The Black Queen

“For experimental Los Angeles alternative/electronic trio The Black Queen, isolation and loss have always functioned as a gateway to being born anew. Much has transpired since the band released their cold, cutting, critically acclaimed 2016 debut Fever Daydream. But the trio of Greg Puciato (frontman of the now-defunct The Dillinger Escape Plan) Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel AvivPuscifer, and Nine Inch Nails), and Steven Ryan (technician for Nine Inch Nails, Kesha, and A Perfect Circle) have emerged as triumphant and intense as ever, documenting their journey via the synth-streaked industrial anthems and creeping, pitch-black pop of their upcoming sophomore release, Infinite Games.

Formed in 2011 after a chance meeting between Puciato and Eustis in which they both realized they were fans of each other’s work, The Black Queen became a labor of love for its members to explore sounds and emotions that they couldn’t quite fit into their then full-time projects. Injecting a pained, twilit edge into slick new-wave tracks as fit for the dance floor as for some imagined dystopian skyline, the trio have managed to channel their eclectic influences into a surprisingly cohesive vision.” — Sam Goldner – Tiny Mix Tapes

We chatted with Josh and and Steven on how they use Sequential’s instruments:

What made you choose Sequential’s instruments?

Steven:  “Staring at a computer screen forever, mousing around to change every setting was something I needed to break away from. I was heading for a workflow change. Soft-synths have been a big part of my writing and recording process throughout the years. Dave Smith’s instruments helped liberate me from being tethered to 2-D, skeuomorphic plug-ins. I wanted a knob-per-function layout with minimal menu diving.”

Josh: “I’ve owned and used Dave’s instruments for over two decades now and they are pretty much necessary for me to make music at this point. I use the OB-6 desktop, and Prophet Rev2 16 voice, as well as having used an Evolver desktop on the first TBQ album.”

How are you using your instruments?

Steven:  “As soon as I get a new piece of gear, I flip through presets and take note of anything interesting or inspiring. I tweak until it’s a flavor I’d use, or do some stream of consciousness playing.  I’ll record these sessions and let them sit until it’s time to put together a piece of music. On the road I still use soft synths to get ideas or program. In the studio we use the Sequential hardware to create more expressive and unique patches. Sometimes we just send MIDI notes to the synths and tweak or flip through presets while a mix is playing. It becomes a springboard for new ideas or making a section feel more alive.”

Josh: “I generally try to take things from a nice familiar sound and shred it with modulation. I take it as far as it can go without breaking, or sometimes actually breaking.”

What’s are your favorite things about your Sequential synths?

Steven:  “I love the old school Oberheim blue-line look of the OB-6 and that the whole synth has been brought into the future. On the Rev2, the 5-octave, semi-weighted keybed is such a pleasure to play that I use it as my main MIDI keyboard for any other hardware or software that I need to trigger.”

Josh: “The OB-6 is, in my opinion, the culmination of everything polysynth since the beginning. It’s a dream. The Rev2 is one of the weirdest and most still essential synths I’ve ever owned It’s perfect for all of these glassy but analog sounds to which I’ve always been drawn. The modulation matrix on the thing is heaven.”

What these instruments give you that other synths don’t?

Steven: “Immediacy. The layout on both synths are easy to navigate and understand. It’s very quick to build usable sounds from scratch. You can make very big, beautiful, old school sounds as well as modern complex textures without having to be a scientist.

Josh: “Modulation and reliability!”

Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?

Josh: “These instruments *want* modulation — whatever you’re working on. As a matter of course, I like to add LFOs to things, often randomly, to make the sound a living, breathing thing that never repeats itself exactly. The constant shifts possible in the modulation matrices of some of these instruments are part of what makes them so usable and unique.”

Steven: “I’d suggest getting at least one of the keyboard models so you can play out ideas. And leave whatever you use to record running with the screen off and just disappear into the instrument. Also, playing with the OB-6 X-Mod on arpeggios is joyous.”

The Black Queen’s current tour dates

Infinite Games is out September 28th, 2018

LINKS

The Black Queen

Federal Prisoner

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MORE ABOUT THE SEQUENTIAL

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If you’re using your Sequential instruments in interesting ways, tell us about it. Contact us at stories@sequential.com.