Alex Tebeleff of How??? Can't Do Without His Elektron Octatrack

Alex Tebeleff of Americana-Electronica band How??? (featuring members of Paperhaus, Deleted Scenes, SWOLL, and The Effects) told us about his love for his Elektron Octatrack

Alex Tebeleff: The Octatrack has such an imposing reputation for difficulty that I almost didn’t take the jump. That reputation is actually well deserved in some ways, but wow does this instrument give back what you put in. It feels like an infinite sea of musical possibilities as a sampler, mixer, fx box, and general performative (re)imagination tool. 

For our debut self-titled album, How??? ended up using the Octatrack in significant ways in both the studio and in live. We felt very strongly in making the studio as a whole an instrument, and the Octatrack exemplified that more than anything else for us. 

On “Time Of Day” for example, we used it to completely reconfigure a guitar riff that Matt was playing. First, we quickly chopped it into slices that could be reconfigured in various ways. I edited the individual slices slightly to taste, and used the slice play mode to play the riff in realtime in a totally different way that anything either of us would have ever thought to do on the guitar alone. Then, I played with freeze delay mode to further transform and reconstruct the guitar part into what you hear today. Live, I use the freeze delay as well to continue the process of reconstructing the guitar.

The Octatrack is a never-ending rabbit hole of creativity, with no other instrument quite like it. Depending on your mindset, that can leave you overwhelmed with options, or deeply inspired by its possibilities. From our experience using the Octatrack as a tool to make the How??? album, I find if you focus on one feature at a time, and more importantly focus on whatever your musical intention is and go from there, it’s hard to imagine a more powerful tool for making original and interesting music.

Photo credit: Gwen Morier