Gear freak: Benjamin Bacon

Benjamin Bacon shares his favourite pieces of equipment




Benjamin Bacon (aka Soundspade) has worked for Nokia, designed and built his own synths and instruments and headed up two design agencies. As if that wasn’t enough, he also runs the Black Eyeliner night at DADA, which focuses on industrial, electro, post-punk and other sounds. He introduces his favourite pieces of equipment.


Soundspade-0-cropI made this for my thesis in 2005 at Parsons School for Design in New York. This might be the most expensive thesis project ever made. The 15 inch touchscreen was very expensive in 2005 and the circuit board itself is massive. The chips are all capacitive touch; at the time it was really hard to get the chips because Apple had a hold on them, so I needed to sign a bunch of disclaimers. You plug it into the network and ask people to come and share music. It then randomly chooses a song, downloads it, calculates the BPM and average pitch, then puts it in a database. You select a BPM and a pitch, and it chooses a part of a song at random and loops it. The controls on the front are used for messing around with filters and mangling the sound.

Bass guitars

I used to play bass lots back in the day. I was in this band called Dies Irae who opened for Siouxsie and the Banshees – it was a whole different scene. We played a mixture of dark pop, goth and industrial

Electromechanical Solenoid Orchestra

There are 25 of these altogether. They’re aluminium cages with each one covering an octave. They can plug into MIDI meaning they can be controlled with a signal. One of my graduate students made a module that was taking environmental information from weather stations in 12 different cities around the world. Each one of these then picked up the different environmental information and created arpeggios on the instrument based off the data. That was on show at the National Art Museum of China in 2011.

Saw Bench

Saw-Bench-0-cropSomebody else made this. It’s an open source DIY synth that I paid the full price on Kickstarter for so they engraved it for me. It’s just a really nice saw-wave based synth. It’s great for deep basses.

Benjamin Bacon runs Black Eyeliner night at DADA on Friday 9 October.