The Making of The New Moonsplatta EPSpiderhound
Jack Kolpin has been working with ill.gates since the beginning of Dylan’s Patreon days and he has just released the killer new Moonsplatta EP which has hit #1 on the Beatport Dubstep New Releases chart. I had a chance to speak with Jack to find out more about his amazing journey and learn about his plans for the future of Moonsplatta.
Jack, tell us about your musical journey and how did it lead you to ill.gates, The Producer Dojo and the Class of 808?
I started playing the piano when I was pretty young, like maybe 6 years old, so I’ve been making music for a long time. When I was in college, around 2008, I got into production and started out with Reason but eventually switched to Ableton. I spent most of my time in the beginning learning from Mr. Bill’s videos and ill.Gates’ workshops. In 2015 I saw ill.Gates post that he was going to start teaching people through Patreon so I jumped at the chance, and that’s what eventually evolved into Producer Dojo and Class of 808.
Where are you from originally?
Central Coast California. I lived mostly in Salinas growing up and then moved to Santa Cruz for college. I’ve been living in Chicago for a few years but I’m going to be moving to Honolulu soon and living there for a year or two.
What made you want to become a music producer?
Dubstep. Specifically this track: hit that gash (itchy naan re-rub) – foreign beggars
I remember very vividly sitting in my friends dorm room when he played that song. It was only a couple weeks after moving to Santa Cruz as a freshman in 2008. I was mostly into metal and prog rock at the time and had been exposed to very little electronic music. It was so unlike anything I had ever heard before, I was immediately obsessed and needed to know how to make it.
Tell us about the “Moonsplatta EP.” When did you begin working on it and how long of an adventure has it been?
It’s been a very long process, and part of that is because it really started before I even knew I was working on an EP. The main track “I Know You’re There” is an old one that I first posted to soundcloud about two years ago. I spent a long time refining it since then as I learned more about mixing. The EP has changed a lot over that period of time, two tracks ended up getting replaced completely with newer ones that were made much faster as I was mastering my process.
What has been your favorite Moonsplatta live performance experience so far? Tell us about your performance set up…do you use Ableton or CDJs?
Well this is all from way before I was using that name moonsplatta, but my favorite experiences are from playing at renegade parties in the Santa Cruz forests. Santa Cruz has an incredible bass music culture and the forest parties are a ridiculously fun tradition. There are so many legendary producers that have roots there and played at forest parties like these… Bassnectar, The Glitch Mob, Matty G, Minnesota and G Jones to name a few… One of my first experiences DJing was in the forest with Minnesota. We had the party in what I think was a closed state park. We set everything up in a campsite. It was a really fun night but I’m actually surprised the cops didn’t find that one, usually we would go much deeper into the mountains.
I was using vinyl and CDJs back then. I switched to Ableton for a while and was using the ill.Gates APC40 template, but now I’m back to mostly using CDJs in my live performances.
What is your home studio setup like?
On my desk I have midi fighter 3D and a Push 2. The Push is my main tool but I use the midi fighter sometimes to make effect racks. I also have a UAD Apollo mkii quad that is connected by lightlink to a Focusrite Scarlett Octopre Dynamic. I have a lot of analog gear and this way I can have 10 separate recording inputs that all go to separate channels in Ableton.
For hardware synths I have a Korg Monologue and a eurorack modular system that I’ve been building. This is what the modular looks like now.
I’ve had a Korg Triton since high school when I was playing keyboards in a metal band. I still use it now, it has a lot of great sounds especially the horns. I also have my Technics turntables set up so I can use those to sample things or practice Djing with the Rekordbox control disks since I don’t own CDJs.
What creative ways do you promote your music?
I don’t really. I’ve never been great at promotion, so still need to work on that I guess. I’m probably going to start doing some production streaming soon, but I would like to get another camera set up so that people can see the modular rack.
Are there other artistic projects and communities that you are a member of?
There’s a new group in Chicago called the Good Music Collective who booked Mufunka and I to do a B2B set a couple weeks ago for their first event. That went really well so we are both looking forward to working with them more in the future. There is also the Fuzzy Puddles crew in LA who are very good friends of mine. I haven’t done much with them yet but I’m planning to collaborate with them more soon.
The track ‘Believe’ is a remix of a track my friend Zipse made. He’s a producer from Santa Cruz and we both picked up producing and DJing at the same time when we were in college there. I’m excited to be working more with him again, I really like his style.
If you could go back 10 years ago and advise your younger self of 1 thing, what would that advice be?
Use the ill.Gates synth sampling recipe to start making as many tracks as you can as fast as you can.
Do you ever experience writer’s block in the studio? How do you overcome it?
I used to, but not really anymore. I think that my improved workflow and the fact that I separate sound design and arrangement sessions helps with preventing writer’s block. If I don’t feel like working on an arrangement or start to lose motivation, then that’s just a great time to make racks and build tools. I’ve been building up a library of all kinds of sounds that I’ve recorded from my modular rack, monologue, triton, guitar etc… and I’ve developed a lot of foresight and strategy for what kinds of sounds will be useful and inspire creativity later on in the process. That helps a lot.
How did you come up with the artist name, Moonsplatta and what does it mean? What is next for Moonsplatta?
I made a big list of names and ideas. My degree is in astrophysics so a lot of the ideas were related to space and science. Moonsplatta isn’t necessarily referring to any one thing in particular… but I think it’s interesting how the universe is in constant motion with all kinds of things smashing into each other and transferring energy. Asteroids smash and splat into things, planets crash, and we even see galaxies colliding together. Meanwhile on Earth humans are sending out probes that crash into moons, planets and comets, and building huge underground machines to accelerate the smallest particles and smash them into things so they can recreate some of the conditions of these cosmic events. I find all of that fascinating and that’s what inspired the name.
Is there one song that you are most proud of on your latest EP? If yes, why?
‘I Know You’re There’ because I think it’s the most musical. Recording the guitar for that was a lot of fun and I love how spacey and atmospheric it sounds.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
Yes! I feel like it would be neglectful to not mention this because it actually had a big impact on my sound and how I do things in pretty unexpected ways. In 2015 about a month after I first started working with ill.Gates through Patreon I got hired as a particle accelerator operator at Fermi National Laboratory. It was an incredible experience to be there and learn how to operate what is probably one of the most complex kind of machines that’s ever existed. I would go around the lab and record sounds. That got me thinking about using noise and textures in innovative ways. I was able to explore a lot different ways to manipulate samples.
Fermilab is also a big part of why I started getting more interested analog synths. I was learning about the acceleration system and I realized that the amplification chain for the RF signals wasn’t all that different from how synthesizers work. You start with an oscillator outputting a sine wave (much faster than audio signals, these signals can be from 30Mhz to 800Mhz) which then goes through a series of filters and amplifiers to boost it and shape it the right way. Rather than going to a speaker, the signal is transferred to a copper cavity where it resonates and produces an electric field that accelerates the beam as it passes through. Hardware synthesizers started to make a lot more sense to me after that. I started to understand more about the differences between analog and digital systems, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each. The main control room that I worked in is a completely digital environment that interacts with and controls a lot of analog equipment. While I don’t work there anymore, I am reminded of it every time I am in my studio jumping back and forth between analog and digital production techniques. Music production is a lot more fun though!
If you haven’t had a chance yet to listen to the new Moonsplatta EP, Download and stream here: https://fanlink.to/Moonsplatta