Daren Ho is a composer and performer, as well as one of the proprietors of CONTROL, certainly the finest modular synth shop on the east coast. While working with synthesizers, especially in the form of modulars can seem daunting at times, Daren brings helpful insights to the process of making sound with electricity. The kind folks at CONTROL in Brooklyn are certainly one of the reasons for frequent visits to my favorite borough.
You work primarily with electronics. Why were you initially attracted to the eccentricities of oscillators, filters, sequencers, etc?
I was taught how to perform music at an early age and played a handful of musical instruments in various traditional music ensembles...orchestras, symphonies, choirs, quartets, and other gang formations. I began to become genuinely interested in electronic music when I picked up the electric guitar. The idea of electric rock music and electronic music being very new to me and having a lot of undefined boundaries was and still is really appealing. The instrumentation and music I was brought up with had too much conservative ideas and loaded histories behind them to really get away from expectations and assumptions.
Your recent work seems very much about rhythm, texture, and repetition. Is that a fair assessment, and how does this body music fit into an expansive view of what you do?
I've always been attracted to repetitious music, which began with Bach via Tetris for the Nintendo Game Boy, singing Frere Jacques in 1st grade French class, eventually leading to the Boss DD-3 pedal, Terry Riley, Kosmische Musik, Techno, House music..it can go on. It's all pretty much an analogy to life. Things are cyclical routines with little tweaks to grow and correcting the wrongs with rights. Tweaking repetitious music with sounds that are much more pleasing than the previous. At least that's how I think about it. I could be completely wrong. Or right. Who knows?!
You've (and business partner Jonas Asher) recently had an anniversary of sorts, that of the opening of CONTROL, one of the few brick and mortar modular synth stores. Its walk in and patch immediacy and connectivity with local artists (Rob Lowe, Rene Hell, etc.) as well as Eurorack manufacturers (in-store demos by designers) seem both inspiring and creatively generative. How do you feel after a year online and on the streets of Brooklyn?
One year in and feeling not too shabby. I've met the most diverse group of people and have had opportunities that I cannot be more thankful for. Hopefully that isn't the end of it. That would, to put it plainly, suck a lot. I am also hoping that we've made our friends of the shop more knowledgeable about electronic music and modular synths, through telephone conversations, email exchanges, and the habitual walk-ins who've stopped by whenever they're around the neighborhood.
I've also definitely noticed a change in my eating habits. I'm not so sure if that translates at the shop, but I hope that if it does, it's delicious. For everyone.