Sparkling Synths and Experimental Sounds: Gear Talk with TEES


Wollongong house-pop duo TEES harness an incredible ability to milk every ounce of nostalgic emotion from you with their music. Drawing influence from Madchester and celestial pop elements that are so far-reaching and evanescent they are quite hard to nail down, their craft is impossible to ignore.

The duo are well on their way to putting out their debut EP following a string of brilliant single releases over the past few years. In the meantime we caught up with Sean from the band to chat sparkling synths and crafting experimental sounds.


Dreamy house-pop duo TEES are well on their way to putting out their debut EP following a string of brilliant single releases over the past few years. We caught up with Sean from the band to chat gear.

Hey guys, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

Heya! Ah we are currently in preparation for our upcoming EP release which should be coming out before the end of the year. It’s all mixed and mastered so it’s all about getting the packages all ready for release.

What synths/controllers are you currently playing on?

For a while we have been using the Korg M1 plugin. I love all those Korg plugins. We have also been using the Roland AIRA for a few years – TB303, TR-8, System-1. I have just gotten some new stuff to add to the picture which is exciting. I just got an Electron A4 and a Korg Minilogue, which are adding a lot of nice vibes to the mix. Live we currently use the Roland 404 Sample, Nord Keyboard (forget model), Korg Minilogue, Roland System 1, Roland TB303 and BOSS effects pedals.

Nice one. Loving all those sparkling synths on Let Beauty Be – what are we hearing on the track?

You can mainly hear the Korg M1, and the Ensoniq VFX – which is where that beautiful pan flute is coming from. Everything else is Roland AIRA stuff and samples.

Since you don’t have a bassist, where or to who do you go to when trying to fill out your low end?

Its all coming from the TB303 or 303 ripoffs. Sadly we haven’t been able to fund an actual 303 yet.

Drum samples: where do you find them? Dare I ask how many you have saved up at this point?

Funny enough I haven’t used hardly any. I mostly program the beats through hardware or Xfer Nerve, which is a greatly tool for editing audio samples. If you count vocal adlibs as percussion then all of them are old 90’s house samples rearranged and cut up.

Is there a company or maker you feel like you gel with best?

Not particularly but I am a big Korg fan and Electron – they’re impeccable when it comes to making great synths. Roland is also obviously a classic. I am a fan of Intellijell and other Eurorack companies but that’s another kettle of fish.

What was the first synth you bought? If you’re not still using it, why?

My first synth was the Microkorg – that beautiful, classic and extremely dated synth haha. It served its purpose to say the least.

How heavily do you use presets, or lightly modded presets? Has that changed over time?

We like to make our own sounds but messing around with presets is always fun. I find myself making more sounds than not now as its more refreshing and challenging to craft both known sounds and those that are experimental.

What are your thoughts on the software/hardware synth debate? Looks like you use a bit of both, is there a preference?

I think I like using hardware but I’m not ashamed or bothered by using software. Liz is the same. There is literally perks to both worlds, just depends how and what you want to make.

What’s the cheapest pieces of gear you feel like you’ve gotten the best value out of?

The Ensoniq ESQ-1 and VFX are great synths if you can program them properly. I think most people would agree the Volca series are quite brilliant for what they cost as well, especially the sample and keys.

If you could copy/paste one feature from another piece of gear onto your main synth to make it perfect, what would you do?

If all synths with sequences on them could have longer steps that would be amazing. Would make any basic synth so tangible.

If you had to grab a new piece of gear, what would it be right now?

Probably a Tempest or a Prophet 8… or the new Octatrack Mk2. That’s a really tough question.

Check out more from TEES via Spotify.

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