Name: Colloboh aka Collins Oboh
Current Release: Colloboh's Entity Relation EP is out via Leaving on September 3.
If you enjoyed this interview with Colloboh and would like to find out more about his music, visit him on Instagram and Soundcloud.
What was your first studio like?
My first studio was just me, my sisters’ old laptop, and a cracked version of FL studio.
Just like most people around my age I started by using my computers keyboard to create drum patterns and synth melodies using cracked VST’s like Massive and Sylenth1. I mixed in the box using cracked (see a trend?) plugins.
So yea, my beginnings as a producer was all through the grace of piracy.
How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My setup has evolved pretty dramatically since those beginning stages.
For one, I don’t use FL anymore and do most of my producing with external hardware. My first hardware plunge was Arturia’s Minibrute, a solid monosynth which I’ve had for almost a decade at this point. I was then lucky enough to have a friend’s uncle lend me his ASR-10 sampler, a machine that in my opinion has the best sample engine and effects unit. It’s been 9 years and he hasn’t asked for it back, so I guess legally speaking its mine now.
I then began my Eurorack phase a couple years after (2015) as I started my college education. I still didn’t have much money (I may have had less actually) but I was able to slowly fund my modular itch through ways I probably shouldn’t put out there - nothing crazy/immoral just moderately illegal.
I still produce mostly on the modular so I would consider that my most important piece of gear.
The digital studio promises endless possibilities at every step of the process. What is it that you actually need from these potentials and how do go about you selecting it? How do you keep control over the wealth of options at the production stage?
To be honest I mainly use my current DAW (Ableton) for tracking my recordings, so I haven’t really dived into much of its features. However, to answer your question, having the ability to access extremely useful mixing utilities without needing expensive hardware audio processers has completely democratized music making.
In terms of keeping control over the wealth of options, I personally try to make whatever I’m working on sound as good to me as possible before even hitting the record button. This allows me to not rely on DAW plugins to refine my sounds.
From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customized devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?
I currently prefer things to be straight forward and easily configured - this makes preparing for live shows where an audience expects to hear full, previously released track or elements from released music.
I do see myself exploring more fluid and tactile controllers and interfaces in the future. Ones the diverge my performances from calculated sequences to a greater focus on immediate expressiveness.
How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? Using a recent piece as an example, how do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?
Working primarily with Eurorack, the relationship between tech and creativity is completely intertwined. My patching process is analogous (albeit much easier/enjoyable) to writing code in terms of processing inputs to derive specific outputs and building a system that is built from well-defined, modular components.
My recent single, "RPM+", follows a similar patch development workflow as most of my other tracks. I begin by crafting a specific voice using one (or more) VCO’s and processing that signal with a filter, envelope generator and maybe an FX module. This search for an interesting timbre coincides with my search for an interesting melody. Both elements go hand in hand for me so once both are found that’s when I know I have something special.
Once that’s set, I usually record the sequence with one of my Arturia sequencers and then rehash that same workflow for other voices to create harmony.
Within a digital working environment, it is possible to compile huge archives of ideas for later use. Tell me a bit about your strategies of building such an archive and how you put these ideas and sketches to use.
Working with modular, I can end up sticking with one specific patch for weeks (sometimes months). When I have a solid patch, I usually flesh it out into a full track. If I get bored of it, I will completely unpatch and abandon the idea.
I don’t have much of an archive of ideas that I go back to. If I like the idea, I usually make it into something – if I don’t, it’s never even recorded.
Despite the aforementioned near endless possibilities, many productions seem to follow conventional paths. How do you retain an element of surprise for your own work – are there technologies which are particularly useful in this regard?
I love mistakes. My music is filled with mistakes and I think they make my music (especially since I am dealing with cold, inhuman sounds) more enjoyable to the human ear.
I also enjoy recording a whole track by performing it live in one take. For my upcoming EP, Entity Relation, all of the beats are one take jams recorded directly to a DAW in stereo. This leaves me no room to go back in and waste my time fiddling around with EQ and compressor plugins.
This makes me have to be confident that the sounds I have crafted are as good as their ever going to be – and more importantly, these sounds are going to sound just as good played in front of an audience.
Production tools can already suggest compositional ideas on their own. How much of your music is based on concepts and ideas you had before entering the studio, how much of it is triggered by equipment, software and apps?
I try to come into making music with no preconceived concept in mind. Obviously, I am inspired by all the music I have listened to so I’m not saying I’m completely unique in that way, but my process is just to let things flow as naturally as possible.
I am completely beholden to my mood - it’s more fun that way in my opinion.
How important is it for you that you personally create or participate in the creation of every element of a piece – from sound synthesis via rhythm programming to mixing?
I very much enjoy the whole creative process of composing music. However, recently I have had the opportunity to work with some very talented artists - one being the composer BlankFor.ms. Working with him has produced some of my favorite collaborative moments. I enjoy the pace in which we work when making music as well as the symbiotic nature of our compositions share when we collaborate.
I would actually prefer to have my music mixed by someone that had more experience in that field. I’m rarely fully satisfied with my mixes so I hope I can one day afford to have a professional mix my tracks for me. Not everything needs to be done by me - I don’t think that kind of collaboration takes anything away from an artist’s creative integrity.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative provess. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
Interesting question. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if an AI system is developed (or even exists currently) that can chug out formulaic musical compositions. I also wouldn’t be surprised if similar systems are created to produce “experimental music”. In fact, one could argue that the prior iterations developers create to reach that all-powerful pop-music-making machine was actually making “experimental” music along the way.
I’m not against it. I’d like to think that there is a special human element that could not be replicated with artificial machines but who’s to really say.
Do you personally see a potential for deeper forms of Artifical Intelligence in your music?
Piggybacking from the last question, I will definitely explore any form of AI that I believe will compliment my compositions. I will still be in control of the composition itself, so it is less of a reliance and more of a utility. As someone who uses vocal samples regularly, I am very much curious to explore AI that can generate human like voices.
I believe that soon the internet will be filled with open -source, easily operated and interconnected AI compositional machines that ideally will remain open source to the public.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
I think zero-latency streaming would be an incredible achievement for music creators. Being able to collaborate in a virtual space where timing is locked and synchronized would be an incredible feat - especially for musicians who perform in unison.