My Gear: The Octopus Project
Electro experimentalists swear they subscribe to less-is-more despite their density of gear
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.