Transcription: 0347 - Andrew Huang

Released: January 17, 2021

Darwin: Okay. Today, I have the great pleasure of getting to speak to somebody probably everyone knows. His name is Andrew Huang, a video superstar. Definitely one of the people that I've interviewed that my kids all knew, who were sitting around the supper table and I was like, "I'm going to interview Andrew Huang." And they're like, "Oh, really? Really?" Which is really rare because when I said that about Morton Subotnick, they didn't flinch at all, but they certainly were into it.

Andrew: I mean, I would be excited about Morton Subotnick.

Darwin: So with that, let's say hello to Andrew. Hey, Andrew. How are you?

Andrew: Yeah. Thank you, Darwin for inviting me on. I'm doing well, all things considered. Yeah, it's been a funny year, but I have always worked from home so not very much has changed for me and I'm grateful for that.

Darwin: Yeah, I hear that. So one of the reasons that we're actually talking to each other is because you have finally gotten a little elbow room to be able to talk. You've had a very busy schedule and part of that has been working on a new bit of iOS code, an iOS app called Flip. I got a chance to try it, and I was really blown away. Why don't you tell the listeners a little bit about what you've got there.

Andrew: Yeah. So this is a project that the seeds of the idea sort of started coming to me about five years ago and it was more like two and a half to three years ago I found some developers I could work with to bring it to life. And the idea is that, it's a sampler, but it's also quite robust for an iOS app. And oh, by the way, we're we're trying to get it to Android. We're going to test that soon and make sure it's possible. I had always found that the sampling workflow could be a little bit finicky or would take a little more setup than maybe was necessary in a lot of cases.

And another thing that I also do in my music a lot is incorporate sounds that I find spontaneously as I'm out and about like maybe a gas pump is making a funny rhythm or I hear something interesting on a construction site I'm walking by and it's so fun to be able to capture those sounds and use them, but I would find that I wouldn't actually use most of those recordings because it would mean remembering I had them when I got home, sending them to my computer and from there making sure putting the file in a place that I'd want it to be organized on my drive bringing it into Ableton, deciding is it going to go in a drum rack or a sampler? All this kind of stuff.

So I started kind of daydreaming about the ideal workflow for that. So what we've come up with is this great little app where as soon as you've pressed stop on a recording, that sound is automatically intelligently trimmed. The first transient is found. You can of course edit that if you'd like, but it finds the first transient, it puts it on a drum pad. It's also already mapped across a piano keyboard with a full piano roll in this app and it's also already running through an effects chain.

None of them are active, but they're all right there ready to go. We have four audio effects and also on top of that an EQ. So it was just, hopefully the smoothest possible workflow for that initial stage of sampling that's out there. And then beyond that, there's some fun things you can do. There's some live effects using these touch-based controls. There's a really quick pretty intuitive pattern-chaining page mixer of course and then even some mastering tools built in case you want to just do something with the app standalone. But you can also export stems. So it's pretty fully featured.

Darwin: Yeah. I was actually pretty surprised at how, not only fully featured, but also how intuitive a lot of the stuff worked. It was really clear that somebody who works with music a lot was involved in this. It wasn't just a technical exercise, it was actually a musician's exercise, right? One of the things I recall like hitting right away is I was in the pattern or in the arrangement page, right? And I was just like, "Oh, you know what, I really want to take this pattern and I just want to make a different variation of it." I was like, "Nothing told me how to do that. I wonder if I just drag it over to one of these spots". And I did and it worked. There were so many times where I experienced things like that. It's like it didn't tell me exactly what to do, but if I was just going to guess, it would be X. And that guess would turn out to be right.

Andrew: That's really cool to hear because that's exactly what we'd hope for and it's always a challenge. Designing an interface between how much information can you provide to someone, and do you need to label everything versus is that just going to clutter something up when the user inevitably learns how it works in two minutes and never needs to see those labels again. So it's great to hear that.

