We caught up with Marc Doty, the brainchild behind YouTube channel Automatic Gainsay, to chat about his passion for synths, his time in the industry, and his experience as a MatrixBrute owner.
For the inquisitive synthesist, there are few better resources than Automatic Gainsay, a constantly evolving love letter to the synthesizer, penned by composer, synthesist, and synth historian Marc Doty.
Focusing on analog synthesizer history and technical demonstrations, Marc’s YouTube channel features hundreds of videos, and has garnered millions of views and a dedicated fanbase.
Since April 2017, Marc has been creating dozens of in-depth tutorial videos on Arturia’s flagship analog monosynth: the MatrixBrute.
To date, these 24 episodes contain over 5 hours of MatrixBrute demonstrations, enough to satisfy the curiosity of even the most discriminating synth expert.
Click on the playlist icon in the top-left corner to browse the different episodes.
Automatic Gainsay was born
Being able to chat with a man so dedicated to, and knowledgeable of synthesizers, we asked what qualities - for him - created a truly excellent synthesizer.
“Well, I think ultimately, a synthesizer should have an interface that provides immediacy and inspiration. It should have a characteristic sound that is, irrespective of the timbre, pleasing and musical to the ear, and should allow for the creation of a great diversity of sound. Personally, I like big analog synthesizer that provides as much immediacy and power as they do inspiration.”
“I like vintage analog sounds, extensive functionality, and beautiful tone.”
Like thousands of other synth enthusiasts, Marc picked up the Arturia MiniBrute, the small-format synth that kick-started the affordable analog revolution in the industry. Excited by its potential and iconic sound, Marc dreamed of a larger-scale synth; a “MaxiBrute”. In the years that followed, he saw other companies make the progression towards increasingly small, keyboardless synths.
“When I first heard about MatrixBrute, I thought it was an internet hoax!”
“I got to see early versions at NAMM 2016, so I had to believe it. I didn't get much time with it, and with a synth this big, you really need some time to dig in! Even though I only got to experience it for a few moments, I knew it was going to be something amazing.”
Although Doty was initially drawn to the synth by its unique patching matrix, his excitement grew when he discovered MatrixBrute’s “paraphonic” setting.
“My jaw dropped.”
“I have always wanted a monosynth that could also split the oscillators into individual notes. I often demonstrated the MiniBrute and MicroBrute together, so I was delighted at the prospect of having two Arturia-style oscillators in one instrument. I've spent so many years telling people that the Arturia-style oscillator is so timbre-rich that you really don't need to have multiple oscillators... but of course, when using the MiniBrute and MicroBrute in tandem, I loved the near-infinite possibility of having two playing at once. So, it was exciting to see them, plus another, on the MatrixBrute, a full-sized professional synthesizer designed to meet the needs of old-fashioned keyboard players like me, as well as modern popular electronic musicians.”
Living up to expectations
After his initial experience with MatrixBrute at NAMM and KnobCon, the expectations were high.
Did MatrixBrute live up to the hype? We asked Marc about his first impressions when he finally got to sit down and fully experience what MatrixBrute had to offer:
“Rarely have I had a synth experience of such awe and inspiration”
“It probably sounds hyperbolic, but my first experiences with the MatrixBrute were like my first experiences with the original Minimoog, and the original ARP 2600. The extensive functionality, the beautiful tone, the interface... it was an awe-inspiring experience. And, of course, I didn't shut it off for days.”
Even after spending countless hours with MatrixBrute, and dozens of demonstration and tutorial videos based around it, Marc is still finding exciting new possibilities with the instrument, and edging closer and closer to its full potential. The content for his videos keeps coming.
“To date, I have made 50 demonstration videos of the MatrixBrute: 25 for Automatic Gainsay, and 25 for macProVideo.com. I have plans for a more advanced course in the future. Even with all of that experience and days of exploration, I still feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of MatrixBrute. With extensive functionality and its modular nature, it's hard to imagine being able to really fully recognize all that it is capable of.”
“I can say, without hyperbole or urging from you guys, that this is one of the greatest synthesizers I have ever experienced. It is definitely among my top five favorite synths of all time.”
Moving on from Marc’s experience with MatrixBrute, we asked his opinion on its place in the industry, and what type of musician it would suit best.
“I can definitely speak to musicians like me - those who play keys with hands and embrace vintage sound and functionality - that this synth is the end-all be-all of analog synths. It covers all of the bases. It is everything you've ever wanted in one package. Anyone looking for a synthesizer with extensive functionality, great sound, and a really impressive interface should be interested in this synth. Especially for the price.”
Going into more detail, Marc explained the different musical situations where MatrixBrute truly excels, and the importance of mixing the technical aspects of synthesis with the fun, creative side of performance.
“In the history of synthesizers, there has been a distinct split between synthesizers that are great for synthesis, and synthesizers that are great for making making music. So many of the most iconic synthesizers are really best-suited for musical performance more so than applied synthesis. One of the things that I appreciate about the MatrixBrute is that it has, somehow, been able to be ideal for both.”
“If you're interested in the more musical applications of synthesis, you've got lots of control, presets, and great tone. If you're interested in non-musical synthesis and sound design, you have a semi-modular system of complex functionality and interconnection that would rival, or even outdo, some of the studios of historical experimental synthesists!”
If you enjoyed reading about Marc’s experience with MatrixBrute,
be sure to subscribe to Automatic Gainsay where he will soon be releasing a course on the more advanced applications of MatrixBrute’s synthesis functionality. Marc will also be presenting at the 2017 KnobCon in Chicago, speaking on synthesizer history.Facebook YouTube