Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Kim Boekbinder

Kim Boekbinder

Artist, musician (The Impossible Girl)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Kim Boekbinder, musician, artist, iconoclast. I write, record, and release a lot of music. I also write essays and prose, make visual art, DJ, and perform live shows. Lately I've been composing soundtracks for games, audiobooks, and films.

What hardware do you use?

On a daily basis to get things done I use an 8x5 Moleskine plain unlined notebook and whatever nice pen I can get my hands on to make notes, lists of things to do, sketch out essays, jot down song lyrics, and plan world domination (even though world domination is so 2008.) I also use my iPhone 4S and my 15" MacBook Pro for the emailing, social networking, graphic design, writing of essays, booking of shows and recording of music.

I play an Epiphone Alleykat guitar which is a great guitar, semi-hollow body, narrow neck, well balanced, amazing tone, a dream to play, and it's sexy as hell. The Alleykat has amazing range, which is good for me because I play everything from quiet acoustic to loud rock. I haven't ventured into metal or rap yet but the day is still young.

My amazing boyfriend went out for coffee one morning and came back home with two amps for me: a Peavey practice amp for the keyboards and a Fender Acoustisonic for the guitar. I'm new to the world of amp ownership because I've been too nomadic to own anything I couldn't fit in a suitcase, but now that I've got two amps I can tell I'm going to have 10... 20... 100... how many amps is enough?

For years I've been using the Digitech Genesis3 amp modeler which has been great, it's got huge range and, though digital, it's really good at modeling all kinds of analogue amps and pedal effects, from fuzz to wah to reverb/delay. It also has the handy headphone output so I can practice electric guitar as loudly as I want and I'm the only one who hears it. Nothing compares to the physicality of cranking an actual amp though, feeling the music move through you.

My main synthesizer is a microKorg XL, a great analogue starter synth for someone like me who travels a lot and can't be lugging around an 800 pound instrument everywhere I go. I also use my iPad and a Line6 25-key MIDI keyboard for live shows when I'm traveling really light. The synth apps available for the iPad are epic, they sound so good (more on those in the software section below.)

For drums I've got a Roland Octapad SPD-30. I live-loop everything in performance and it's a great way to make beats with something I can actually hit. Even though my music has become very electronic in the past few years I'm still a very physical person and the act of actually playing an instrument is important to me.

I still use my old Boss RC-50 looping pedal, though some of the functions are starting to go and it'll be time to replace it soon. The pedal has three channels and allows me to create hugely complex loops with parts coming in and out. It's a great live performance and songwriting tool.

I just got a VoiceLive 2 which is a live vocal processing unit with thousands of possible options. I've generally shied away from any vocal processing because I want to sing well, not hide behind auto-tuning or effects, but in the past few years I've been open to exploring more tonal possibilities and the VoiceLive is really fun. It was a gift from a friend and I'm so happy to have it now.

My Bose noise-canceling headphones are my go-tos for recording because they're the best headphones I have. They also greatly improved my quality of life on long-haul flights. I was getting intense migraines on every flight for a little while and thought I might have to stop flying altogether, but the noise-canceling turned out to be migraine-canceling as well. Lucky me.

For demo recording at home I use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. A tiny, two channel unit that works perfectly for my home and travel set-up. I can pack my studio up into a single suitcase and head to anywhere on the planet to record new material. If that's not great I don't know what is.

For microphones I use a Shure Beta 58 for live shows and home recordings (really not a great home recording vocal mic, but it's what I have) and an Oktava MK-012 for acoustic instruments (a mildly obscure Russian microphone that mic nerds like to coo over.)

I often record field samples as well and for that I use my iPhone or my ZOOM H1, tiny and powerful.

And what software?

My Mac is still running one of the big cats - the one before Lion. Mountain Lion? Tiger? Snow Cheetah? Meow.

Skype for meetings and international calls and to stay in touch with my long-distance boyfriend/creative partner when he's antipodal.

For recording I often use Audacity, a free, open source, recording program which works great and is very simple. I have Pro Tools, the industry standard, but it's hugely complex and a bit of overkill when all I want to do is play and record a song.

I have the Adobe CS5 creative suite - a gift - which I use nearly every day. Photoshop for almost everything visual I do. Premiere and After Effects for video editing and processing. Illustrator and Dreamweaver get trotted out for exercise every once in a while.

Going through the list of software I use, it's long, but seems mostly standard and boring (Google Drive etc...) so I'm going to skip to the exciting stuff: iPad synth apps!

These apps sound so good, with great stock sounds and the ability to edit quite a lot.

Sunrizer - $10 app that I use the most. It has many synth banks and full edit capabilities.

Animoog - so Moogalicious. Yum yum synth tones.

SoundPrism Pro - which does some neat sound things and extra neat MIDI control things that I never use but intrigue me.

Samplr - an interesting program for sound experimentation and sample bending. I don't use it for live shows but it's fun for recording experimental noise pieces.

Figure - by Propellerhead, super slick and simple. I don't use this very often and never for shows but it does make great beats I've used as the basis for several recordings and it has some wicked synth sounds. It's also a great app for people who don't play music but like to play around from time to time.

Aardvark - a virtual analogue synth with multitouch interface I use for generating noise patterns during live shows.

I upload videos to YouTube. Music goes on Bandcamp - I've been working with them since 2008, they're the best. Twitter is not as vibrant as it once was but it's still an important part of my online presence. I begrudgingly use Facebook.

For my own website I use WordPress and Paid Memberships Pro to run the subscriber part of my website called MISSION CONTROL where fans get access to the songwriting process and downloads of everything I do, even the things that never get released.

What would be your dream setup?

For live shows I'm really happy with what I've got, though I'll need to be replacing the loop pedal soon. Probably with Ableton and Push. At some point I'd also like a Fender twin reverb amp and a few pedals: Fuzz Factory, and the Reuss RSH-02 to start, then every pedal ever.

A million fans. Every show sold out forever and magical and amazing.

A dedicated recording studio in my home with proper soundproofing. A wall of guitar amps. A wall of analogue synths. A Neumann mic for studio vocals. Ludwig drum kit - gold sparkle. Steinway grand piano. 1969 Black Les Paul custom guitar. Hot tub on the roof with a clear view of the city skyline and the sky. Private jet. Hot tub on the private jet.

And world peace - gold sparkle.