Darwin: Yeah. It was really well laid out and really super easy to use. Now, my question for you then is you make it sound like that like the thing that really drove you to do this was kind of the immediacy of it, right? It was the making of it so that you moved from grabbing a sound to having it be available musically for you. Did you feel like you really needed to do the whole DAW in order to pull that off or was it kind of like you started off with the sampler part of it and then doing arrangement and all that stuff just became a natural extension of where you'd started?

Andrew: Yeah. I guess I would have hoped that there could be sequencing from the beginning. I was thinking we'll be able to capture the sounds and start on a musical idea and then perhaps it's one part of your setup or it takes up that process, but you finish it somewhere else. And then as I was just dreaming more about what it could be, I thought making it as standalone as possible would just be really helpful not only for one's workflow, but also if this is maybe a lot of people's first introduction to that type of music making, they'd be able to do a lot more with it right out of the box and then also just as I talked with the developers about what was possible and they've made various other apps as well, they have access to all kinds of code that they can even reuse for different portions.

It just became clear that we could do so much more and it wouldn't be nearly as much a hassle as I would have guessed to put a piano roll in, for example. That was one thing where I thought, "Oh, well, they have to build that from scratch and is that going to be weird?" And they probably already had something laying around that they could just throw in. So it's funny in the development of something like this. Something like a piano roll happens a week after we talk about it on the phone whereas changing the way a slider behaves could take months.

Darwin: Okay. Well, that explains it because to me when I look at it and I just have a sense of what would be the hard things to put together, it's sort of like putting a piano roll thing, that represents a big task. If you were working with people who already had that under their belt, that probably helped a lot.

Andrew: Yeah. It was super cool seeing just how capable these guys were. So I'll just give a shout-out to Oliver and Chris who are known as MoMinstruments and Zerodebug in the app world and they've done apps like touchAble - which is an Ableton controller - and Elastic Drums and Elastic FX are all big ones, and a few others. But they really know their stuff and so it was cool. I brought the main ideas to the table initially, but they were able to really build on them and they knew what was possible and they had really smart ideas about how to lay things out in a good way for the user.

Darwin: Right. Now, the other thing I would say is that this is really an opinionated app as opposed to doing something that's going to fit in AUM and then everything can be added after the fact. I mean, you have very specific effects. You have a specific mixer layout. You have specific mastering effects and stuff. You made some decisions that you have to live with. Now, what was interesting is normally I have a problem with that because inevitably I run into a situation where that's not the way I would have done it or that's not the order of effects that I would like or whatever, right?

But what I did find is that despite the fact that you made choices and you built them into the app, what you also did was you didn't necessarily jam them down my throat. So for example, as you mentioned, you record something. It immediately is part of a sampler... It's a sampler voice, right? And that sampler voice has effects. The effects are all in there ready to go, but they're turned off. So I'm not forced to have to interact with them unless I decide, "Oh, I need to have a little delay now." Or "Oh, I'd like to do a little bit-crushing", or whatever. It's kind of an interesting thing where you made choices and I think sometimes the choices help, again, with the immediacy of it. I mean, I would guess that it also is one of those things where making the choice helps it be a little more accessible for people who might not be super-experienced working with music software.

Andrew: Yeah, I think once we decided that one of our goals would be to make it really as great as we could stand-alone that informed a lot of our decision-making. Now, that we have a really great first release, we are definitely looking at incorporating like say Inter-App Audio or looking into whether AUv3 is possible. And I think both of them are, and some things might take a little longer than others, but we do want to add more effects as well and instead of having the four that are optional on every track, having maybe a selectable menu of them, something like that. So the end goal is to eventually build an even more flexibility, but hopefully with the same kind of approach where it's, as you say not forced down your throat, but just more options.

Darwin: Again, I don't want to make it seem like I... Well, I'll just say I found your choices to be pretty impeccable. So I'm not going to complain. I'm not complaining. So obviously for anyone who's, and I would say for everyone who has watched your videos and saw you and has seen you review products or do tutorials on products or talk about music processes or whatever, everyone understands you are really an experienced producer and you're also a real quick learner. I think that that's one of the things that is pretty clear that you're able to kind of wrap your head around what makes something unique and fun when you get a chance to play with it. I'm curious about your background and what is it that makes you, first of all, kind of gives you a very, what seems like natural facility with music technology and also what is it that got you to be the artist and the musical explorer that you are? What's your background? How'd you get here?

