Featured Story - Sohodolls
The Sohodolls' distinct brand of electro-glam-rock has won them a strong following. The bandís tracks Stripper and Iím Not Cool have been used in episodes of Gossip Girl, and Stripper is currently airing as soundtrack to a Max Factor TV advert, while the track My Vampire is accompanying trailers for the TV show Vampire Diaries.
Sohodolls keyboard player Steve Weston, who also tours with Ladyhawke as her live synth player, has recently added a Moog Little Phatty Stage II to his array of synths. His collection also includes some vintage classics like the Korg MS2000B Ė an analogue monster Ė a Yamaha TX81Z and a Yamaha DS55, both of which are four-oscillator FM synths similar to the Yamaha DX-7. We caught up with Steve in Metropolis Studios where he couldnít wait to tell us about the new synth in his life.
ďWith Ladyhawke we did the US Perez Hilton tour, and one of the support bands (Natalie Portmanís Shaved Head), were using two Little Phattys. During their soundcheck I heard one track that had an amazing bass sound. I got chatting to them, and because we were on tour with them for six weeks, I ended up getting to play their Little Phatty. So I knew that when I got back I wanted one. Then I saw Little Boots using a Little Phatty live, through a Trace Elliot bass amp and thought it sounded wicked.Ē
The Little Phatty Stage II is a 100% analogue synth with two voltage-controlled oscillators, a voltage-controlled filter and a solid three-octave keyboard controller. The two analogue oscillators have strong Moog heritage with the famed bottom-end warmth, which attracted Steve to the synth. ďI havenít put it into the Ladyhawke set yet,Ē says Steve. ďI started using it on Professional Suicide in rehearsal which has real deep bass, but sheís gone off to write a second album, so when we start again Iíll incorporate it into the live rig.Ē
Unlike his studio rig, Steveís live rig doesnít include much hardware, but the Little Phatty will be making it onto the tour bus: ďWith Ladyhawke I perform with Logicís Mainstage, with soft synths and the MicroKorg, which is why Iím planning to get the Moog in to make the sound bigger and give it that something extra.Ē
Having purchased the Little Phatty to cover bass duties, Steve has been impressed by the instruments versatility: ďAt the moment I mostly use mine straight into the desk, and Iíve also put it through my practice amp, which sounds great. Even though I bought it for bass Iím mainly using it for lead at the moment. You can get this really fantastic 'wobbly' sound with the portamento, which is what Iím using it for.Ē
Steve is always listening out for sounds coming from the bands around him, taking inspiration from any great sounds he hears and trying to reproduce them on his synths back in the studio: ďIím programming lead sounds at the moment along the same vein as The Passion Pit. Iím pretty sure they must use a Little Phatty live because the kind of sounds Iím getting are just like theirs: wobbly LFO on the filter, a bit of portamento on the lead. Itís the best hardware synth Iíve used for that kind of lead sound.Ē
The Little Phatty is equipped with a classic Moog filter, which along with the oscillators, is considered to be what gives the instruments their instantly recognisable character: ďI like the fact that when you put the resonance up on the filter, and then filter sweep, it gets quieter at the same time. So if you put a low-pass filter on the sound with the resonance really low, the volume will stay the same - but with a high resonance you can hear it getting quieter. Which is cool because you can make these wobbly bass-lines which, when you filter it like that, makes the volume move as well, adding an extra motion to the sound. I havenít heard that on anything else before.Ē
As well as preparing sounds for an upcoming tour with Ladyhawke, Steve is in the studio with Sohodolls and the Little Phatty: ďWith the Sohodolls, Iím using it loads on our second album, which weíre writing at the moment with producer Dimitri Tikovoi, who's worked with Placebo, The Horrors & John Cale.Ē
The killer sounds of the Little Phatty are perfectly matched for the electro-rock that Sohodolls have become known for, so itís no surprise that Steve is looking to add some Moogerfooger pedals to his rack: ďI wish I had a Moogerfooger, I really want one of the filters and the ring modulator looks pretty sweet as well.Ē
Look out for Steve and his Moog Little Phatty on tour with Ladyhawke and Sohodolls later this year.