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Friday Interview #11: Ras Tilo


Hi, and welcome to the 11th edition of the Friday Interview! This week, we're joined by a musician and studio technician, and member of the band Superdirt². I'm very happy to introduce the 11th participant of the series, interviewee #11: Ras Tilo! Lets get started!

Introducing Ras Tilo

Ras Tilo is a musician and studio technician from France, currently residing in Germany.
His primary interest in Linux audio is recording, mixing, and live performances.
Outside of Linux audio, he enjoys travelling, the nature, going to concerts, languages, and social life.
ras-tilo-studio Ras Tilo in his studio.


Hi Ras Tilo! Thanks for doing this interview! Where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

Hey Gabe! For now I'm living in Freiburg im Breisgau, in the south-west of Germany (close to the french and swiss border).

My main job is music ;) I have my own recording studio where I record other artists and I produce and play live in our new electro project called “Superdirt²”. Sometimes I go for other jobs like graphic design or gardening and I'm working twice a week in Bar.  

What's your musical background like? What music do you like, and do you play any instruments?

Well, it's a kind of interesting questions.. :) I try to answer all in one: First I lerned and played violin (12 years) in Paris, where I grew up, but early I was fascinated by synthesizers and electronic music. In that time I heard a lot of reggae stuff, especially in the dub music genre (I loved the effects and the electronic touch), but also french rock and metal music. When I went to Germany I switched to electric guitar and vocals in a band for 5 years. Finally I came to recording and music production at all, first for my solo project (Ras Tilo), then Superdirt².  

What's your history with Linux, and with using Linux for audio?

I get to know Linux 8 years ago. I figured out the strong audio community and all the amazing music software there.. Since that time I switch completely to GNU/Linux for everything and especially for music production.  

ras-tilo-superdirt2-screenshot A screenshot of the computer of Ras Tilo at work.


You're in a band called Superdirt². Could you talk to us a bit about what that band is like, how it was formed, and what you're currently up to?

That's a cool story! I know Daniel (the cello player) sind a ling time and I recorded in the past 3 of his albums. Two years ago he got a request to play as support for a great german band (Guts Pie Earshot) and if I could build some nice electro beats and perform with him. I agreed and built 5 electro tracks. We performed them and it was crazy!! Straight after the gig the peaole came to us asking our name, where to buy a cd, etc, and we got straight away 2 new gigs. Superdirt² was born!

For now we played a lot in Germany (have a look and now we are going on tour to New Zealand from January to March 2014. After that we want to go on tour through Germany and hopefully we are going to play at the Linux Audio Conference 2014 in Karlsruhe!  

superdirt2-performing-3 Superdirt² performing live!


You also recently released your debut album. Could you talk a bit about that, how you recorded it, what the album is like, and how it was to make?

Yes, we just released our full-length Album called “Algoriddims”! It's a colorful mix of drum'n'bass deep house, techno, house, dub and much much more, with beautiful cello melodies and hard rock cello riffs, a lot of cello loops and crazy synthesizers.

The album's story is quite crazy as well ;) Shortly after our first gigs, the people really wanted to have a CD, so we just recorded down some nice sessions. I was really busy with the studio in that time so I postpone the mix... on year later and after a lot of gigs we had a listen to the recording and we figured out: We can't release our songs in that early stage! We developed the songs so much during the gigs, we had to record the album again! So we did it, we re-arranged the tracks and re-recorded everything. Now it is here and we are really happy!  

That's a great debut album, and I really hope you do play at LAC2014. If you do, I'll hopefully be enjoying it live ;).

What's in the future for Superdirt² after your tours? Record new material? Where do you want to go from where you are today?

Of course we want to work on new material, record our second album, and probably a small remix cd. They are already a couple of tracks ready for the new album... ;)

I have no Idea where we are going in the future, we'll see. But sure is, we want to go on and create more amazing electro-cello-sound!  

ras-tilo-screenshot Another screenshot of Ras Tilo at work.


Can you talk a bit more about your studio, Sonejo? What kind of setup do you have there, do you use Linux/FLOSS software, and do you record any type of music?

In my studio I'm working only with FLOSS software. For now I'm running Linux Mint 13 Maya (MATE Edition) because I really like the old gnome 2.x because it is quite fast, mighty, tested since ages and really stable. I had a try to gnome 3 and Unity but I couldn't configure my studio desktop properly.

But I have to say the most important for me are the KXStudio repositories where I get all the softwares I need for my work.

My studio setup for productive work is JACK, Ardour, Hydrogen, Yoshimi/ZynAddSubFX, JKMeter and mostly the Calf and Invada plug-ins. But of course I'm always looking around for new amazing stuff like QTractor, Audacity, KXStudio and the Distrho Project etc etc.  

What applications do you primarily use yourself, when you make music?

For making music I mostly use the same setup as in the studio and SooperLooper a lot, too (and I'm really happy to try Luppp asap!) I really enjoy jaming around with loop machines and figure out tons of new ideas. Then I listen to them I take only the best tracks/ideas and record them properly again in Ardour.

For Superdirt² I'm using JACK, Hydrogen (I figured out a workaround to use it as a mighty (never crashed until now!) live performance tool), Yoshimi/ZynAddSubFX, SooperLooper and Jack-Midi-Clock.  

superdirt2-performing-2 Ras Tilo getting his groove on. Watch out LAC 2014!


Final questions

Do you feel like anything is lacking in Linux audio today, and if so, what?

Until now for me a good live performance tool was very lacking, but now Luppp just got released.. :)

Otherwise I miss a proper Drum Replacement Tool (beat recognition (threshold) to MIDI signal), there is the mda vst Beatbox quite okay (drum synthesis) but has no MIDI signal output and no sampler capability.

Oh yes, I really miss a Bass Enhancer, but one that synthesis high harmonics on the top of the bass line (instead in the sub bass section like Calf Bass Enhancer). This is really useful for mixing song versions for small speakers (laptops, phones, etc). Otherwise, nothing!  

What's your favorite free and open source plugin currently?

I'm mostly using the Invada Plugins (especially the Compressor) and the Calf suite (especially the 5-Band-EQ, the Reverb and Vintage Delay, the Filer the Exciter and the Bass Enhancer). I really like the TAP AutoPanner as well.  

superdirt2-performing-1 Ras Tilo and his bandmate at hard work, performing live.


Where can people get a hold of you? Is there anything you would like to add to the interview?





More info Superdirt²:


Is there anything you would like to add to the interview?

Thanks for the Friday Interviews Gabbe, that's a great thing for the community and I really enjoy reading them. For me it is a bit like the Linux Audio Conference, a great way to connect the developers and the musicians! :)  

Oh, thank you, I'm very glad this has been received so well, and that people are giving amazing interviews! :D Thanks to you all. And thank you very much for the interview Ras Tilo!

That was Ras Tilo. Thanks to Ras Tilo for participating, and thank you for reading!