Uses This

1279 interviews since 2009

A picture of equa


Artist, musician

in artist, developer, linux, musician

Who are you, and what do you do?

hi! i go by equa, natalia, and soweli nata (all of which are lowercase) depending on the situation. i'm presently a student. i'm super queer and i have no idea what i'm doing most of the time.

i make art for fun, which tends to mean i don't work on anything consistently. i used to work on computer-generated visual art (my proudest of which being imaginary landscapes, an ASCII art collection), but recently i've shifted my energy into learning to create music. i've also become a fan of toki pona, a minimalist constructed language with around 120 words. my recent work has been less visible and less frequent, but i've been enjoying the exploration just as well.

i've found a fascination in texture, whether in visual art or music. i love the way sounds and words on a page feel when they collide and overlap and become a larger whole with each other. i also love fucking things up by putting them in tools designed for the wrong job.

What hardware do you use?

i used to use a thinkpad, and i still do, but it has numerous power supply failures on top of other issues that prevent me from doing most of my work (especially anything involving a web browser) with it. i use a slightly newer hp laptop now.

for music, i have an m-audio keystation 49 as well as a smaller akai lpd8, which has drum pads and knobs. they're nice for bridging a very small portion of the gap between my screen and making anything that feels human. i have a few tape players i've found at thrift stores. all of them run at slightly different speeds if they work at all, and the most convenient one to use has a broken rewind button. i haven't gotten as much use out of them as i'd like, but i still love them.

i have a 2ds i use for emulation. every pair of headphones that doesn't have some sort of detachable or replaceable cable has broken on me within months. i very recently got my hands on a drawing tablet, and i'm looking forward to experimenting with its uses in actual drawing and as a more versatile tool for interactively making things.

i have a set of unorganized notebooks. i haven't come up with any scheme for using them that works, so i just write things in whichever makes me happy at the time.

And what software?

my computers run debian. it works most of the time!

regrettably most things i work on end up involving some sort of programming. i really like using lisps. i am a fan of scheme, and i feel most at home with racket. recently i've been working on projects with fennel, a cute little lisp that compiles to lua. i adore programming systems with few requirements; i'm comfortable knowing it's unlikely for them to break because of things outside of my control.

i edit everything using vim, with syntax highlighting entirely disabled barring comments.

i love pandoc, the near-universal document converter, and LaTeX. LaTeX is a powerful but unwieldy tool; using pandoc lets me write in a format i can manage. pandoc also powers most of my website, and my text-based art is all built with LaTeX.

my favorite image editor is audacity. sometimes it gets finicky with how it chooses to import its data, but i have a few scripts i run to make things easier, and after a while things really start to feel more intuitive. sometimes i use krita too.

at the top of most of my music stuff is ardour. i have a few odd problems with it, but it works! i use a lot of other things underneath: pure data is a playful sound tool that's great for making and breaking noises, and fluidsynth and samplv1 are wonderful general-purpose instruments.

my all-time favorite tool is little sound dj, a sequencer for the nintendo gameboy. it's been in development since 2000, and every time i update it i'm surprised to find out they've managed to squeeze even more power out of the thing! the gameboy sounds great with other effects, too. i emulate it on the 2ds most of the time and it's my favorite thing to compose with. it's limited but intuitive and fast. i wrote a program that adjusts its tuning, and it's the only way i've been able to experiment well with microtonal composition so far.

What would be your dream setup?

computers are made of blood and i hope to never buy a new one again. i'd also like a nice 4-track recorder, or at least a tape deck with a working rewind button and a gain meter. i want to experiment with different ways to use the tools i have as interfaces for making art; building things via typing at a screen has a tendency to be deeply uninspiring, and i'd love to try stranger techniques. isomorphic musical keyboards come to mind. mostly i look forward to developing deeper relationships with the tools and instruments i have now.