Elder Island walks us through their studio setup and equipment selection for static swimming

Featuring tracks from David Smith, Moog, SSL and more.

Elder Island follows their 2019 debut album with static swimming, a ten-track indie-electronica album, full of experimentation and catchy hooks. Named after the restlessness and general apathy felt during lockdown, the trio carve out genre-defying space, with infectious songs that shape-shift and captivate.

The trio’s guitarist and synth wizard David Havard, breaks down the material they used on this record and why.

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Allen & Heath GS3000

It was the centerpiece of the studio while we were writing and producing “Swimming Static”. We had been looking for this console for a long time and were lucky enough to find a 32 channel version with meter bridge shortly before starting the first sessions for this album. Everything in the studio runs into this beast from a patch bay and as it’s a dual in-line desk you get a record channel and a monitor channel. We configured it to feed 2 Presonus Quantum 4848 interfaces so that whatever was recorded in the computer would be sent directly back to the monitor channel. This made editing the live sessions a dream as everything was laid out exactly as it was recorded. Kind of like working with tape.

Acoustic search AR18

If you are looking for unforgiving near field monitors, I highly recommend trying to pick some of these. The lesser known rival of the Yamaha NS10. They can still be found at reasonable prices, but more and more people are starting to use them. A truly neutral sounding set of speakers, perfect for long listening sessions and for editing as you can really hear any imperfections.

SSL Merge

Stereo processing at its best. From very subtle tonal shaping to driving a signal in rich harmonics. The high-frequency compressor works wonders for taming harsh cymbals and hi-hats. We plugged it into the master bus and never turned it off.

Dave Smith and Roger Linn Storm

It was my favorite piece of kit when creating the album. It was my go-to drum machine and what I always started with. The pads are so expressive. Many people complain about the limitations of this instrument, but I found them to be its construction.

I had the chance to study with Roger Linn and Sasha Lietman during the lockdown. They lead a very rewarding workshop on creating your own electronic instruments around a teensy (small computer). There’s another one this year starting June 29

Dave Smith Prophet 08 Rev2

I just can’t get enough of the Prophet! If I had to choose just one synth, it would be this one. I had Rev 1 and when they announced Rev 2 I jumped on it. The added features make it such a solid touring instrument. I also use a tetra live and have a backup of it. That’s a total of 30 voices of prophets that I have on hand! Exaggerated or what.

Intellijel Atlantis

Luke and I got really into Eurorack on this album. Our modular craze has begun. I was actually looking for a Roland System 700 but that will never happen in my lifetime. So after much deliberation and wasted hours on a modular grid, I settled on Intellijel as I wanted a complete system. My first Intellijel module blew me away. SH-101 on steroids! Anything from these guys will make you happy. Very high build quality and feature sets. I reconstructed a whole system in a Waldorf KB37 and even managed to fit two spring reverbs into it.

Matriarch Moog

I took this one much later in the process of creating the album. Moog has always been our go-to for big bass. Luke has a Voyager in the studio and I use a minitaur for live sub bass, but I wanted a little more for myself. As soon as I realized it had a fully syncable midi analog stereo delay, I bought it. We ended up processing a lot of vocals through this synth as it has a lot of creative stereo trickery up its sleeve.

Origin Effects Revival Trem

The guys at Origin know what they’re doing when it comes to tone. This thing can range from a subtle urge to downright nasal. For the most part that was all I used on my guitar. Straight into the office. We got very experimental when we were putting the finishing touches on the album and dealing with the synths and vocals on it, especially on “Feral”.

Ciok DC7

It is not an instrument but a truly essential kit. Pedals, desktop synths, samplers, anything that needs DC power, this is going to be able to power it, all at the same time. Clean and noiseless. This is what makes our platforms work well. I’ve lost count of how many we have.

If you enjoyed this talk, check out the film from the Elder Island album below, showing off some of the aforementioned gear and interviews with the band.

swimming statics is out now and you can listen here.