back into itself and change it, look at all these cool sounds." So, yeah, I guess more off the radar stuff when it comes to music production, I suppose.

Darwin: Sure. Now the thing that's interesting to me though, in your YouTube feed - especially cause that's the easiest one for me to go back and look at history - is that you have enough of a history in YouTube that it's we can follow your life story a little bit. You know, it looked like you dipped your toe into the Octatrack for a little while you got engaged with modular systems for awhile. But it's settled into a more pretty straight Ableton focus and a live performance focus now.

Ned: Yeah. I mean, the reason why I've stuck with doing it with software is just cause it's easier to shoot the video. Like I would love to do more stuff with hardware, but it's such a - like to set up microphones and get lights. I mean, I actually own this stuff now I own a green screen and lights and camera stands and webcams, and I think, "Yeah, I should really do that." But then when I get round to it, I'm like, "Oh my God..." And I'm falling over everything. And it's like, "Oh God." And then, what kind of camera have I got? Oh, I've got a 720p Logitech webcam from 2011. Like this is not by today's standards. And so I guess it's going back to that thing about, I think people expect certain standards these days on the internet and I'm not willing to adhere to those standards, but I'm happy just uploading a 1080p video of Ableton and,

Darwin: And saying "Rock on!". Yeah,

Ned: Yeah. I mean, that might change. I don't know.

Darwin: Sure. Now the other thing that I know that you've done is you've been involved in some developments with Isotonik and you've done stuff that you released on your own as well, both as sound designer and as a device creator. But is that something that is an active thing or is it something that you do when you're frustrated and you need to come up with something to solve a problem? I'm curious that because some people really get into Max-related development because they're fascinated with doing development and some people get into it because they're frustrated with no device being created that does what they want, so they'll have to make it. Which is it for you - or is it neither?

Ned: I suppose it is a little bit of the frustration? And I guess it ties in a little bit with the way that I approach doing YouTube videos. And that is that if I find a little idea that I like, then I would like to share it. And in the terms of the Max development stuff, I'll either find something when I'm flailing around with Max that I'll think, "Oh, I could turn this into something that would be fun for people to use", or I have an idea ahead of time. And then I try to develop something that meets that idea. And a lot of the time it's to do with trying to get ideas going as quickly as possible, or to create an interface that's very fast and takes little understanding, but is quite flexible in terms of what it outputs.

So if we looked at something like Nedit, which is actually a device I made a long time ago that I kept rebuilding and rebuilding and then trying different things. I thought like... I love doing crazy cut-up music, that's random and crazy and bonkers, but I'm still spending a lot of time getting ready to do that when sitting down to have a jam or whatever, it'd be nice if I could have an instrument that does what I want, that I can just load, drop a sound in and go in and very quickly it's doing the results that I want. And so that was goal number one, when I was designing, that was: "Right. Let's drop something in. I can drag random, whatever. I don't care. What's it going to do? Oh, this sounds pretty good." And so, yeah, I guess that's my motivation for it is to get interesting ideas going really quickly. Cause I can't stand the idea of wasting hours, getting stuff ready to start making music.

Darwin: Sure. That makes a lot of sense.

Ned: It's like, I hate it. Like I don't like sequencing, you know, I'd much rather put the time into setting up a system that's going to give me something in return rather than sitting there, giving myself tendinitis with the mouse or whatever. And so that's where a lot of my motivation goes into finding things like that. So it's a collaborative thing for me. It's for me, if I'm giving - the modular system or the computer or something like that - an idea for how I want it to perform it, then it does that. And then I make decisions over whether I like it or not. "Well done computer, you did a good job!" And rather than it just being like, "Oh, the computer's writing all the music for you!" No, not really. I mean, I'm still making, or one is still making, the decisions over what's good or all bad, you know?

Darwin: Sure. Well, there's a lot there to talk about, but before we get into it, one of the things I like talking to people about on my podcast is how they got to be the, the creator, the developer - or in your case, it bounds a lot of these things. How did you get to be the artists that you are and what was your background? How did you first get into music? How did you get into embracing technology and how did all of that stuff come together, as well as how... You talk about liking cut up and bonkers music. I mean, that's not the average customer's way through life. And so there were obviously some influences that drew you in that direction as well. I'm curious, what are all of those things that made you into the artist you are today?

