Ben Hinz (also known as Aen) is a true artist, the man behind Dwarfcraft Devices & Devi Ever FX.
With his ideas he wants to push the boundaries of music and he’s very good at it.
It’s always interesting to hear Aen, you can so much to learn from him, so here it is…
– Can you please introduce us with Dwarfcraft Devices? What kind of Devices are you building ?
“I like to say we’re making new machines for new music, but I also think a lot of our stuff can be really useful in more traditional music. This whole thing started when I was searching for new sounds in my own music. We also make a very normal overdrive and a few fuzz pedals, but no one really cares much about those.”
– Aen you’re circuit tweaker & circuit bender who’s thinking “out of box”, artist among pedal builders. Would you like to share with us your way of creation new effects?
“A lot of my inspiration has always come from electronic music, so I’ve chased a lot of sounds that some would call synthetic, and right now we are working on a few things made from the building blocks of a synthesizer, but putting them in a more familiar stomp box format. I also get a lot of ideas while playing music, or occasionally even working on pedals. These days those are ideas for improved designs, but every once in a while there’s a “whole new thing.” I’ve also gotten to the point where I start thinking about sound or circuits as I fall asleep, and I do that strange slide into a dream. I’ve gotten a lot of good raw concepts that way.”
– Once you said that you’re looking for new sounds,” but nobody cares about music, only THINGS.” Can we change that fact ?
“Well, I don’t know, really. What I do know is that we’re trying to raise our kids right so they get it. Show them the power and value of music. I’m not sure how much further our influence can reach, neither one of us is popular enough on the internet to sway anyone’s opinions or actions. We just try hard to live our lives in a way that supports music and art, and encourage that in others.”
– I really like when you presenting your noise boxes with various instruments. Looks like you have a lot of fun or “the best job”. How does it look like your typical day at work?
“We get in about 8:30, put on a pot of coffee, and from there, it’s pretty hard to predict. I hate the morning with the heat of a thousand suns, so I usually try to do some easy, detached computer related things so I don’t hurt anyone’s body or feelings. My main position is “creative director” so I’m trying to steer a lot of ships at once. I usually tend to some emergency level stuff early on, and then get into visual designs, circuit brainstorming, promo art, and whatever is required. Lately I’ve been doing a fair amount of building, too, since we’ve gotten a lot of big orders with our new releases. I am currently working on manuals for all our pedals, art for the next batch of releases, and finalizing the circuit features and such for them. There is never a dull moment.”
– Dwarfcraft Devices recently released 4 new pedals. Can you tell us more about them ?
“We’re kind of doing 3 “little buddies” and a behemoth. The Paraloop is a parallel effects router that I just wanted for myself, and it didn’t seem like there was a great option out there, so I got to designing!”
“The Wizard of Pitch is a descendant of our Pitch Grinder. It was intended to be very simple, just a pitch knob, blend, and volume. But thankfully our digital engineer Bob Lowe can always see more possibilities as he’s working, so we added a bunch of cool new stuff as we went. There are even some more tricks we didn’t put in just to keep the size and price reasonable.”
“The Minivan is something I actually resisted for quite a while. I knew we could probably do a PT2399 delay, but there are already so many good echoes out there built off that chip. The idea of the insert loop to the feedback path was kind of the thing that pushed me forward”
“The behemoth here is the Silver Rose. This was something we redesigned for the Devi Ever FX line, but adopted into the Dwarfcraft family. It’s a pretty classic voice, a super fuzz and an Eau Claire Thunder in one box, with an EQ circuit tacked on the end. Just great damn distortion.”
– Are you a collector of pedal effects, amps, guitars or any other instruments?
“I have built up quite an arsenal of effects pedals, and to a lesser extent instruments. I don’t really think of myself as a collector though. To me, a collector’s goal is attained when the object is acquired. In my case each piece of gear is chosen for a specific purpose. Getting The Thing is just a pain in the ass. The real goal is to get it in that piece of music I’ve been writing in my notebook for a year. Now, Dwarfcraft Devices has made a few trades that had nothing to do with my musical needs, but that’s part of doing business, and making friends in the industry.”
– If you are what is favorite piece of gear that you own?
“Easy. My 66 Fender Coronado II. I found it for a crazy price in Duluth, MN. Long story short, I tried very hard to convince my wife to let me buy it, and eventually she pulled out the credit card. It’s become a real symbol of her faith in me and our business. I store a few other keepsakes in the case, so it’s becoming a bit of a shrine. It also shoots air out of the F holes when you get it good and loud, so that’s a bonus.”
– You are a guitar player so how does your pedalboard look like at the moment ?
“You’re about to be pretty disappointed… We just added a fourth person to my band, The Ronald Raygun, so I’m traveling light these days. This is always in flux though, by the time this info goes public it will probably be different.”
“One of the key ingredients here is the One Control Chameleo Loop. It’s a programmable bypass looper. I tried to set up without it, but the songs we’re playing out have way too many quick drastic changes for me to do them one switch at a time. I guess when you write an album with a switching system you have to play it with a switching system.”
“I have the fancier crybaby wah, with extra knobs and a boost, but I pretty much just set it up to sound like my original. The big gold box is full of modified Dwarfcraft circuits, The Internet, Eau Claire Thunder, and Surrender Dorothy.”
“Then a Wizard of Pitch prototype replaces my Pitch Grinder that I was using before. I used them both in a very noisy way, so either one does the job. Actually the Wizard reared it’s head into some new parts, for octave up touches.”
“Super Ego. For big synthy pads made out of guitar! A Minivan Echo prototype. It’s a bit louder than it needs to be. And The Dr. Scientist Reverberator. I will sing this pedal’s praises every time. It’s tiny. It’s affordable. t sounds great. IT HAS A VOLUME BOOST. I have bigger fancier reverbs, but this one was on the floor when we wrote the album, so it stays on the board on stage!”
“And the old Loop Station. I’m a big fan of asynchronous looping, and this is how I’m doing it these days. Previously I would do a stereo amp setup and have a looper in each amp for some real dense wall of sound shit, but with a 4th voice in the band, that became superfluous.”
– Do you have any favorite effects combos ?
Wah>Fuzz>Delay all day.
“One of my other favorites is a real dense fuzz like the Eau Claire Thunder into our HAX ring mod. The HAX gets all kinds of confused and glitches out, jumping from pitch to pitch. I love to confuse the machines.”
– Your TOP 10 pedal effects of all time:
In no particular order…
1. Line 6 DL4
2. Crybaby Wah
3. Dwarfcraft Eau Claire Thunder (deal with it)
4. MXR analog delay (Late 70’s I think?)
5. EHX Cathedral Reverb
6. Moog 104m Analog Delay
7. Red Panda Particle
8. Dwarfcraft Gears (DEAL WITH IT)
9. EHX Super Ego
10. Whatever is coming next from Dwarfcraft.
– Some advice or message to all pedal users ?
“I would advise getting your hands on the knobs. Often we spend a lot of time just stomping on the switch, essentially just whacking presets on and off. I know I’ve had some great times,and come to some very satisfying new songs down on my knees cranking knobs in the heat of a jam. By yourself is cool too, but the rush of ducking down and potentially derailing the whole vibe can up the energy in the room quite a bit.”
“My other tip is to try different instruments with a couple pedals. When I’m testing our stuff before it ships out I LOVE hooking up a drum machine or a synth to a strange combo of effects and freaking out for a bit. Good for the soul. Not always good for the rest of the people listening, but hey… I’m the Creative Director!”
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