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A picture of Margaret Killjoy

Margaret Killjoy

Sci-fi author, podcaster, musician

in mac, musician, podcaster, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Margaret Killjoy and I do an awful lot of different stuff. I write science fiction and fantasy books such as A Country of Ghosts (AK Press) and The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (; I host two podcasts, one called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff and one called Live Like the World is Dying (find them wherever you find podcasts); and I'm in a feminist black metal band called Feminazg├╗l which I make my own instruments for, and a variety of other music projects including most recently a two-piece postpunk band called The Lathe. I think that's the stuff I'm most known for.

What hardware do you use?

The core of all of my projects is my 2020 MacBook Pro. I use a Shure SM7B mic for podcasting, running through a Heil PL2T arm mount on my Output Platform music production desk, which I like because it can hold a full size digital piano in its slide-out drawers. The mic goes into a Behringer UMC202HD audio input and then my computer. I use a wider variety of microphones for music recording, including an Audio-Technica P48 for large diaphragm purposes and an Audio-Technica AT2021 for small diagphragm purposes. We usually record our vocals on a Shure SM58 which is just the classic stage mic, although going forward we might use the SM7B, not sure yet. I use a Zoom H4n Pro or field recordings for the ambience on tracks. My digital piano is a Casio CDP-S100, which is one of their low-end models, but the physical build quality is fine - the higher priced models usually just have better piano sounds onboard, and I use mine primarily for midi. I also have an Alesis V49 I use for midi synths, and a handful of random smaller controllers left over from when I lived out of a backpack and still wanted to play shows. I used to fuck with hardware synths a little but never got into it, I'm a mostly a software girl when it comes to electronic music, so I gave those away. My studio monitors are a pair of KRK ROKIT 5s. For headphone monitors and producing I use Sony MDR-7506. I use 2" foam selectively on the walls and a cheap rug from Lowes on the floor. I haven't treated the ceiling yet. Honestly I've done most of what I've done with way, way less of this shit, just some Behringer headphones and an SM58. I like having the nicer gear but it really doesn't matter as much as people claim.

As for actual instruments, my accordion is a Hohner Verdi II 80bass from about the 1930s or 40s with a Shure SM57 microphone disassembled and suck inside as a pickup. I have my great grandmother's grand piano (a "parlor grand" which is about halfway between a baby grand and a full grand) from the 1920s which I am slowly restoring. It's not worth anything, because old pianos rarely are, but I love it dearly and it plays alright. Piano is my favorite instrument by a good margin. Then the rest of the instruments I actually play are ones I built myself, mostly from kits. From thefretwire I have a 5 string bass, a 6 string electric, and a 4 string electric mountain dulcimer that I sort of made up myself by taking a regular guitair kit, ripping out frets to make it so it is diatonic instead of fully chromatic, and strung DDAD like my mountain dulcimer. Plus I built a ukulele from them. Acoustic instruments, I've built from kits from Musicmakers - I've built the mountain dulcimer, the hognose psaltery, the bowed psaltery and a kantele. I'm currently working on building a hurdy gurdy since I can't afford to buy one outright. My harp was built from a kit from musicmakers also but by someone else, it's how I heard of the company in the first place. A few instruments that I built from scratch or made up whole cloth are two 12-sided frame drums that mimic bodrans, a "goblin box' that is just a wooden box with I think 15 strings or something all more or less tuned the same (this is good for drones) and a "goblin bass" which is a 4-foot long wooden box with a curved bridge and 8 strings that can be bowed. I've been starting to build my own pedals from kits as well, but nothing that I'm proud of enough to shout out, and I generally use digital effects rather than hardware effects.

I make instruments largely using brand-less hand tools and Dewalt battery tools, as well as a dremel, and I recently added a Dewalt miter saw to my shop.

And what software?

For writing, I write in Scrivener almost exclusively. For podcasting, I record audio on my end with OcenAudio or I record all participants separately using ZenCastr. I write music in Reason Studios and whenever I play live shows again I'll go back to using Ableton Live for arrangements and handling my audio needs on stage. The software piano I like the most at the moment is Noire Piano, and the plugins I use and abuse regularly are VocalSynth 2 and really the whole iZotope suite. For synths I mostly use various ones built into Reason, though I'm starting to play with the Native Instruments Komplete set more often now

What would be your dream setup?

Honestly, as of this year, I pretty much have my dream setup. I'd like to finish building a vocal booth into my closet. I'd like a nicer audio interface with more ins and outs, and at some point I'll get a power conditioner. There's more I could use in my woodshop, especially a dust extractor system and a floor mount bandsaw. Maybe a chainsaw mill so I can start working more from scratch - I live on a windswept mountain and trees fall pretty regularly that I could be harvesting without even needing to cut anything down. I suppose my dream setup is to get my music studio in a place where I can start producing for friends as well. At the moment it's very specialized to my strange styles of music, but it would be cool to be able to record other people.