This Tuesday, we’ve lined up a trio of video interviews for your viewing pleasure. But one is rarer than the others. Amon Tobin tends to shy away from interviews, generally, let alone those on camera. Here, he agreed to talk to Beatport about his work.

Flanked by racks of very lovely gear from Moog and others, plus a computer running Steinberg Cubase as the central digital hub and recording center, Tobin emphasizes mainly the philosophy behind his approach. He emphasizes in particular his passion for experimentation, contrasting “entertainment,” which “depends on the approval of other people,” with what he describes as a “labor of love.” And that includes his ongoing Two Fingers project on the beat-making side, and his work under his own name, which eschewing any sort of commercial appeal, he calls “a weird art project that I’ve been working on for 15 years.”

Speaking of fingers, some of that weirdness comes from the Haken Continuum Fingerboard; there’s a nice moment where you can hear it making beautifully-mangled samples. For his part, Tobin is quick to add that you don’t need these tools – that “people will make amazing stuff out of nothing.” But to me, the Fingerboard’s role is important; it is quantitatively more accurate and expressive than something like an iPad.

It had better be, of course, costing a lot more, but I think it’s worth saying. While you can use an iPad for a similar purpose, you do have to work against some of those limitations, and this is a case where there is something to be said about different tools. (He doesn’t mention it, but notice, too, the Madrona Labs Soundplane lying just behind the Fingerboard, another compelling take on the same idea.)

Thanks to Steinberg for pointing this our way. Their nicely-maintained Google+ account is a great resource for Cubase users wanting extra tips and inspiration.

Also worth watching: here’s video of that ISAM Live show, its 2.0 iteration:

Amon Tobin : Wooden Toy from Leviathan on Vimeo.

Now a few years old, but we went behind the scenes of an earlier version. (And yes, Amon is cagey about any discussion of greater details!)

There’s more detail on his “spectrum morph” approach to sound in a 2011 video accompanying ISAM:

And he really is rather musical on the Continuum:



And for more Two Fingers goodness, here’s a free DJ set from last year:

  • Graham Miller

    Great stuff, Peter. Amon is one of the great sound makers out there – his last tour was truly one of the greatest, most futuristic, forward-thinking, live concerts I’ve ever witnessed. Beyond inspirational. Curious if all his spectral morphing tech is Kyma-based? Does any one know at all – it’s something I’ve always wanted to get into, minus the Kyma learning curve and price tag…

    • mCKENIC

      I actually came to the comments section after watching the main video to ask almost exactly that Graham! Ive been looking at Kyma X stuff for a bit (trying to figure out how to afford it and still keep the modular) and his screen looks like it had some Kyma things open on the main display. So it certainly looked like it to me!

    • Matthew Flook

      I have often wondered about the power behind the near-mythical Kyma systems myself. Outside of some universities and Amon’s studio…is anyone really using these for everyday sound design and music production? Can the Kyma algorithms (not to mention their dedicated DSP systems) truly go far beyond what us mere mortals can do with the likes of Max/for Live, or Reaktor? Or for that matter, an iPad controller app like Lemur and a few pre-made Twisted Tools or Inear Display instruments/effects?

  • Andrew_Robinson

    He’s not referring to Two Fingers as “a weird art project that I’ve been working on for 15 years.”, he’s referring to the work he does under his own name.