MATRIXSYNTH: An Interview with Drew from CRUDBUMP

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

An Interview with Drew from CRUDBUMP

You might remember Drew from a number of posts here on MATRIXSYNTH. He has a new release out called CRUDBUMP. Considering how much he has contributed to the site I asked him to send me a shot of some of his gear for a post. This in turn resulted in the following interview. Enjoy.

1. So, for those not familiar with your work, give us a little background on some of what you do?

"I write and illustrate two daily comics, Toothpaste For Dinner and Married To The Sea, which are free to view online. Musically speaking, I wrote & recorded four comedy-industrial albums as Kompressor from 2000-04 and released some miscellaneous music under the Dog Traders name from 2000-08. I occasionally make short Youtube videos, with my music as the soundtrack."

2. How did you get into synths?

"Took classical piano lessons for eight years as a child, started playing guitar, and while in college (1998) I started poking around and realized synthesizers were pretty inexpensive. I'd read music magazines here and there as a kid and always assumed they were thousands of dollars, but once I got on eBay, I found people getting rid of old Rolands, multitrack tape machines, etc. and jumped right in.

Since the market for analog synths hadn't blown up yet, I assembled a small studio of an Ensoniq SQ-80, Roland JX-8p / SH-09 / 707, some guitar pedals, and a Tascam Porta-01 for hardly anything, and started recording music.

Once I had a couple synths, I started to scour local thrift stores/music stores/garage sales for neglected, broken, cheap gear which I'd clean/fix up and either keep or resell. By the time I started Kompressor in 2000, I'd added an Optigan, Rheem Kee bass, Akai S612, Tascam 238 and a gang of cheap midi synths / fx boxes."

3. When you first started picking up synths, what did you look for in them?

"I figured out pretty quickly that I liked synths with a lot of knobs and inputs/outputs way more than synths with one data wheel and a bunch of menus. You can get a huge range of sounds out of the SH-09 by patching feedback out of the headphone jack through guitar pedals and back into the input, and using the envelope follower + filter to process drums and bass/guitar."

4. What was your first synth and what is currently your favorite?

"My first actual synth (not counting a Casiotone) was a Roland JX-8p... if the modular doesn't count as my favorite I'd have to go with the SH-2/SH-09. Owned both of them, currenly just have the SH-2, but it makes its way onto everything. I've always wanted to check out an SH-5 or SH-7 but they've gotten so crazy expensive over the years that I don't think I'll ever get the chance. If I trip over one in the trash while I'm taking a walk some day I'll let you know what I think."

5. When playing your synths, do you focus on composing music, exploring sound, both, or other?

"Probably a mixture of both. The MPC has been instrumental in letting me control the modular + effects - I record a lot of sounds from the modular and cut them up/re-sequence them in the MPC. Most of the time I don't have a keyboard hooked up to the modular, but I do use a Futureretro Orb that's clocked by the MPC for sequencing.

A lot of the melodic stuff is from the Roland SH-2 and Waldorf Q+, which I usually play live instead of sequencing. There's something about the bender and key action on the SH-2 which I love and wish Roland would make again."

6. What interests you now in the world of synths?

"The 5U format of modular synths, which includes Modcan, MOTM,, and a few small manufacturers, has a great form factor and is built extremely well. The manufacturers in this format seem to concentrate on sound quality and build quality rather than making little Nintendo Fart-Monster modules with cheap components, which seems to dominate the Eurorack format. I know that Euro users love their Eurorack, and I actually have a Doepfer "beauty box" for some modules I can't get in 5U - but I built up about 15U of Euro in 08/09 and was really disappointed in the sound + physical aspects. Probably spoiled from the 5U stuff I'd been using for years! I sold it off and got some Modcan/MOTM stuff instead.

The newer Modcan modules are novel and I'm going to pick up some of those as they become available. I just got the 65B Dual Frequency Shifter last fall as I was finishing up the CRUDBUMP album and it wound up on half the tracks, since it sounds good on almost anything. Frequency shifter modules are touchy since you need either great DSP or precisely-calibrated analog multipliers to eliminate bleed, but this one was very well-designed. It responds well to CV and even sounds good if you overdrive it a little bit."

7. What are your thoughts on the iPad and upcoming slate devices in relation to synthesis?

"I have no idea (sorry!) [matrix: enough said. :)]"

8. Finally, can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?

"It's a spoken-word/rap album called CRUDBUMP:NA$TYJAM$ and it's stuffed completely full of analog-synth sounds and vocoder. The songs are about subprime lending, a fictional city called Horsetown, leaving voicemail for the governor of Ohio, traveling to England, and bare feet. It has a lot of bass so it bumps if you play it in your car. That's where I imagine you would want to listen to the album. It's a good album to play if you're trying to get yourself pumped up to go to work."

BTW, if you are wondering who the pug is, his name is Charles. Check him out here and be sure to see Drew's Toothpaste For Dinner and Married To The Sea. It's all good.


  1. Drew's tha man. Much respect!

    "Five times makes it clean" :D :D :D

  2. Drew rules!

    By sucking at different speeds, you can create different waveforms

  3. Love Drew, love this interview.

  4. sorry to rain on the drew parade, but he is NOT as good a host of The Price is Right as bob barker.

  5. fart monster forever.

  6. Why can't we see Dr. Synthesizer Volume 2??!?!

  7. I have to say that the CRUDBUMP album is one of the most exciting pieces of music/comedy I've heard in a long time. I've been a fan of Drew's stuff for about a decade (going back to his old blog about work and coffee), both the funny and the serious, but I didn't realize he was KOMPRESSOR until recently. NA$TYJAM$ is full of awesome sounds and it's great to read about what was used to create it. You can tell from the first bleep hits on "Take A Number" that this ain't a bunch of softsynths, kids.



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