Andrew: Yeah. It's an interesting question. I feel like there's a part of it that has just been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember and that part is someone who's always looking for something new to be excited by. And I was actually just talking to someone else who brought up a really interesting David Bowie quote about when you're working on your art, working at the point where you're just out of your comfort zone where you're just... I'm completely paraphrasing this, but where your feet are just not able to touch the bottom of the ocean floor was the way that Bowie put it.

I think that there's something about that, that has always been how I've operated. As soon as I feel like I've got a handle on something, I want to just push it a little bit more. I don't really know where that comes from. I feel like it's been there forever. I grew up in a pretty musical household. My grandmother on my mom's side was a music teacher and my mother was a pianist. I mean, she still is a pianist, but she's not super- virtuosic as she once was. She used to play these incredible, very technical Chopin pieces really blazing fast.

I grew up with that and learned piano from an early age in the classical conservatory sort of method, but then at the same time my parents listened to pop music and I was exposed to that and then my friends would introduce me to rock and roll. Then I had a high school teacher who really loved all different kinds of jazz. So I started learning about a whole bunch of different genres at a pretty young age. Then I guess just on my own on internet forums I discovered Aphex Twin and Autechre and basically Warp Records. So I think every new genre of music that I encountered, I just really opened myself up to and was listening to it all. As my teens kind of got on, I was picking up other instruments like guitar and bass and drums. I think I just kept on adding to my vocabulary and the cool thing about music is once you... The more you learn, the easier it is to learn because there's so many overlapping things about instruments or about how to apply music theory.

So it's a cool compounding effect and I think just by being always curious about what new thing there was out there to discover propelled me to where I am now with this YouTube channel where really one of the main points of it is to explore music and see what new things could be done.

Darwin: Right. Other than the conservatory-like piano lessons that you took, did you have any other formal music study?

Andrew: I did go to university for initially classical composition, but I found it wasn't a very effective way to learn composition. So I graduated with a fine arts degree and there were a few different types of music classes there that also really expanded my horizon. That's where I learned about Brazilian samba and Indian tabla and a whole bunch of different cultures of music. So that was cool. But otherwise, I wouldn't say there's any kind of formal training. On the production side, I'm completely self-taught. I started recording myself with a tape recorder that we had at home and eventually figured out DAWs and a lot of that just came from either working with friends or reading online or back in the day picking up a magazine. And really I think most of the education on that side came from just doing more than any instruction.

Darwin: Right. Now, you say that you got introduced to modern electronic music through internet connections, which that was kind of for me as well. You mentioned specifically Warp Records and I think that that's a touch point for a lot of people. It's like there's something about what Warp did that could take people from a lot of diverse areas and say, "Here's a way to go down this very interesting pathway." I've noticed a lot of people use that or found that to be a specific route into getting into kind of more aggressive or more innovative electronic music. Do you remember what the first album was that caught your attention?

Andrew: Oh, that's a good question. I think actually a friend of mine had the Richard D. James album, but I at the time didn't connect it to Warp Records and I don't know which came first, because eventually I also... It must have been maybe LP5 from Autechre, which was one of my first sort of like eye-opening moments into the world of generative music or IDM and that kind of thing. I think it was actually a couple years after that I'm like, "Oh, they're both on Warp. Interesting," and started exploring the whole catalog.

Darwin: Sure. One of the things that's actually a little difficult is in going through your video work, it's actually hard to say what kind of music you are most at home with - because you seem to have pretty good facility. You're able to pick up guitar and just go with it. You lay down keyboard tracks or hand drum in tracks really with a lot of facility, but also sometimes jazzy, sometimes techno-y, sometimes hiphop-y. And it seems like with the equal level of ease for all of them. Now, maybe some of it is that you rehearse a lot before you do that video and so you know you're going to be comfortable doing it. But I'm wondering, if you had to talk about what your own musical voice is - what is that?

