Hailing from the UK’s Southsea region, Kassassin Street brings a refreshingly breezy approach to psychedelia, with a danceability factor that will intrigue music fans nostalgic of the glorious psych pop British bands of the late ’80s and early ’90s, from the Charlatans to The Stone Roses to Happy Mondays. Throughout their still few releases (two singles and one EP to date since 2015) the quintet’s sound has been evolving in a more atmospheric and complex direction, where synths and effects cover a growing role – and that’s precisely why we asked them to tell us about them!
SYNTHS – Andy Hurst:
I don’t own a huge collection of synths but in terms of recording, we’ve always experimented with whatever we can get our grubby mitts on! Be it analog or digital, hardware or in the box, as long as we can make it sound like something playable/organic, we’ll use it.
We’ve used a borrowed Minimoog and Moog Prodigy (I nearly wet myself when I found out it had belonged to Liam Howlett–yes the Prodigy‘s Prodigy!) and also NI’s Massive for big bass and lead sounds (e.g. on our track ‘Talk In Riddles’).
Also, a pitch bent ARP Solina through amps and delays for big chorus pads and weird swells and a Juno 60 for percussive melodies or arpeggiators (e.g. on our latest track ‘Do or Die’). I’d love to get my hands on a Moog Voyager or a Korg MS-20 I’ve seen so many bands I love using them.
I love love love detuned, wavey, imperfect synths. When I first started to put down my guitar in favor of electronic instruments and sounds, the noises that bands like Boards of Canada were making blew me away and took me to a place I hadn’t been before. I have an Alesis Micron and the Prophet 08 that are good for this mind-bending, underwater, psych-ness which has found its way into the music. Sampling is a biggie for me, mostly using vocal/guitar takes from previous demos, running it through a bunch of effects/processors and making a new sampler instrument from it.
We’re also not afraid to use plugins/soft synths in our music, the hardcore audiophiles may justifiably argue about the ‘warmth’ and ‘feel’ of analog synths but sometimes the easy recall and extra features in plugins just let you experiment and find something great a lot quicker and more effectively! The TAL-Noisemaker plugin has found its way onto a large number of our songs and it’s a freebie! It sounds about as ‘digital’ as you can get but if it works it works!
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08– My pride and joy! I’m having a lot of fun using this to make leads and pads that sound weird and wonderful! There’s so much you can do with the LFO/modulation, messing with pitch and envelopes on the thick analog sounds just seems to work with whatever Ryan is playing on guitar. All the parameters are there right in front of you to play with live it’s a very creative machine.
Oxygen25 MIDI controller – Real budget but does the job brilliantly! I use it to play most soft synths or samplers within Live and the extra knobs and buttons are set to control filters, delays and whatever else I want to experiment with live.
Yamaha FC7 control pedal– with the prophet it gives me control of EQ sweeps or envelopes and allows me to create swells and build ups without needing a spare hand.
Macbook Pro running Ableton Live 9 (with MOTU Ultralite mk3 hybrid interface)- Holds it all together. Loops, samplers, live synths, softsynths, MIDI, FX all come from or through here. It’s so versatile live, I can adapt it very easily for the set.
Sometimes I use a Novation Launchpad Pro so that I don’t really need to touch or look at the laptop during or between songs. It also adds lots of colorful lights to the stage which makes for a better gig for everyone, I’m sure.
GUITAR – Ryan Hill:
This is an “always-on” pedal for me. It brings all the palm mutes and pick scrapes in my playing to the forefront which I really like.
Boss Ps-5 Super Shifter:
This is an octave pedal that I use for single note lead lines. The tracking on it isn’t perfect, but I think that’s why I like it. You can get some really warped sounds out if it when you push it beyond its limits. There’s a live version of ‘Love without Borders’ on our Vevo channel and I use this for the ‘wailing’ sound over the outro.
Another octave pedal but the tracking on this is polyphonic. It does a good twelve string impression and also has a clean boost built in which is dead handy.
DOD Looking Glass Overdrive (x2):
These things are amazing. I’ve played through a lot of overdrives but I think this is the most versatile. Any guitar into any amp sounds great through one of these. I use two of them–one for rhythm, and one for lead–on pretty much everything.
JHS Modded EHX Soul Food:
I use this as an extra clean boost on a few things, which it does really well.
Any modulation effect you could ever need this thing does. It’s also got some cool filter controls that are great for getting some trashy, lo-fi sounds. In the ‘Love without Borders’ Video I referenced earlier I used this pedal to make the eerie volume swells throughout the first verse.
I use delay on most of our songs so I’d say this pedal is on for about 80% of an average gig. The tape modes sound incredible and the reverse and warp functions are really great for creating soundscapes.
Digitech Hardwire Rv-7 Reverb:
At some point, I’ll probably swap this out for a Strymon ‘Big Sky’ for its midi capabilities but I do love the sound of this pedal. The reverse mode can create some very unique sounds.
Boss ES-8 Effects Switching System:
I’d be lost without this at a gig. It can save something like 800 patches and each one can turn on any number of pedals, in any order whilst recalling presets for the Strymon and DD-500 via midi. Great piece.