andrew tasselmyer

Andrew Tasselmyer is a musician from Baltimore, MD currently living in Philadelphia, PA. He utilizes samplers, field recordings, and lo-fi recording techniques to make textured and tactile sounds.In addition to his solo catalog on labels such as Laaps, Seil Records, Eilean Recs, Constellation Tatsu, Home Normal, and more, he is a member of Hotel Neon, Gray Acres and Mordançage.

Release process

The general premise behind this album was to capture a true sense of what inspired me each time I sat down to record.Side A is generally grittier, colder, and more synthetic - it’s a little more overtly “digital” sounding (at least to my ear). On side B, I included the use of cassette tape simulations and acoustic instrument samples that add a bit more warmth than the first half. I hope that a sense of experimentation comes across on both sides as you listen.I used an extremely limited set of tools (my iPad and Octatrack MK2 sampler) and recorded live performances of each track without any arrangement after the fact. Nothing was done to alter these tracks from the first hours after they were recorded aside from light mastering prior to the cassette printing, just to bring the volume of each track to a consistent level for listener convenience.
The recordings were made on the dates listed.

A1 (August 16)
This track was made entirely with the Octatrack. All of the percussion was generated by recording samples of the Octatrack’s internal noise with nothing plugged in. LFOs applied modulation to the filter’s Q levels and ADSR settings. After recording for a short time, I normalized the volume of the resulting samples, and then sliced them into extremely short clicks and pops. The small bit of melodic looping that occurs underneath the percussion is a sampled celeste that was pitch-shifted and looped with the sequencer, with an LFO modifying the start point very slightly. I wrote about this process in more detail on my personal blog (https://andrewtasselmyer.substack.com/p/studio-diary-august-16-2023).

A2 (August 3)
After discovering an unnamed sample on the Octatrack’s memory card, I re-sampled it in the Samplr app on my iPad and applied varying effects including filters and tape delay. I bended the effected sound with the original loop on Octatrack, and made a simple sequence of percussion to accompany the melodic parts. I also detailed this process on my blog (https://andrewtasselmyer.substack.com/p/studio-diary-august-3-2023).

A3 (January 13)
This was also the result of an unnamed and unknown sample I found on an old hard drive. The clicking noises and electrical humming were largely unprocessed and left as-is. I sampled a very short Moog Model D pad onto the Octatrack, which I played back on 2 separate tracks: one unaffected and one pitched up an octave. This loop was panned with an LFO and manually affected by the Octatrack’s Lo-fi effects (mainly sample rate reduction and amplitude modulator).

A4 (January 20)
I have to admit that I have very little recollection of what went into this track. I do know that the entire thing was made using a single violin sample on my Octatrack - this sound was originally made from Slate & Ash’s “Landforms” orchestral sample library for Kontakt, then recorded to the Octatrack. I deleted the file immediately after recording this piece and don’t have the ability to go back and look at all of the effects and sequencing tricks I used.

B1 (August 21)
The main swelling sound throughout this track was a single piano note played with Felt Instruments’s “Lekko” library, which I then heavily distorted, compressed, and ran through delay on the Octatrack to make it sound like a rising and falling synthesizer. I supplemented this by sequencing a more “traditional” and unaffected piano part on my iPad using the Octatrack MIDI sequencer. That piano was processed with Audio Damage Replicant for the stuttering and lo-fi glitch effects you hear.

B2 (August 4)
This track was made from an old sample of a piano recording I made last year, recorded to a handheld tape player. This loop was recorded to the Octatrack and chopped down a bit. I focused on the end of the loop, repeating it several times and layering it with a pitch-shifted version of the same recording for extra thickness. You can hear the slight skipping/clicking that occurs at the end of the tape.

B3 (April 24)
I originally intended for this song to appear on my album from February 2023 called “Life came breaking in” (https://andrewtasselmyer.bandcamp.com/album/life-came-breaking-in) but could never get the track to sound like I wanted. I eventually stripped the entire song back to 3 parts: drums, glitchy piano loops, and arpeggiated bass synth, then sequenced these on the Octatrack. I set up a basic arrangement on the Octatrack’s Arranger function and let it play through while recording, then called it a day.

B4 (December 22)
On the winter solstice last year, I recorded a simple piano sequence using the Octatrack’s MIDI sequencer. I let this loop for about a half hour, recorded it, and forgot about it. I revisited the loop a few weeks ago, created 3 separate 60-second slices of it, and loaded them on to the Octatrack. I doubled each slice with a second version pitted up an octave, then sequenced those while applying LFOs to start points, filter cutoffs, and delay sends for an unpredictable version of the loop.

Studio tour

Process: 6 questions.

What is your favorite time of the day in the studio?

Without a doubt, I'm most creative early in the morning. I love the soft light of sunrise and a fresh cup of coffee. For whatever reason, the hours from 6 - 10 AM are generally when I feel most eager to create things.

Can you name one piece of gear essential to your process?

I'm not sure that I have one, to be honest. I would say that my laptop has been the most consistent piece of my studio through the years. I prefer to work with software because of the limitless possibilities of sound design in modern VSTs; I find the endless customization to be very inspiring. But at the same time, I know that change is constant. Software evolves, tools change, and everything eventually expires. I'm always learning and open to anything that makes me feel inspired.

Do you have a track composition routine?

I split my time in the studio between "play time" and "arranging time." When I'm playing, I'm just trying things out without any specific goals: designing new patches, recording noises, preparing samples to work with, and just messing around until I stumble into sounds I like. Eventually, I move into more focused time spent arranging those sounds and sequencing them on my samplers with a little more thought and intention - that's when songs result. But it always starts with unrestricted play time and having fun, first and foremost.

Any imposter syndrom?

Yes - all the time! I've been feeling it less in recent months, though. I'm slowly deleting my social media presence, which reduces the time I spend in toxic discourse and comparing myself to others, and increases the time I spend actually making the music I want to make. I think that constant immersion in those kinds of spaces is the worst thing a musician can do to themselves, and in this day and age, we have to be careful and intentional to seek out the kinds of communities and spaces we want to inhabit. By sharing ideas and improvisations on my YouTube and Bandcamp, then writing about the process of their creation on my Substack blog, I've started to develop a really enjoyable cycle of creation for myself that has given me new confidence, less pressure, and more enjoyment when it comes to music-making.

Favorite book?

Impossible question...if I have to choose today, I would say "Kafka on the Shore" by Haruki Murakami. But ask me tomorrow and you'll get a different answer!

What's inspiring you right now?

My wife and I are expecting twins soon, and as a result, I'm thinking a lot about the future that they will inhabit. I'm constantly thinking about what role (however small) I can play to make this world a better place for them. It's a simultaneously daunting and inspiring thought exercise, but it has changed my perspective on time, and is challenging me to look for optimism and opportunity - rather than cynicism and negativity - in the years ahead.