Suzuki on Elektron Analog RYTM

Suzuki is a Japanese Bristol-based electronic artist. Recently he's ditched the laptop and has gone full analogue, experimenting with his new Elektron Analog RYTM. Check out his remix of the classic Nina Simone version of Here Comes the Sun.

We had a chat with Suzuki to find out more about this piece of analogue percussion and what he's been creating with it.

Could you tell us a bit more about the kit you're using in this video?

The main machine I use is an Elektron Analog RYTM, which is an analogue drum machine combined with a digital sampler. It has a powerful sequencer and performance section built in, so it’s ideal for both song-writing and playing live. Drums and sample sequences can be recorded live or punched in through the step sequencer and each step can be tweaked very easily.

I also sometimes use an iPad app called Samplr as I’ve found it useful to create on-the-fly loops to add extra layer of sounds to the RYTM – I like having sounds coming from multiple sources.

The individual voices from the RYTM are sent to a £40 second hand battered mixer, which allows the voices to be sent to the effects units independently and this is the backbone of my dub influenced live performances.

The Kaoss Pad is great for adding live effects. Watching Jon Hopkins’ live clips on YouTube made me buy this.

Another key peice of gear is the good old SP-404 sampler I bought about 15 years ago and it’s still going strong! I just use this for additional effects nowadays and I like using the pitch shifter and the looper to make some noise and feed that into the Kaoss Pad. The rest of the main setup is made up of various guitar effects pedals for reverb/overdrive/echo etc.

What kind of stuff have you been creating on it?

I’m mostly producing hip hop but with a tiny bit of dub-techno type sound. Due to my lack of music theory knowledge, I’ve been drawn into hip hop from learning how producers chopped up samples to create something new. Sampling is definitely one of the key elements of my production.

I enjoy the whole record-digging, sampling and chopping process, but then I also love the sound of analogue drum machines so I’m happy I can do both of this on the RYTM. I like going to dark techno and disco nights as well as hip hop gigs so I think all these different styles influence me.

Why have you decided to go totally analogue?

This all started when my laptop broke. I was going to buy a new laptop but then I saw the Elektron Analog RYTM (which costs about the same) and I bought that instead, which I thought might be a crazy thing to do but am really happy with now.

I used to produce using Ableton Live and, though you can do a lot of stuff with the software, I found that you can get stuck quite easily in the workflow. Then I started playing with RYTM in the shop and I was like, “Yes - this is fun and I want it”. Then, after getting the drum machine, I kind of stopped thinking about getting a laptop and just wanted to buy guitar effect pedals...

So to answer your question, I think that decision is mostly to do with the workflow. It’s just easier to mess around with for a few hours and have fun.

ELEKTRON ANALOG RYTM - THE GEAR

  • Eight voice analog drum machine
  • Option to layer samples on top of drum sounds
  • Ability to record and playback, via pads or sequencer
  • 12 drum tracks
  • 1 GB + drive sample storage
  • Space for 128 projects
  • MK II now available

What's the difference for you as a producer and performer going without the laptop? Surgeon recently described it as being like a safety net - would you agree?

The main thing about going without the laptop is that you have to work within restrictions. For example, I am limited to six channels on my mixer and there are limits on the number of samples/patterns you can use in a project on the RYTM, which are the kind of restrictions which don’t exist in a software like Ableton. You have to work within these limitations but then, once you get used to the environment, you know what you’re gonna get and there’s less messing about as you might with software – this links to the fun workflow thing I mentioned earlier.

Regarding the safety net comment Surgeon mentioned – that was pretty inspirational for me! So I think this is more focused on live performance than production. Basically he mentioned that he doesn’t really have any pre-sequenced patterns and all progression is made up on the spot. He believes that by having a safety net – although it sounds contradictory – makes you avoid being brave, taking risks and pushing yourself.

In my case, I do have a safety net. I have a fair numer of pre-sequenced patterns I’ve prepared and in live sets I’ll be tweaking various aspects of the sounds that are coming out, and that is my improvisation bit. So yeah, this interview’s made me think about my live sets a bit more now – I need to be more brave!

Where do you buy your kit?

I buy most of my gear from Elevator Sound – the hardware shop dangerously close to where I live. The guys in the shop are really friendly and I love the way you can play with the gear before purchasing and you can’t beat that experience.

I wouldn’t even buy trainers online – I’d try them on first in a shop. In the same way I like to play with the filter knobs on a drum machine or whatever and have a listen before buying.

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