Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Eli Rainsberry
Image by Karolina Wielocha.

Eli Rainsberry

Composer, sound artist

in mac, musician

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Eli! I'm a composer and sound artist based north of the UK. My main form of gigging right now is soundtracks and audio for video games, but I've also worked on animations, films, installations, and other interactive and or interdisciplinary things where possible. I've been freelancing for about 5+ years now? Though doing music things generally for much longer. You can listen to my work on Bandcamp! And follow me on Twitter.

What hardware do you use?

Oh here we go. I'm a guitarist by nature, so a lot of my gear, as a result, is very inspired by my approach as a guitarist more than a composer. But it seems to be a bit more balanced with general production things now.

In order of what a workflow could be, I've got a few options with types of guitars! And other instruments! I have an electric and semi-acoustic guitar each, a banjo, baritone ukulele, (technically partner's) mandolin, and a tenor saxophone, which is nowadays more or a hobby instrument; I used to do session and function gigs with it during my teens.

I have a Jaden Rose Series 2 electric - the luthier used to do a run of mid-ranged priced guitars that were really sweet quality, and semi-customisable in a way that you can ask for specific fretboard materials or bridges. It's got a Sapele wood body, maple neck and an ebony fretboard that feels extremely good to play on. I've had the guitar for almost 10 years now? My first guitar before that though was a Yamaha Pacifica. And I have a Faith Naked Venus semi-acoustic guitar. A lot of acoustics are usually really tricky for me to play on, but mostly because the actions on a lot of them would be set up too high. This guitar however felt much better set up from the get-go.

My pedalboard has changed a bit and I'm looking to add a chorus pedal in the near future, but I currently have the following: TC Electronic Triple Delay, Brainwaves, and Ditto Looper, Dunlop Mini Wah, Empress ParaEq, and my most recent addition, Electro Harmonix Superego. I have a Blackstar HT-1R in the rare case I'm performing or wanting to use its emulated output. I also have some various instrument bits and bats: a couple of harmonicas, one passed down from my late grandpa, a kalimba, melodica, glockenspiel, some percussion, a violin (though i need to replace or restring the bow), metal and glass guitar slides, capo, and a singing bowl.

I record these into my Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface, either directly or using a Shure SM7B mic. The latency is Very Low and came with a lot of really good plugins to work or demo with. I'd also have this set up for recording or picking up any voices. As well as this, I'm hoping to try some tape recording and looping using a Tascam Porta02mkII and a couple of smaller tape recorders. For any foley recording I do, I have a Tascam DR-100mkIII. Though I've also used my iPhone (6S) to do any rough remote recording and sketches.

And for MIDI inputting and production, I mostly use either an M-Audio 49 keyboard, or a Novation Launchpad Pro. Both useful for different reasons! I also have a ROLI Block for MIDI production with my iOS devices; it's a useful one to throw into my bag and hook onto my phone or tablet. I'll hear back anything through my Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones. I've used this pair for at least five years or so and they've been really reliable.

For full-on music production, I'm actually going to be upgrading to a better laptop soon, but before that, I had been using a 2014 MacBook Pro for a long while. I'm amazed that I was able to just about chug along with the limited amount of storage and RAM I had on it, but I'm really looking forward to optimising my setup soon. And for doing production when travelling or using a smaller set-up I use my iPad Pro. I'm happy to be able to have a hard drive plugged into this so I can still do whatever work I can do, which is currently a bit more limited to MIDI production and sound design.

Miscellaneous things include various hard drives to store music things (my favourite type are the Samsung Portable SSDs), and a couple of my my game consoles (3DS and Nintendo Switch) that have Korg softwares on, though better for brainstorming ideas with. I've used the music maker from WarioWare DIY to make music for a game jam once.

Aside from consoles and a few of my instruments and hardware, the majority of what I've collated here now has either been second hand or refurbished, and it's something I try to keep doing with certain things like pedals and smaller hardware for sustainability's sake.

And what software?

For audio things, Logic, Ableton, iZotope RX, FMOD, and Pure Data. For small audiovisuals and animations for sound art I do, Processing, Looom and Procreate. Backblaze for cloud backups. Duet for some duel monitor stuff with my iPad, if I'm travelling. Sublime Text for the very occasional rare coding. Google Drive to create workflow docs, and Apple Pages and Numbers for admin.

On my phone I like using Voice Memos and Logic Remote, and on my iPad I've used the free Seaboard apps, AudioKit Synth One, SoundForest, and DRC. Symphony Pro 5 for notating or transcribing. And as for plugins within my DAW, there are many of them, hah.

Paid: I have a few Native Instruments plugins, my favourites being Massive, FM8 and Reaktor (even if it currently pushes my CPU to the edge). Other go-tos include the iZotope Elements bundle, u-He Repro-1 and 5, Waves J37, Toontrack Superior Drummer for some drum programming, and BIAS FX for guitar recordings.

Free: C700, some Spitfire Audio LABS instruments (Soft Piano is a favourite), Glitchmachine's free plugins (Fracture and Hysteresis), and the Soundmagic Spectral set for some more bonkers stuff.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I'm really lucky that I've got something pretty close to it already? Being in a shared space with good folks and about a minute or less walk away from the woods with really good small rivers and streams to sit by, if and when I need a break from anything.. I'm very okay with that. Would be nice to keep up something similar to that from here on out.

On a more technical point, I would love to be able to arrange my setup in a way that I can just plug my guitar into my pedalboard, straight into my recording devices without having to exhaust a lot of my mental energy. I have occasionally found myself a bit burnt out at times after recording, and a lot of that comes from trying to make sure everything is set up accordingly each time. I would really like to alleviate that in a way that can easily help bring back more guitar-based sounds into what I do.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.