Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use

Plugins I Actually Use: Max Tundra

The influential hyperpop pioneer shares his plugins and techniques and talks re-issuing and remixing a trio of albums.

Max Tundra is credited by today’s hyerpop liturgy as being one of the first producers to spearhead the genre. His albums, Some Best Friend You Turned Out To Be (2000), Mastered By Guy At The Exchange (2002) and Parallax Error Beheads You (2008) influenced the likes of A.G. Cook, who appears on Max’s remix album, called Remixtape. Max is also re-issuing his albums to inspire a new generation.

So, it’s time for the mighty Max Tundra to open up his DAW and tell us all about the plugins he loves and how he uses them. Hyperpop fans, we’re going to hyperspeed.

Hello Max Tundra! It’s fantastic to see you re-issue old work and re-jig your discography through this remix album. Why did you choose the remixers you chose and how can you describe the new energy they’ve injected into the tracks?

Thank you! I wanted to see what a selection of today’s future pop purveyors would make of my ageing source material – am happy to say they made it bang.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use

Tell us about why you’ve reissued these three albums, Some Best Friend You Turned Out To Be, Mastered By Guy At The Exchange and Parallax Error Beheads You. Is there another on the horizon, perhaps?

I noticed that several people were citing my music as influential, even saying it had given rise to the whole “hyperpop” phenomenon. It felt like the time was right to hurl these records back into the spotlight. I say “back”, but I guess they’ve never really been in the said spotlight.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use

Where is your music made and are you more DAW-based or hardware-based?

My music is made at home. Long before I discovered the world of plugins, I made the first three Max Tundra albums using a Commodore Amiga 500, on which I was running a public domain tracker sequencer called Med (a predecessor to Octamed). I had a MIDI interface for the Amiga, which controlled various outboard gear, including an Akai S1000 sampler (which I eventually upgraded to an S3000), a Nord Lead 3 synth and various acoustic instruments including a Fender Rhodes, melodica, mbire, etc. One day a friend introduced me to Renoise, a modern-day reimagining of tracker sequencers, and I promptly chucked the Amiga on eBay, got myself a ThinkPad and never looked back.

These days I’m entirely DAW-based, though the Nord Lead 3 is resting in the attic, should I ever feel inspired to dust it down. I used Renoise for almost all my sequencing, with occasional forays into Reaper for arranging stuff, notably where vocals are involved. You can hear my Renoise-based work on Daphne & Celeste Save The World, which was entirely sequenced on this beautiful modern tracker.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use

What’s your latest plugin purchase?

Zynaptiq Pitchmap. It’s such a recent purchase that I haven’t actually used it yet. I saw Si Begg post an amazing clip of it in action on Instagram about it and couldn’t resist. It looks totally delirious – I should imagine it was definitely worth the not-inconsiderable purchase value.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use

What’s the best free plugin you own?

Blockfish. Used to use it all the time on pretty much every mixer channel. As mentioned, the three Max Tundra albums are from my “pre-plugins” era, so it’s not actually on any Tundra tracks, though listen closely to Daphne & Celeste Save The World and you may spot it.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use

What’s the best value plugin you own?

Soundtoys Effect Rack. Astonishingly versatile in terms of bang for buck. Easy to find an application for it in any situation.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use
Effects Rack

What’s the most expensive plugin you’ve ever bought? Was it worth the money? Why?

Probably Arturia Synclavier V. Very much worth the money. I’m a huge fan of Jazz From Hell, by Frank Zappa – have always coveted a real Synclavier since hearing that, so this plugin is the next best thing.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use
Synclavier V

What’s a DAW stock plugin you use all the time?

Renoise has a lovely built-in convolution reverb plugin called Convolver. Very low-CPU, as are all the Renoise tools.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use

What plugins go on your master bus without fail?

Waves L1+ Ultramaximizer Stereo, sometimes a kiss of u-He Presswerk or Waves J37 Stereo if I’m wanting a tape sound.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use
L1 + Ultramaximiser

Why did you decide to include a piano rework of The Entertainment? On what piano was this played?

Whenever I remix other people’s music (see here for examples) I always attempt to completely transform the source material. What’s the point in a remix that timidly toes the line and just sounds like a vague rehash of the original? So when the opportunity came to remix my own track, I thought: “What’s the furthest point from the parallel universe eurotrance mutation that is The Entertainment?” And the answer to that was a melancholy instrumental piano tribute. The piano in question is a beautiful upright Kemble, in pride of place in my lounge.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use
Kemble Piano

Do you have any secret sauce plugins?

SketchCassette II by Aberrant DSP is an absolute beauty, though I recommend using sparingly. Almost nothing is used on everything, just to keep things sounding fresh every time – though Kontakt usually crops up all over the shop.

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use
Sketch Cassette II

What about a guilty pleasure plugin?

Vulf Compressor. It just makes everything bounce!

Max Tundra's Plugins I Actually Use
Vulf Compressor

What do you use without fully understanding?

Dexed by Digital Suburban – it’s a DX7 simulator. Really intimidating interface – one of those things where you just have to muck about for a bit and see what happens.

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