Chris Hall sings and writes music for the electronic rock band Stabbing Westward. They have had 2 Gold Records from 1996-2000 and continue to record new music and tour.
We chatted with Chris on how he’s been using Sequential instruments in his music:
What made you choose Sequential?
I grew up in the 80’s when the Prophet was king of the synths. I made music from a very early age and electronic synth music was always my style so I learned everything I could about synths and drum machines. The Sequential Pro-One and the Prophet-5 were on every album I loved. Unfortunately being a starving artist college student made it impossible to afford my dream synths but not anymore. I built my own home studio back in the 2000’s and like lots of artists I jumped on the soft synth bandwagon. But after years of scrolling through presets and hearing the same sounds over and over I finally needed a reboot. I wanted to go back to the good old days of having an analog synth with full control on the surface and the immediacy of touching the keys and turning a knob. No more writing key parts with a mouse. I began my journey with a Sequential Pro 3. At the time it seemed like everything I’d ever wanted in a synth. Huge bass sounds and gorgeous analog arp plucks. Screaming leads using the analog distortion and effects built in that could be saved to each patch. The sequencer is insane and can sequence any parameter on the synth. Having not only a gorgeous low pass filter but also a high pass filter is brilliant. I used it on several tracks but I was still doing most of my writing in the box on abelton live. I longed to totally break free. I got an external sequencer and start doing midi multiple tracks. With each synth I added I was able to get more tracks playing at the same time but each one left me wanting more. Haha. ultimately I’ve combined the Pro 3 for it’s versatility. A Prophet-6 with it’s pure analog signal path for everything from polysynth chords to luscious pads to thumping bass sounds. And I just picked up a Prophet X to round out the package. The Prophet X is capable of astounding feats of synthesis. The samples from 8Dio are gorgeous and complex and when blended with the 2 additional Oscillators and Stereo analog filters and then tweaked with the onboard effects the results are mind blowing. I’ve created several sample packs of my own and was able to load them with no problem. These 3 synths together have reignited my creativity. The only problem is it’s impossible to walk through my studio without stopping to play and then that turns into an hour jam and then I’ve forgotten what I’d come in to do in the first place.
How are you using them?
I use all three of my Sequential synths to write Stabbing Westward tracks as well as many remixes for other artists. Each synth is capable of so much. I can use the Prophet X for the bass line combining the amazing 8Dio Sequential T8 and Juno 60 samples. Or I can create a complex evolving pad or even real cellos and strings. Or I can build the entire drum track using factory sounds. The Prophet-6 also makes amazing analog bass lines and smooth pads and screaming leads with the analog distortion. The Pro 3 can do everything except play a two fisted chord. But the real power is the three of them together. It’s pretty awesome.
What are some of your favorite things about them?
The thing I love the most about all three of my synths is the tone. It’s purely Dave Smith. It’s that sound that I dreamt of as a kid. And it’s in my room and at my fingertips.
What do they give you that other synths might not?
A rich musical experience. I feel like I’m playing an instrument. I was a trumpet player in high school and college and when I was young I had a brass coronet that my dad gave me. I loved that horn because my dad gave it to me but when I went to college and got a Bach Stradivarius, the difference in quality was shocking. I felt like I was playing a hand made instrument that was meticulously built to make music. When I play my Prophet-6 I get that same feeling. That feeling of craftsmanship and real care that went into making it.
Any interesting tricks or techniques you would like to share?
My favorite trick is on the Pro 3. The ability to sequence parameters on their own lanes is so powerful. I will write a synth bassline (in my style of music the bass line is the heart of nearly every track so it needs to be great). I can go in and program a hi pass filter sweep or a resonance tweak on just a few notes or even tiny tweaks to the fine tuning of the oscillator on a note by note basis can give it that old school analog sound that goes beyond the Slop knob.
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