Remembering Listmaker [Part One]

24 Mar

By 1997, I had already been performing live as Listmaker in various bars and student unions around Glasgow.

I had been using an Amiga 1200 running ProTracker, which I thought was great. ProTracker v3.10B came on the cover diskette of Amiga Format magazine (along with a second diskette featuring a demo of the absolutely awesome game Syndicate). That particular issue of the magazine was really inspirational as it focused on creating music and animations, with several tutorials. Obviously I couldn’t wait to get started, and after a year or two of using ProTracker I had hundreds of tracks made.

Click on the disc to read about the software:


Christmas 1996, I received an amazing gift of a Yamaha RY30 drum machine. Programming the machine was second nature after spending such a long time with ProTracker, and it wasn’t long before I realised that I could write tracks using the drum machine and ProTracker together. My only limitation was that I had no way of automatically synchronising the two machines, as the Amiga had no MIDI interface. However, I found that by manually increasing and decreasing the tempo of the drum machine using the buttons on the front, I could keep the two machines in sync. This meant that I could use all four channels of Amiga audio for melodies and sound effects, whilst keeping the drum tracks on the Yamaha.

Click on the image to read about the equipment:

Yamaha RY30

The Listmaker sound was becoming bigger! Whilst studying at the University of Glasgow, I was staying in student halls of residence. The drum machine and my Amiga kept me entertained. I didn’t have a TV or games console in my room, and I didn’t need one. I set about playing gigs around the city. I performed at the QMU on the same stage I’d seen Aphex Twin perform on, and I played gigs at Strathclyde and Caledonian University student unions…

After dropping out of university to earn money as a landscape gardener in Ayr in 1997, I lost the momentum that I’d built up whilst living in Glasgow. However, I had soon saved up enough money to buy my first synthesizer and sampler. The next additions to the Listmaker sound were a Yamaha CS1x synth, and a Yamaha SU10 sampler.

Click on the images to read about the equipment:

Yamaha CS1XYamaha SU10

By this time, I’d also acquired Bars & Pipes Pro software and a decent MIDI interface. ProTracker was shelved and the Listmaker sound started to become much more professional. I was young and enthusiastic. I read copies of Future Music magazine and Sound On Sound magazine religiously. I had become an electronic music fanatic, and was happier at home in my studio producing than I was going out and socialising. The times that I did leave the house were either to work or to spend time at fellow electronic music producer Galaxis Quench’s studio in Ayr. It was through Quench that I managed to track down an original Korg MS10 synthesizer. At the same time, he found himself a Moog Rogue!

Click on the image to read about the equipment:

Korg MS10

Up until this point I’d been storing everything on Amiga 1200 diskettes and recording my tracks to cassette tape, on my grandfather’s old TASCAM two-track. After several of my master recordings got chewed up and transformed into a garbled tapemess fit for nothing but the bin, I realised that I’d need to upgrade to storing digital masters in order to preserve my work. Unable to afford a DAT recorder or any other digital master format, I settled on a Sony MiniDisc recorder. Regrettably, the compression used to fit the audio onto the media wasn’t the best quality (MiniDisc uses lossy compression) but it was a thousand times more reliable than cassette tape!

I set about converting my good tape masters to MiniDisc, and began writing music fervently. Inspired by my developing studio, seemingly limitless audio possibilities (after squeezing as much as I could out of very little equipment prior to leaving Glasgow), I put together my first complete EP, entitled “insynk” as a celebratory reference to my progression from a couple of manually synchronised machines to a fully synchronised studio…


3 Responses to “Remembering Listmaker [Part One]”

  1. tkmorin March 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Wow! Thanks for looki back!! 🙂

  2. Neil Macdonald March 25, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    I remember when you played the Arena, on Oswald Street, and a bunch of us – including Calum Craig – went into the Quarter Gill for a pint before hand. I think we were pretty mashed, because I’m sure we otherwise would not have… The woman behind the bar told us “All the young ones are upstairs”, so we went up, and two dozen neds stopped what they were doing to stare at the monged-out spacemen who’d just intruded on their turf. On our way back down the stairs, one of them appeared at the top of the stairs and bellowed “Tell that boy with the black man’s hair to come back up here”. Being the only attendee with dreadlocks, I ran off outside and finished my pint behind a van further along Midland Street, until the rest of our party finally came out into the night. It was also a great show.

    • flyinsaucepan March 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks for reminding me of that one! And thanks so much for putting it up as a comment on this blog! If only I could track down posters/flyers… There were loads of gigs in Glasgow, and a few in Ayr too; one at Jonesy’s in Nile Court (now Harley’s) and one at the Cafe Bizarre on Smith Street, up on the mezzanine!

      There was a life-sized plastic cow hangin’ from the ceiling in there.

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