Sequential Artist Spotlight: Analog Tara

Dr. Tara Rodgers (Analog Tara) is a multi-instrumentalist composer and historian of electronic music. She is the author of Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound (2010) and several essays on the history of sound and synthesizers. Her music includes recent techno EPs on 1432 R (DC), several self-released albums, remixes for Beauty Pill and Le Tigre, and a compilation release on Move D’s Source Records. She has presented music and public lectures at MUTEK, Ableton Loop, and many other forums.

We chatted with Analog Tara about how she uses Sequential instruments in her music:

What made you choose Sequential?

I work with a few instruments now in the DSI/Sequential family. My first was a DSI Mopho desktop, which I picked up around 2010 not long after it came out. At that time I was drawn to its size and power. I was putting together a compact analog techno setup for live performance and used an Akai MPC500 to sequence the Mopho and an MFB-522 drum machine. For minimal techno, electro, and acid house it was a big-sounding, fun, and very portable all-hardware combination.

In 2013, I bought a used Oberheim Matrix-1000. I was looking for an affordable way into the Oberheim sound world of Prince’s music and other synth music of that era, and this was it. These vintage synths have actually doubled or tripled in price since then, so I’m glad I acted when I did!

Both of these instruments became central to my studio – irreplaceable, really. And so when I learned about the Sequential OB-6 combining Dave Smith’s and Tom Oberheim’s design expertise, of course I was curious to work with it and in recent months have loved exploring what the OB-6 desktop can do.

How are you using it?

I produce a range of techno, ambient, and experimental music. For the beat-driven music, the Mopho and Matrix-1000 have held down most of the bass, lead and pad duties, respectively, for some years now. I’ve also used the Matrix-1000 extensively, sometimes exclusively, in ambient compositions. The OB-6 is a great addition because it has the vintage sounds and filters that I already love, but also the polyphony and the knob-per-function editability.

My typical process in the studio is to work up ideas with hardware first, sketching out ideas using the MPC500 to sequence synths and drum machines. I then track those loops into my laptop. The tracking stage can be labor intensive as I’ll often make certain creative choices in terms of sculpting the sound, or maybe doing some live filtering that becomes part of the recorded sound. Following that I’ll do extensive arranging and production inside Ableton Live in a way that elevates those analog sounds so that they shine and evolve even more.

What are some of your favorite things about them?

Mopho is spectacular as a bass unit. It remains my go-to for square or sawtooth bass. I don’t use many presets or have a need to create many – all I need is access to those pure wave shapes, maybe some sub boost, and the Curtis filter of course. Mopho bass really cuts through a mix without much EQ or processing and scales up well to a club sound system too. I’ve had people come up to me at shows and ask what’s kicking out that massive bass and it often comes a surprise when I point to this 5×7″ yellow box.

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