Q1. Hi Ross, I first notice your studio in a post we put out showcasing fans and clients production studios. Was instantly impressed with your comment and the unique way you like to work. So please tell us a little about yourself and what you are all about?
Thanks Paul. Well my name is Ross J Walsh aka “Purist”. Born and raised in Galway Ireland. Got my first synthesizer when i was 8 (a Yamaha PSS-130) and after figuring out how to replay the keyboard demo live, changing the sounds, drum patterns and playing the melodies, i instantly had a taste for live performance. Started writing electronic music on a small yamaha PSS-280 and when i was 12 my dad let me use his Yamaha DX7, Yamaha RX17 drum machine and Digitec delay rack unit. The only means of recording i had back then was a small twin deck tape recorder with an in built mic that i would rest against my dads keyboard amp. I later figured out how to over dub using the twin tape deck. Full of white noise, but got my sounds on tape 😉 Started building my studio and buying more synths. Always loved the live sound, especially analogue and i’ve remained true to that to this day. I was heavily influenced by The Prodigy and that whole hands on experience of being in total control of every sound. Today i have a full analogue live set up. I produce tracks and perform them on stage live on the hardware under the name Purist. I’ve created various types of live projects ranging from ambient and experimental to hard as nails hardcore! I recently finished a one hour live project called HARDWAVE Project®, which focuses on the harder styles of electronic music. All of my projects are conceptual and all of them completely live. Working on a new live project at the moment and currently running PuristProductions® label and releasing tracks under this label. I’m also co-running Intium Records with Max Madas and have a collaboration duo called “Mythos” with Max, focusing mostly on Trance.
Q2. As you are clearly an analogue enthusiast like myself can you share with us some of your kit list?
Sure. I’l go from earliest to most recent. I still have my first keyboards from childhood. A Yamaha PSS-130 and PSS-280 and my first drum machine, the Yamaha RX-17. A Digitec Delay rack unit. Also have the very early Boss DR5 drum machine. Ensoniq SQ1 Plus, Roland TR 626 drum machine, Fostex multitracker 160 8 track recorder, A Boss SP303 sampler, Korg Electribe ER1, Oberheim/Viscount OB-12 which is really a love or hate synth!! But it has a filter that would cut through cold steel!! Also a Korg Electribe EM1, two Korg Triton LE workstations, one with inbuilt sampler, two Korg Electribe MX1’s, Roland MC-50, an Electribe SX1, Roland SH-201 synth, Roland SH-09 vintage synth, an Akai MPX8 sampler, Arturia Microbrute, SP404SX Sampler, A Presonus Bluetube pre-amp, Alesis M-EQ 230 equalizer, A 32 channel Behgringer Eurodesk SX3242FX (does the job for line in electronic gear) and an Alesis Microverb III, Alesis Ineko FX., Korg Monotron, Korg Nano Kontrol, Akai S2000 sampler. There are some other bits of gear lying about some place. On the computer side, An imac with Focusrite saffire Pro 24 external soundcard, AdamA7X monitors, 2 x Technics SB3030 3 way vintage speakers, second screen monitor and an Arturia Analog Laboratory 49 keys controller.
Q3. What is your favourite synth and why?
That’s a hard question to answer. Every synth i won has it;s own character, but favourite synth that i own would be the OB-12, mainly because of it’s filter and how it looks, but mostly because it’s a compete underdog. It got a bad rep when it first came out due to it’s many bugs which were later fixed. I was lucky enough to get the updated version. The display is amazing but almost all OB-12 users had to replace the screens as they all failed. As i mentioned, the filter when played out live is completely insane and has been commented on after many a gig. Other than that, i am a huge fan of Electribes. Expecting the new one in the post soon so looking forward to that. The Microbrute is a little vicious terrier!! So much in such a little synth. Synths i don’t own and would love to get my hands on would be the new Sequential Prophet 6. An Andromeda 6. Anything by Moog, and iv’e always wanted a Roland JP8000 ever since they first came out. So hoping to get one of those soon too.
Q4. The question I’m sure a lot of reader would like to know is why do you work solely with analogue hardware over a more digital sound?
That’s easy. It’s the feel of the sound. The quality and warmth of an analogue sound that comes straight from source, electricity, is incomparable to digital. I have had many a debate with producers over this topic, all of which have focused on sound quality!! But, when it comes to digital you are limited by bit rate. Digital sound is like taking photos of the original sound. The more frames, the more bits of sound. Where as analogue is a pure uninterrupted signal of pure electricity from source!! I want my music to be as close to the source as possible. When I’m producing tracks for release, of course they have to go out as digital sales, but my live shows are all analogue and completely live. Digital of course has its pros but as we see today, analogue synths are making a huge return, because everyone wants that warm, pure sound. With the growing demand for analog synths, companies like korg, Moog ( Who have never stopped ), Dave Smith, Arturia and even Roland (despite the whining they are receiving ) are finally starting to take analog in the direction it should have gone. Remapping digital pathways, Digital/Analogue hybrid synths and even Virtual digital synths are all putting analogue first!! About time too 😉
Q5. How does gigging with such a large amount of gear effect you?
