My Gear: The Octopus Project

Electro experimentalists swear they subscribe to less-is-more despite their density of gear


Photos by David Brendan Hall

Six LPs, a tour alongside Devo, and several film scores including Damsel, a Western comedy directed by Austin siblings David and Nathan Zellner that premieres Jan. 23 at Sundance, landmark nearly two decades of instrumental experimentalism by local electro rockers Octopus Project. Surprisingly, then, the band's core – multi-instrumentalists Yvonne and Josh Lambert, and Toto Miranda – increasingly veer toward a less-is-more approach where equipment's concerned.

"I don't think any of us really collect gear," admits Yvonne. "We just have 'the thing that works' and that's it."

"In terms of sheer volume, everything's been getting smaller and smaller," adds Miranda. "As ridiculous as that seems looking at all this stuff, simplicity within each part is what enables [the sounds] to happen."

Here's a rundown of OP's setup, which they liken to a cohesively operative organism.

1) Macbook Pro + Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: "The Brain" runs production software Ableton Live with a preset sequence for keyboards, synthesizers, samples, vocals, and guitar. It rarely fails save for extreme heat or cold. "We literally had to warm it by the fire one night at Mohawk when it was 27 degrees outside," reveals Yvonne.

2) Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol F1: "The Consciousness," a mixer triggering all audiovisual effects and instructing the Brain.


3) Moog Etherwave Pro theremin: Yvonne's prized possession is one of 80 in existence. "There's a buttery smoothness on this I haven't heard from other theremins," she muses.

4) KORG microKONTROL MC-1 MIDI Studio Controller keyboard: "You can never know what's true or not, but we were told that it belonged to one of David Bowie's keyboard players when we bought it on eBay two or three years ago," recalls Yvonne.

5) Roland SPD-S Sampling Pad: Also used as a MIDI controller, it once belonged to the Scissor Sisters.

6) HD projector: Advanced video mapping casts visuals perfectly onto the handmade half-moon screens.

7) Amplifier mosaics: Handmade by Yvonne using tiny mirrors.

8) Robot head lamp: An IKEA clip lamp modified with an Yvonne-made robot head for diffusion now doubles as the mascot for the band's Robot High School Records.


Octopus Project next performs Feb. 24 at the North Door alongside Treasure Mammal, Lightworks, and Ouiness for the release of Flaming Lips tribute book Looking Into Space It Surrounds You.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More The Octopus Project
Texas Platters
The Octopus Project
Fever Forms (Record Review)

Chase Hoffberger, July 19, 2013

Off the Record
Off the Record
Music News

Austin Powell, Dec. 10, 2010

More by David Brendan Hall
Snapshot: Rodeo Austin
Snapshot: Rodeo Austin
It’s not all bucking broncs and fried food on a stick. Photographer David Brendan Hall goes under the rope to explore the inner workings of the rodeo.

March 29, 2019

Snapshot – Inside Hopscotch: Light and Sound
Snapshot – Inside Hopscotch: Light and Sound
This is the immersive art experience that's all over your Instagram feed

March 1, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Octopus Project, Yvonne Lambert, Josh Lambert, Toto Miranda, David Bowie, Scissor Sisters, Flaming Lips

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle