When he’s not busy outside the music world as a caretaker of an historical site, Phil Kopsaftis is likely creating sound and music for the indie film and game world or documenting unique and creative synth tips and tricks on his YouTube Channel. He likes to share and employ techniques and approaches that aren’t always obvious on the surface, and ends up frequently crossing into less-traveled musical territory. His hope is to ignite that same sense of adventure and exploration in other synth owners and inspire them to take their instruments to new musical and sonic areas.
We chatted with Phil on how he’s using the Prophet-6 in his music:
What made you choose the Prophet-6?
Honestly, the looks. I knew I wanted a Prophet before I knew I wanted a synth. It must have been ten years ago that I first saw a Prophet-6 filled with knobs, wood, red LEDs and those thick white lines dividing a bunch of jargon I didn’t understand. I didn’t know exactly what this thing was, but I knew I wanted it.
How are you using it?
I use my synth like a grandma might knit. Something to do to pass the time. It’s therapeutic. I have a very rewarding day job as a caretaker for a historic home. It’s freeing to accept and declare to myself that the actual act of playing and exploring an instrument in the moment is enough sometimes.
I love the collaborative nature and creative challenges of a film or game project but there is something special about just sitting down to make noise and follow where it takes you.
I fell in love and engaged with synths in a deeper way than my 20 years prior of guitar playing had provided. I’ve never been a technical player. Synthesizers allowed me to worry less about the actual notes and focus more on evolving and changing the sound and mood in real time.
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
The Rev2 was my first Sequential Synth.The modulation options and the raw sound drew me in. I’d honestly wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for new mod matrix uses. I ended up parting with it but I always planned on buying it back as soon as I could. Instead, I came across an offer I couldn’t refuse on a Prophet-6.
I’m a huge fan of both of these synths. They sound more alike than they do different. The Prophet-6 has a bunch of small things that add up to a lot for my setup. I’m one of those weirdos who prefers a 49 key! I also love the HPF (that doesn’t take an fx slot), the dual fx and drive. Oh and Poly-Mod can create some wonderful textures. The Rev2 is a modulation beast but the P6 has more raw synthesis tricks up its sleeves that I think go underlooked. It’s way more than a “Bread and Butter” only machine.
What does it give you that other synths might not?
Immediacy and sound! I guess that’s the Sequential sound people talk about. I love it. It’s a sort of chalky, airy, upper mids thing. I come from guitar and the Prophet sound just spoke to me over something smoother like maybe a Roland.
Apart from a few patchless monos I’ve owned, my Prophets have both been the easiest synths to program. I usually start from an Init patch before venturing off wherever the synth takes me. They are inspiring in that way. It’s a very engaging and meditative process. Just hearing the sound in real time and thinking of where to go with it next.
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
Oh man, too many to list, but I will try. These are deep machines. I’ve only just begun to explore the P6 but I dove pretty deep with the Rev2.
The Rev2 Audio Mod is incredible. I don’t see it getting used nearly enough but it’s somewhat understandable because at first glance it just seems to add a bit of fizz. These are the kinds of features that deserve extra exploration and inspire me to document and try to share some insights I’ve stumbled across.
The Prophet-6’s Distortion took me a while to crack open, but I’ve discovered a little secret. Adding some audio-rate Poly Mod FM to the LPF really opens the high end and enlivens the sound. It really takes off the “blanket” of the drive in a great way.
I want to share the stuff that isn’t always obvious on the surface. I end up crossing through a lot of less musical territory, but my hope is that some moment of that journey catches the attention of someone who might have been struggling to feel inspired with their instrument.
It’s too easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need a new piece of gear after reading reviews and thoughts online. My biggest tip is to forget about terms like “analog” and “digital” and just explore the hidden corners of your gear that make you grin.
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