It effects my back and travel expenses haha. Seriously tho, it is worth it. Over the years with the way technology is going i have managed to slim down my live set up for travel, so that i can do a full solid show with 3 or 4 Electribes, sampler, a small desk and a triton. But i love what i do and wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m dedicated to the sound so there is no compromise. I’ve been asked before why i don’t just invest in a laptop, or why do i play with so much gear. The answer is, laptops are for offices, I play live on the hardware because i can, and because i love to be immersed inside my own sounds, in complete control of every part of it. It’s the way electronic music should be played, performed and experienced. Pure analogue and pure live!!
Q6. Do you find by having a unique analogue setup you set yourself apart from the same digital sound everyone else can create?
Definitely. Unfortunately the electronic music scene has become a wash with the same sounding genres, templates, formulas. People using the same VST’s and tricks, even this “sound war” nonsense has made people forget about dynamics, emotion and feel of music, limiting their artistic expressions to the rules of genres and the demands of popularity within the industry. Everything seems too compressed and too loud to be really heard, felt and experienced. Too many producers and not enough artists! When you’re writing music with purpose, to really express yourself as honestly as possible, you will want people to experience it as best they can and as intended. Of course you can achieve that with digital sound to a degree as a lot of very good producers have. But personally i want all of it, from the very beginning to be created from scratch and from the source. From the original idea to the modified idea and then to be able to perform it on the hardware it was conceived with. I strive to create my own sound. To not sound like anyone else for the sake of being accepted, but to be true to my own honest expression. I want my music to sound like my brain does, if you could open my head and listen to it!
Q7. When producing your own music do you play all your synths in live or trigger using midi control and a DAW?
I’ve never used a DAW on stage. I don’t use a master sequencer or MIDI triggers either. I handle all of the hardware manually, triggering them on the fly. Don’t use headphones either. Prefer to have a monitor facing me. The flashing lights from the gear help also haha. I do however use a MIDI sync clock to sync the tempo clock from my SH201 synth to the DR5 drum machine because the SH201 doesn’t have a display, so i need to use the screen on the DR5 to see the tempo when using the SH201’s sequencer. But apart from that, i prefer to use subtle tempo changes on the modules to push and pull beats and synth riffs in and out of sync slightly. It creates some nice subtle effects, especially on kick drums. If two or more kicks are sitting on top of each other perfectly, you can have phase cancellation, but if they are slightly out, you get a real nice and full bass kick. I mix all parts from each hardware module on the fly also, dropping and adding synth and drum parts, tweaking effects and modifying sounds. My hands are kept busy!! 😉
Q8. Did you ever try more DAW based production using VST’s and not like the sound or have you always opted for the analogue sound?
I do DAW and VST based tracks also. Mostly for collaboration tracks, remixes etc… That’s kind of a separate project tho. I’ve experimented in the past with vst based tracks within my DAW but have always returned to analogue. Anything i have created VST wise, i make sure i can recreate it live. But mostly my own solo tracks are written on the hardware. It really depends on what i need to express. Sometimes i use VST’s in my DAW, sometimes i use both the hardware and VST sounds, but always the hardware is involved in the most part of production. Live tho, it is all hardware synths, samplers and drum machines.
Q9. As someone that uses analogue synths in my own productions I know first hand that it is far more time consuming. Do you feel that the pros outweigh the cons?
Yes indeed. I never really put a time frame on producing tracks and sounds. In fact when i’m in the studio, time goes out the window. It doesn’t exist. I feel working on a time frame or deadline limits expression. It seems like work then. I prefer to just let it come when it comes. The outcome is always so much better, and when you listen back to the track you’ve created and you get that rush that runs up your spine and makes your brain all fuzzy, you know every second was worth it!! If you can transfer that feeling to a room full of people playing it out live, there is no doubt it was worth it 🙂
Q10. Lastly do you have anything you would like to share with us. Videos, soundcloud player, images of your studio etc?
Sure. Currently working on a lot of solo releases at PuristProductions® studios and new live projects on the hardware synths. I update all current work on my soundcloud page here.
I also have a few videos of my tracks performed live on the hardware on my youtube channel here.