Interview: Richard Devine
Interview: Richard Devine
Richard Devine is an Atlanta-based electronic musician and sound designer known for his layered, processed sound that combines influences from a range of genres spanning electronic, hip-pop, and more. We caught up with this unique artist in Shibuya to talk about the reface keyboards after his modular synthesizer workshop.
* What reface have you been using?
I’ve been using the reface DX for a lot of in-studio sound design work. It’s been awesome, because I love that kind of synthesis for sound design—it’s so pure, you know, using sine waves, because they cut through the air. FM is perfect for designing UI type sounds for games or portable devices exactly because of this clarity. I bought a lot of the early models—the TX81Z, the TG-77, the DX7 in the early nineties, and I still have them. I love them because they have a very distinctive sound, and a unique character that I like; nothing else has that sound quality. What I noticed right away with the reface DX is how it’s like the DX100 of today, but way, way better. The output is super clean, and crystal clear. It’s stunning. I’ve been using it in the past couple of months for my recordings and compositions and it just has such a beautifully clean, ultra-polished, nice sound. I still have my DX100, but the reface DX has such an inherent glassy, clean, and beautiful presence that works very nicely for sound design and musical applications.
* What do you think are some of the improvements over older Yamaha FM synths?
Well, the workflow seems much more streamlined, and this makes things a lot simpler and easier. You can make sounds faster with the reface DX. It’s much easier to use, and the overall experience is much more enjoyable. It’s nice that you guys added these new functions—I love the data sliders for data entry, because they allow you to really fine-tune the sound. On the old DX100, you had one fader and one parameter, but on the reface you can quickly play something, then play and tweak, play and tweak… this is much faster. You can use the levels and algorithms to switch very quickly; I think this was very smart. I like this much better. I grew up working with these instruments, and I feel more comfortable working with this now. This is close to my heart; this form of synthesis, this whole legacy has historically been very important to me, and now that it’s back, I’m very excited! And I love the speakers!
* Speakers are not a common feature on synthesizers…
Yeah. I like sitting on my back porch, or in my living room—I’m not always in my studio. I love portable synthesizers like this, because it’s nice to be in a different environment—this lets you work creatively in different spaces. The size is perfect, because when I was growing up, I would take my DX100 everywhere. Just headphones… the DX100 was battery-powered, and so is this. I’m so happy that it’s back again—I like being able to take it places.
* How about the keyboard? The DX100 had 49 keys but the reface DX has 37. Is that enough?
Personally it’s not a problem, because I’m not a professional keyboard player—I’m more interested in making sounds. For me, this size is perfect, and I also like the slightly bigger keys, because they are very comfortable to play. The build quality is great too. I have owned a lot of Yamaha equipment, and it’s just so well made... absolutely rock-solid, and engineered so well. You know it’s never going to fail, and that’s what I’ve always loved about Yamaha equipment.