Exillon aka Jay Fields began playing drums at 12, was hooked on guitar by 13, started fiddling around with a bass at 15, and then his family got their first computer. He played drums with a band for four years, but a need to have absolute control over every aspect of his music propelled him into solo electronic work. At age 16 his friends Alex and Jesse introduced him to a simple, sample based sequencer called Impulse Tracker that was being used amongst the demo scene. Curiosity quickly evolved into a disturbing infatuation, and his dedication shows with the elegance of his music. Like a true obsessive compulsive, Fields can often be seen quietly working on his laptop polyrhythms during his lunch break, on the bus, or on the train. He has releases on Ad Noiseam, Zod Records, Component Records and Puzzling Records. Most recently he released the Mean Rich Mud EP for Detroit Underground and Spheres of Fury with Hecq for Contortion.
We were excited to work with Exillon, and you can hear his custom sound design in the RS3 and M8RX, as well as the original composition Pad in Space. He dropped by our office to talk about his experience with Tabletop and walk through his setup. Check out the video and read the full interview below.
How did you find the experience of creating music for Tabletop?
It's a great tool for sketching out ideas or just playing for fun on the couch. All the basics are there -- drum machine, synth, matrix grid, effects and the arrangement sequencer (and then some). Within seconds I was up and running, jamming out a beat and playing a bassline over top. The whole experience was quite refreshing, not having to think too much about routing and templates. It's all very straight forward and painless.
What kind of equipment do you normally use in making music?
I use software and hardware, anything I can get my hands on really.
How well did Tabletop reflect how you normally make music?
I value organization and Tabletop makes it pretty much impossible to make a mess. I enjoy loading up Tabletop and being able to jump in where I left off and not have to think too much about what's happening in the session. Sometimes with software, having every option available can quickly turn into a nightmare whereas most of the hardware I use is somewhat limited with more tactile controls. Tabletop offers a nice balance of the "someone has already figured this out, now you play with it" aspect of hardware and the obvious convenience and portability of software.
Do you think Tabletop will translate well to a live experience?
With some practice, absolutely!
What would be on your future device wish list?
I would love to see some synthesis in the app, allowing users to create their own sounds (drum machine, modular synth, etc).
Have you used any other iOS music apps? What do you think the strengths and weaknesses of the platform are?
Yes, I've played with a handful of apps (Nanoloop, technoBox, ReBirth, Curtis, DopplerPad, DB-303). I think there are definitely some interesting things happening and you can't beat the convenience of jamming on an airplane but I'm not 100% sold on interacting with basically a fancy sheet of glass. However, I'm sure someone said something similar about televisions when they first came out. I look forward to what the future brings as the processing power of these devices improves and developers start to explore new techniques and sounds with this technology.
What's up next for you?
I'm wrapping things up on some new releases and getting ready for touring Europe in October. Lots to do.