Brazil via Los Angeles pedal builder Beetronics surely had a buzzworthy NAMM 2019 show.
The company introduced a new device called Swarm – described as a “fuzz harmonizer” – which seems to have ended up on every stompbox geek’s shortlist (hey it came in at #1 on our Best of NAMM 2019 aggregate list!).
The presentation of it, at the manufacturer’s booth, was also striking: the pedal was sitting on top of a computer screen facing up and built into a podium; the screen played a rock’n’roll music video featuring three spirited musicians wearing bee masks; but the guitar’s output from the video (recorded clean) run through the real Swarm so that the signal could be manipulated in real time. Fun was had by many – today Beetronics released that video to the public (streaming below) and we are proud to premier it here on Delicious Audio.
We took this opportunity to ask circuit designer and company owner Filipe Pampuri a few question about his new pedal.
The idea of the video with the clean guitar track going through a real life pedal is brilliant, how did you come up with it?
Thank you! A video with jamming bees in the studio has been on my mind for a very long time, but two weeks before the NAMM show was when I decided to actually make it happen. We had the plan of a podium/station with an audio track that you could manipulate in real time through the Swarm, and also I knew we would need a video to promote the pedal online after the show. So during one of our meetings I had the idea of putting these two ideas together and make an interactive video. Then the idea of the jamming bees fit in perfectly with that! A couple of days later we got in the studio and shot it.
Who is the band playing? Are you in the video?
The band is Me (Filipe Pampuri) on the guitar, my brother (Daniel Pampuri) on drums and my friend Lena Baltrusaitis on bass. My brother Dani is an engineer at NRG Studios, so we went into the studio and created the track right there on the spot. I was jamming on the Swarm and Dani on the MPC.
In an online interview you said the swarm is inspired to an obscure pedal you found at a friend’s studio, can you tell us more about it?
Yea! I won’t say names tho! I’m lucky to have become friends with an amazing legendary producer of whom I’m a big fan. His collection of gear is huge, and he has a million pedals. Among them he had a favorite one of which had only been built a few units. He showed it to me and my brother, and we were instantly blown away! For the next couple of weeks all my brother could talk about was that pedal. So I searched and found the guy who originally made those units and worked out a deal with him to start manufacturing a pedal like that one under Beetronics. After I got the schematics I made a couple of changes to the original circuit, things that bothered me and that I believe made the pedal a bit more versatile – and that’s how the Swarm was born.
What kind of fuzz circuit is inside this beast?
Swarm is a Phase Locked Loop type of circuit, but very much shrunk down and tuned up for some buzzing tones!
The names of the controls are darn obscure, can you briefly explain what each knobs does?
When I was coming up with the design idea for this pedal, I thought it would be cool to have it all named like that. This way people wont go mess with the controls already expecting something, they will actually have to follow their ears in order to find what sounds they like best. The WORKER Bee is your fuzz guitar tone. QUEEN and DRONE bees are the two harmonies. The SPECIES gives you 9 different pitch options for the harmonies. The FLIGHT and STING both control the way the harmonies react. They can glide up to the note and down once you let it go. They are quite interactive and messing with their setting will give you many different tone textures for the harmonies.
The Swarm can be pre-ordered here.
Here’s the video of the Swarm Filipe shot at our NAMM 2019 booth.