Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?
Jori Hulkkonen, a musician, producer, dj, synth collector and record afficionado. I work undercover as a music man. I’ve been doing what I do professionally since 1997, but I started making electronic music originally in 1988.
What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?
I’m a university drop-out. I went there to study English literature. I have no musical education whatsoever; I’m all self taught. It works for me but I’ve never seen education being a hindrance, though I can’t really recommend anything in particular. But I do love reading.
What hardware are you using?
I won’t list it all, as I’ve been a gearslut since the 90s, so there’s been loads of hardware coming in and going out from my studio during the years. I come from the age where hardware was a necessity, not a luxury. I’m really into modular synths these days, old and new and the way it’s all interconnected, regardless of age and manufacturer — at least on some level.
Apart from synths there’s a lot of hardware ouboard gear like FX, compressors, vintage mixing desk etc… For me working with hardware is a big part of the charm of electronic music. I love blinking lights and big knobs.
What software are you using?
As the DAW since the late 80s (although back then it was just a sequencer) it’s always been Cubase. The sound really is superior and the whole user interface is in my backbone for having used it for over two decades.
The plug-ins are mostly just signal processing (compressors, Eqs, FX), apart from Battery which is pretty much always responsible for my beats.
Other software I use these days are often running on an iPad, connected to my system via the Alesis ioDock. For example the Fairlight or the Animoog apps are quite amazing, especially for that price.
What would be your dream setup?
I think I have it at my studio, actually. If I have an idea how to make it better, I try it. During the years I’ve tried and tested different ways of working and ended up with a system that works the best for me; it’s built around Cubase, Studer mixing desk and all my synths and drum machines. All in a soundproof room in the center of the city next to a park, with a nice window getting in some sun, nice comfy sofa, my 15,000+ vinyl collection and room with a pool table. It really is a dream to work in.
Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?
After having made music for so long, I’ve found that it’s very important to try to break habits, steer away from patterns, and always try to find new approaches to writing stuff and getting inspired. So the creative process is changing constantly, and indeed compared to what it was in the times of mixing everything live and recording on DAT tapes, it’s very different. What I use a lot in the studio is certain creative games or dogma aprroaches to getting things started. It can be anything from working against the clock to limiting yourself only to use certain gear for certain things.
Where do you shop for and discover music?
Various methods. Obviously social media is a cool place to hear about new interesting things from friends and peers. I get sent a lot of stuff, and I spend a lot of time on online shops going thru new releases. Then there are the record shops for physical stuff, for both new and secondhand that I go to, both here in Finland but also when I travel.
Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?
When it comes to club music, my biggest heroes right now are Untold and Leon Vynehall. On a more eclectic side, I really like the new Grizzly Bear album, and I still listen to those Raymand Scott represses a lot.
What’s brewing in your studio?
After this Third Culture album (“Negative Time”, out September 24 on My Favorite Robot), the next full length is coming already in November. It’s my new band Sin Cos Tan’s debut album (on Sugarcane Recordings). It’s a moody, dark, romantic synthpop project I do together with vocalist Juho Paalosmaa whom people may be familiar with from Villa Nah.
Apart from that plenty of stuff I can’t talk too much about yet, including some future action with longtime collaborators Tiga and John Foxx, respectively.
Any production tips & tricks you’d like to share?
Not really. As being someone who’s self-taught I’ve come to believe the secret lies in experimenting and breaking the rules. Sure enough, usually the results may not be what you expect but that’s the best way of learning and more importantly finding your own way to work — and finally your own sound.