Ned: Well, how far back do you want to go? I mean, I sort of grew up in the eighties, and all the music that I was getting exposed to was largely from my mother and my two sisters, my father wasn't into music much. So, you know, whatever they were listening to, I was listening, but also whatever was in films and television. Cause that was the only media that there was. Well, obviously, there were books as well, but I didn't read books much. But my sister had this really awesome, Hitachi, eighties-like karaoke Hi-Fi and it had - you could record from one tape to the other and the idea and it had two mic inputs. And the idea was is that you, you know, two people would plug a microphone in and then make it sing over their favorite songs and tape it to the other cassette.

But when my sister was out, I'd sneak in and then I'd play around and you could do like, high-speed doubling. So you could record really, really fast, but you could turn that on and off whilst it was recording. So it would speed up and slow down the tape. It was a really hacky machine. I don't know whether it was badly-designed or someone did those things on purpose. But so I used to point the mic into the speaker and be like, "Wow, what's this crazy noise." And then I'd record it. And then I would pause the tape and then do something else and then unpause it. And I just thought it was funny. Sand then my mum will come in and go "Stop making that noise!"

And I just thought it was funny. Like, I didn't think anything of it. I was like 10 years old and I was just like, "This is so funny!" And I would also try and edit songs down. So I would get Michael Jackson and edit the songs down and make them sound funny. And then about 20 years later I went to university and read about music concrete composers. And I was like, "Oh, what's that, is that what I was doing?" Kind of sounds the same. But obviously I'm not, I'm not trying to say that I was doing music concrete when I was 10 years old.

That's silly, but the kind of similarities where I didn't know why I was doing sure. So in terms of making weird sounds, I guess it starts there. And then in the nineties I got into guitars and playing guitars. And then at the end of the nineties, I got a little bit bored of guitar and didn't really - there was nothing that was really exciting me that much. I went to study jazz for a bit at college, but didn't really like it came home and started talking to a friend of mine who was doing a lot of stuff on computers at the time. And I was like, "I want to make music on a computer. You know, what can I do? So show me some stuff." And he showed me some software and it was roundabout that time I was starting to really hear drum and bass and stuff like that for the first time.

And I think up until that point as a kind of rocker teenage purist, I looked down the nose a little bit at electronic music, thinking it was all fake and keyboards are fake, you know - it's all about guitars and stuff. And then I guess when I started hearing jungle and some hip hop and, and the way that they were sampling these breaks, turning them into new music, I guess that prejudice dissolved very quickly. And I started thinking, "Wow, I love this stuff!" They're cutting up the break and reprogramming it. And it sounds like a drum solo or something. And that's really where it started and I'm still doing it now. I'm still trying to find new ways to cut up breaks and do stuff like that. And so, yeah, I guess I was also discovering Warp Records at the time and all those barriers, offshoots and hearing a lot of this glitchy stuff that was, I remember getting really, really excited.

I'm hearing that Murkoff album - I can't remember the name now - where he sampled all these bits of minimalist orchestral music and was really flipping them around and turning them inside out and putting these tiny beats under it and thinking, "Oh, this is just so stimulating!" And I guess along the way, I was just hearing all kinds of other things; like dub reggae, it made a big impact as well as this idea of playing around with different types of spaces in the middle of a song? You know, I still love to hear stuff like that these days and you know, this idea of one minute, the snares in one kind of space and then the next it's in another type of space and this very shape shifting thing that was going on, that that is going on was going on in a lot of dub music.

But I was also hearing it in some Squarepusher albums, and some Autechre albums, those are things that have just kind of stayed with me really. So I started doing music on my own and just tried to get people interested and you know, my space came along, which made it easy for everyone to get their music out there. It was in the early two thousands. I think you probably still needed that traditional record label support and pathway to maybe get yourself heard, but these days it's easy. It doesn't matter at all anymore. We can, we can do it however we want. And so I guess that's how I got into it really. And I've just stayed with it. I don't play a huge amount of guitar anymore. I do sometimes just to check if my memory still works. And also I have plans to record a lot more guitar.

