Marty’s Back Room Boogie Experiments 5


It’s Friday Night, and the back room is open for action. In previous blogsplats, I’ve whittered on about records that are going to rock our club, 69.. and then when I look back, realise that I never even played them. Well some anyway ūüôā . Here’s a link to a wee bit of what actually was played the other week..

So, tonight we are mainly listening to some up-fronters. A few hot wee promos that have come my way. Tomorrows music today! ¬†…and all vinyl of course.¬†

Sound Signature 047. Theo Parrish, famed for his House, but I just love it when he throws the curveball, and releases some rough as baws Techno. This one is by Theo and Pirahnahead with Craig Huckaby, Mike’s brutha. Should be released soon.. which could be weeks, or maybe more, who knows. We’re rocking on Theo time. He also sent a promo of SS045 – Any Other Styles.. to be released later this year… so I’ll probably have that for far too long before anyone else. Sorry about that… and it’s Pure Theo House.¬†

While we’re on the subject of Detroit House, I should perhaps mention, the ‘In The Dark’ compilation, that I just received the vinyl TP’s today. Tracks by Rick Wilhite, M.Pittman, KDJ, Mike Huckaby, Delano Smith, Keith Worthy, Malik Alston and Ray Bone Jones. In The Dark – The Soul of Detroit, is coming as a double LP, and CD with DVD of a film ‘Voices’, which I’ve just checked a bit of as well.. and looks a good informative view of what’s happening in the D.. well in 2005.. but it’s some good interviews with some guys you won’t see anywhere else waxing about what they do and love. There was footage of one of the party’s, and I was just thinking.. it’s just like ’69 wi windy’s’. To explain a bit.. ‘It’s just our club night in Paisley called 69.. with windows’.. as opposed to the dingy wee basement that it is. But then it’s not all about the natural light is it.¬†I did like a comment from Rick The Godson.. not sure who his Godfather is.. will need to ask him.. but, he was saying that it’s all about the system and the dancefloor, and that it’s always different for him. I always think that about 69.. it’s different every time. If it wasn’t like that I wouldn’t still be doing it, but it just is.. and The Godson seems like a man after my own heart there. Marty ‘The Godcousin’ McKay.¬†

Anyway, you should buy the vinyl, cos it’s the best, the CD cos it’s got extra tracks, and the DVD (which will come with the CD anyway), cos it’s got the chat, and the natural light-enment.¬†

There’s a lot of white labels kicking about here this week.. was getting confused there. That might not be the white labels fault right enough. I was just rotating another on the deck, and caught up in yon Detroit House, which is understandable, as was the new Madteo remixes, and was Marcellus Pittman remix, but flipping, and perhaps coming to the tune of the night.. the Shake Remix. Waaooo.. Shake seldom disappoints. Probably one of the only guys that you can still just buy his records on sight.¬†

Probably the tune of last week, that’s now rockin the back room, was MMM’s mix of Tshetsha Boy’s on Honest Jons. Just when you thought there was too many remixes coming out on this series to listen to.. then this bomb drops. Think singing and raving in the shower. Well maybe not.. but you should enjoy it whatever you’re up to.

Moving into the future.. I’m not sure I should be mentioning his one.. as the guys don’t want it announced until ready for release. No pre sales, keep it quiet until vinyl is ready to ship.. but fuck it.. nobody’s going to be reading this really, apart from you.. and one or two others. SUNKLOTUU, new Boddika and Joy Orbison.. ¬†TP was road tested at 69 last weekend, and the Dun Dun track went off. So it’s good to go.. good enough for Paisley, then good enough for the rest of the world. Keep your eye on the site.. as I say, won’t be announced. Get it when you can. (I’d say 2 to 3 weeks, but don’t go telling anyone, or everybody will want one).

ED – It’s actually available this Tuesday! Or sold out.

