San Francisco-based Kush Arora has been producing eclectic and electrifying underground music for a diverse audience for nearly 20 years. Whether he’s making Indo Caribbean Dancehall, reworking kuduro, or creating ambience, his signature sound traverses genre lines and connects dots few dare to combine. His project Only Now assimilates his many influences, including Buraka Som Sistema, Wax Trax Records, and film soundtracks. As Kush puts it, Only Now’s roots are firmly planted in unbridled experimentation and a wall of sonic low end. With his 10-plus record discography, Kush’s work has been featured in The Wire, Spin Magazine, Fact Magazine, and many other avenues in the tropical bass, dub, dancehall, and Indian music scenes. His remixes and collaborations span artists as diverse as Balkan Beat Box and Gappy Ranks.
As Only Now he’s released 4 EPs, with 2017 sharing Timeslave from Mexico City’s Infinite Machine and Elements on vinyl from France’s POLAAR Sounds. He’s currently collaborating with N1L (Berlin, UIQ), Lechuga Zafiro (Uruguay), and Abstractar (an Oakland metal act). Only Now’s performance highlights include playing alongside Kode 9, Dj Lag, Shambala Festival (CA), Low End Theory, SXSW, with a recent performance at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
We chatted with Kush about how he’s using the Pro 2.
What made you choose the Pro 2?
“I honestly don’t have that much hardware. Every investment has been into a piece with sounds that I cannot achieve digitally, and which has to be a life-long legacy synthesizer. The Pro 2 has many merits: its elegant keyboard, the awesome filters and amp circuitry, simplicity of operation, and an insane amount of modulation possibilities. The Pro 2 struck me as a unique synthesizer in the market, and at the time, the sequencer’s automation and ease of use was unparalleled. The playability on the synthesizer was really unique and perfectively sensitive. Also, its paraphonic capabilities were a big factor.“
How are you using it?
“I find myself drawn to it for pads, solos, and basslines that sound “alive.” The modulation matrix can be set up in a very subtle way that really makes it stand out from other synthesizers. I have been using it live in my Only Now performances, where I’m using the sequencer and mod matrix to cycle through complicated cycles that self oscillate. The 4 oscillators are being used a lot in their paraphonic mode, giving the illusion that there is more than one synth doing the work, but that’s just a little trick.“
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“The paraphonic mode and sequencer stand out for me. The mod matrix and LFO routing can open up worlds that you would have to dig super hard in other synths to do. On the playability side, I love using the sliders while soloing and doing performances. The aftertouch ain’t too shabby either.”
What does it give you that other instruments don’t?
“The paraphonic oscillator ability was a big factor. Also having such a rich filter set with the sequencer’s automation capabilities made it stand above other synths. Also, the Audio In feature and distortion/feedback tuning/delay section was unique.”
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“I highly suggest running audio through the Pro 2. I’ve been playing drum sounds through it, dubbing them out, and running them into an Eventide space afterwards and it’s been really cool. Also, go nuts with the sequencer. If you ever-so-slightly fuck with ambient, noise, or experimental sounds, the combination of the LFO’s, sequencer, and paraphonic mode can take you into the depths of outer space and back to the bottom of hell. I’ve had some of my most exciting synthesizer personal moments with the Pro 2.“
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