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PEOPLEText: Victor Moreno

At your workshop, do you take care of all the process of cutting, assembling, connecting and building on your own?

Yes, I must be in total control. All the way from vision to shipping crate. I have a huge passion for photography and do my own photo shooting in the studio as well.

Please explain this process from the initial vision until it gets all done.

Well, my designs are usually based on something I’ve come across recently; an interesting object perhaps – anything that sparks my imagination. I then scour my mind for a function, a purpose that could connect with my visual idea in an interesting way. When I find a satisfactory mix between usability and aesthetics, it’s a go. But the other way around works as well. A client might have specific hardware demands, and sometimes I just work my way from there, using the synth as a design trigger.

When you build an instrument, do you re-use boards or electronic components, or is it more about starting from scratch?

When I build something custom for a client I often re-use hardware from synths and just combine them into unique setups. Sometimes I do more personal and conceptual work, and then I most likely build from scratch or include boards like Arduino, Raspberry Pi or Axoloti Core.

MOONRAY – Korg Minilogue, TR-08, Tape Echo, Looper © Love Hultén

I think some clients approach you with a color palette or a theme as a starting point. Please give me some examples of that and how did you develop upon it.

Some clients have vague ideas – could be colors, a formfactor or just a general theme. It’s nice to have something to build the design around and I tend to be a lot more creative given some sort of base concept. A client wanted a spinning moon for his build somehow, resulting in the MOONRAY – a synth concept inspired by original Apollo 11 interiors. I did NOSTRX2 for a client who was into Alien and darker sci-fi movies. Others approach me with very specific and complete visions. A client wanted to combine the formfactor of an original Minimoog with a Nintendo theme, resulting in the NES3VOC.

NES3VOC – Custom synth © Love Hultén

How do you maintain the quality of the sound alongside the budget or design, in other words how do you achieve building an instrument so unique visually that actually sounds great.

I use very good synth hardware, and as long as I don’t damage the circuits in the teardown-to-installation process, it will sound good in the end. But you’ll never know what to find on the inside when breaking something apart for the first time, and there’s not much documentation on the matter out there. Expensive hardware teardowns are scary and always makes me nervous.

How much of the work you do is on commission and how much is for your sake?

I would say commissions are about 90%, personal work 10%. I’d love to do more personal stuff, but I do have rent to pay.

Have you ever done any collaboration with any company commercially? If so, please explain about it.

No, not on a larger scale. Got some offers, but nothing interesting enough.

I was hoping LEGO would be interested in my scale bricks, that could’ve been a fun collab. How did you begin to find your first clients?

I got my first commission jobs following my R-Kaid-R – an arcade project that went pretty viral back in 2015. In the early years I promoted my web a lot via tech blogs and such, but nowadays it’s all Instagram.

R-Kaid-R (Arcader) on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon © Love Hultén

I think many people outside of Sweden have asked you to build something special for them. Where are these people located and what type of assignments have you enjoyed the most so far?

Most of my clients these days are US based, 70% maybe. With the arcades it was even more. I guess it’s the US culture of nostalgia. I thought Japan would be a market for me when I started off, but I was wrong. I guess they don’t share nostalgia in that sense. They never had a golden age of arcades like we did in the west, arcades never died in Japan and they seem to prefer looking into the future than looking back. Except the Roller-zokus in Tokyo =)

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