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When Lola became Ana – how Zero-G’s Vocaloid created a lead singer…
We always enjoy hearing customers’ examples of their projects where they’ve incorporated sample libraries or virtual instruments from our brands but earlier this year we received a particularly interesting parcel from the United States.
Robert Hedin introduced us to Anarobik – the lead singer and ‘stage name’ of his electronic music projects who has been created using Zero-G’s Lola Vocaloid software. We caught up with Robert to find out why he chose to use Lola and how the software has morphed into Ana…
First up, could you tell us about yourself and your musical background?
I started creating music in the ’80s when I was bored with University, studying Electrical Engineering, I needed a creative outlet that was not providing. A couple underground cassette albums were released during that time. I had a few tracks on compilation CDs in the early part of the ’90s, which lead to my first commercial release under the moniker of Sister Friction in 1998. A remix album was released the following year. I then took a hiatus to concentrate on my personal life. I did one remix under the name of anaROBIK in 2005, before I even knew that I would be using a Vocaloid for ana’s voice. I started to develop the image, concept and album artwork for ana in 2007, and by the end of 2008 I was starting to write and record. Initially I was just going to release a single with remixes, and then it looked like an EP was going to happen, and then it seemed like ana needed a more complete story which lead to the album Operator’s Manual released in Summer 2010. This was followed by the remix album (Operator’s Manual Addendum: The Remixes) in Spring 2011. Up next are a passel of videos for album and remix tracks which will further develop ana’s image and story.
How did Vocaloid Lola first come to your attention? What was it about the product that prompted you to buy it?
I’m sure I discovered Lola by browsing the internet. I had the concept of anaROBIK several years before I had the idea of using a Vocaloid. Once I started listening to the demos of Vocaloids, it became obvious rather quickly that Vocaloid was the technology of choice, and Lola was the one I wanted to work with. I think she has the most versatile voice that can be placed in a very wide range of musical settings, and it just seems to work. I really wanted a voice that allows me a lot of creative freedom, I didn’t want to be stylistically trapped by a voice, and I don’t feel that I am with Lola.
What are your favourite features of the product?
I keep ana’s vocals very simple. She is not a flashy singer. I like the fact that I can program her voice in a pretty straight forward fashion and it’s pretty much what I want in the end. I don’t find that I have to do any micro-edits to timing, or pitch, that’s all being handled very well by the software. I like the fact that her voice does bend from note to note like a human and doesn’t have the auto-tuned “snapped into tune” sound that seems inescapable today in pop music. No, I’m not a fan of auto-tune, it seems a bit out of control.
Have you used any of the other Vocaloid ‘voices’?
No, I haven’t. I’d rather focus on one and try to bring out the best it has to offer, and focus on developing a personality and story for that voice.
Would you go so far as to say Lola has actually inspired some of your tracks?
I wouldn’t say that the Vocaloid itself has inspired tracks, but the exploration and creation of ana’s personality has. Vocaloid Lola just happens to be ana’s voice. In my mind, the voice is not Lola anymore, she has been completely transformed into ana.
If you were to create a new ‘Vocaloid’, what would be your ideal character/voice?
Well, I would have to be selfish and suggest something inspired by vocalists/artists such as Alison Goldfrapp and Roisin Murphy. When I work on ana I tend to keep them in the back of my mind, or even hope they’re looking over my shoulder with approval. :)
What other plug-ins and/or samples do you use when creating your tracks?
All synth sound are hardware-based. Things that show up are Moog Voyager, Roland Juno-60, Yamaha FS1R, Emu Audity 2000, Korg Wavestation, Waldorf Microwave XT, Roland D2, Emu Emax, Yamaha SY85 and Roland Jupiter 6. Most of the drums are samples played by NI Battery. In short, we tend the minimize the use of soft synths or samples (except for drums). The next album will feature even more hardware such as a Sequential Pro One, Waldorf Pulse Plus, Roland MC-909 and Casio FZ-20.