ee Ach FAK ter
I first heard the siren call of the synthesizer in 1977. Long before I discovered “New Wave”, I found the synth sounds in tracks like “Foolin’ Yourself” by Styx and “Mister Blue Sky” by ELO mesmerizing. Gary Numan’s performance of “Cars” on SNL in 1979 pretty much sealed the deal for me: I was hooked. In high school, a friend’s small Casio (bought in a long extinct catalog showroom) was barely sufficient to sate my thirst for the strange and wonderful, swirly instrument. Banging out two to three chord songs about Lebanon, nuclear holocaust, and the Guardian Angels, I longed for the day I would have a REAL synth that matched the cool sounds of my musical idols like Talk Talk, Men Without Hats, Eurythmics, and others.
Ironically, I wouldn’t own a real synthesizer for another 20 years. In the meantime, I continued to fill my electronic musical void with the likes of New Order, Soft Cell, Bill Nelson, Depeche Mode, Yaz, Ultravox, Visage, OMD, and many others. USA Network’s “Radio 1990” and MTV’s “120 Minutes” (the latter usually guiding my LP purchases for the following week) provided a steady flow of inspiration back in those days. (Honorable mention goes to IRS’s “The Cutting Edge”.)
Fast forward to 1997, when I got my first real synthesizer, an Alesis QS6.1 and a Fostex 8-track recorder (Zip disks!). Lacking any drum instruments, it was fortuitous that not long after, I purchased my first beefy PC (by late 20th Century standards, anyway) and my first taste of home, digital recording. My gateway drug was Sonic Foundry’s (now Sony’s) ACID loop-based software, long-defunct under either brand name, but my smartest impulse buy ever. (Media Play, FTW!) Graduating to a full DAW in the form of Cakewalk’s Pro Audio 8 soon after meant saying goodbye to dedicated recording hardware. Hard disk recording was responsible for me not leaving the house for weeks. (“Put the pot down and slowly back away from my coffee!”)
In 2002, I finally overcame my midiphobia and bought Propellerheads now legendary Reason software. The latter was why I now prefer soft versions of synths to hardware. (Too much clutter.) Reason’s small digital footprint was the prime impetus for my relatively short-lived forray into live music performance (as much as a man in a trendy suit behind a laptop and MIDI controller can be called thus). Burn Like Nero was David Anderson, Hook-y bassist and yours truly, lead vox, keys, and swagger. It lived and died in 2003. And I miss the collaboration much more than standing on stage.
In 2004, I completed my first LP, called Pure Synth for Synthetic People. The name eH Factor is a play on the term pH factor, referring to acid + alkaline levels in the body. (Try teh Google. Sorry, it has nothing to do with Canadian slang/colloquialisms.) Though I have a bin full of half-completed tracks and random ideas, I have struggled to release anything since. Please push me. Help me overcome my inertia. In the meantime, please enjoy what I’ve done so far!