Tourist reveals his “holy trinity of synths”: “I don’t need anything more than these three”

Hint: none of them are modular…

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Tourist AKA Will Phillips

Image: Noam Galai / Getty Images

More isn’t always better when it comes to gear, and for Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Tourist, his “holy trinity of synths” delivers pretty much everything he needs to make the music he wants.

Speaking to MusicRadar in his new London studio, Tourist shares his love for keeping things simple when it comes to music-making, having recently gotten rid of a bunch of gear he wasn’t using.

“I’ve just sold a [Sequential] Prophet-6, I’ve just sold a Moog Matriarch, I’ve sold loads of stuff that I just didn’t use, because I think I really love a knob per function,” he says.

“I love the immediacy of that, I love the ability to see the sound in the faders, to know there’s no menus behind anything. Some people love that, and I’m just not of that mind. I try to work really quickly and I want to be able to make sounds without any kind of hesitation.”

As far as his go-to synths are concerned, Tourist names the Roland Juno-106, Minimoog, Sequential Prophet-5 as his “holy trinity of synths” – each one serving a “completely different purpose”.

The synths all “have completely different sounds,” says the musician. “I don’t want any overlap in my synths. They all serve a specific purpose for me. If I need a bass sound, it’s the Moog or the Juno, if I need a mono pad sound, it’s the Moog, if I want a poly pad sound, it’s the Juno or the Prophet. They all feel different, they all have loads of different character.”

“The Juno-106, that was the first ever expensive gear purchase for myself… Then I bought the Minimoog after I finished my first album. That thing I can’t go without now. Then the Prophet-5 I bought probably a year after this,” Tourist continues.

“The Juno is out of action at the moment, it doesn’t work. It’s a battered, bruised thing. My first album was all Juno, my second album was the Juno and the Moog, and all the following albums were a mixture of all three. I never get bored of them. That, to me, is the holy trinity of synths – I don’t need anything more than those three.”

“I’m obviously not doing FM synthesis, or anything like that, and I do have a modular synth, but it’s just a nightmare for me — I spend too much time messing with the synth and not making music.”

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