Andrew: Yeah. It's a really tough question that I think for a long time I struggled with and now I sort of have embraced the broadness of it or the ambiguity of it, you might say. I think the common threads are there's a meeting point between pop sensibilities and experimental tendencies. I think in most of my output, there's something that's catchy or has a little bit more of something on the mass appeal side of the spectrum than just complete experimentation, but there's also something a little bit left field about it and I think those elements might be completely different things from one track to another, but I feel like that's sort of where I live somewhere in that space of like, "Let's still make it really interesting and compelling and quick moving and fun, but let's make it different. Let's perk people's ears up and let's try and aim for something that hopefully they haven't really come across before."

Darwin: That's really interesting and I want to follow up on that some more because I find that actually pretty powerful because it means that you can take a lot of things that are part of pop music or comfort music of whatever sort, and sort of subvert it by adding some experimental type twists to it as well. What are the things about a pop music structure that you feel strongly need to be a part of your music? I mean, is it like melodic structure or is it more like verse/chorus/bridge structure or what are the kinds of things that you're compelled to put into your tracks? Is it the development of hooks? What are the things that you really focus on?

Andrew: Yeah, that's a good question. I don't think there's an answer that would fit everything that I put out because every once in a while it's just like an ambient drone or something. I guess there's not really anything pop-y about that, but I think for the most part, I do still really love a well-written song and taken in the broadest sense of like a melody with an accompanying harmonic structure. And more often than not, a rhythm that you can count along to tap your foot to. I guess texture is something that's really important to me and so that's something that I think in pop and electronic music is much more of a focus than in many other genres. So I don't know if it's exactly something I'm taking from pop, but just the idea that a guitar doesn't always have to sound like a guitar or it's wonderful when there are sounds in a track that you can't even pinpoint their origin. So I think that's something that comes from the pop or the electronic side as well, for sure.

Darwin: In doing your own music, what is the thing that you find hardest?

Andrew: It's probably finishing tracks, which is I imagine pretty common. I've gotten better at it. Actually, the harder part used to be not knowing how to finish. Now, I know how to finish, but it's the hardest still to bring myself to do it. To sit down and do the session where you're like, "Okay, I got to tie up all the loose ends. We're going to mix it. We're not going to leave any questions out, that we're going to commit to the guitar tone, all this kind of stuff, which I mean even that sounds ridiculous. Back in the day you had to commit to the guitar tone when you were playing the guitar. Now, it's in a plug-in for some of us. So making those decisions is still a challenge I think compared to a lot of the other parts of the process.

Darwin: Right. There is that sort of like, "I'm going to stop second guessing myself thing", that is just a really hard part of current music production. That's really interesting. Now, I know from watching your videos over the years, you actually went through... You have always had a sound designer kind of focus in how you attack different instruments when you try different apps or you try different hardware. You would kind of take them on as sort of like tools for doing some sound design. And then you got into modular, and you went a little nuts. I think all of us have done that. I'm looking to my left, there's one expression of my insanity. I have another expression of it, and I actually have a kitchen modular. But the fact of the matter is you really went in on your modular system. What was it about modular that specifically spoke to you?

Andrew: It was really like I found a passion within my passion, and it's been really interesting to just almost watch that unfold for myself almost like out of body or whatever, but I think it had always interested me. I first discovered it when I was at school and I learned about Buchla. The instruments just looked really interesting to me, but then a few years down the line from that as I got into Reaktor and understanding synthesis better and starting to try and connect these nodes that you had in that version of Reaktor and build something of your own, that just really appealed to me as being a very freeing way to create... And I think also with how much I got into all that Warp Records stuff, just really enjoying the kinds of tracks that never felt like they've repeated themselves from bar to bar, that were full of all kinds of ridiculous sounds. I just really wanted to explore that more and the hardware modular ended up feeling like the fastest way to find those sounds.

