Sounds For the KORG Wavestate: Q & A With Marc Barnes

Marc Barnes is a musician and producer from Scotland who has quickly become a prominent figure in the KORG wavestate and KORG minilogue xd communities. He has created many sound banks for both of these synths during the unfortunate spring of 2020 which will be remembered mostly about the global COVID-19 pandemic. Marc was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself and the KORG wavestate by e-mail. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your musical background? I understand that you're involved in Angelstar the band; what else should we know about? Favourite musical styles? Instruments? Songs?

Marc Barnes: I started learning to play the electronic organ at 8 years old, encouraged by my father who was a great saxophonist. I wanted to play guitar but my father insisted I learned organ to learn melody, chords and bass in one go. I progressed to keyboards at 14 and got my first MIDI sequencer at 15 — a Roland MV-30.

I bought my first synth at 17, a Korg X3, and started producing music at 18. I've done a degree in Electronics with Music at the University of Glasgow. Since then I've always been working between producing in the studio and playing live gigs.

I like pretty much any style of music if it is done well. At the moment I’m really into chilled vibes but I take my notions. There are so many favourite songs... it's difficult to pinpoint an absolute favourite, but "Vienna" by Ultravox* is one that's in my head right now. [One of my all-time favourites! —Ed.]

Ultravox: Vienna

DS: How did you get involved with the KORG wavestate? I understand that you are a beta tester.

MB: I bought the KORG minilogue xd in March 2019 and loved it. In December 2019 I was looking for a Christmas gift for myself. After much deliberation I decided nothing within my price range on the current market was for me. In January 2020 I heard the KORG wavestate and knew I had to have it. [Curiously, that happened to me too. —Ed.] I preordered it immediately and got mine in March. After owning the Wavestate for 5-6 weeks I was approached by Dan Phillips (one of the Wavestate designers) to be a beta tester. It was a great honour.

DS: What are the best things about the KORG Wavestate? What would you add or change?

MB: The best things about the Wavestate are its unique method of synthesis, the sound quality and modulation options. For its price it is an absolutely phenomenal piece of kit. I’d personally like to see a reverse function for your samples, and possibly a pattern mode for beats. I’m not overly desperate to have user samples just yet, but maybe in the future. I’d also be interested in a Wavestate Pro further down the line, with 61 keys and polyphonic aftertouch. (This is something that Gordon Reid, in his Sound On Sound review of the Wavestate, memorably suggested to be named the KORG Prostate! —Ed.)

DS: What prompted you to create a full five volumes of Wavestate patches? Was it a lot of work? How has the reception been?

MB: The [COVID-19 related] lockdown prompted me to create the five volumes, having time each morning to sit and work on the machine and learn it. On average it takes me 2-4 hours to construct a four-layer performance patch. The reception to these patches has blown me away; I seriously didn’t see it coming. When I buy a synth and sell patches my target is to try and make most of the money I’ve spent on the synth back within a year. Without going into specifics I’ve greatly exceeded this target in 4 months. The additional income has also been a massive help to my family during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as I can’t earn any income from live performances.

DS: Do you have a Wavestate tip of the day, something we should try out?

MB: My tip of the day: wave sequencing can be used for more than just creating patterns on notes. Experiment, and use it to its full. Also remember, nearly everything can be modulated or randomised. That said, you don’t need to have 64 steps in every lane and 50 modulations to make a good patch.

Actually, Marc has many more Wavestate tips, which you can spy on this video:

DS: Some time ago you set up and now administer the Facebook group Ultimate KORG Wavestate, which has attracted over 300 members in a short time. How has the group worked out for you?

MB: The Ultimate Korg Wavestate group is not about the admin, it's about the members, and everyone has been great so far. It's a great platform for all music producers and sound designers to showcase their work with the amazing Korg Wavestate.

DS: What's next for the prolific Mr. Barnes? I know you are also working with the KORG minilogue xd* and the KORG nu:tekt NTS-1*.

MB: I've taken a couple of weeks break from sound design, but I now intend to release a free bank of 10 patches for the KORG NTS-1. [They are out now. —Ed.] I will then be working on new sound banks for the ASM Hydrasynth* and the Roland AX-Edge*. Thereafter I may well release volume 6 for the Wavestate.

I'd like to thank Marc for taking the time to tell us a little bit about himself and his work related to the KORG wavestate!

See also the overview of KORG Wavestate sounds, featuring sound sets from Marc and many others.

Marc Barnes Biography

Marc Barnes has been a professional keyboard player since the tender age of 14. As a pupil at Auchinleck Academy he won the prestigious Musician of the Year Award. In 1994 he embarked in further education at The University of Glasgow, graduating with a B.Eng(Hons) in Electronic Engineering with Music. After owning his own recording studio business he completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Education and is now a qualified secondary school teacher. In addition to his academic background Marc has vast experience in live performance and modern studio production. He regularly performs at venues all over Scotland and Northern England and has had several of his productions released by recognised record labels. Over the past three and a half years Marc has concentrated much of his efforts on hardware synthesis and started his latest venture in October 2019.

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