This doodle cost me thousands of dollars

This is an article I submitted for the Floaty Things release by Colin Benders. It is included in a handbound booklet in the premium support package of the release. Typos from the original text has been corrected here, and the formatting and layout has been modified to better fit the web.

Accidental Contraptions

This is a drawing I did for a short-lived art project (this was my second and last installment!) called Accidental Contraptions, where I pick a (seemingly) simple task and draw a imaginary machine that does it in a weird, twisted, and unnecessarily complex way.

For example, a giant coffee machine that has fancy pressure tanks / pneumatics / pumps / whatever, that in the end, just brews a simple pourover (not simple either, but I'll save my coffee snobbery for next time).

Like this:

While I did not start this art project with the intention of making money, I certainly did not start this to spend thousands of dollars. How did I drawing make me spend thousands of dollars?

How I discovered modular synthesizers

I know now that making music isn't a simple task, but back when I drew the Modular Studio piece, I had no prior knowledge of making music, let alone anything about synthesizers or modular systems.

I just started with an idea to draw a work station, where a person would sit down and make music with a stupidly complex machine. I gathered reference photos for the piece, and sure enough there were some photos of Eurorack and other formats of modular walls.

I assumed they were fake or from a movie set as it looked very visually pleasing and just... unreal.

Modular Mayhem

I finish the piece, and I showed it to my friend John who is an illustrator / comic book artist. (John's art is great! He has done the art for the recently published comic GIGA. Everyone should check it out.)

He told me that those reference photos are no fictional machines; that there are actual people using those for actual music production and performance! Better yet, there is this one dude that's crazy good with them streaming a performance right now on Twitch.

Guess who that was.

Yes, that drawing I did led me to discovering the pre-COVID19 Modular Mayhem. I was to shy to participate in the chat because I knew nothing about it, but I got obsessed with the idea of modular synthesizers. I think I watched every Youtube video I can find about the topic then for the next few months.

I dreamed of building a system like the one Colin used, and the ones I saw in my reference photos for the drawings I did.

Judging the book by its cover

2 years down the line, I'm listening to the Jam sessions uploaded on Youtube once in a while as the streams were not happening anymore at that time. I never intended to try any of this myself as making music was not something I ever thought about. What initially drew me into this was the visuals, and the awe of complex machinery after all.

What actually pushed me to purchase my first piece of equipment was, in fact something visual as well. I stumbled upon the website of MakeNoise, which was and is still gorgeously designed.

I wanted it. I wanted all of it. I wanted it to be part of my living space.

0-coast is what I chose. A black and gold little box that I have no idea how to use.

The Shrine

I emptied an entire section of my shelf and made a dedicated synth shelf with the 0-coast as a center piece, with it's instruction manual and patch cables on the side.

It was fun making weird noises and Krell patches for a while, but I had no plan nor a purpose diving into the modular world, so as a typical beginner of modular synthesizers, this space became something that I look at every day, but just not utilze to it's potential. It was still very pleasing to have a small corner of my room dedicated to a visually appealing piece of machine though.

This corner has became a cargo-cultist sort of shrine in a 30 square feet flat for my well hidden but megalomanic idea of having a giant modular wall of madness.

Modular Lockdown

Fast forward 2 more years.

I am sitting in my room, locked down. South Korea was one of the first countries that were hit hard with the pandemic.

After moving the shrine was stripped down and my 0-coast was put away in the box in my storage. Just watching random videos and streams while eating dinner I see Colin live once again on Twitch.

This happened everyday. For the next few months.

What was different this time was that he built a community around his performance. Everyone was welcome. There were discussions about gear, music in general, DIYing synthesizer, sockpuppets! This eventually pushed me to set up a bigger shrine.

This community has brought many new things to my life. The shrine is slowly evolving. I'm learning how to use it everyday.

I have allocated small amounts of my funds everyday for the improvement of this shrine. and I am certainly not stopping any time sooner.

It was that one oblivious doodle that cost me thousands of dollar and thousands more, and I don't regret a single penny.

The Floaty Things vinyl release had me dig yet another rabbit hole, but I have a very good feeling that I won't regret it either.