We talk to KOMA Elektronik, creators of the Field Kit and other really interesting desktop and Eurorack gear..
For more on KOMA Elektronik see their website.
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us about your instruments…
How and why did you start Koma Elektronik?
I’m honored to be interviewed!
KOMA Elektronik started out with me getting two Eurorack modules and a tiny Doepfer beauty case for Christmas more than 20 years ago. I had months of fun with those two modules but wanted to get more soon. Only then I realized that Eurorack modules are a pricey hobby for an unemployed teenager. So I got into DIY electronics, started to build guitar pedals for friends and Eurorack modules for myself. I finished my studies in Austria and moved to Berlin. It all clicked together 2 years later and became KOMA Elektronik. I have so many ideas for cool gear, sometimes it seems it’s the only thing I can think about. I love to enable myself and other musicians to make music.
What music do you listen to (or make) yourself? What inspires you?
I’m a real eclectic when it comes to music. I listen to all the music and do not discriminate between genres. I have gone through phases of listening to one particular genre only but today I do not want to limit myself in that way. I actually love to discover new types of music in which everything I hear seems to “sound the same”. Whenever one says that it just means one does not know this type of music well – that’s why it all sounds the same! It’s nice to discover something new and start learning all the subtle differences that make up a “genre”.
Myself I have played in bands since I was 14. Granted, my first band – “Rocket Sukkaz” – wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of human creativity but it has gotten me started to later get really good at playing together with other musicians, jamming, playing gigs, touring, recording. I love to make music together with other people. I played in several bands and projects and it inspires and helps me develop new concepts and instruments.
I’m inspired by life. If you don’t walk through life like a zombie but are aware of your surroundings, what other people say, do, wear, make, like, hate – you will find plenty of inspiration and so do I.
What gave you the idea to make the field kit? I love the Stockhausen concept at a great price point, it’s a brilliant little box.
Like all instruments developed at KOMA, the Field Kit was a collaboration between great minds. KOMA instruments often start with a particular idea but through collaboration become something totally different. The Field Kit was indeed inspired by great minds like Stockhausen, Cage, Tuder as well as taking inspiration from local artists and musicians in Berlin. The concept of the ‘acoustic laptop’ immediately comes to mind. But no one has taken these ideas to the next level and taken the chance to tailor-make a device specifically for this purpose.
What tips would you give someone just starting out with it?
Let lose of everything you learned about “making music”. Explore. Be inspired. Be open. Be aware. Follow your gut feeling. If it sounds good and doesn’t smoke, record it. Enjoy tiny sounds and hidden signals and make something big out of them.
Which expansion should a beginner get to start with?
Definitely get the Field Kit Expansion Pack. It will bring you so much fun and joy. I still have such a good time with my Field Kit and all the springs, motors, solenoids and contact mics. You will have fun for hours on end. And if you ever get bored, get a Sensor Pack and start incorporating your environment in many new ways and explore some more ways to turn your surroundings into music and art.
Can you tell us more about your Eurorack modules and the Dual VCA?
The SVF-201 is the Eurorack copy of our (discontinued) boutique pedal FT-201. It’s a vactrol filter with a very sweet and mellow sound. Unfortunately the vactrol manufacturer went out of business. I’m currently re-designing it for new vactrols and it will be re-released with an extra overdrive feature in the feedback path.
The Poltergeist was a cooperation with a befriended engineer who now runs Metabolic Devices. It was a very cool concept and a unique module. Not to forget we custom built a quadrophonic hard hat for NAMM that year that had four speakers on bars attached to it and let you experience quadrophonic sounds in the middle of the fair.
The Dual VCA was supposed to be the start of a bigger Eurorack product line but then Covid came along and threw a spanner in the works. It’s a beautiful and absolutely stunning sounding discrete VCA. It has slope control which I miss in many other VCAs. Also, I personally don’t like the 2164 VCAs out there, so we designed a new one from the ground up.
Are you going to be doing more Eurorack?
Yes, in fact I want to do a lot more Eurorack modules. We are currently developing three modules, two of which will still be released in 2023. The scene has definitely become a market now and is about to turn into a hype. But Eurorack modular is still a beautiful concept and I love the open-ness of Eurorack and want to contribute more to it.
The Komplex Sequencer and the Field Kit FX are great, are they still being released? Will we see batches of them again in the future?
Both these instruments unfortunately fell victim to the component shortage of the past years. As a small company we struggled quite hard with getting our products built in the past two years. We just managed to release a small batch of Komplex Sequencers and it looks like we can produce it again in the future too.
The Field Kit FX went through three re-designs in the past two years and cost us a lot of time and money as a company but at last will be available soon again.
What can we expect from you in the future? Any new products in the pipeline?
You can expect more unusual instruments and more Eurorack modules. More KOMA. More cool concepts other manufacturers overlook. More acoustic feedback shenanigans. We will release a novel polyphonic instrument within the next 6 months that we have kept really quiet about.
For more on KOMA Elektronik see their website.