I'm slowly building up a kind of guitar library on my hard drive of every possible thing that I know how to play, but it's there in audio. So if I ever want to use it, I can just load it in rather than having to play it again. In the same way that when you're working by yourself as the producer and the composer and the performer, it's a hell of a lot to handle. I think if I was in a situation where I was working with something where there was an engineer and a drummer and a bass player and whoever, and I was just doing the guitar, I'd be a lot more enthusiastic because there's only one thing I need to worry about. But when you have to take care of everything, I find it quite stressful. And I don't want to be stressed when I'm making music - I want to be relaxed.

Darwin: That's really interesting though, because an awful lot of people gravitate towards electronic music because it is a way of being a CEO of your own everything. Right? You get to be the sound designer/producer/performer/engineer/roadie and the gear acquiring person. I mean, all these kinds of things ended up being really stuff that people grab. It's almost like people have a desire to, I dunno, be master of [all] those domains. I hate to call it having a power trip or whatever, but it has some of that aspects to it. It's like I get to control everything. Noone is going to tell me what or when to do my thing. But I guess I've never really thought about that as also having stress in terms of taking any one of those things and really being able to dive deep into it.

Ned: Yeah. I mean, I'm not really particularly good at multitasking various environments. For example, I have a drum kit and I like to play it. I'm not very good, but I like to play it and I like to mic it up and, and record myself playing it. But I tend to just focus on that. I will do maybe a day of that and then I'll take that away. And then the next time when I'm in a situation where I'm like, "Okay, now I want to be the engineer...", then I'll load them up. And then I'll mix them down into something. I do the levels and bounce them down. And then when I'm in that situation where I'm thinking like, "Okay, now I want to be creative and be the producer or the composer."

I'm like, "Okay, now I can pull in that recording that I did and cut that up and use it for something." But there's no way that I would do it, in a linear fashion going round the room - I don't think my brain could do that. I don't think it could. And the thing is like, when it comes to incorporating software with the guitar, it's that same sort of thing. Like, the guitars are quite high maintenance. They can be really irritating and noisy and you have to set things up and tune them. Oh my God, I hate tuning them. I hate tuning them. Then they go out of tune when I start playing them. And then to have to worry about setting up the audio track and all this sort of stuff. I just can't stand it. So I have a little portable recorder that I just have on my table. And if I feel like recording some guitar, I just go into that and hit record and leave it until the cards fall and then just play a load of stuff. And then that whatever's on, there will go on my hard drive and then later on when I want to pick it up. And so, yeah, it's all very separate.

Darwin: So let me ask a little more though, because it is peculiar to have guitar being something that you still gravitate towards, right? Because as you said, there are ample number of problems, whether it's the cord that ends up having to run across the table and over the top of your gear, there's the constant tuning issues. And the fact that you you'll get into something and all of a sudden you realize the tuning shifted on you and now it's crap or whatever. I mean, what is it in the end though, that is special enough about guitar that you will brave your way through all of this? Is it that you have history with it, is it that you particularly like the tone? Is it that you get a different kind of performance when you do it, when you do a guitar versus other instruments, what is it that's a draw for guitar?

Ned: A number of things, really. When I started doing electronic music on my own one type of aesthetic that I wanted to really get into, which I did a little bit, was to take that kind of cut up thing that I was hearing - drum breaks and stuff - but put it on guitar and do a kind of electro-acoustic (not like an electric/acoustic guitar) music, but with the electric guitar, and kind of play around with people's listening and my own listening of what the guitar is. I think we all associate the guitar with certain types of things. And also, because I was feeling a little bit disenchanted by guitar music in a sort of poncy artistic way. I thought this is the destruction of the identity of electric guitar for me. But I never really did it because I ended up just getting distracted by all kinds of other things. You know, I have a lot of tracks that I'm working on. I've been working on them for years. It's just [that] I'm just lazy, but it's very much that idea of trying to use the tones that the guitar has, but to take their delivery into a realm that's way, way, way beyond my ability and also outside of people's common perceptions of what guitars are for.

Darwin: Sure. Yeah. That makes sense.

Ned: Robotic and very sort granular, I suppose. But also at the same time, there are some times moments that you have when you're either playing by yourself or with other people where you do have this really great kind of visceral catharsis whilst you're spending time with the instrument. Those types of things that I hear in other music still excite me, you know, like if I listened to some old Hendrix or something, I still get excited because of the physicality of it. And there's not a huge amount of physicality in electronic music. Well, I mean, actually that's bullshit. There is because there's dance music, which is very physical, but not when it comes to certain things, perhaps tasks where, when I do sit down to play the guitar, it feels a bit like business as usual for me, I'm going through the same licks, the same riffs.

