Having relocated from Auckland to Norway in 2013, Ryan McPhun has just released the fifth album to be created under his band pseudonym The Ruby Suns.
The stylistically-diverse Sprite Fountain is now available on Sellout! Music, and was produced pretty much single-handedly by McPhun in his new Scandinavian studio. Slip on your thermal underwear and allow him to show you around...
“A lot of my gear still lives in New Zealand but, for the most part, I've got just enough here in Norway to get by.
“My studio started in a tiny apartment in the middle of Oslo, but eventually I found a space in this 100-year-old converted school house a bit outside of the city where I can make proper noise. The folks before me actually set up isolation and control rooms to use in the music school they were running. They even left their homemade snakes wired into the walls.
“Unfortunately, I can't make noise in the 'control room' because of neighbours, but I have a drum kit in the isolation room.
“I use most of my tidying energy at home chasing after my three-year-old with a vacuum cleaner, so this space can get a little unruly at times.”
“Ideally I'd always have a drum kit around. It's the first instrument I learned to play and therefore percussion has always been paramount to me.
“I've got a couple drum kits in NZ but couldn't take too much when I moved, so as soon as I found a space I could make noise in I bought a used kit within my very modest budget. Any old clunker will do, really.”
1965 Fender Mustang
“I started learning guitar six months after I picked up the drums, so it's another instrument I probably couldn't live without.
“This is the only electric guitar I have here in Norway, but that doesn't mean I don't love it. It plays beautifully and sounds real good DI'd or otherwise. I have the matching bass (almost - '66) back in Auckland, NZ.”
Electrovoice 635A mic
“A classic broadcast mic with a minuscule frequency range (80Hz-13kHz). It sounds really great on pretty much anything and you can find these really cheap on Ebay. I get the feeling that the specs have stayed the same since Elvis was using it.”
Suzuki Q Chord
“I first got an Omnichord, the Q Chord's predecessor, in '06 or '07 and loved it. This one's pretty much the same but with more sounds and chord variations. It's fun to write with and also sounds great through FX (see: H3000) when recorded.”
“I've had this synth for a while now and use it all the time. I've got a Juno-6 too, which I love, but the PolySix I think can be just a little bit wonkier and a little prettier. Plus, it's got memory patches and that beautiful ensemble effect.”
Nord Modular G2
“Another bit of gear I got hooked on years ago. These things have been discontinued for a while now, but one comes up on eBay every now and then.
“I never got much into the modular side of things but still this synth can do really crazy stuff. The patches are made on the editor program on the computer, and from there you assign which parameters will be adjustable using the knobs on the synth. You can get crazy in depth on the modular side of things, but it's also really fun to play straight out of the box (that came in the post from an eBay seller).”
Universal Audio LA-610 mkII and Eventide H3000 Harmonizer
“This is the first nice mic pre/comp I've ever owned. It's as nice as it's supposed to be - phew! An obvious drawback is the lack of attack/release on the LA-2A style compressor, but it sounds really good otherwise.
“I first used an H3000when mixing my 2010 record Fight Softly. My buddy and I had been reading about Kate Bush's production techniques and apparently she started using them on The Dreaming, so we borrowed one and have been hooked/devoted ever since. These things are magic wands.”
MS-20-style analog VCF filter with LFO
“Basically a homemade (not by me, unfortunately) MS-20ish filter in a tiny box. I got this on trademe (New Zealand's eBay) some years ago and have been using it on a bunch of stuff.
“The controls are unlabelled but sometimes forgetting what's what can give you a nice surprise. I love putting drums through this thing, but it's also great to use live with guitar. I only wish I would've gotten another one while the dude was still making them.”