We met up at Roland’s UK showroom in the legendary Metropolis Studios in West London, for our demo of the INTEGRA-7. Metropolis is a hive of musical activity and Jimmy Page was hanging out in the canteen. Amir had taken time out from rehearsing for Jools Holland’s Later show, and told us that Rudimental’s album is being mastered at Metropolis. With 12 people in his band, there’s lots to think about both artistically and logistics-wise, so he was keen to see just what the synth could do. His band is huge at the moment and the video for new single Not Giving In, has had two million hits before the track is even released.
Innovative ‘Gloom pop’ artist Laura is demoing her new album. She plays guitar and bass among other instruments, is an expert looper and also a session musician. She wanted to find out more about the synth’s many voices and effects. Laura and Gareth were excited to see each other - it turned out they had been on tour together as part of Tricky’s band - with Laura on bass, and Gareth on keys.
Gareth showed them round the synth, demo-ing the 5.1 Motional Surround sound, which is easy to control by moving instrument icons around on an iPad screen. Composers have already been raving to us about this feature and its potential for film scoring. Gareth said the separation is ridiculously good.
With Roland’s SuperNATURAL acoustic sounds and behavioural modelling you can get realistic sounds - tones, bends and harmonics - such as the note-bending on a trumpet. Laura said, “The movement between the sounds is quite amazing”. The synth can be controlled by an iPad via wireless or cable, and it has full MIDI function.
Amir wanted to know if the Roland classic sounds were available, particularly the Juno-60. Gareth said they most certainly were, and there’s an incredible 6000 sound library, “all the Roland sounds you can imagine”.
The organ sounds were a must for Amir to hear, as Rudimental use a Hammond organ in their live shows.
Amir and Laura were particularly interested in the drum sounds and loops too, and there’s a huge choice, including all the V-Drums. Gareth called up the SRX dance board (one of 12 boards) to give the drums a spin. You can choose between 256 drum kits!
The synth is designed to be easy to use and an ‘all-in-one solution’. You can have 16 parts playing, all editable, each with effects - 67 to choose from - and separate EQ. There’s a full range of oscillators, envelopes and filters, plus a mixer.
There are 8 outputs which gives huge flexibility, and Gareth said that’s something Front of House engineers love.
Amir said he could see himself using it. “In the studio it’s great, I like the drum sounds and I like the synths as well, it’s quite cool. When we perform live we have a Hammond and another keyboard for the piano sounds, so this will do all of that, be able to switch between them quickly.”
Laura said, “I’m really into the drums and the synths and the organs. Thinking about recording, I blend playing guitar or ukelele or autoharp with drum machines and organs and stuff. Just having that palette there for sounds is incredible”.
- Our in-depth interview with Laura Kidd can be found here.