Soundtoys’ Ken Bogdanowicz on Sie-Q, Crystallizer Craziness & More [MixCon Video]
I’m here right now with Ken Bogdanowicz. I like to call you The Mastermind behind SoundToys. How are you, Ken?
Ken: I’m great. That’s very flattering, thank you.
David: You’re welcome. Well, it happens to be true, so that’s why I say it.
Ken, what’s the latest release from SoundToys?
Ken: We just released a plugin called — depending on what part of the world you’re from, if you’re from the United States, it’s called Sie-Q. If you’re from the Bavarian part of the world and Germany, it’s called Z-Q. It’s an equalizer based on a Siemens module from old Siemens broadcast consoles.
David: What would you say are the sonic characteristics of that EQ?
Ken: Smooth, warm, impossible to make sound bad, basically. It’s one of those things where it’s five knobs, and there’s no way to fuck things up.
David: Right, okay.
Ken: Can I say that?
David: Yeah, we’ll bleep that out later.
Ken: For the kids?
David: Ken, I’ve always been curious how you pick a piece of equipment to put into the SoundToys collection. Are there any common elements to a piece of gear that winds up turning into a piece of software for you guys?
Ken: Well, I don’t know if you know, but we own a pretty crazy gear collection. I try to find things that are vibey and interesting, and kind of a little bit outside of the norm. Things that have a definite sound and a definite vibe, and so when we go down a path, if it’s working on delay, or compression, or reverb, or EQ, or whatever, I’ll just kind of go into the collection and try to find something that sounds really, really good and interesting.
David: Got it. And then from there, do you leave the controls intact, or do you update it with your own twist?
Ken: We usually try to update it with our own twist. I mean, even though we’ve done recently a bunch of things that are modeling, I think where my heart is is really doing new twists with kind of classic sounds.
David: Right, I got it. When you want to do a twist on the controls, what will you look to do? Make it easier to use? More efficient? More creative? All of the above?
Ken: Definitely not more efficient. [laughs] More interesting, easier to use, more understandable. Sometimes that’s just as simple as changing the name of things. It’s like, well, you know, something was hard to understand. Sometimes, it’s adding more creative flexibility, like we did something called Primal Tap, derived from the PrimeTime delay, and in there, we just added different modes of different ways to combine feedback to create richer sounds, desyncing, things like that that are more musical.
David: Got it. And then, once you put something like that out there, do you start to see right away ways that people are using these tools that you hadn’t expected?
Ken: I actually just got back from a studio visit with Thomas Bartlett who was working on a track from Ryan, working on a Sufjan Stevens track, which are both firmly in that musical camp, so really feel that really strongly, but just watching the way that he approached production, sitting with a piano, with an open — the sound board open, and muting strings, and then using things like Crystallizer to bring out the attack that he muted in the first place to kind of bring back some of that sparkle, yeah, I would’ve never thought someone was throwing felt in front of piano strings, and then using Crystallizer to bring it to life.
David: Wow, fabulous. That must be a great moment for you as a developer.
Ken: It’s incredible, it’s why we do this.
David: Right, that’s awesome. The other thing that — it’s not new, but SoundToys 5 was your big release last year. So the new EQ that you’re talking about, that will fit right into SoundToys 5, right?
Ken: Right, exactly.
David: Just explain what SoundToys 5 is.
Ken: The biggest thing that — well, SoundToys 5 was two things. One, it was combining all of our plugins into one bundle, and to go along with that, we create an Effect Rack, where you can use all of the plugins in a rack, and mix and match them within one plugin, and save presets, manipulate the order of effects, and the idea is to really have a full suite of effects in that one place. It was kind of obvious what was missing. An EQ was missing, and there’s still some things missing that might be coming down the pike.
David: Okay, that was the last thing I was going to ask you, can you talk about what’s coming next or is it still a surprise?
Ken: You know, the way I work, I’ll work on four or five things at once, and there might be some weird creative things that I’m working on, and some more normal things that you might be able to infer from what’s missing from our lineup. We’re definitely intending to fill that — all the effects that you would ever need in one place.
David: You’re not finished yet!
Ken: We’re definitely not finished.
David: Well alright, Ken. Well hey, thanks for being a part of Brooklyn MixCon once again. Good to have you here.
Ken: Yeah, I really enjoyed it.
David: Alright, thanks Ken.
Ken: Thanks, David.