Darwin: So one of the things that is often a thing for people who get into modular, sort of like the process of trying and then failing - or trying things and not enjoying them and then trying the next thing, and having to go through this process of sort of like buying and selling your way into eventually what becomes your instrument. For someone like me, it's easy to do because nobody's looking over my shoulder while I'm doing it, right? In your case, you have people who are literally watching you do it on video. To what extent is your personal system ahead of what you actually showed in your videos? Or are we really seeing what your studio is today?

Andrew: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, the stuff that I show in my videos may or may not have anything to do with what is currently happening in the studio only because I am always working on a huge overlapping pile of projects. Most of the time, if I film a video it ends up on the internet in a week or two. But every once in a while, you have one that just sits around for a couple months or maybe even longer and some are pieced together over many months and they include travel montages, let's say, things like that from different places. I guess the things that I choose to highlight in my videos, they're usually what I feel will just make for an interesting video. And sometimes that means I'm working with the latest and greatest thing and other times it's like, "Well, I'm finishing a track that I started five years ago, but I think there's a technique in here that I haven't talked about before that could work in a video." So yeah, it's a bit all over the place.

Darwin: That's pretty interesting. So I want to talk a little bit more now about the development that you put into the Flip app. I mean, we talked about it on the front end, but I want to learn a little bit more because you actually are fulfilling an interesting role in that. I've had a number of discussions with people who are programmers of software, but your role is very specifically kind of as a designer, right?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I didn't program any of it.

Darwin: So talk a little bit about what that looks like and how as a musician, you could communicate... Now, you were in a lucky position working with people who had done musical projects in the past. So it's not like you were talking to complete pocket protectors, right? But the fact of the matter is you still had to find a way to communicate your designs and design concepts. And especially then the process of like, "Okay, here's the first test. Here's how to do it." How did you find a way to do that effectively? Because I think that that actually can be hard. It's hard to talk about music sometimes or about music processes.

Andrew: I totally know what you mean. I think we had as easy of a time as I could have hoped for with it actually. So what I did was right at the beginning when I first approached Oliver about the idea, I tried to describe it to him in a couple paragraphs. He was interested enough that we continued the conversation, but from there I actually drew on a bunch of graph paper, probably 10 pages and each page being a different page of the app, most of which in some form have survived to be what they are now in the release version. But that was kind of the bulk of the communication that happened to just set all of the development in motion.

I think the design itself actually is simple enough and immediate enough in the way that the user interacts with it that there didn't need to be a whole lot of really detailed or technical discussion. It was sort of like, "Well, here's what I envision a page of the app looking like, and the very one knob per function kind of user interface that we would have on it." I wish I could find those drawings. I know I still have them somewhere and one day when I stumble across them, I'm really excited to show them in the video and to just see what was right there from the beginning and also what changed over time. But because whatever it was about the concept was easy to translate into a few crude drawings, they put together a prototype pretty quickly and once we had that, it was just so much easier to say like, "Oh, when I'm pressing this or swiping on this, it doesn't feel quite right."" We were able to have very concrete discussions about the behavior of something that we could immediately be interacting with in prototype form, which I imagine must be a little more difficult when you're dealing with hardware or maybe more complex types of interfaces.

Darwin: Now, were there ever times where you would see somebody releasing a piece of software like, "Oh my god. That's exactly what we're working on. Why do we even bother?" Right? Or whatever. It seems like as fast as the MI industry moves, there had to be times when you were just like, "We're never going to be able to stay ahead of the industry enough to be able to ever release this thing."

Andrew: There were two moments I remember like that and I'm happy to call out these products because I also think they're great, but the Teenage Engineering PO-33, the sampling one, when that came out, I was like, "They've got a pretty fast sampling workflow." Definitely you can't do as much as Flip I'll say. And the same thing with, there's an app called Koala which is also a sampler. It's very immediate and fun. I think our app has more to offer than both of those. So it was kind of like, "Oh, they've really gotten into our space." But also a sigh of relief of like, "I think we're offering something that will have its own legs to stand on." I think that's not a bad thing either. I think it's great that there are all these different expressions of similar ideas and it's good for people to have options.

