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Modular Profile: Corry Banks (aka Bboytech)

Modular Profile: Cory BanksPhoto: Laith Majali

American musician and technologist Corry Banks, aka Bboytech, is the driving force behind Modbap, the company responsible for tremendously well‑received modules like the Trinity drum array and new Meridian dual filter. “Made for Eurorack. Dope enough for boombap!” goes the LA‑based developer’s slogan, which itself grew out of BeatPPL; a self‑described “boutique sound design and beat‑maker’s lifestyle brand”. Modbap, you may have twigged, is a portmanteau of ‘modular’ and ‘boombap’, geared towards performance‑oriented instruments that prioritise the needs of DJs and beat‑makers.

On his entry into modular

I began exploring the world of modular music equipment around 2015 or 2016. My interest was sparked by some friends and online communities where the latest and greatest nerdcore gear was being discussed — particularly Eurorack. I had been primarily exploring those things so I could write about them on my blog and keep up with the latest trends in music production. I realised that modular synthesis appeals to my love for technology and my passion for making beats. This sparked my interest in exploring modular systems and expanding my own sound and production skills. I found that the act of physically patching can turn experimentation into a valuable learning experience.

On his go‑to modules

Currently, my top picks are Qu‑Bit Chord v2 and Data Bender. The Make Noise Morphagene is another standout module that I love using. It makes performances fun where you can manipulate time, so to speak, and bring back moments of experimentation to mangle sounds performatively. Also, I find a good low‑pass gate fundamental for my music, as it breathes new life into those plucky arpeggios I love so much. I’ve been using the Tenderfoot Pinhl triple LPG for so long now that it’s essential to my setup.

On boombap and Eurorack

At first, boombap and Eurorack may not appear to be an obvious or typical combination. But I have always preferred incorporating synth lines into my beats, even when sampling vinyl. I enjoy enhancing sample‑based beats with synths. While others may rely solely on modular synthesis, I prefer to keep my MPC at the centre of my musical universe for sequencing, sampling and performance purposes. Old habits die hard, I guess! I integrated Eurorack into my boombap beat‑making process, allowing me to experiment and produce results outside of my typical realm of composition. I find myself naturally drawn to the foundational boombap beat‑making concepts that are at the core of my process. On the other hand, I also appreciate the sonic exploration and experimentation that comes with using Eurorack, which sometimes leads to unintended but exciting results. That juxtaposition of the two in the creative process is what inspires me.

On the Modbap Meridian

The inspiration for the Meridian design came from the analogue rackmount filters of the ’90s and early ’00s that were popular among hip‑hop, jungle, drum & bass and house music producers and DJs. The idea behind the Meridian is to have a filter that can be quickly configured with unique effects such as drive and crush, as well as a phase‑shifter and stereo panning for added movement. In the digital domain, there’s more flexibility regarding filtering. It’s easily configurable, meaning it has two sides that let you choose from four filter types and four filter modes, dual mono or stereo mixing and parallel or serial routing. All this with just a few button clicks. Given its flexible interface, I wanted the Meridian to have the ability to save and retrieve at least four presets. The Meridian is also ping‑able, which allows for activation and control of its unique resonance dynamics. Overall, the Meridian is my ideal performance filter with a lot packed into just 14HP.

Corry Banks: This community is made up of musicians, experimentalists, live performers and hobbyists who are both artistic and tech‑savvy.

On the culture of modular

What’s great about the modular community are its supportive and collaborative aspects. This community is made up of musicians, experimentalists, live performers and hobbyists who are both artistic and tech‑savvy. It resonates with me because the community sort of perfectly embodies my own journey, in both the tech and music spheres. Being of hip‑hop culture and living a tech life of sorts, I felt the need to keep my passion for technology separate from my passion for beat‑making and MC’ing. I eventually realised that there was no need to silo these aspects of my life. When I discovered modular synthesis I felt right at home in this world of experimental music, art and technology. There also seems to be a positive trend towards inclusivity; I mean, I am the proprietor of the first Black‑owned modular synth brand, so it’s heartening to see a growing emphasis on representation and inclusion in the modular community.