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Tripping On Wires: Noise toys and DIY synths

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Tripping On Wires

Tripping On Wires is a new shop and project space aiming to provide a Sheffield base for musicians exploring the far-out fringes of DIY electronics. We're not talking Jean-Michel Jarre and his state-of-the-art synthesisers here - it's more about contact mikes, soldered effects pedals and what founder Murray Royston-Ward affectionately calls "noise toys". We asked him about the project, which operates out of the SADACCA building on The Wicker.

What inspired Tripping On Wires?

I was living in Berlin for a few months last summer, and round the corner there was a little shop called Patch Point which sold DIY synthy bits and bobs.

There's a little synth thing that I'm building at the moment that's hopefully one of the first things that comes out

I remember when you'd go into music shops to try a guitar or a pedal, but these days we buy so much online or second-hand off eBay that we pretty much rely on YouTube most of the time to find out what a thing is gonna sound like or what it's gonna do. It was quite nice just to be able to go in there and play with stuff. Back in the UK, it struck me that that'd be a really nice thing to have in most cities.

It's a rehearsal space as well?

Not so much a rehearsal space, a project space. I'm purposefully starting small and keeping it manageable, seeing if I can build it rather than chuck loads of money I don't have at it and hope for the best! I've got a little studio space, and I'm working on a few things that I want to build and sell as kits. On 11 May the first workshop's going to happen. We've got an artist from Manchester called David Burchall who works with Noise Orchestra, who uses light in audio synthesis.

He's doing a thing with a sampler chip, which you can hack and then pitch-bend with it, and it's a 'no soldering' one. There are teaching spaces in SADACCA Studios as well, so people can come and build something themselves. My experience is that that's one of the bigger barriers. You talk to musicians and often they'd be interested in making their own guitar pedals or fixing their own cables but there's an initial hurdle to get over. Having spaces around that allow people to make that first step is a good thing.

It's geared around DIY electronics?

Absolutely. Things like contact mikes, I've been making them on and off for years. I'll happily show anyone how to make one, they're really easy and relatively inexpensive. I'll happily help anyone do that, but at the same time I make and sell them as well. I'm really interested in the idea of making it sustainable.

On the top floor in the nineties some people built a studio and called it the Bob Marley Studios

There's a little synth thing that I'm building at the moment that's hopefully one of the first things that comes out. I'm putting all the information and circuit board diagrams online under an open source licence. I'm really into sharing, but at the same time I'd like to sell some out of the shop.

The building has some history with music.

Yeah! I don't know how long SADACCA has been there. It's an amazing building, it's got this big staircase with an old wooden handrail. There's a guy in there who builds soundsystems, and there's an Afro-Caribbean diaspora library for South Yorkshire as well. There's lots of underused resources in the building: there's a sewing and haberdashery teaching room in there.

On the top floor in the nineties some people built a studio and called it the Bob Marley Studios. There's an old desk in there which unfortunately can't be revived, it's proper old-school and it's huge, which was [reggae guitarist] Dennis Bovell's desk. I don't fully know it's history but it had a connection with soundsystem culture within Yorkshire. It's a great old place.

Sam Gregory

Tripping On Wires are on Big Cartel, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

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