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Who we are: Markus

Welcome back to the blog! This series is all about the people behind Noise Engineering. We’re a small but dedicated group of primarily awkward nerds, who all share a love for synthesizers, music, and all things Noise. This week, meet Markus.

Name: Markus Cancilla
Job title: Chief of Destruction, Demogod

A wild Markus in their natural habitat, surrounded by synthesizers.

A wild Markus in their natural habitat, surrounded by synthesizers.

What’s your backstory? What did you do before NE?

My story begins many years ago, in a land far away…

I was born and raised in LA, about 20 miles from the NE HQ. I started playing piano and violin when I was a few years old, primarily focussing on classical music, but as I got older my interests shifted and I started teaching myself music production and synthesis.

Before NE, I flitted around trying a slew of different things. In highschool I spent as much time as I could producing and writing music, and for about a year I interned for an LA film composer, thinking I might try to go into composing. After experiencing a bit of the workload and philosophy, though, I realized that world was probably not for me, but being in various studios had piqued my interest in music technology. Around that time, I bought my first couple of modules, and I started showing up to pretty much every tech event I possibly could.

How long have you been at NE?

I joined NE in 2018. I wound up meeting Kris and Stephen at a demo (when asked how they met me, they’ll often respond by saying, “Markus just kept showing up everywhere”) and they reached out to have me test some prototypes. They later offered me a position as NE’s first employee, officially in charge of breaking all the things.

What do you do at NE?

All sorts of things. I end up doing a little bit of pretty much everything that’s not engineering related.

Primarily, I’m a pre-production tester. If a product comes out, I’ve spent hours using it in as many ways as I can think of, making sure it works as we expect it to and that it plays nicely with other products in the ecosystem.

When we do live events and shows I’m usually in charge of demos and showing off new modules. Since I do a lot of test, by the time a module comes out, I’ve generally used it more than anyone else so in a weird way it’s a natural extension of my other duties… despite my natural awkwardness.

I’m also part of our customer support team: if you email with a general inquiry, you’ll probably hear from me. Chatting with you all about different techniques and gear is my favorite part of my job, aside from playing with modules (because, let’s be real, who doesn’t love that).

I’m also in charge of writing blog posts, designing panels, running tech for the Noiseblast Hour, writing all user manuals and patchbooks, writing internal technical documentation for product development, doing market research, and pretty much anything else that gets thrown my way.

What’s your day-to-day like?

I always start work in the morning with a cup of coffee in hand. We keep our own schedules here so I usually start the day catching up on any discussions (and random YouTube videos and gifs) in the company Slack, checking email that came in overnight, and taking a look at community discussions on various forums and social media.

We have a rough weekly schedule but each day varies quite a bit. A shocking amount of time is taken up by testing the tiniest of problems on in-development products, and if we have a product launch coming, most of my time is taken up working on approving firmware for release and creating documentation, web copy, and marketing materials. If we’re at the very beginning of product development, I spend a bit of time writing up general hardware requirements and designing panel art. I fill out my non-production time working on blog posts, market research, and the occasional professional development project. On quiet weeks I’ll take a bit of time to record a jam for our YouTube series, often as an excuse to try out new techniques for the blog or test out a new module in a hands-on musical context.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I have a constantly evolving Eurorack system that I love to jam with; I sometimes work on recorded projects, but more often than not Eurorack is just a fun way for me to play around with music and experiment with sound, melodies, and song structure. I used to compose a bit more than I do now -- I’m slowly trying to get back to that.

I’m an introvert, so most of my hobbies stay at home, but I’ll occasionally go out to take a hike, do some field recording, find a nice vegan restaurant, or stop by a car show. I’m not big on live music, but I occasionally go to a club to awkward stand in a corner and listen to electronica.

What’s your favorite NE module that you’ve worked on?

I think I’ve aided in the design of about 30 modules at this point, but Desmodus Versio is the real high point for me. Years ago when I first met Stephen I told him I was hoping he’d make a reverb, and it was a fun experience actually being part of the team when it came to fruition. I also pushed outside of our usual panel art style, and I thought it turned out really well.

What’s your favorite module in your system?

I have far too many modules and I love them all.

I probably use my Loquelic Iteritas Percido more than any other voice, but I have a few modules that just sound really interesting or unique that I enjoy a lot, too. The Natural Gate probably makes it into every patch I make, and I have this custom-built Serge Resonant Equalizer that’s just completely wacky in a lot of awesome ways.

What’s your favorite patch technique?

If I think of anything even remotely cool it pretty much always ends up on the blog. That said, wiring patches for queueable universal transposition using mults and precision adders has been a pretty awesome trick that stands out in a lot of my patches.

Desert island module?

Speedboat Iteritas

What was your first synthesizer, modular or otherwise?

My first hardware synthesizer was a Moog Minitaur. My first synthesizer that I ever bought, though, was technically Massive, and that thing taught me a ton.

What’s your favorite non-modular instrument?

Piano.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

I like electronic music. I mostly listen to dance music, often drum ‘n’ bass or slightly more experimental stuff. Amon Tobin’s music has been a staple for me ever since I started listening to electronic music.

What’s a module you want that doesn’t exist yet?

I have a few things that I just haven’t found a good solution for.

I have a mid-sized system (15u/168HP) and I hate long cables. I’ve organized things as much as possible to avoid using long cables, but it just… hasn’t worked how I want it to. I think at some point I’ll need to invest in a stupid number of mult modules and some sort of trunk lines to do what I want.

Favorite pizza toppings?

Pineapple and a bunch of spicy things is generally my go-to. Divisive, I know.

What album could you not stop listening to when you were in high school?

Oh man… All the Skrillex stuff that came out around 2012. Cliche now, but I’d still argue it was pretty interesting at the time for a few reasons, and a lot of those songs are still pretty fun.

What would your younger self think about what you do now?

Working with synths is what I’ve wanted to do for quite a while so hopefully Young Me would be pretty psyched.

Favorite NE memory?

There’ve been a lot of interesting occurrences over the last few years, but Stephen and I have had some pretty hilarious Noiseblast Hour outtakes. Unfortunately, they’re still on the internet, just waiting to be rediscovered.

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