Inside The Synth Studio Of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

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In this video, synthesist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith shares the story of how she got hooked on synthesis, gives a tour of her system and demonstrates a massive 27-voice synth patch:

Video Summary:

Raised on Orcas Island in northwest Washington state and classically trained in guitar and piano, Smith spent a curiosity-fueled year teaching herself synthesis after a serendipitous encounter with the Buchla Music Easel, an instrument that’s come to define her as much as she has defined it.

Her explorations in synthesis reach an apex on her stunning new album EARS, out April 1 on Western Vinyl, blending woodwind and her own vocals with the primordial sounds of the Buchla to make her most definitive statement yet.

After recently relocating to Los Angeles, Smith invited FACT to her home studio where she showed us the different synthesizer voices used to create her modular symphonies before churning them together in a spontaneous improvisation.

The intimate home performance serves as a taster for her show on April 1 at Rewire Festival in the Hague, Netherlands, where she’ll play the city’s Lutheran Church with Chris Watson and Kara-Lis Coverdale + MFO.

via FACTmagazine

37 thoughts on “Inside The Synth Studio Of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

    1. Could not agree more. Incredible command of texture – that’s what stands out to me more than anything else.

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  1. Yes! Her album Euclid is my favorite of the last few years and I can’t wait for the next one.

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    1. It’s out now! Was album of the week on Bleep last week. Called “Ears”. It’s even better!

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    1. Huh, if the subject of this article was male, would we see a comment that said, “He’s handsome and he has brains in modular expression. Very nice feathers in his cap”? What exactly is the relationship between being a good synthesist and one’s looks? None that I can see.

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      1. “if the subject of this article was male, would we see a comment that said, “He’s handsome and he has brains in modular expression”

        Unlikely. The modular guys are generally pretty chunky dudes, often with birds nest beards. If a modular guy was hot or beefy though, we should definitely mention it.

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    2. Perhaps. If the audience of this site was predominantly female, we might here comments about a guys looks. It’s not like women are above opening critiquing the male form.

      But I do agree with your principle. Let’s try to stay focused on the music here. There’s plenty of beauty in that.

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  2. Enjoyed watching that, thank you. Very inspiring.
    Agreed, Euclid is one of my recent favorites as well. Just got EARS from Western Vinyl and look forward to listening to it.

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  3. Didn’t like the quote about “Real Instruments”. A modular is a real instrument.

    I do like her music and its great to see women getting recognition for their electronic music output. There should be way more of the female population into synthesis.

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  4. I love her stuff so much, and I love interviews like this where it’s really about sharing and teaching, not self aggrandisement.

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    1. agreed. I was also surprised by her having such a large rig, mostly of new and popular eurorack. I was expecting a smaller collection with more buchla or eclectic instruments.

      It seemed very well thought out and explored though, also cool to see the reissue Two Voice in there. I would listen to her talk more about her choices and what roles they play for a lot longer. Would also like to know how much of that was present on Euclid and how much was put together for the new one.

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  5. Peaked my interest and I will have to check out her albums.
    That is one killer setup and a pretty nice view of the country side.
    Sure beats staring at a computer screen. She seems to have something different to bring to the modular synth scene. Very inspiring.

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  6. This is great. I think her music is among the best stuff I’ve head in years. Love the previous two albums and looking forward to the new one. I also have to give Synthopia props for promoting her – pretty sure I heard of her here first.

    Side question: much of what is made on the Easel seems to be pretty unfocused / hard on the ears. Is there anyone other than her and Charles Cohen that I should be listening to?

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  7. the music is not bad although a little bit flat and directionless(although one might see this a style), but for the love of god those enya-like vocals are really off-putting. Too characteristic and too soon to repeat!

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    1. Maybe I’m listening to something else entirely, or you have a very odd personal definition of ‘flat’. Her compositions are lovely; very detailed and richly textured, with lots of variety – especially for modular music.

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      1. I would say that bringing together repetitive structures in and out without really any major change in dynamics or time is broadly regarded as musically flat. But as i said that can be part of the aesthetic, she mentions Riley as a big influence so it is what it is.
        But the vocals are a chance for any performer to make his/hers indistinguishable mark, to make it personal. The enya thing is just annoying for me, i would even go so far to say i would take any time an out of tune but trully personal performance than that..

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  8. boring yet another lame module owner that think their music is cool ,i will not be buying a ticket to see this woman

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  9. Lovely insight from a gifted artist. Posts like this have been spurring my love of synthesis, the instruments and performers for a long time. Thanks Sythtopia.

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  10. “And then I realized I need to just listen to it and understand how I would relate to it”.

    And man, corner windows please.

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  11. Saw her a couple of days ago opening for Battles, very cool stuff! Pretty short show unfortunately, but loved every second of it. Very melodic stuff and peculiar playing style. Also, the Buchla sounds fantastic!
    Never heard of her before that, but I will definitely pay attention to her music from now on.

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  12. awesome! very refreshing perspective on the use of modulars. would love to hear more stuff like this.

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  13. Great stuff. Love her new album. Going seeing her live in St Lukes, London this Summer, should be fun.

    Also what a nice view from her studio!

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