Mike Huckaby has created a series of tracks using Circle and also released the preset sounds that he used in their creation for you to freely use in your music. Download the presets from the link below and also read Gavin’s interview with Mike, where he talks on the roots of his music, the process of designing sounds and also his views on music software.
Download Mike Huckaby’s “Made With Circle Synth” Presets:
Mike, for our readers who are not familiar with you and your work, can you tell us a bit about what you do?
I’m a Detroit Dj, producer, sound designer, and teacher of Ableton Live, and Native Instruments products at Youthville in Detroit. Youthville is a privately funded organization for students between the ages of 11-19.
Who and what inspired you first to start making electronic music?
It was in the water in Detroit. You can relate any of your life experiences to Detroit electronic music if you live here. I started out on all of the classic analog gear, and it’s a back-to-basics approach. However, the combination of software and hardware is the best setup in my opinion.
You are from Detroit, which is known for its rich musical tradition going back to Motown and further. How does this translate to your music, is it an influence?
Absolutely. Most DJs and producers from Detroit grew up with Motown influences by artist such as Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder was the bridge between Motown and Detroit electronic music because he experimented heavily with synthesizers.
Being from America and producing electronic music there when it was not popular, how do you feel about mainstream US music fans finally accepting electronic music?
It’s all a win win situation for me. If my audience grows concerning my music, thats fine with me. I just will not change my musical style for the adaptation of late comers, or for anyone as a matter of fact.
Broadly speaking, techno is about creating new unheard sounds, house music is more about melody and traditional instrumentation. You seem to be comfortable in both camps. What are your thoughts on this balance, between technical music and traditional instrumentation.
I think its important to have the ability of being able to play a real instrument, and having the knowledge of music theory as a part of your background. You can draw a lot of things sonically and tonally from the scale, which then can be applied to software programs, vst’s. and synthesizers. Its a reciprocal relationship. Tones excite chords, and chords excite tones. In order to take advantage of this reciprocal relationship, you have to have an understanding of musical theory. Its important for me to maintain a balance regarding deep house and techno. There is a lot to draw from each other instead of making distinctions regarding them. This is far more important when it comes to sound design too, you can’t think in limited terms, or else you will never explore the sonic possibilities from the horizon of so many sounds.
Tell us about your studio setup?
The Waldorf Wave, the Waldorf Blofeld, Korg Trition Pro 88 Master keyboard, Roland S 770 Sampler, Ableton Live, Reaktor, and several software programs, if needed. I still love my Roland S770 sampler. The filters in it are super warm. Its impossible to get that sound anywhere else. The Waldorf Wave is my master synthesizer. I am still learning about some of its functions.
When writing a track, what is your process?
I can start a track around any element or any musical part. It always changes. I can find inspiration from many sources and things. As I’ve said before, there is a frequency, or subconscious musical undertone that can be applied to every human experience. Once a person realizes this, the sky is the limit in terms of inspiration.
Do you follow the latest developments in music technology?
Yes. I don’t always feel like I need to embrace everything, but I do follow the progress and development of new kinds of technology. People need to be aware of becoming imprisoned by the marketing claims behind so many products. The most important thing to consider is if a new form of technology can improve your workflow, or creativity. If it cannot, then you are simply being marketed to. I have had to separate myself from the fictitious marketing claims of so many products. Some products can have you endlessly embracing a certain aspect of a product that is absolutely unimportant to you, your workflow, and regarding the style of music that you are trying to create. The key is to realize this, and to customize a program specifically towards your needs. This is one of my major concerns regarding music technology.
What were your initial thoughts regarding Circle?
I really like the aspect of placing the “circle ” on to the destination, or target for modulation. No other software synthesizer has implemented modulation in this way. This is a great way to learn synthesis, and to understand what the desired result will sound like. All the user has to do is simply drag the circle onto a destination to see what the desired result will be. I’m starting to think in terms of this process mentally now. Whenever I’m in front of a piece of gear such as my Waldorf Wave, I mentally imagine placing a circle onto the parameter being modulated. This is a great third eye perspective in terms of synthesis.
Are there any certain features you like regarding Circle?
Yes, there are quite a few. Obviously I like the Circle concept, but i also feel that the arpeggiator within Circle is amazing. It is possible to get some killer sounds from using it. This was one of the main reasons that I selected my first example preset for the showcase. I also like the mouth filter, and variety of user waveforms. Circle comes included with some great waveforms for sound design. The LFO waveforms are also quite unique. These are some great features included with circle. The user needs to explore Circle quite extensively. It packs a lot of hidden features, and houses 4 oscillators!
What style of music do you think Circle is mostly suited for?
Circle is equally great for house and techno. I think i have only scratched the surface in regards to programming circle. I can see using this in my routine workflow. It’s user interface is very pleasing to the eye, and its structure, and signal flow is great. I have a nice amount of items regarding a feature request, so time will tell if any of these features will get implemented. If they do, all users will be able to benefit from it, and thats for sure!
Can you please tell us about your approach to creating the presets you made for Circle, and sound design in general?
I started from scratch regarding all sounds heard in both sound examples i created for circle. I made several sounds that i kept evaluating, reviewing, and eventually discarded. I kept improving upon existing patches that i created until i could eventually use them, or discard. Some were used for studying purposes, and experimental sound design and concepts. I owe much of my synthesis training to learning Reaktor. It is because of using Reaktor, that this sound programming opportunity has been offered to me.
So therefore, i already had an early start when i began programming Circle. The user interface of circle immediately made sense to me. I was able to identify what the synth was capable of producing by simply looking at it. Again, this is something that studying Reaktor has afforded to me.
Circle is a great synth and it was a pleasure working with the team. It is also a great pleasure to know that the guys have donated copies of Circle to Youthville for the students too.