Our 8th questionnaire for the upcoming Popscotch compilation Ex-Yu Modular Electronic Vol.1 is with electronic musician Dinko Klobučar, hardware artist, module developer, Eurorack tutorial maker and music video director from Croatia. 

When did your love for electronic music start? What is the first synth you’ve bought / played?

There was always music in our home as far as I can remember, and we listened to all kinds of music, so I don’t really know. But there was a transition to deeper appreciation of music and sound in general that I remember as an important transition for me. While I was in secondary school, I met techno producer Petar Dundov while working on some track in his studio. We became friends. More like ‘musical friends’ that would get together few times a year. He had a good sound system and we would listen and discuss music. But then, he would often reveal interesting insights he had about some details in music that I wasn’t aware of. And these conversations really opened a whole new universe for me and got me thinking a lot about perception and how we are blind to so many layers of beauty and complexity util it is revealed to us in some way. This is how I remember diving deeper into spectral aspects of music. In my opinion, electronic music is still producing the most diverse pieces of sonic experiences than any other genre out there.

Regarding synths, I could never really afford one, and I started my journey using computers. Many years went by before I could afford some hardware gear, and then I really wanted to get eurorack modules.

How did you get into modular synthesis? Can you tell us a bit more about your current set-up?

I got interested in sound synthesis using Native Instruments Generator (now called Reaktor). That’s how I was learning the basics. At the same time, I was also interested in programming, mostly computer graphics, and generative art. All that got me thinking more and more in abstract terms about music creation processes. Also, computer based user interfaces were a big source of frustration and distraction for me creatively. I realized that I really wanted to get into eurorack modular.
First modules I got were 2 oscillators and a filter. Not much, but you can create all sorts of interesting things with that alone. And then I got more over time.

I don’t really have a set-up… it’s more like collection of modules moving around. I am currently developing some new modules with a friend, so some modules end up in the electronics lab, others move around while experimenting with different ideas and so on. Possibly there will never be a fixed set-up for me. I often change the layout so it makes sense for specific idea. Although, I have set up separate control rack that has useful user input modules like sliders, touch plates and so on, and use Doepfer Muticore modules to distribute CV signals to specific controls in the patch I want to record. This makes it possible to position yourself comfortably in front of the speakers and dive deep into soundscapes. This creates much better experience for me while playing and recording.

Your “Gradient Series” releases have so far been focused on pursuing the minimal techno aesthetic…is there any plan for a  follow up? On the other side, you seem to be have been involved in a handful of projects with guitarist David Lovrić …can you tell us more about that, and about your experience of working with moving images.

All the projects you’re mentioning were produced during a very productive period for me when my dear friends, David Lovrić and Marko Bokulić, and me rented a house in a village near Zagreb. This was such a wonderful environment for creativity. We had space, nature and time. And it was difficult to be too loud. Most importantly, we had nice music listening space in the living room with decently calibrated system. I also set up a small studio space in my room. So I would just go into this feedback loop of experimenting and recording all sorts of things, listening sessions, and recording some more…
‘Gradient Series’ was created using really simple but flexible modular patch. I recorded lots of material and some got selected to be published as ‘Gradient Series’. I am not really sure if there will be more parts. But there will definitely be more techno recordings in the future.

Idea behind collaboration with David Lovrić was to create a modular patch which would have guitar signal as only sound source that would be processed in different ways to add either complexity or context to original signal. You can think of it as really complicated guitar effect processor, or as huge instrument operated by two people. We had so much fun experimenting with this set-up, and learned a lot trough improvisation and listening exercises. We also came up with all sorts of really inspiring guitar sound effects. ‘The Box’ is collection of some interesting moments from those sessions compiled as imaginary movie soundtrack.

During that time I also got to know Jelena Oroz, who soon became love of my life. She was working on her animated short film ‘Two for Two’. She needed sound design for the film so David and I presented our experiments and got hired. The main idea was not to use any samples, but rather synthesize all sounds from scratch using guitar and modular. So absolutely everything was recorded from modular system. Even the character speech was also a patch using granular processing and voice to create abstract non existing language.

Music from Gradient Series

Two for Two by Jelena Oroz

You are the only artist featured in the comp who has his own channel with youtube tutorials for working on Eurorack. What kind of sounds did you explore so far, in the few episodes you’ve released, and are there any interesting anectodes or feedback you’ve got related to it?

Youtube videos are fantastic way to learn about modular. You can see the system and how it’s patched, but also see how it gets used and hear the results. And it is no surprise that it is so popular in the community. I just always felt that there was a missing format of eurorack modular videos that show modular synthesis concepts in more detail. My videos are all about the process of getting from abstract ideas to functional eurorack patches (or just subsystems), and trying to think procedurally in patch designs. I present some idea, and then create a patch step by step explaining my thought process as best as I can. I also try to explain any technical details of each step that seem important.

It is quite different from usual fast-paced youtube stuff 🙂 It is more like an old, patient man slowly crafting the thing, sharing knowledge and excitement about the concept along the way 🙂 … But this is how I would like to learn, and therefore, I thought that there should be other people looking for this kind of material.

Anyway, I got lot of positive feedback in comments and over private messages. It is such a pleasure seeing that people are using it and learn from it. It is also nice to think that I put something of value back into the community which gave me so much information and knowledge over the years.

Can you tell us something about your track “Waiting for Dorian” from the upcoming Popscotch compilation?

Conceptual idea behind this composition was to illustrate the feeling of urgency and confusion, and different kinds of thoughts piling up in my mind while probably the most complex system in the universe is being created. It was made while I was waiting for my son Dorian to be born. From the technical perspective, I was experimenting with the idea of modulating the stereo image of few similar, but sonically different, sequences and with different rates of modulation. When those sequences overlap, unusual interactions between sounds occur, and interesting rhythmical patterns emerge. The relative level of those sequences also dramatically change the perspective of the listener in relation to the sonic environment as a whole. For me, it is really exciting that such complex results can be easily achieved with relatively simple set of variables. I hope our listeners will also enjoy it.

How did the entire situation with the pandemic  affect your musical / professional life?

So far, I was lucky enough that it didn’t affect me personally in musical or professional sense. Currently, my main focus is to build a nest, a creative and productive environment for my family. But generally, I feel disappointed in the way society as a whole handles the situation. As a parent, I am increasingly worried about problems which require global action and long term thinking.