Gear Up! : Jake Murray of in violet

    Gear Up! : Jake Murray of In Violet Welcome to my junk shop of musical horrors. At the core of every musician is a bundle of stuff and I'm certainly no different; in fact, I seem to assemble a larger collection of audio bits every day, like some sort of sonic dung beetle (Ringo Starr). If you don't die of boredom before I'm done, you get a cookie.

    Guitars Like every other person on the planet I'm predominantly a guitarist, so I have a bunch of them in a bunch of different colours. Mostly I use a lovely metallic-blue ESP (it's really metal and has a pointy headstock) but I also have a purple Les Paul and a purple Ashton acoustic guitar that I picked up some years ago. I'm also extremely fortunate to own a vintage Kay guitar from the 1960's that was gifted to me once upon a time; it's fantastic and scarily weightless, which is why it doesn't go to gigs… it'll fly out of my hands. Also pictured you should see a Peavey bass guitar which has somehow lasted the test of time and not-pictured is a resonator knocking around for when I'm feeling bluesy.
    I'm somewhat of a pedal fanatic and tend to give in to any cheap ones I find floating around at jumble sales/junk stores/last minute eBay bids. I don't just go for early 90's cheesy electronics, but I definitely have a tendency to pick up gear from that era. In my massive pedalboard at the moment some of my favourites are the Digitech BP200 multi-fx loaded with a tonne of custom rigs, a Belcat tremolo which is really smooth and super nice, Boss bass synthesiser (so nuts it's almost unusable, my favourite kind of equipment!) and the Jackhammer, a monstrous leviathan of a distortion pedal.

    Pedals I do on occasion turn it up to 11, and for this purpose I have two guitar amps. The first, not pictured (because shut up) is one of those lovely Vox hybrid tubes with an effects unit built in. There's very few amp models that will top Vox in my book except maybe Mesa Boogie but this one was a great deal at the time and has survived many a gig/kicking. The newer (pictured) is the Kemper Profiling Amp, which is quite frankly better than any analogue amplifier I've ever put my hands on. With perfect amp and rig emulation and an extremely versatile set of controls this guy is hands down the best out there. The layout is incredibly intuitive and the amp even features some more unusual effects such as bit crusher, ring modulation, vowel shapers; as a product of the Access Virus designers, it's hardly surprising. The KPA has been at the very core of recording, helping nail a guitar sound and inspire a multitude of parts on the fly thanks to it's creative and quirky grunt.
    XStation Keeping digital, we'll move onto the Novation X-Station. This guy is a half-weighted 61 key MIDI controller for the most part, but also features its own effects unit (most of my gear does) and most importantly a slightly mind-blowing synth-section. I find it very rare that a digital unit can behave and sound as good as an analogue one, but this guy is unpredictable and extremely musical… or extremely unmusical at times, which I quite enjoy. Our tracks Echo, To The Sea and Icarus feature the synth prominently.
    Organ Sticking with keys, next up is the dual-layer organ which has been on a couple of songs on the new record. A neat feature included on this organ is the rhythm section which can play arpeggiated bass loops or even a selection of percussion loops, adjustable by tempo and style; it's incredible how modern-electronic or vintage blues this organ can sound just by playing with the various timbres, percussions and bass options. And yes, that is an early-90's drum pad set on top there… I use it mostly as a metronome these days, or for playing with the guitar pedals.

    Bouzouki One thing I've been pushing for a lot harder with this new album is to explore instruments and arrangement. Most of the songs have something new in one way or another and I picked up a couple of instruments along the way for this purpose as well as bringing in some guests. Two examples would be the 8-stringed bouzouki, of the Irish variety, and the melodica. I'd never played melodica before but found it very satisfying after wanting one for many years…. though it did take a while to practise breathing technique. The bouzouki is a brilliant, twangy instrument with sympathetic strings bringing an excellent chorus effect to the sound. Currently I'm tuned standard (for bouzouki) which is the top 4 strings of a guitar but a semi-tone down… I've found that the instrument appeals to me more in a slightly less chirpy key.
    Lemur Last, but by no means least, is my Lemur. This guy is part of my studio gear collection, rather than musical stuff. The Lemur, if you're not familiar with it, is a hugely diverse and completely customisable controller using OSC to vary the parameters of a DAW (designed with Ableton in mind for the most part). You may have seen the likes of Nine Inch Nails using this on the television or at a rock and roll concert. I mostly use the Dexter OS in the studio, providing fader, plugin and transport control for Logic when recording or mixing. You might have noticed a wee bit of outboard below the unit as it's sitting on my outboard rack in this photo: in the studio I'm running a MOTU 896 sound-card and have a bunch of fx racks for hardware processing. Favourites include: Aphex Aural Exciter, for boosting super-low end on audio or adding high-end harmonics (lovely!) and the Digitech RDS400, also known as the Time Machine. The Time Machine is loved by some for its unpredictability and hated by others for its unpredictability; you'll see what I mean on one of our songs that uses it quite heavily. The unit is a delay unit with pitch and frequency modulation, so can at times go a little all over the place.

    So, that's it! A lot's changed since these photos were taken and the whole studio's been moved to a new home: rejigged, scrambled, put back together, thoroughly cleaned and revised. As always I'm on the look out for more bits here and there and continue to burn endless amounts of cash on things that make sounds or mess them up. Thanks for sticking around for this long, you've certainly earned that cookie!

    Tags: Gear Up!, Jake Murray, in violet



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