I’m Kirk, and I’ve created this site as a way to share with you some of the synthesizers that I’ve collected over the years. Here’s some info about myself –
In 1988, I was 25 years old, had just about finished college, and had landed a well-paying full-time job. As I was single and had few responsibilities at the time, I bought my first synthesizer. My love of electronic music and synths began several years earlier.
I had been a fan of electronic music since early childhood – Walter Carlos’ Switched on Bach was probably one of the first significant records that I had heard on the radio as a small child. I started piano lessons at about age eight and was considered a good player for my age. As a gift for my piano teacher Mrs. Wilkins, my parents and I gave her a copy of Switched on Bach for Christmas. I checked it out of her lending library not too long after the holidays.
I continued piano lessons and joined a stage band in junior high school. The band instructor, Mr. Kvech, wanted someone to play the tuba in his stage band. I was big enough to carry a tuba, but I had no brass instrument experience. So he bought a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass for me to play. Along with it came a HUGE Peavey TNT 100 bass amp. The TNT 100 was just big enough to set the Piano Bass on top of the amp to use as a stand.
The Fender Rhodes Piano Bass was the first electronic instrument I played. With 32 keys and all the notes below middle C, the Piano Bass did an excellent job filling in for the tuba. You could get nice, tuba-like sounds out of it as well as or more “electronic” ones depending on how hard you struck the keys. Near the end of my junior high years, the school also had bought a Roland EP-30 Electric Piano. The EP-30 had two settings for Piano and two for Harpsichord. I found out that you can depress all four setting buttons at once to make it sound even cooler. I think I borrowed the EP-30 for much of the summer.
By the time high school came, I was pretty much tired of taking piano lessons, and I stopped shortly after that. But my interest in music continued.
I started junior high school in 1975. One day that year, my father suggested I tune into the local “album-oriented rock” FM radio station one day, to listen to a German band called Kraftwerk. The station played one entire side of the album, Autobahn. (That was back in the days when FM radio stations played complete sides of record albums, and at 7:30 in the evening at that!) Having already bought several Beatles albums, Switched on Bach, Wings over America, and the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the next one I bought was Autobahn. That was a couple of years after “Oxygene” by Jean Michel Jarre was released, which I found as well in my searches through the “Electronic Music” bins at my local record shops.
By the time I had finished high school in 1981, the Punk Rock era had started and died, Disco was on it’s way out, and the New Wave sound invaded pop music. And as electronic music played a large part in the New Wave movement, I was right there, eagerly buying albums that interested me.
Kraftwerk’s Man-Machine had already come out, and Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army was the next significant influence on me. Numan rounded out his trifecta of albums in the next year with Pleasure Principle and Telekon. A friend had already tipped me on to Tubeway Army in 1979, and then Gary appeared on NBC’s Saturday Night Live playing I’m Praying to the Aliens, and they played his video for Cars. I became a Numanoid for life.
And DEVO, I can’t forget DEVO. Who can forget Whip It and the rest of their 1979 Freedom of Choice album?
Despite these landmark albums, New Wave had not made it big in the USA until the summer of 1981, when Don’t You Want Me by The Human League made it to the charts. I became a fan of the League as well. A year later, while in college, Duran Duran made it big and became a favorite of mine as well.
The synths I’ve been drawn to tend to have been made during the 1970s and more so the early ’80s and often were the models used by my favorite bands. I’ve got more Roland gear than anything else – there is just something about Rolands that I like. Yes, they make great sounds, but I also like the look and function of them as well. Other synths I’ve bought were perhaps just because of good luck – like the ARP 2600 and Minimoog. Both were found second-hand in pawn shops. And the prices – the Minimoog I bought for only $195. Even in the late ’80s, that was an excellent price that could not be passed up!
Finally, I’ll close with some of the songs through the years that have inspired me, intrigued me, or that I just plain love – in no particular order:
The Beatles – I Am The Walrus
Walter Carlos – First Movement (Allegro) of Brandenburg Concerto Number 3.
The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
Gary Numan – I Dream of Wires
DEVO – Freedom of Choice
Kraftwerk – The Robots
Paul Hardcastle – 19
Propaganda – p:Machinery
Ladytron – Seventeen
Goldfrapp – Utopia
The Art of Noise – Close to the Edit
Duran Duran – Planet Earth
Blondie – Heart of Glass
Fryderyk Chopin – Prelude Op. 28 No. 4 E minor
The KLF – Last Train to Trancentral
The Cars – Moving in Stereo
The Buggles – Living in the Plastic Age
Jack Fina – Bumble Boogie
Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygene IV, Ethnicolor (OK, that’s two songs…)
Cheap Trick – Dream Police
Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again
The Ramones – Pinhead
Adam and the Ants – Killer in the Home
Berlin – Sex (I’m A…)
Thomas Dolby – Europa and the Pirate Twins
A Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
Nina Hagen – Cosma Shiva
Yello – Oh Yeah
Billy Idol – White Wedding
Donna Summer – I Feel Love
Falco – Der Kommissar
Giorgio Morodor – Chase
Kim Wilde – Kids in America
Ultravox – Visions in Blue
Visage – Fade to Grey
Missing Persons – Mental Hopscotch
The Epoxies – Stop Looking at Me
New Order – Blue Monday
Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls