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Best £10 I've spent on music production this year
Surrounded by so many Knobs to play with!

Watching others was exciting, but joining in was a heightened pleasure beyond words.

The sensual sound made when the right buttons were pressed were only intensified by the joyful moans of approval by those watching, yearning to touch and join in. This wasn’t just any knob festival fun.This was Synthfest 2018

Festicket Ltd
Festicket Ltd
Flyers on coffee table

As you can see from the photo of flyers I collected along my way around synthfest 2018, there were no shortage of stands and displays at to keep anybody happy for hours. Even the non enthusiast would have found something interesting to watch, play with or listen to. From start ups like Erica Synths, Truenosynth and Dove audio to well-known brands like Yamaha, Korg and Roland. (Non of which I’m affilliated the links are just their sites) There was fantastic turnout by the universities of the North East as well as the always inspiring women’s representation. Throw in some seminars, videos and workshops. Not forgetting a licensed bar, coffee, access to food, great staff and a handy free bag to carry your flyers, all in all a well-organised event.
I could have easily done the whole thing again the next day and still been hungry for more so well done to sound on sound and all involved.

As well as this being my first synthfest this was also my first time staying in Sheffield and experiencing its nightlife so I'll touch on that too. This is my story of synthfest 2018
Geekstore

Organised as always, I booked my accommodation at 2 AM Friday morning. With roughly seven quid difference between The Easy hotel and The Leopold Hotel, (No connection) no pun intended but it was an easy choice.
After declining the offer of a twelve quid breakfast courtesy of myself and pointing out that the all bar one across the road would probably do a fully fried with the brew for four quid with added bonus of the comedic routine of an elderly gentleman arguing with his own pint as the entertainment.
I’d set the tone so that everybody was aware I was having none of that posh stuff.
As I was directed to what was called the “Basement,” I wondered if they’d pre-empted my lack of need for posh stuff?

Now I’m the sort of person that needs music most of the time, whether it’s driving or sat at home working but especially in a hotel, even if it’s in another language, coming through the 16 inch TV bolted to the wall in a Mediterranean holiday hotel, there has got to be some music playing. There was nobody staying in the room next to me, on the “Basement” ground floor, with the rooms back door to the patio, nor in the private room the opposite side that may, by the sounds made in there, have been some sort of laundry room. I thought smiling as I set up the DJ controller, speakers, and connected the laptop to the TV. Non of that posh stuff bliss.
I didn’t have much luck finding the best places to go in Sheffield online searching, so at 00:30 AM I set off in the rain to try Sheffield. I decided to head towards the student areas and the Uni stuff, with the theory that they would have the best music for my taste. Yates were playing 90s. Fine for a get together with mates but not for a lone Wolf. I tried Revolt which had the 80s. A few places were playing an assortment but nothing to my needs. Without wanting Sheffield to let me down, I asked, whom turned out to be a very friendly and enthusiastic bouncer, where I could get my fix of drum and bass from?
It looked like The Harley on Glossop Road was my best bet. A fiver in and a crew or event called Dub Cafe, I got an hours DnB after a couple of grimey dubsteppy hours so I was happy enough for the night. Time to wander back to the hotel and get a few hours in

 

I wasn’t sure if I should put Chris (image above) in the story or not as I didn’t want it to come across as “look at me, I help people, I need praising” But It would be selfish of me not to use what little platform I have, not to preach but just to keep fresh in peoples minds that there are real people having real tough times, alone and scared, people like me and you,some of us will be at a tipping point right now were another missed payment here or there and it’s over. We walk past them daily even hourly for some, myself included I’m guilty of doing so. There’s nothing wrong with that, we can’t all be expected to help everyone at every oppotunity but what we can do is show a little more compassion. I’m sure a lot do but a lot don’t.
If you can/do donate to your local charity or do things of a similar ilk then great, if you don’t thats fine too.The only thing I ask is treat them with the same respect you would for anybody else. Even that small gesture can have a lasting effect. Not all can be helped and not all deserve help but civility will always come out on top.

After a few hours sleep, on a morning walk about, I met Chris, unfortunate to be homeless (guy was no more than 40) whom I’d briefly chatted to on my wander up towards the Harley the previous night. Thinking on my feet I offered him a hour or so of warmth and a wash while I packed to leave the hotel and head to Synthfest. I figured I’d get the company and he get’s warm and clean.
I don’t regret a second of it.  Not only was Chris an old time beatboxer but a bit of a lyracist too. To behonest he had some skills. But what impresed me the most was his knowledge of the 90’s rave scene music. We’re talking Dreamscape 12 cassette tape pack era music, White gloves and glow sticks. Every track I dropped he knew rolling straight off his toungue like reading a checklist. A very entertaining time before the Synth session, for both of us I would think. We both forgot what our realitys were for a brief time. I was having an adult conversation about music for the first time in months (parents that stay at home know what I mean) and Chris wasn’t homeless for an hour or so. Alas it was time to be on our way. Chris went to the Train station where he is most days he informed me. For those in Sheffield say hi for me if you see him and have a chat.
I headed to my car to start the 0.3 mile journey to another car park.
The moment of truth had arrived, it was Synth time baby!

