July 14, 2020

Diving into modular with Heymun

Heymun is a musician who creates peaceful, ambient studio explorations. In this interview, she shares her songwriting process, studio setup, and how she began her journey into the world of modular.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on my next weekly video upload for my Youtube channel which has been my form of emotional therapy haha and gear adventure. I especially love sharing my explorations of the gear that I am new to on my channel. I have realised that making videos is how my mind enjoys learning, utilising, and understanding a piece of gear. My most recent additions are the Wave ring and Wavefront module so the last 2 videos have been about exploring and getting to know them better. I am having lots of fun!I have also finished writing and producing my album. I want to release it this year.


How do you approach songwriting?

Songwriting has always been a way for me to fully digest and truly understand how I am feeling inside because I have a reserved and at times delayed reaction to things. When something is happening especially if it's sad or intense, I have realised that during that exact moment I tend to go into autopilot mode. I try my best to stay calm, not react, keep my feelings inside on the back burner but it then, of course, always builds up. Like a human sponge, I absorb things and that gets heavy so songwriting has been a way to release that pressure, let things out peacefully.

Most of the time when I am writing a song, I really don't know why the lyrics come to mind the way they do. Only after it's finished that I realise it is my delayed response to something that happened and I am finally responding to it. My lyrics are usually in metaphors, I guess that's how I capture what has happened in my perspective, in my own codes. I think the process of releasing music has also turned a lot of pain into healing because you start to make real connections with people who feel the same way. When I get messages saying my music sounds comforting, healing, or like a sad smile with both darkness and lightness, I feel that they really see me, we see each other and we connect with all of that. I am really grateful that songwriting can do that, it brings our community closer, we create and heal together. That is why songwriting is my favourite form of connecting, journaling and therapy so starting with no pressure, honesty and vulnerability is how I approach it.


Tell us about your studio setup. What gear are you using and how did you come about naming your gear?

Thank you for noticing! I always beam a little inside when anyone calls my gear by their names. When I saw the comment from Genki Instrument's saying "Frankie" on my Wavefront + Wave ring Youtube video, I was so happy, thank you.


I love naming all my gear. I believe each gear has its own unique personality. It actually all started with "Larry" my studio companion cup that has the cutest smiley face on it. It was the first decorative item I got when I finished setting up my studio. I spend a lot of time working alone in my studio, lots of long days, late nights and at times full weekends and "Larry" the cup would always be there keeping me company sitting on top of my left speaker. Its cute face is so wonderful to look at and is a reminder to take a break from staring at my screen. I introduced "Larry" on my Insta stories one day and from there the naming of gear took a life of its own.

It has become a bit of a fun thing, the community is super cool like that and they have also introduced their studio companions to me from around the world. I often pair my gear with each other in my exploration videos so their names then merge and it becomes, in an example, Frozzy ( Frankie the Eurorack + Ozzy the OP-Z) and from that sometimes I get gear pairing requests just by their names haha. I love it! So, I do keep those who are following me updated on new gear family members and during the unboxing of gear is usually when I have an idea for a name.


The gear that I am currently using are "Frankie" the Frankenstein Eurorack, "Ozzy" the OP-Z, "OP1(andonly)" the OP-1,  "Gran" the Grandmother Moog, "Poe" the PO Modular 400, "NaNa" the PO Modular 170, "Rolo" the Roland piano and my latest addition is "Ringo" the Wave ring! Honestly, the naming of gear extends to everything plus the chairs in the studio so I will just stop here! haha. The main setup on my studio desk is an iMac, Yamaha HS7's, Apogee Quartet, Neumann KMS 105 microphone and my DAW is Ableton, I love Ableton!

Heymun with some of her gear family: Larry, Frozzy, and Ringo.


What's next for you?

Keep making and sharing music alongside our beloved music community and release my album!


We are fans of your YouTube page's ambient explorations. How did you get into modular?

Thank you so much, I am grateful and happy to hear that. I am really fascinated with the world of modular. I find it so mesmerising and limitless but also quickly found that my budget was very limited. I suffer from serious G.A.S (Gear Acquiring Syndrome) like everyone else haha so I knew I had to ease my way in slowly. I started with the Moog Apps to VCV rack to Arturia Buchla Easel V,  just a little taste of it virtually then I started to get into semi-modular via the Grandmother Moog. I also loved researching DIY kits like the Buchla 208 on forums because I adore the Buchla Music Easel and am so curious about it. So, all that curiosity and not enough of a budget to make moves on any of the modular grid "rackdreams" I had put together (story of our lives) but then one beautiful day Teenage Engineering released their PO Modular series. For a newbie like me who was already a fan and user of Teenage Engineering via the OP-1, seeing the price, the opportunity to build it and how many modules the PO 400 came with, I "add to cart" and checked out so fast.

That was the beginning. My start into modular.


I was experiencing modular for the first time via the PO 400  and I was sharing all of my processes, from build to explorations to modular music on Instagram and I started to feel the presence of similar people who wanted a way into modular but didn't know where to start and I also felt the presence of the awesome people of Teenage Engineering. Months later I was approached to be a Teenage Engineering mentor, I said yes and that reinforced my desire to keep learning, sharing my explorations, chatting with our community and also dive deeper into modular from there.


In March this year, I started my own little Eurorack named "Frankie". "Frankie" is an Intellijel palette with 2 Mutable Instruments modules Marbles + Plaits and that was as far as my budget could take me for the time being. Without any blank panel plates, there's a gaping hole in "Frankie's" Eurorack body haha but I think that "Frankie" is so beautiful anyway and I am happy to make the most of it so I started to create and share my ambient modular music exploring both Plaits +  Marbles.

I was surprised and grateful that "Frankie" was mentioned on The Verge website in a modular article recently because that connected me to some passionate modular friends who ask often, How's Frankie doing? What will your next module be? They are always so keen to talk about their favourite modules, share their explorations and it is that kind of enthusiasm that is so intoxicatingly fun about the modular and music world. I’ve always replied, if I am able to add another module, a performance, tap, touch, interactive, basically any module that allows that human touch when it comes to expression would be great cause I always knew that I wanted to interact with "Frankie" like that and not long after, my wish came true. The Wavefront module came into the picture and with that "Frankie" now has its third module. I am blown away by what the Wavefront module can do alongside the Wave ring.


Check out Heymun's music:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/HEYMUN

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1xLpJted2yDEGuTSwQGnL3?si=hpYqic4yRiCr7gf6up8SMA

Instagram: www.instagram.com/heymunmusic/

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