Anyway, enough of that future beat jargon.. It’s like Tomorrow’s World in here tonight.. in fact it IS Tomorrow’s World.. and I’m in it !! …Ahh, it’s actually today’s world.. so all cool. Where was I.. talking shite, that’s right.. I better be signing off.. with a wee mention for the new Metroplex 12. Only available at a few stores in the world, there are 200 copies, and all numbered with individual artwork.. well sleeves printed and hand painted by Kimyon the artist.. recording, and painter.. and decorator… wonder if he’ll do my living room actually.. but I can only think he got the inspiration for his sleeves from my Halloween costume….¬†

OTO Machines

So…….here at Rubadub we’re known to like strange things and we also have a long standing affinity with France (“the auld alliance”) so when OTO machines came out with a strange step-sequencing 8 Bit weirdo FX box with proper Analogue filters AND we found out they were French…..we couldn’t have been happier.¬† Formidable!

We spoke to the very affable Dennis from OTO Machines and asked him some questions – here’s the results:

1 – To come out of nowhere with an innovative product like the OTO Biscuit is very unusual – had you worked for other music companies before starting up your own?

Not really, even if I worked for Fairlight from 1995 to 1999. At that time, they didn’t produce musical instruments anymore, but Digital Audio Workstations and mixing desks for broadcast studios (TV, Radio,…).
I was a maintenance tech and a trainer for the sound engineers, and I was not involved in their products’ design.
It was very high-tech for me (32-bits microprocessors, DSP, FPGA, SCSI interface,…), very far from my interests for analog audio products.

After Fairlight, I worked as a music sound engineer and maintenance tech in a vintage studio near Paris.¬† The studio was equipped with a Neve desk built in¬†1972 for Barclay’s recording studio (with 36 x 1081 and 12 x 1073 modules), a Fairchild 670, UA 176, 2 x Pultec, Telefunken V76, 5 x U67 mics….

It was more inspiring for me as you can guess !

During a session, I met my future partner in OTO, St√©phane “Alf” Briat (sound engineer and producer for Air, Phoenix and many french artists).
St√©phane convinced me to set the OTO company after seeing a strange bitcrusher I’ve made in my kitchen during a week-end.¬† It was the very first prototype of Biscuit, everything started from there !

2 – The design of the OTO Biscuit and your website is very clean and attractive – is this something you have a keen interest in?

Yes, we want to build attractive products. We think that a nice looking product can help to make good music.  Just before starting OTO, Stéphane introduced me to Ludovic Houplain, from the H5 design & graphic agency.

They work for a lot of artists (R√∂yksopp, Goldfrapp,¬†Alex Gopher, Etienne de Crecy, …) and companies (Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Cartier, Wolkswagen, Audi…) and they won an Oscar last year for their movie “Logorama”.

They designed our logo, our custom knobs, the silkscreen drawing, the user manual and the packaging.  We are very lucky to have these guys involved in the design of our products.

3 –¬† Many other developers make interesting products but put them in an ugly box or have a really dated look about them – what’s your favourite instrument from another manufacturer (either modern or classic) and what’s your least favourite?

In my opinion, and if we don’t speak about sound quality, a good design for an electronic musical instrument is a balance between aesthetic and playability.¬† It’s far better to have a simple black box with only the right controls on the front panel than a nice looking but “hard to use"¬†machine.

The switches and knobs response is also very important. They must be strong and smooth, with a nice feeling when you touch them.

I appreciate most of the vintage synths (SCI, Moog, Korg, Roland…) because all the controls are on the front panel.¬† These controls are also displaying the signal path (Oscillators, mixer, VCF, VCA,…) that helps to understand the basics of synthesis.
I love the aesthetics of the Buchla synths, specially the Music Easel.¬†It’s half fun, half professional.¬† I could also mention the ARP 2500, the¬†Roland Jupiter 8,¬†the OSCar¬†and the Emulator One and Two.

I really don’t like modern workstations (the¬†term itself¬†is not fun!) with thousands of possibilities and a big touch-screen. It makes you feel you’re using a PDA !

4 – Although the OTO Biscuit seems to have found a home with more experimental music producers, you also have some more "chart” oriented producers using it too – did you expect such an unusual product to appeal to such a wide variety of people when you were designing it?

No, I didn’t expect that. At first I thought it would interest only people involved in the chip tune, lo-fi or 8-bit music scene.¬† But Biscuit is more than a bitcrusher, it’s an hybrid processor.¬†The sound is really organic and vivid, mainly thanks to its analog filter.¬† You can use it in a lot of ways: from adding depth to cheap keyboards or virtual sounds, to create radical digital distortions.