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Darwin: I think it's hard though especially for the initial release, it's hard to put something out when you know you have competition from day one. Now, I recognize that a lot of business people or business gurus say you should never be the only person in a marketplace with a thing because that means that there's not enough of a market for it to exist, right? But it also seems like with a lot of music software that there are so many options that it's hard to feel like you're really unique. So we've already kind of talked about what your feelings are about what makes this unique. What do you imagine are the next steps for it though? Do you find ways to make it more flexible or do you find ways to make it easier to use? Which is the direction you imagine it going?

Andrew: I don't know if I've exactly thought about it in those terms because of course, both things are great to focus on. I guess, if I'm thinking about the features that we've been discussing adding, it is more about flexibility and we're hoping that what we add to it doesn't clutter it up, doesn't take away from the ease of use that we've already got built in there. But we're talking about things like... I'm going to just mention the ones that we feel the most confident on. We want to be able to add sample slicing both in an automatic way where for instance you could select a number between 1 and 16, let's say and it would divide your sample into evenly-spaced slices, but then you could also move the cue points. So something like that I think would be really handy. Right now we have sample start automation so you can achieve some of the similar kinds of sequencing. But slicing would make that more precise and faster.

I'm trying to think of other things. I'm adding more effects, both the effects on the channel slots as well as the live effects on the performance page. That's something that we feel like would be a really easy win just because it's more power. It's more types of audio processing and it's some of the most fun stuff that you can do with mangling some samples. I think those are the big features and then kind of the bigger goals would be to bring more connectivity to it, so having the ability to play with other apps whether that's through maybe Audiobus or AUv3 or maybe both. Also, we're hopefully soon going to be having a mini MIDI in and out with it, which of course is going to make it much more useful for people with other hardware to connect it to you. Then of course the real big thing is a lot of Android users would love to try it out and so we're making as much of an effort as we can on that front.

Darwin: Sure. Now, I didn't check. I can't imagine this user interface actually surviving a move into a phone. Does it work with the iPhone or is it just the iPod?

Andrew: Yeah. It works with iPhone and iPod Touch and actually we designed it phone-first. And I did all my testing on the phone, because we figured if we can make it as good as possible on a phone, it'll just be easier for the iPad users.

Darwin: Oh, that's interesting. I didn't even think to try it on the phone. I just made the assumption. Because an awful lot of sort of like the complex, more complex stuff really is pad oriented. That's very interesting. Well, I'm glad to hear that you're considering MIDI because the two things that I was actually missing and playing with it, one was MIDI because of course what would work better with an iPad than an ARP 2600, right? So I'm going to get those. I thought that would be the perfect like ridiculous pairing, right?

But the other thing was some more complex sample management - because right now it's oriented toward one-shot sample playback and having chops or having looped samples would be...

Andrew: Right. Loop samples has been requested and we're working on that one too.

Darwin: Yeah. So I can see where there's some opportunity to expand there in a way that wouldn't actually make it either more or less difficult to use. It would just be an added functions that you could throw into. That's really great.

So you're looking at possibly bringing this to Android. Is there any chance that you're going to also move it towards working on laptops or something where maybe you have a little more flexible I/O? Because that's the one thing for me in working with an iPad as my interface for this, it's sort of like that stupid jack is actually the really limiting factor to it feeling like an actual part of my studio. Is there an imagination of getting it running on laptop or desktop machines or is it more like you're just going to hope that... Or the expectation is that there's going to be more connectivity coming to the pad-based systems?

Andrew: Yeah, connectivity with portable devices is our primary focus. But we're definitely going to try it out on Windows and Mac. I guess the new Apple M1 laptops apparently make it so that any app can be accessed and used from a laptop, which is cool. So we're going to see how that works because obviously a few things about the app are just more naturally gesture-based than mouse kind of functions. So I think when we have an opportunity to try it out, we'll see if that's viable because I think if it feels like it works well, I don't see why we wouldn't do it. One of the goals we have is accessibility of sampling and this type of music making for lots of people.