You know, maybe I feel a little bit like I've hit a point with my playing where I don't really know how to take it further. And so maybe the computer can help me a little bit. I had this idea of, as I was saying earlier, recording every single scale and lick and riff that I know in the whole world into Ableton and then getting it to spit some stuff back out at me. And then maybe I could learn to play that. And maybe my playing might extend because I'll be learning to do something that my brain wouldn't have come up with, even though it did. Does that make sense?

Darwin: Sure. It does. That's that's yeah. Hmm.

Ned: That's the idea, I suppose. That's what motivates me, but I still get distracted by all kinds of things along the way.

Darwin: Yeah, I imagine. Well, one of the things that I'm curious about, though, is that we keep on coming back to this idea of the cut up and the maybe frantic, connections of bits of bits and pieces into a unique, new thing as being something musically that you're really drawn to. But how does that match up with the influence of dub reggae? Because those, those two things seem to be a really different set of things. You know, if you talked about drum and bass having been an early example of something that excited you from this cut up music production style -I mean, there are ways where it parallels dub reggae, particularly in the way that baselines move and stuff like that. But for the most part, one has lots of space. One has no space whatsoever. And I'm wondering how you mesh those two in your mind to be a useful or useful combination of influences.

Ned: If we were to pick jungle in the UK in the mid nineties, that was borrowing a lot from dub in itself. I mean, in some ways, it's a mix of hip hop, but sped up and dub, but sped up. So the kind of breaks of hip hop sped up and the toasting of dub reggae sped up. And so I think a lot of older electronic music was all sequenced. And these days it's very easy to perform stuff live and with spontaneity. And dub reggae has that level of spontaneity, like in many ways, even though it's not electronic music, those dub remixes were an electronic music performance because the guys using the mixer, you know, he's making decisions over what comes in, what comes out,

Darwin: The feedback knob on the delay was a critical instrument in that kind of music, right?

Ned: Yeah, absolutely. And it forms the texture for the entire thing. And some of those things made their way into jungle and drum and bass. So yeah, I think the reason why I get excited by them is because for me, it's a fun template to explore before electronic performance with, you know, like everyone's familiar with those sounds, but it's a fun thing to be able to make a performance, like when Ableton came along and I was like, "Oh my God, I can trigger! I can trigger the breaks! I don't have to, I don't have to sequence them! I can trigger them! I can improvise!" You know, because I'm big on improvising. Everything that I've made has come out of some improvised jam one way or another. And so I guess that's how they fuse, if that answers your question.

Darwin: Sure. It does. It's interesting, though, that you feel like improvisation is at the center of things; a number of things that you mentioned have all lead to the same well - which is that the performance of music is actually more important to you than annealing perfection out of a particular recording, right?

Ned: Yeah. I mean, like, I guess through coming from a background of playing instruments, playing guitar, drums, and bass, for me, it just feels a lot more gratifying. I mean, that said, I have spent many, many, many an hour just sitting here clicking with the mouse and making loads of great stuff. But in terms of what I get the most excited about - it's when there is an improvised element, an improvised interaction with whatever it is. I think that whilst there are plenty and plenty of great people on the internet - and in the real world as well - doing stuff like this, I wonder if people still find it a little bit confusing, you know, this idea that electronic music is just pressing play. I mean, it is in some ways, and I've pressed play at many, many shows. Those are the times, but also there are so many ways that you can really play and improvise and go on journeys. I mean, people have been doing it for years, but it's just right now, it's easier than ever, you know, more accessible.

Darwin: I'm curious though, when you're doing a performance, whether it's a live stream or back when you could do live performances, what do you do for your performance rig? Do you carry Ableton live on stage? Do you pull out the old Octatrack? Do you have a modular that you use? What is the thing that allows you, that when you're doing a live performance that you use as the platform for this improvisational work?

