Studio Essentials: Varg
One of the electronic music's most prolific producers talks us through his studio gear.
Varg is Jonas Rönnberg—a prolific yet utterly unpredictable producer based in Sweden. Under this alias, he blends experimental techno statements and self-assertive live performances with an agility and depth of focus rarely summoned so instinctively.
His earlier work landed on Northern Electronics, the widely acclaimed techno label that he co-runs alongside Abdulla Rashim—but he has since shared his work via Semantica Records, Posh Isolation, Jealous God, and many more labels, and also under a wide number of different aliases. The most notable of these is Body Sculptures, a group that brings Rönnberg together with Loke Rahbek, Puce Mary, and other unique voices in European electronic music today, but he collaborates, too, with Christian Stadsgaard as The Empire Line, while one must also not his ambient side projects such as D.Å.R.F.D.H.S.
Sonically, his material encompasses dark ambient, drone, dubstep, industrial, noise and also techno in its more traditional form—though he claims to not be “so interested” in the latter. It’s a mightily impressive and eclectic collection of work.
Here he talks us through the key pieces of studio gear behind his productions.
Varg will be performing this weekend in Paris at The Peacock Society Festival. Playing this year are Dixon, Nina Kraviz, Marcel Dettmann, and more leading names. More information can be found here.
I bought it from Pite-Johan through a plastic bag at the Globen metro station. It looked like crap with a bunch of plastic pieces missing, and it died after maybe 10 days. But then the genius Daniel Araya fixed it up and even 3D printed the missing plastic pieces and put it all in place. I use it for pulsing bandpass sounds mainly. It’s a very nice synth to run through the Koma filter pedal and then trigger from the TR-808.
I have four of these laying around in the studio. They are my favorite piece of gear of all time, except the iPad. I kind of use this for the same thing as the WASP, like bandpassed basses, for example.
The difference here is that the Energiser has a sub-OSC that bypasses the filter. So you can make very thick metallic sounds with it. It’s amazing. My track “Run No More pt I & II” from the Idealism II compilation is almost only this piece of gear. I’ve found all four in Stockholm in prices from 350€-900€.
San Pedro Labs TTSH
A clone of the Arp 2600 built and designed in Sweden. I bought it straight from the source—the San Pedro Labs office is like 200m from the Northern Electronics office. I mainly use this to make kick drums and other percussive sounds. My track “Strictly Uniforms,” for example, is 100% made with the TTSH and nothing else. Using its own trigger system to sync the sounds. I think, from memory, the track is just five layers of sound from it.
My main tool right now. I have two of them that I use in every single track that I do. There is not a single recording lately that has been done without the iPad. For example, seven tracks from the Gore-Tex City LP were made on only the iPad and my synth apps on there. This is the future of making electronic music. Since I used to take a lot of walks and write down thoughts about music, the iPad has kind of changed this game. Now I can make the track right at the spot instead. This is a game changer!
I got this maybe like two years ago and never really used it. It sounded way too good for me—too hi-fi and too pumping. One day I decided to try it out again and my face melted. Using this thing live with the parameter locks is insanely good for both studio and live use. I have a hard time using this as a classic drum machine as I use it mainly as a percussive synth. So I most often pair it with my 808. The interface is easy to learn and making changes on the fly is also very easy. Polyrhythmic sequencer etc… I mean, just buy one if you have the money or scam a bank or whatever and get it. It’s worth it.