Rising to prominence with releases on Wolf Music, West Friends and Church, producer Pete Cunningham is continuing his celebration of Bristol and its surrounding areas with the release of Severn Songs 2, the second in a vinyl trilogy.
Operating as Ishmael Ensemble, as well as producing the project he also plays sax, keys and synths, with other musicians contributing to this jazzy electronic melange.
We asked Pete to show us the gear that keeps his musical wheels turning.
WEM Watkins Copicat
“This piece of kit is all over my work. I got a call one day that a friend of a friend was leaving town and selling a whole load of studio equipment; I paid £100 for it, an absolute steal!
“It's simple enough to use and adds so much warmth and character to anything you run through it. I have it set up as a send from my desk so it's always ready to go!”
Novation BassStation 2
“I bought this off a friend a few years ago. It's an amazing monosynth for the price. As the name suggests, it's great for fat squelchy basslines; however, it also has an arpeggiator with lots of parameters so it's perfect for creating rhythmic synth parts. I'll often record a four- or five-minute take just working the different knobs and then chop out my favourite parts. This can be heard in most of our tracks.”
“I first used one of these at my friend’s studio in Berlin last summer. The unit has two different record speeds as well as a pitch wheel. If you record at double speed then play back at half, with the jog wheel right down you get near enough an octave lower. I use this trick a lot for creating beds of ambient sax or guitar.”
sE Electronics X1R
“sE make some of the best microphones if you're on a budget. I've been using this simple ribbon mic for everything recently. It's great for vocals, horns and percussion. We also use it as a room mic when recording drums. I run it through a Focusrite preamp and then straight into Logic. It's always set-up in the corner just in case an idea comes to mind.”
“Never underestimate the power of percussion! A subtle clave or shaker is often all you need to elevate a simple drum beat into something more interesting. I usually just throw a load of loops I’ve made over a drum track and take them away one by one until something clicks. If there's more than one rhythm I like I'll hard pan them to each side of the mix for clarity.”
“I use a fairly common Saxophone set up; an Otto Link 6 mouthpiece with JAVA Red 3 reeds. Although perhaps less charismatic than some of the more vintage models I've played, Yamaha saxophones are built to last. Its sturdiness is perfect for touring and it’s yet to need any dramatic repair work, so why change?”
“Although more part of my live set-up, this pedal gets used from time to time in the studio. It's essentially a vocal effects unit but works great on other instruments. As well as fairly standard reverbs and delays it's got a harmoniser function that makes the sax sound like some alien choir. It always arouses curiosity and intrigue at shows.”