Ned: Well, for a long time, it was Ableton. I would just prepare a set and I would just get up and I would trigger clips, but they were really on the micro level, you know, I would have an eighth note quantize on them and it was very, very free form. I could choose what direction it would go in. And it was very much in the jungle/break core thing. And so I would just use that Ableton and whatever controller I had at the time, sometimes the launch pad or just keyboard. And then I got more into doing one shot stuff, just triggering one shots from drum racks and layering up all of the sounds. And knowing that when I would trigger a pad, I would get a certain type of a certain type of result, but I didn't always know what that was going to be so that I could surprise myself because I don't like feeling like I'm going through the motions.

You know, I like to have a little bit of risk and uncertainty. And then I got bitten by modular, by Eurorack. It came and bit me on the ass, and I bought loads of that stuff. And that was different because that was more, "Okay, everyone, you're going to deal with this for 30 minutes." You know? And that would, that would be me navigating whatever it was that I thought sounded nice the night before, you know, and being like, "Oh my God, did I really think this was good last night?" And trying that - those were different, very different, very much more in the very aggressive sound design and beat textures. So I did a couple of shows with that, and I have a video synth (which I made in Max) which I take around as well. I haven't done anything with the Octatrack yet. Cause I'm too scared of it. I do not own it. It owns me.

Darwin: That was my experience with the Octa track as well. I never felt like it transcended to be a personal instrument. What it felt like was a platform that I had to come to. And I was maybe a little too stubborn to do it.

Ned: I mean, I might've had it two or three years, now. I haven't made a single thing on it and it's not because I think it's bad. I think it's the most flexible piece of hardware I've ever played around with, but the problem is it's too flexible that I can't find anything on it to motivate me to want to finish something. And it's very obtuse, it's it kind of - I think of one of those types of cats where, you know, the cat is there and you go and pet the cat and then the cat hits you and runs away. You know, it's got this kind of... "I might do what you're expecting, but no you've got to work harder." or something. I don't know.

Darwin: Yeah. Well, I'll tell you - for me, the times that I actually had real success with the Octatrack was when I had a very specific goal in mind. Probably the best thing I ever did was I was asked to perform a set at a festival and they laid it out there as: "Well, you can do a DJ thing or you can do a performance thing..." And I was like, "Well, why don't I do both?" So I set up some parts of it to be, you know, just file playback, so I could certainly DJ those parts and I set up other parts to be performance. And there you go. That's more flexible than you can ever imagine. It was the perfect amount of flexibility for trying to pull that off. That being said, probably three days after I did the performance, I forgot completely what I would have had to do to do the performance [again].

Ned: Yeah. I mean, it's not very easy to navigate. I've been having quite a lot of fun with it, like clocking my modular with it and then running the modular stereo into it and just using it to mangle a stereo input is quite, it's quite nice.

Darwin: When you see people who really know how to work that machine, it's awe-inspiring. It's something else.

Ned: Yeah. I sometimes wonder how those people have had the patience or tolerance to put something like that together. I mean, I'm not going to get rid of it anytime soon because I hope that one day situations will come along where I will be like, "Oh, the Octotrack would be perfect for that." I'll get it out, you know? But right now I can't really get anything finished on it. The Digitakt and on the other hand, I think is absolutely fantastic. I love the Digitakt and I use it all the time, I mean, it's a different workflow, but you can get ideas going much, much faster, I guess it's because the design is different, but yeah.

Darwin: So that's really neat. Getting back to the thing that we started off with, which is More Kicks Than Friends. What is your plan for that? Is this something that you're going to continue doing? Is it, I mean, you said that you would love to do festivals, but you can't. It seems to me like you're actually pretty good at pulling together people to do performances and stuff. I'm just curious what the future holds for that. If it clearly seems like it must hit some kind of cord because you're keeping on doing it, you know?

Ned: Yeah. I don't know if that's just luck or just because - I hope it's just because people are really enthusiastic about it. I mean, you know, the UK is still largely in lockdown, so I have a lot of free time. So I have a lot of time to chase people on Instagram and just look up people. And, you know, I started the early shows where they're largely people that I've met in real life or people that I've been friends with on online for it for a long time. And then I started to think, well, I'm going to run out of friends eventually. So I'm going to have to go and find people.

Darwin: So that's the story of my podcast. I ran out of friends pretty damn early, so yeah.

