Daniel Miller Talks to Tara Busch About the EMS Synthi 100 (Synthesizer) & Short Circuit

I mean, wowza! I can’t stop thinking about Short Circuit and all those amazing artists in one big festival.

Ahhh, Daniel Miller… for me, he signified and typified a very unique sound which I had never heard before. A sound that has been exhaustively reproduced or even cloned in fact. His output, though, occurred at an original point in modern history. It was my modern history. It was also an important era for the commercialization of the synthesizer. Around this time the synthesizer had reached critical mass. It moved rather quickly, but Mute and all its artists always managed to remain just slightly below the commercial pop or as I refer to it, “Pap.” Mute Records became quickly accepted in my personal suburban America. The truth is, in my case, it was a complete obsessive desire to always want to hear more, more, more from the Mute artist. Whether he was waving the flag for electronic pop and experimental sound is not clear! Whether it was The Normal, Silicon Teens, Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure or any multitude of other artists his iconic stature will always be vital in history of electronic sound.

I found this Part 1 of an interview with Miller. The interviewer is Tara Busch and she is an artist I have always been fond of. Also check here in our Girls With Synthesizers section for some more on Tara Busch.

Mute Short Circuit Festival – Daniel Miller on rescuing an EMS Synthi 100

Excerpt from The Quietus:

Did the speed of technological advance affect things?

The technology was moving already. Part of our lot, the Synth Britannia lot if you want to call it that, we got on board the technology moving train, and it carried on moving. Originally you had to play everything by hand, then pretty soon basic sequencers were around, then basic computers, it all moved pretty quickly. There were things like the Roland MC4 that came along in 1980, 81, which was a very basic computerized sequencer, which was available to people who’d had a hit – it was expensive, but not super expensive. One of the natures of people who want to create new sounds is they want new synthesizers to figure out ways of creating those new sounds. So you’ll notice, including me and the Human League and various others of those groups, we all started off with one little synthesizer and ended up with fucking banks of them. I don’t really know any of those other guys that well, but we’ve always ended up accumulating things over the years. I don’t really collect synths, apart from my one purchase which is the Kraftwerk synth.

How long did it take to master your first Korg? (speaking of the Korg 700s)

I was doing stuff day one. It was pretty simple, I was immediately recording, right from the word go, and I was learning as I went along. On that particular synthesizer they used very odd, unconventional terminology that didn’t relate to what you’d normally use. That was the first synthesizer I had so I thought it was the industry standard terminology, terms like ‘traveller’, ‘expand’ but nobody used that apart from that synth, and I had to relearn all that.

Also, check out this great Daniel Miller interview at Sound on Sound (from 1998) here.

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