Holly Jamieson – MONOWHALES
Holly Jamieson has been an active member of the Toronto Indie Rock scene since her work with Wide Eyed Tour Guide back in 2010. A self-taught piano-player-turned-synth-player, Holly has quite a varied musical background, ranging from classical violin to a Bachelor of Music in Voice. Yet despite her training in multiple disciplines, nothing grabbed Holly as much as working with synthesizers. In 2012 she joined MONOWHALES (formerly Ginger Ale & The Monowhales) as the synth player and backup vocalist. In 2016, MONOWHALES garnered attention when the music video for their single Home went viral, receiving over a million views. Holly and the band followed this up with the single Take It Back, which climbed to number 25 on the Canadian Alternative Rock Chart. Their most recent EP Control Freak is where Holly expands her approach to include synth bass, which is featured on most tracks on the EP. Holly has always loved performing with MONOWHALES and has performed alongside bands such as Matt & Kim, The Beaches, The Pack AD, and Coleman Hell. Holly’s most recent personal project has involved combining her love of synthesis with an interest in 3D printing. This has led her to study engineering, synth design, and 3D design.
What made you choose the OB-6?
“In the summer of 2016 I wanted to change up my live rig a bit. I was playing a Nord Stage 2, which is a fantastic instrument, but my band MONOWHALES was moving into a more synth-heavy direction. As much as I loved the versatility of the Stage 2, with all the organ, piano and electric piano options and combinations, I wasn’t really using it like that in a live context. Not to mention I was getting tired of lugging a giant 88 key keyboard to all my gigs. The other half of my rig was and still is a Moog Sub 37, mainly used for synth bass parts. So I knew I wanted polyphonic and I knew I wanted analog. Having rented and played the Prophet 8 PE and Prophet 12 in the past, I knew a DSI product was a high contender. I finally narrowed it down to a Prophet-6 or the new OB-6. A bunch of YouTube videos later, I landed on the OB-6. I liked the slightly dirtier sound and the classic Oberheim blue stripes. It’s been a perfect addition to the Moog in my live set up and its a beauty in the studio!”
How are you using it?
“The OB-6 is my right hand at shows while my left holds down the bass on the Sub37. MONOWHALES just released our new EP Control Freak, where all synth parts on every track were OB-6. I found myself in a studio full of different synths and though I spent a good chunk of that time tinkering around, I ended up using sounds designed only on the OB-6. I found this added a level of cohesion to the record. The versatility of the OB-6 never makes you feel boxed in. I love making a lead sound on the OB-6. It makes really thick, heavy leads that cut through a mix beautifully. It’s also a great instrument for adding environmental layers to a track, whether they’re noise sweeps, filter sweeps, or percussive effects.”
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“I love the built-in digital effects. It’s great to have control over the parameters you need in each effect and be able to turn them on and off with one click when you need to. The ability to sync the timed effects like delay, phaser, or flanger is also a really neat tool. When you have your LFO synced and different effect syncs going at the same time, you can get some awesome rhythms. I also love the bucket brigade delay. What a cool delay to work with!”
What does it give you that other instruments don’t?
“The OB-6 gives you fiery analog heat alongside polyphonic playability and great sound versatility. The knob-per-function design makes it easy to tweak and manipulate the sound live. I’ve worked with other synths in the past where you have to dig in internal menus to access something you need. On the OB-6, I can change whatever I want in the space of one bar, which gives you so many options as a performer to really make the most of your synthesizer while playing it.”
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“Write with the sequencer! This is such a cool function. I’ll often get a catchy repeated sequence going using just one voice which allows me to play full chords under it. This is both really fun to play with, and also a great composition tool. Also, dialing in a little chorus to your lead sound is a great way to get it extra chunky. The lead sound on the MONOWHALES single Take It Back is one of my favourite leads. It uses both oscillators, a bit of sub, a dash of noise, and all six voices in unison mode, slightly detuned, with a bit of chorus thrown on top, it’s a fat one!”
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