Jon Hopkins Synth Guide
In 2014, Jon Hopkins released an epic masterpiece that would not only gain him a Mercury Music Prize nomination, but would result in him selling out shows worldwide and gaining prize position on many festival lineups.
Jon’s fourth studio album Immunity featured a collection of immaculately crafted compositions ranging from beat perfect electronic jams to intricate piano led melodies, and Immunity rose to the podium taking prize position on many of 2013’s greatest album lists.
We took some time out to review the synthesizers Jon Hopkins uses to record and perform.
Immunity opens with Open Eye Signal, a track written purely around the sounds of the Korg MS-20 synthesizer. This analog synthesizer is mostly used to achieve rich thick synth sounds and we see them appear throughout this album. Many of the bass sounds and techno riffs on Immunity are taken from the MS-20’s rich catalogue of sounds, a stunning collection of effects which includes bass sounds, worm leads and percussion effects.
As we see in the video above, Hopkins uses not one, but three Kaoss Pads to perform live. He creates synth sounds on the Kaoss pad by touching the screen as this is an incredibly easily way to play and manipulate sounds during a performance.
With 200 sound patches available, the collection on offer is fantastic and you’re given the choice of synths, percussion, basses and a range of sound effects. The upgraded version of the Kaoss Pad- The Korg Kaossilator pro, also features a vocoder, arpeggiator and four track loop recorder which allows you to overlap and arrange samples.
Another synth used on Immunity is the Roland SH-09 synthesizer, a classic 32 key synthesizer made back in 1980. The Roland SH-09 synthesizers have been discontinued and are hard to get by, however; Hopkins managed to borrow a SH-09 while recording and as a result, the SH-09 synth was used to create many of the bass sounds on Immunity. The sub-oscillator on the SH-09 makes this synthesizer a great provider of bass sounds, though it doesn’t have the ability to create thunderous bass sounds in the way that a Moog synthesizer does.
That’s our run-down of the list of synths being used by Jon Hopkins, however, his recording studio features an incredible selection of equipment. Other items in his setup include a Mackie Control and Mackie Big Knob whilst he’s also said to be using SourceForge and Logic to record.