Biscuit users are producers, sound engineers, musicians, DJs from very different music styles: electronic, noise, metal, indie rock, pop,…

5 РOn the subject of music, what sort of material and artists do prefer to listen to?  Anything that helped inspire your work on the OTO?

I listen to several kind of music, it depends on the daily mood: Electronic music of course, but also Classical,¬†Rock,¬†Soul, Jazz, Blues, Folk…

As a matter of fact, my work on the OTO products is not directly inspired by a particular music style or artist.  I can work on a distortion effect and listen an Etta James song at the same time!  When I design a FX, I simply try to create something musical, warm and inspiring. I love imperfections, distortions, defects and I want to include them in my products.

6 – In other conversations we’ve had, you have expressed a keen desire to visit Islay to “drink the island dry” of whiskey.¬† Dan Lurinsky, the manager of the Rubadub store, has this question which he says if you can answer it without using Google, he will buy you a bottle of 20 year old Single Malt

¬†¬†¬†¬† “Name all 7 Distileries on Islay

Well (without any help, I promise!), I would say: Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Ardberg, Lagavullin, Laphroaig.
I don’t remember or don’t know the 2 others (maybe the Bowmore but I’m not sure). Game Over !
By the way, there’s a new distillery in Islay called Kilchoman. I have tasted their new “Inaugural 100%” Islay", it’s fantastic.¬† I really love Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, and particularly the Islays. Coming from a country well knowned for its good alcohols, I would say that they are the best and more complex alcohols on the planet !

Good work Dennis – very well done – you didn’t quite hit the target so we’ll have to send you a bottle of 12 year old instead ūüôā

7 – You have added a lot of value to the OTO Biscuit since it’s launch including new Effects and now the opportunity to use it as a Step Sequencer and Mono Synth – what was your idea behind this?

The idea is to make the most of the existing hardware.

The first upgrade (rev 1.2 released in october 2010) added 4 new FXs and improvements to the Step Filter.
Our last upgrade “Der OTO” (rev 2 released in november 2011) turns Biscuit into a 2 oscillators monosynth with a 16 step sequencer.

As far as I know, no FX box had the opportunity to be upgraded like that before.

The idea behind “Der OTO” came from the first Biscuit prototype, in 2006.
At that time, I was interested in the PPG synths technology (8-bits oscillators with analog filters), so I modified the Biscuit assembly code to simulate oscillators using the 8-bit converters.

This synth was very simple: 2 oscillators with 2 waveforms (square and sawtooth), a digital VCA, an ADS envelope generator to control the filter and the VCA.
I was impressed by the sound, but I had too many things to do with Biscuit, so I gave up. But the idea that Biscuit could become a synth stayed in my head.

Last summer, I decided to take a break in the development of the next OTO product and started to write the “Der OTO” firmware. It took me 4 months to accomplish that !
I worked with Olivier Gillet, creator of the Shruthi synthesizer (¬† Olivier gave me a lot of advices and some of the “secrets” of the Shruthi, like waveforms tables, FM synthesis, pitch modulation,…
I’m very happy with this little Der OTO, the sound is really unique.

All of our upgrades are for free, it’s like a gift to our customers!

What a nice guy and what a great instrument/processor he has created Рwe look forward to whatever his crazy brain is cooking up next.  In the meantime you definitely owe it to yourself to check out the Biscuit Рcheck the link below for much OTO madness on You Tube:

Record store day was the usual chaotic, loud and extremely enjoyable affair down at Rubadub this year. We drank some beers, played plenty records, got fined by the polis (well, one of us did) and generally had ourselves a right good time. Big shout to Mateusz at¬†¬†for documenting the whole thing again in pictures. There’s a good chance none of us would remember it otherwise….¬†

Last year’s record store day was killer. We expect this year will be a similar affair. We’ve got tons of exclusives, Rubadub classics, long-lost warehouse finds and a whole lot more coming down for you to get in about. We’ll have extra listening posts set up, Rubadub crew dropping the platters that matter and a very special guest, Joy Orbison, coming down before we all get ourselves down to Numbers at Chambre 69 to round the night off.

Check the FB event here and if you have any questions then just drop us a line on 0141 221 9657 or email

See you all there!