As I first walk in to the Festival of Synthersisters (I know it’s spelt wrong but it sounds like a tribute band and I laughed when I’d typed it wrong)
I was greeted by the lovely Olive and her sidekick Popeye. Of course that’s not their real names, I don’t know what their real names were? I gave them the names in my head because she was a bubbly, button nosed, cutie with big glasses and Popeye was well, Popeye.

Hannah (not her real name) passed me my free Synthfest 2018 bag while Ben (nope, last one I promise) asked to see my ticket.
Ticket? Not my email I know, but I had one so I played dumb and got my phone out.
Bingo. Oh your email ben asked? Ok I just need to scan the barcode.
Barcode? I saw the download button and pressed open and….. No Pdf reader? How is this even possible in 2018 I thought to myself cursing my phone (spare phone because I refuse to pay 200 to fix my phone when they go for 120 on ebay refurbished.)
With a sigh Ben started flipping through his list. Yep that’s me for the rest of the day I thought. Whenever I pass by or go for a smoke. “no ticket, no email, no barcode, no pdf reader man” will be my name. I’m sure Ben used a shorter term in his head.

As I stood there in the doorway admiring, anologue boutique in front of me, I knew right there and then, without a shadow of a doubt, there was no disputing that after coming all this way I hadn’t charged my phone this morning and it promptly shut down after this photo. No fear of course with a backup charger on the go and a broken screened S7 edge I’d come prepared as you’d expect. I hoarded leaflets and flyers on my first graceful canter around the knobfest engulfing me, mentally prioritising which knobs I should play with first, who had the biggest knobs, which knobs everybody else wanted to touch and where the hell were all the synths?
Joking aside one of the first companies I want to cover are called ROLI. (I don’t have much literature on them but I’ll find a picture somewhere to add to this.) RolI for those that don’t know, make a MIDI keyboard that is all black in colour and the keys are all moulded one shape, you may have seen pictures of it before.
Let me tell you right now, them things are silky smooth, so soft to the touch. With accessibility always a tick box in my mind, I thought how good this product would be for people with problems with arthritis in the fingers or wrists. A baby could play the feather light keys on the ROLI. Truely an experience that needs witnesing first hand to fully grasp how soft the keys are. If you ever get the chance to try one take it. You’ll see.
Would one be right for me? No if I’m honest. I’m too heavy handed and clumsy to give it the care it deserves. I go through Headphones for fun (I beak that rule later) Price range, the ROLI Seaboard rise 25 pictured will set you back just short of £700 quid the Budget Seaboard Block the cheapest at £224.99 and for those that don’t want much change from £2000 then the Grand piano is the one for you.
I don’t think the above prices inc ROLI software from what I can see, so there’s more to add on!
Put simply, if you want the softest, sensual feel to your keyboard and you can afford it get one without a shadow of a doubt!
But if like me you may use a keyboard for roughly 15 minutes total per song then the ROLI should just be on your to do one day list only.
ROLI prices on Reddogmusic.co.uk 11.10.2018

The following Synth was
not found at Synthfest 2018

Whalesynth

Whalesynth

Go On. Click the whale!
………… . . .   .  .  .    .    .    .
C’mon, I wouldn’t tease you with a cute whale that bobs up and down and not deliver on the other end

Whalesynth is just something I found and uploaded for a bit of fun. By the looks of things MailChimp own the website and the picture is just a random royalty free thing so there was something to click.

Oakley BR
Sullen Clothing

Back to Synthfest 2018
I Promise No more Whales

IK Multimedia's Syntronik

It was going be hard to top ROLI that was for sure and had I had only just started. I was itching for something affordable.

I started my sweep of the stands and stalls planning my attack for my second lap around. I’m Organised…….
The Third stand or Fourth after leaving ROLI was my current record distance, with a brief stop to meet the Delia Derbyshire girls. If you don’t know who Delia Derbyshire is I suggest you take half an hour & see what she is all about she has been a massive influence in present-day synthesis. There’s no point in me even attempting to get close to what others have written so I’ll just post links.
It was IK multimedia uno synth that got my attention. Like a moth to a lightbulb I buzzed the stand.

IK multimedia caught my attention a while ago, with their no-nonsense approach to music. Guided by their company motto of “musicians first” I thought these were big ideals to pursue and fulfil and also execute.
Hailing from a small town of Modena in Italy you, famed for its balsamic vinegar more than musicians or software developers. Could this small company produce big results?
Could putting musicians first and foremost before profit and fame really work out?
I’m happy to say that yes it could! Read the whole article here

AmpliTube iRig - Mobile Guitar Interface for iPhone/iPad
iRig MIX - Mobile Mixer for iPhone, iPod touch & iPad

What happened over the next 15mins will stay with me forever!

After the excitement of the Uno synth I thought it was time for a quick five minute break outside, face my earlier “no ticket guy” nemesis and plan the next course of action………….
Not 3 Meters later and I’m having my inner soul carressed by £1.5k Audeze LCD-3 Premium Open Back headphones. More money on my bonce than in my bank!
A break will have to wait!


 

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