Darwin: Sure. Now, it's interesting you talk about the performability of it. One of the things that was actually the most fun to work with... Well, there was a couple of things that really brought the fun to it. One of them was the live effects use, the way that you have sort of like the automatic return sliders so you could do dub-style reverb ring outs or the rattling randomness, but also some more subtle ones like the ability in the settings to turn on velocity sensitivity for the pads. So that the higher up the pad you go, the higher the velocity is.

It was the first time I've actually done finger drumming on the iPad where I felt like I had any kind of subtlety at all. It was a really great feeling set up. The way that it was done, just even the way it was mapped across the pads was done really, really well. From your perspective, how viable is it? I mean, obviously you thought about using this in a live scenario because the addition of these pieces. How realistic do you feel like an iPad is going to be eventually for people being able to use for a live performance and gigging?

Andrew: I think it's absolutely going to be more and more part of that live setup. I saw Suzanne Ciani perform last year and she's got a big Buchla system and then I think two iPads beside her. Funny enough, one of them is a Moog modular app that she's got open in there and I think another one is a controller for the Buchla. I think it's interesting that these devices are so powerful and that if you had asked me this 10 years ago, I would have thought we would need specialized hardware if we wanted to do a kind of touch screen surface for use as a music controller, but actually what it's turned out to be is we've got Apple making these extremely high-end iPads and you got to find the right app, but once you're there, you can probably do what you would hope to be able to do in a live setting with a touch screen.

So I think that's cool. There's an app I just discovered called Ribn, R-I-B-N, which lets you just draw MIDI CCs. You make a gesture and then it loops it. I think you can do something like six of these at once and send them out to whatever MIDI CCs you could connect that with your modular through a CC-to-CV converter. So there's apps like that I think you know are so open-ended that people can involve them in almost any kind of setup.

Darwin: Right. Now, you are in a lucky position of being able to try out a lot of stuff, a lot of manufacturers will talk to you and ask you to test drive things or whatever. When you get so much access to equipment, how do you find the things that actually become your instruments versus just the things that are your work tools or the things that you're you're working with commercially. It's a different thing to have your own specific instrument. How do you do that and how do you make it so that the work you do in testing and demoing hardware is separate from your artistic instrument development and facility? I mean, is there a difference there or is that all blurred for you?

Andrew: I think there's overlap for sure and one of my go-to tests with any equipment I get is to try and create something release-worthy with it. So I think that's been one of the strengths of my channel from when I first started doing gear focused content is that by the end of a good half of those videos probably, I would be showing a piece that I made where this gear played a central role, which I think differs from a lot of the gear reviews out there where it's like a rundown of functions or hearing what it sounds like, but completely on its own, not in a musical context or in the context of a song.

So as much as possible, that's what I try to do with it. At different times, I may be too busy to feel like I can fully develop a track with a piece of gear that I'm using for a video. But then otherwise I think also... I try to be very considerate about what I actually do take on and there's a lot of gear that I turn down. I wouldn't say I'm aiming to be kind of a gear review channel that covers everything new and tries to put my two cents on it or that I'm trying to appeal to everybody and cover the stuff that will have the most appeal or cover the stuff that'll be the best for all the beginners or anything like that.

I think I do the stuff that speaks to me and hopefully most of the time I get a pretty good sense of it from the beginning, but every piece of gear you have a unique relationship with and some things turn out to be really fun for a week and then you're kind of over them and other things might be the opposite. You don't really know what's so special about them and then they become a lifelong companion. I think it is a bit blurry for those reasons.

Darwin: Well, unfortunately our time is up, but before we go, just if you could give a rundown to people about where they can find, what's the name of your YouTube channel, but also where they might be able to find some of your recorded work?

Andrew: Yeah. So you can find me on YouTube if you type in Andrew Huang, H-U-A-N-G or just youtube.com/andrewhuang and that's also the name that I use on all streaming and download platforms, if you want to hear my original music. And Twitter, I'm andrewhuang, on Instagram I'm AndrewIsMusic.

Darwin: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for having this great discussion. I really appreciate it.

Andrew: Yeah, I really enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for having me on.

Darwin: All right. Catch you later.

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