Ned: Yeah. Well, that's it, isn't it? You have to start thinking [have I] just resigned myself to the fact that I've got no more friends, or do I keep going? And so I started most of the... that my own personal finds are off Instagram because it's just so easy to see what the type of stuff that people are doing and how they're doing it. So I just started following hashtags on Instagram and also like other people who had performed were recommending me, people introducing me to people and people who I've been asking who are too busy, or like, "Hey, well maybe this guy might do it or whatever...", you know, sort every Monday I kind of wake up and I go, "Oh my God, I need to find some people." It doesn't entirely look after itself, but, there are things along the way.

I think I just get lucky. Sometimes I'll ask people and they'll say, "I'm sorry, I'm too busy right now." And then suddenly they go, "Oh, hang on! No, I've just, I've recorded something for you. Here you go." And I'm like, "Oh great. Oh, okay."

But also I think that like, for some people - I mean, I also take it a bit for granted, perhaps that not everyone is like me sitting at home doing nothing. There are people who do still have lives, even if we're all locked down or whatever. But my assumption was, you know, if you can post a video of yourself jamming on the internet, then you can give me 30 minutes of that please. But it's probably not that easy for everyone. And also I think some artists don't like the medium and I can appreciate that. I think that the idea of performing to no one is not really their thing. And I can completely appreciate that. And I suppose in terms of going forward, I don't know. I mean, I'm just going to keep winging it every week until I do run out of people, or I might switch to doing it monthly or fortnightly, or maybe when this is all done, I'll go and do it in a field somewhere. I don't know.

Darwin: Yeah. Well, that's what I'm hoping. It sounds to me like you're actually up for that and taking some of these combinations of artists. And again, it seems like you're pretty adept at mixing interesting combinations of people. I would love to see that occur in real life. I think that that would be an amazing show.

Ned: Thank you. I do really like switching it up, you know; I mean, I almost think that if I did have a festival, it wouldn't be that like stages for certain types of music. It would maybe be more that, like, there's one stage where you can sit down and there's one stage where you can stand up. Right? So if you want to sit down or if the artist wants to sit down, they can go on that one. And if you want to dance or move around or stand up, and the artist wants to stand up, they can go over there. But I love the idea of going to watch something and then it finishes and then something else comes on and it's just so completely different from what you were just watching, you know? And you're like, "Oh!", and you notice it a bit more. But chopping and changing and switching, you know, it's what I say to people when I'm messaging them is like, I don't care really what it is. I just want you to be invested in it. I guess that's it. But, going forward, I have no idea. It could all be over next week. I don't know. We'll have to see.

Darwin: Well, unfortunately, our time is up, but before I let you go... the next iterations of this - do you do it every Saturday right now?

Ned: Every Saturday. Yeah. I've been doing it for three months.

Darwin: And for people who want to track it down, what's the easiest way to, for them to find it. I see it on Facebook, but where is the easiest way for them to find it?

Ned: So if you go to my YouTube channel, which is just And I normally post the link to the stream every Wednesday. I've posted one today for this Saturday. I mean, that's where it's broadcast. So it makes sense to send people there. But, generally I splatter it all over every platform. So if you follow me, you'll see it at one point or another, you know? It's on YouTube. So it goes on YouTube and you can watch all the previous ones as well. There's all kinds of fantastic, crazy stuff from all over the world.

Darwin: Cool. And in terms of sound design work, or, Max for Live devices or anything like that, do you have anything in the hopper that you're working on right now, or are you focusing on the performance?

Ned: I sort of started selling sample packs, which I am going to keep doing. I've been wanting to do that for a while, but wasn't really too sure which way to go. And I do have some Max for Live stuff, which I need to update and send to Darren [from Isotonik] and I still have still not done it yet. I mean, nothing in the works at the moment. I really want to put a new album out. Cause I haven't in four years. And sometimes I want to say to the world, by the way, "I do make music too, you know, it's not just YouTube!" So I wanna get some new music out soon. I, I don't know nothing in the pipeline yet, but...

Darwin: Nothing, but everything in a way, right?

Ned: Pretty much everything. Yeah. I'm a tinkerer - tinkering with everything.

Darwin: I imagine. Well, I want to thank you so much for taking the time and I look forward to getting a chance to talk again.

Ned: Yes. Thank you very much. Thanks. Bye.

Copyright 2020 by Darwin Grosse. All right reserved.