Cherif HashizumeA Tale of
Two Prophets

Cherif HashizumeA Tale of
Two Prophets

Between his improvised live performances, sharing his passion and knowledge on modular gear, and his stunning collaborations with the likes of Jon Hopkins, Brian Eno, and Kelly Lee Owens, Cherif Hashizume is a sound explorer in every sense of the phrase.

In this interview, we discover his approach to inspiration, his favourite sounds, and his take on V Collection’s reimagined Prophets.

Improvisation, innovation

Cherif Hashizume is an artist whose thirst for new sonic territory has led him to the cutting-edge. Experimentation with AI, VR, improvisation, and interactive art pieces has enabled him to explore new levels of sonic immersion, beyond the traditional confines of music creation.

When he’s not treading off-path, Hashizume is an accomplished synthesist, programmer, producer, and mix engineer. He’s collaborated with numerous artists, from Jon Hopkins to Brian Eno to King Creosote, to name a few. All of these artists are renowned for their capacity to seek out new fresh & invigorating sounds - something that resonates deeply with Cherif.

Everything Connected

One of Hashizume’s main creative outlets is ambient trio Hrím, formed with electronica artist Anil Sebastian and Icelandic singer Ösp Eldjárn, regular collaborators of his. Melding icy atmospheric soundscapes with gritty percussion and expressive processing, Cherif notes that the flow with Hrím is a totally organic one.

Every time we’re in the same room, music just magically appears out of thin air. That’s quite a rare occurrence in the creative process.

Playing a vital role in that fluid workflow is the presence and immediacy of hardware. Having physical instruments, connected and synchronized, within reach of his band members allows for interactivity in harmony.

When I have a lot of hardware in the studio, jamming it and seeing where it takes you is always good fun.

Cherif is also keen to share his knowledge and passion for hardware. He regularly hosts workshops on modular synthesis, using hardware and popular platform VCV Rack to demonstrate the power and flexibility that modular can bring. Whether it's hardware or software, however, he notes that the most important thing is getting people's creative juices flowing. That's always the end goal.

“A good instrument I really believe inspires musicians to make music.”

On Prophet-5 V

Hashizume fires up a session in Ableton and lays down the groundworks with a glitchy percussive loop, then loads Prophet-5 V with a softly-filtered pad sound. Very quickly, a jam falls into place: subtle chords looping, with just a hint of the Prophet's notoriously warm bass. He follows the direction that the jam leads him, cycling through lead sounds and engaging the arpeggiator, all within minutes of starting the session.

The Prophet is normally in the early instances of synths that I would load up, in the very early stage of production. For one, it’s very inspiring to work with, everything is quite instant. You don’t have to do a crazy amount of menu-diving, all the controls are there.

The original Prophet-5 was known for being an early example of a programmable analog synth. But more than that, it was also incredibly accessible, with a straightforward layout that led the user intuitively. Cherif notes that Prophet-5 V accurately reflects this, making it as responsive and immediate as the original.

With this, I know exactly where things are. Here’s the oscillator section, the mixer, into the filter, the amplifier, here’s your modulation source. That is just as simple and as approachable as it can be.

As with other instruments in V Collection, Prophet-5 V is enhanced with modern embellishments. Authentic sound, contemporary flexibility - making it perfectly suited to someone like Cherif, who already blurs the lines between hardware and software when it comes to sound exploration.

This is like the best of both worlds isn’t it? You can have digital effects and all the fine-tuning of your input source and all that. Then being able to draw LFOs and stuff like that, you can't do on the original version.

On Prophet-VS V

Defecting to the digital side, Cherif swaps Prophet-5 V for Prophet-VS V, a synth whose sound was based on navigating different waveform combinations across multiple axes. He kicks off by exploring the huge selections of waveforms, savoring the unique sonic character that can be achieved by compounding timbres.

You have these different waveshapes… it really opens up the sound design side of things.

Settling on a bass patch, Hashizume takes a moment to appreciate the crystal-clear quality that a digital instrument can bring to the low end.

Digital is actually really good at a low end, ‘cause you get that really clean low end which you can’t get in analog versions.

Best of both worlds

Cherif Hashizume’s creative innovation explores a convergence of different things; hardware and software, analog and digital, harmony and texture. V Collection’s enhanced Prophet recreations tap into this duality, offering Cherif the seamless flow of hardware as well as the absolute flexibility of a DAW workflow. It seems that this combination fits his approach perfectly - the kind of approach that we could all benefit from.

The Prophet is one of those - you just lend your hand to the instrument and the instrument starts playing the music itself. That is the kind of thing you can get from the Prophets.

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