Sam Barker is one of the most notable driving forces to emerge from the Berlin electronic music scene over the last decade – as a producer, DJ, Berghain resident, and founder of the Leisure System label, Sam has provided consistent forward momentum for the Berlin scene and beyond.
From the blueprint of Barker & Baumecker’s high-impact output for Ostgut Ton to his stunning 2019 album “Utility”, Barker’s music weaves original meshes from utopic ambient, heavyweight dub, rave breaks and neon-tinged techno. This lucid, non-dogmatic musical approach has also formed the bedrock of Leisure System, which has dispatched music by Dopplereffekt and Tim Exile, and provided early releases for Visionist, Objekt, and JETS (Jimmy Edgar & Travis Stewart).
This workshop is about getting “out of the box” with sound and music production – focusing less on software, and more on hardware and physical/acoustic techniques. It’s not about hardware snobbery – as Sam puts it, “there’s an elitism connected to hardware that I’m not at all keen on – people can make great stuff with whatever. But I think hardware doesn’t have to be expensive, there’s a wealth of affordable synths and drum machines available now, and you can build a cheap modular system via DIY kits. My mechanical setup and acoustic reverbs were all really cheap, and hardware holds its value unlike software you can’t resell or a computer that’s worthless after 5 years…”.
Over five packed days, we’ll be exploring:
Modular synthesis techniques including sound design, effects, tricks and favourite patches.
Live performance, including planning a set, choosing the right tools and techniques, accounting for scale.
Mixdowns – aside from his productions, Sam has mixed for The Field, Laurel Halo, Jakojako and others.
Inspiration & motivation, including choosing goals, working with concepts, getting the right feedback, flow states, overcoming challenges/friction in your workflow, and finding productive processes for composition
Sam is also an active instrument maker – under his Voltek alias, he combines coding skills with analogue, electric and acoustic engineering techniques, designing and building electronically controlled acoustic instruments. In 2016 he worked with Ray 7 (Underground Resistance), exploring the acoustic qualities of derelict factories in Detroit using self-programmed analogue percussion instruments. We’ll harness Sam’s expertise to dive into the technology and mechanics of instrument-making, with hands-on sessions using some of Sam’s existing setups.