Colin Benders Debunks Modular Synth Myth

Photo credit: Bodine Koopmans

Colin Benders first came to our attention with his remix for Sasha’s Scene Delete album. Since then we’ve followed his progress carefully and managed to grab some time with the talented Dutchman to talk about all things modular!

Tell us about you

Colin Benders: I’m a 30 year old producer living in Utrecht, a city in Holland. I’ve played instruments since I was 5 years old and I’ve been producing various types of music for roughly 15 years. I’m a horrible DJ so I tend to stay away from that, focusing on doing everything live.

What made you get in to dance music?

Colin Benders: This somewhat happened when I started out producing. I was experimenting with lots of things and I really enjoyed working with electronic sounds. It didn’t really become dance music until I started working with modular synthesizers, around 6 years ago.

Where was your first gig?

Colin Benders: My very first gig was at some local bar when I was 12 years old, as a trumpet player at a jamsession my parents took me to. I was super nervous, there was around 30 people there which was more than I had ever played for. I ended up having loads of fun there and came back regularly. I met my first band there, which was a local hiphop group which I stayed with for years.

Did you start producing on modular synths right away?

I started modular synths about six years ago, I was looking for something to get me away from working with computers. I always get lost in the endless possibilities which a computer has to offer, on top of that I did not like the sound of my soft synths. After reading online about modular synths I decided it would be a good idea to give it a try. At first I had no idea what I was doing, my system did not make sense at all and didn’t understand a thing of what was going on. but over time I learned how to work with this instrument, mostly through trial and error. I was fascinated by the results which kept me going. I started with doing wonky acid jams, from there I went a bit more melodic and experimental and now I just do whatever comes to mind.

How much does your equipment cost and do you perform live?

Colin Benders: My instrument is worth enough to worry about something happening to it, lets put it that way. Modular’s are not cheap, with a single module worth $300-1500 a piece. But in the end its an instrument, its made to be used. A violinist would envy the low entry cost of a modular synth in comparison.

Lately I have started performing live more and more, first just doing live streams and later taking it to the stages. This year I have played at festivals such as Dekmantel and Awakenings and I’ve been travelling with my synth to places like Berlin, Florence and Mumbai.

In your opinion, do modular synths offer better sound than better computer synths?

Colin Benders: For me its not so much about sound. Computers and softsynths have had a tremendous wave of improvements and I know a lot of people who can make a computer sound better than I ever will on my modular.

The main thing for me is the interface: a modular works a lot more intuitive for me. It feels like playing an instrument rather than programming a script. I get to really ride the wave of my tension span in real time. I get to follow my instincts and be surprised by my own results. This instrument helps me focus a lot more than when I am staring at my computer screen, I’m way too ADD for that and usually end up browsing reddit after a while.

Have you considered moving in to education? Do you have any videos that offer a basic tutorial?

Colin Benders: I have considered doing some tutorial videos but I’m way too busy making music and working on my projects lately, which also kills the idea of education at this time. There’s other people who do a great job explaining what modulars are all about.

Talk to us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.

Colin Benders: Glenn asked me if I wanted to do a remix of his track Jade Garden. As a starting point I decided to reconstruct it on my modular and see what the vibe would be like. the result is a single take recording where I performed the entire track, I felt this would give the best results for tension span and vibe.

What’s the music scene like where you live and how often are you playing?

Colin Benders: The music scene is great, albeit somewhat secluded from the rest of the world. there’s a lot of great musicians and people to work with here and a ton of festivals and venues to play so a lot of people hardly ever leave the country. These past 2 years I have been focusing heavily on my modular synth, preparing releases and practising new techniques to work with. Prior to that I used to run a project with which we were touring non stop for about 8 years. I’m somewhat taking my time right now, that said I am really looking forward to the next run of shows.

Which other DJs or producers are you liking right now?

Colin Benders: Lately I am listening a lot to James Holden and Jon Hopkins, I’m very impressed by their work. On the other end of the spectrum are Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann, both of which have really surprised me in the clubs.

What’s been your biggest achievement?

Colin Benders: From a live perspective, I guess headlining a festival tour with my own music and playing for crowds of 50,000 people is up there. But in general I am mostly happy to be doing this at all. There’s not much else I can do besides music so I’m quite happy to be doing nothing else.

What can we expect from you soon

Colin Benders: I’m working on a series of tracks that I’ll be releasing over time. besides that, I’ll be doing my weekly live streams on the modular synth. Fun times in general!

Photo credit: Bodine Koopmans


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