V.C’s Electronic Waffle – Questions & answers

This article was originally sent out by Yazoo Information Service, printed on three A4 pages. It was probably produced around november 1982.

Q. What was the first synthesizer you ever bought?
The first synth I ever bought was the Kawai 100F.

Q. What other synths have you got now?
Casio VLI
Roland JP-4
Roland Vocoder Plus JP 330
Sequential Circuits Pro 1
Kobol RSF
Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument)

Q. What other equipment do you own?
Roland Dr Rhythm Drum Machine
Roland TR808 Drum Machine
Linn Drum Computer
4 Simmonds Drum Modules
Roland Micro Composer

Q. What is your favorite synth and why?
My favorite synth is the Fairlight, because I don’t have to tune it!

Q. What is so special about the Fairlight?
The Fairlight is a 16K computer. It consists of a Visual Display Unit (VDU), a five octave keyboard, a typewriter key pad and two floppy disc drives that are housed in the main computer. One of the most powerful features of the Fairlight, it’s ability to copy or emulate any natural or synthesized sound via a microphone or line input. It is possible by use of the light pen and VDU, to physically draw sounds which are completely new and original and which have never existed in the world before!

It has eight independent voices and an eight channel digital sequencer and all the voices and sequences can be stored on a floppy disc. The parameters and harmonics of each sound can also be altered and memorized onto the discs.

Q. What synth, drum machine do you recommend for the first time buyer?
A ‘good value for money’ synth is Wasp. It has two oscillators, touch sensitive keyboard and will produce a variety of interesting sounds and effects. It can also be used with the Spider analogue sequencer.

An inexpensive drum machine is the Roland Dr. Rhythm. It has a reasonable basic sound, is programmable and will store a number of fairly complex drum patterns. Both the Wasp and the Dr. Rhythm run off mains or battery.

Casio offer an inexpensive range of keyboard instruments, which contain a variety of reasonable pre-set sounds.

Q. What other synths, drum machines do you recommend?
I personally favor the Pro 1. It is a monophonic synth with two oscillators and a noise generator. It has a built in ’40 note’ sequencer and a versatile arpeggiator. It contains ‘square wave’, ‘saw tooth’ and ‘ramp wave’ forms, which when used with the filter section produce a clean, powerful sound. A more expensive synth is the PPG Wave 2.2 costing around 3500 pound sterling. It has hundreds of wave forms to choose from, very sophisticated control parameters, a splitable keyboard and a vast, up-to-datable memory bank. The sound is always crystal clear and it can even produce simulated vocal effects.

For some of the percussion effects on ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’, I used the Roland TR808 drum machine. It is completely programmable and contains sixteen different sounds, each with individual outputs. One of the best drum machines available is the Linn drum computer. Each sound is actually s real drum sound digitally encoded into the Linn computer memory. It will hold the drum patterns for forty-nine songs and all this information can be stored on a cassette for future reference. It is probably the best sounding drum machine that I have ever heard.

Q. How do you approach writing a new song?
I normally work out a basic melody on my guitar. Then I work out the various parts (i.e. bass and lead) on my synthesizers. I then programme the Roland Micro Composer to play the different parts. The MC4 is capable of controlling the ‘gate’, ‘CV, (control voltage) i.e pitch and step times, of four independent synths and can be synced with a drum machine. All the information can be stored onto a cassette tape for future reference in the recording studio.

Q. What are the slides, films that you feature at your live concerts?
On stage Yazoo incorporate a slide/film visual display, using seven slide projectors and I6m film projectors. The films and slides are back projected onto five screens (each screen is six feet by four feet) at the back of the stage. Three of the projectors produce most of the animated effects on the centre screen and there are approximately 350 different slides seen in each set. The screens are used to display various pieces of photography and graphics, which ‘sort of’ relate to the music.

Q. What future plans have you for equipment on stage and in the studio?
Hopefully, I’ll be using the Fairlight far more extensively in the studio. It has limitless capabilities and will probably become the most useful piece of equipment in the recording of the next album.

Regarding stage equipment for the future, we hope to eventually have a total of fifteen projectors to enable us to create a different visual effect on each screen. After that – who knows!


Vince Clarke

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