Kevin McDowell – Mildlife
Kevin McDowell plays synthesizer for Melbourne-based band, Mildlife. Mildlife’s sound has been described as “a melting pot of musical sensations.” The group combines progressive 1970’s sounds with electronic Krautrock, backed by a mixture of rhythmic funk, house, and dream-pop, creating an addictive atmosphere. Mildlife’s debut album Phase is out now on Research Records.
What made you choose the Prophet-6?
“Before it came out, I was using a Jupiter-6 as my main synth for Mildlife. It was a great sounding synth but it was humongous and weighed a ton. I could deal with that inconvenience, but it was also really unstable, no matter how often it was sent to the repair shop. I would often show up to a gig to find the memory had been wiped. I’d have to reprogram it during sound check and hope that its memory would stay intact during the set. Despite all of those issues, I still really wanted to use a knob-per-function poly synth. At the same time I also had a Sequential Prophet 600 at the studio. That thing had a tone that was otherworldly and it would always spark ideas. Unfortunately, it was even more unreliable than the Jupiter. Then the Prophet-6 was announced. I had a play on one and it was in a really similar space to the Prophet 600, so I was sold. I was also really impressed with its keybed and build quality.”
How are you using it?
“I’m using it for everything, really. It’s my main synth for Mildlife. I also use it to control a few other bits and pieces because it’s so comfortable to play.”
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“There are a lot of things, but the sequencer is something I didn’t really factor in when I bought the synth. It’s super easy to use and really easy to sync up with the LFO and effects. I’ll often use it to start an idea. The synth also looks great. I think the importance of aesthetics are often overlooked with instruments, especially electronic instruments. This can be very subjective, but I think an instrument with pleasing aesthetics and attention to design detail will draw you to play it.”
What does the Prophet-6 give you that other instruments don’t?
“For me, I think it and the OB-6 strike the perfect balance of providing loads of immediate features without being overwhelming or having the need to menu-dive, which is great for live performance and improvisation. Also, nothing really sounds like it, so that’s obviously a huge part of it. And on top of that, it’s built like a tank.”
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“As mentioned before, using the sequencer, synced with the LFO can create some really amazing sounds. Especially when you add the mod wheel in the mix. I also like to use Oscillator 2 as an LFO. The LFO per voice can create a vastly different feel to the dedicated LFO.”
MORE ABOUT THE PROPHET-6
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