Name: Joachim Pastor
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current Release: Joachim Pastor's debut solo album Greater Message is out via Armada.
Equipment Recommendations: I’d recommend an analogue reverb guitar pedal called T-rex Creamer which sounds super on synths. I’d also recommend Elysia Karacter 500. I have this 500 module and it’s stunning on bass synths.
If you enjoyed this interview with Joachim Pastor and would like to stay up to date on his work, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud. We also recommend checking out the official website of Hungry Music, the label he runs with Worakls, N’to, Stereoclip and Joris Delacroix.
What was your first studio like?
My very first studio? It was just a PC computer and headset in my bedroom, as a teenager. My first real studio was in my previous house, it was a nice control room, 25 meter square, and I worked really hard to get super acoustics. There was almost no space for the console and gear in the end, there was so much treatment.
My new studio is about 90 meter square, the acoustics are amazing, but this one has space, and a window.
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 favorite piece of gear is my console. I just love to sit at it, touch it, hear it. It’s a rare Studer 903 with all A type strips, it’s really great. I evolved towards analogue because it’s a part of music production that I always wanted to be familiar with. It doesn’t mean I always produce OTB, but I know how to.
Also I wanted to see for myself the difference between analogue and digital, both in sound and workflow.
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?
I believe that it’s the best thing but there is also a hidden drawback from the digital world because of the endless possibilities. Of course it’s amazing to be able to stack so many effects, processing, tracks and synth on top of each other all at the same time. But I always remind myself that less is more: when you are limited because of an analogue set-up, you focus more on the core of things, instead of adding endless layers which may be harmful to the essence of the music you are making.
A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?
I run a hybrid set-up: I use the computer channel as pre strips, then I go through the console. Sometimes I do it all in the box and I just use the analogue for a final mix, then I’ll compare the in the box and out of the box mixes and pick the best. I do think the recalls on computer are very important for my workflow.
From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customised devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?
I don’t use any controllers, I do it all with my mouse. I do like to touch my moogs and record automations from the synth with the actual pots (moog has analogue pots that also control as CC). But I use no surface control nor keyboards. Maybe I should give it a try?
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?
It’s true it can give good inspiration to try new plugins, new hardware, new synths. I usually start with a basic pre-set, or even piano, to find my melodies. Then I'll look for a pre-set that is approaching what sound I desire, and then I’ll tweak the sound until I get the result I’m aiming for.
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.
Usually it is best is to export any loop, beginning of tracks that you make, as an MP3, with the same name as the project. Later you can re check them without the hassle of having to open the projects.
The best technique is still to finish each track you start, because you have to use momentum and go all in when you have inspiration. If you don’t do that you risk ending with a ton of unfinished projects and a lack of motivation.
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’d say that more organic music sounds organic because it’s not perfect, nothing is in absolute perfect tune, or timing. It’s always nice to detune instruments, randomise timing (subliminally) and make random "mistakes", or use randomizer on some parameters of synthesizers to give it a constant slight movement.
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 would say 50/50. Sometimes I have an idea that pops into my head and I'll go and write down the melodies. But sometimes you explore sounds and it will give you inspirations and ideas.
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 do like to do most of it: composing, producing, mixing and mastering. Honestly I just enjoy each process, that’s why I do it.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Of course: old analogue stuff. They make me realise that I was piling layers and layers of effects and tracks on my digital setup, simply because "it was possible".
To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. 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?
I’ve never used anything like that. I believe AI never creates anything itself, AI is always the results of someone’s programming. I’m not sure it will be great to be honest. (laughs)
Do you personally see a potential for deeper forms of Artificial Intelligence in your music?
Not really, I want to make music myself and use my own intelligence to do it. (laughs)
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
Very simple: a time machine, so that I can get my inspiration from the future.