Jesse Fischer is a Brooklyn-based keyboardist, composer, producer, and engineer. Largely self-taught, he is known for his warm, soulful touch and emphasis on melody, groove, storytelling, and emotion, and his affinity for combining elements of his own Jewish heritage with music of the African diaspora, jazz, hip-hop, and folk. Jesse has performed with many notables in the jazz, pop, and world music scenes, including Mino Cinélu, Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Grace Kelly, and Takuya Kuroda. He has released eight records as a leader, including his Herbie Hancock/Head Hunters tribute Vein Melter (Tru Thoughts, 2015) — jointly created with saxophonist/arranger Sly5thAve — and most recently, his covers project Flipped II (self-released, 2018), which features modern groove-based re-imaginings of favorite compositions by Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and more.
We chatted with Jesse on how he uses Sequential instruments in his music:
What made you choose the Rev2?
“I had long wanted to buy a Prophet ’08, and finally when the Rev2 came out I figured it was time. It has just the right balance of power and finesse. I was inspired by my friends BIGYUKI and Nicholas Semrad, and wanted to extend what they were doing with it to my own musical universe.”
How are you using it?
“Use it on everything — in the studio, on stage, on tour. I’ve created my own library of custom sounds that I use a lot in pop music production as well as in my own jazz projects. It’s prominently featured in the new record I’m producing from Brooklyn band Ajoyo (indie/Afro/pop/jazz), as well as my most recent release Flipped II, and upcoming EP Cross Currents. I play it on tour with saxophonist/vocalist Grace Kelly and vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles.”
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“It blends and layers so well. It’s so easy to create width with it, but it doesn’t take up too much room in the mix. Sometimes I layer several different patches along with acoustic instruments and other synths. The sound is ‘classic’ but it fits into my modern digital workflow.”
What does it give you that other synths might not?
“I love that it’s the perfect balance of flexibility and ease of use. It’s really hard to create a bad-sounding patch, yet it has enough routing options to create any sound you can imagine. The look and feel is really conducive to creativity, the keybed is really easy to play, and the visual design is inspiring but doesn’t get in the way. It’s lightweight and easy to travel with.”
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“In live performance, I take advantage of using aftertouch to trigger vibrato, so I can actually play lead sounds one-handedly and comp for myself on another board. (Typically, playing lead requires two hands, one hand on the mod & pitch wheels and one hand on the keyboard.) In the studio, I often record parts on MIDI first and then play them back thru the Rev2 and modify the sound in real time (open the filter frequency, for instance, or change the attack/decay of the amp envelope).”
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