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Who we are: Shawn

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. 

Name: Shawn Jimmerson

Job title: Audio Alchemist

What’s your backstory?  

Since high school I've played in bands and recorded music. In my 20s I was in a couple bands that made records and did a bit of touring. In my 30s, after the band situations imploded, I ended up in Los Angeles and worked in the music business (at MCA for a while and later at Geffen Records). After being hit by layoffs in the music industry I was invited to do the surround mixes for all the in-game cinematics for Call of Duty 3 and a Spider-Man game being made at Treyarch, an Activision studio. I ended up being hired as a sound designer at Treyarch and did that for 15 years! This is where I met Stephen.

How long have you been at NE? 

(Looks at watch) About 3 months! I started in April 2023

What do you do at NE? 

Some of it will be revealed at a later time, but I can say I am working on product development, prototyping, testing, and some content.

What’s your day-to-day like? 

It really varies. One day I may build a few prototype circuits, and another day I may be testing a module or making some sound samples with a plug-in or two. We all meet up on Zoom at least once a day and we are in constant contact via Slack as well, so despite being remote it feels very collaborative.

What do you do when you’re not working? 

I spend time with my family, read tales of the paranormal, go to swap meets and thrift shops, and play my guitars and other sound-makers.

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

I really dig the Ruina Versio. I didn't really work on it directly, but I kept sending Stephen different distortion circuits I loved and nagged him to design a stereo distortion for ages.

What got you started in modular to begin with? 

I've always been obsessed with sound, and while I was at Geffen I had read on the Music Thing blog about some companies making new modular synth systems. I got interested, and once I became a sound designer I lurked on the modular forums for about a year to learn all I could before putting together a system to use for work, music, and fun. I bought the very first Tiptop Station 252 case they made available! I went to Gur's house in LA to pick it up and he helped me put my modules in it.

What’s your favorite module in your system? 

The honest truth is the BIA.

What’s your favorite patch technique? 

Just patching a clock into either the Numeric and/or Zularic Repetitor and putting their outputs into the BIA inputs, making sure to use a gate into the Attack for the occasional 'snare' sound.

Desert island module? 

If I could have 3 it would be the Horologic Solum, Zularic Repetitor, and the BIA.

What was your first synthesizer, modular or otherwise? 

Casio MT-68! I have no idea what happened to it, but coincidentally, I just got another at an estate sale for $20 a couple weeks ago.

What’s your favorite non-modular instrument? 

Guitar is my first and still favorite instrument.

What’s your favorite piece of non-NE gear? 

I love the Synthesis Technology E-340 Cloud Generator. At the time I got it (2011 I think), everybody was all about the E-350 Morphing Terrarium, but I was more drawn to the E-340 and it has gotten a ton of use from me for sound design as well as music. I also dig the Tiptop Z-DSP (with the Valhalla cards!), the Make Noise DPO, the Moog Mother-32, and the Music Thing Modular Radio Music/Chord Organ. Regarding non-modular, non-NE gear, I love my various guitars and bass VI, the Tasty Chips GR-1, Arturia MicroFreak, Teenage Engineering OP-1 and PO-32, and my Nord Electro 5D. Favorite effects are Hologram Microcosm, Boss Hyper Fuzz, Soma Cosmos, Gamechanger Plasma, and Montreal Assembly Count to 5. I also use and adore the Roland G-707/GR-700 combo from the 1980s.

How did you get interested in music? What was your musical life before modular? 

Well, when I was about 5 years old, my dad came home from K-Mart and he had bought me a tape recorder and some blank tapes, as I had shown interest. It was the first thing that was mine that wasn't explicitly a child's toy and I revered and loved it. I would go around the house recording everything and listening to how it sounded different being played back. This led to a lifelong interest in recording. I also started checking out all my parent's records by the time I was 7, and I had a Kay electric guitar by the time I was 8. During my high school years I started playing in bars and clubs, eventually with my own band.

What kind of music do you like to listen to? 

I'm all over the place with my musical taste. I may blast Killing Joke and Burt Bacharach on the same drive to the store. Most of my favorites are probably from the 2nd half of the 1900s, though some more fairly recent artists I've been getting into are Khurangbin, Nihiloxica, Etran de L'Air, Deerhunter, Abul Mudguard, and Savages. 

It's hard to name favorites, but I think these are masterpieces:



Captain Beefheart / Electricity

Dionne Warwick / Walk On By

Moondog / Bird's Lament

Can / Halleluwah

Lalo Shifrin / Danube Incident

Duke Ellington and John Coltrane / In a Sentimental Mood

King Crimson / I Talk to the Wind

James Brown / I Got the Feeling'

Henry Mancini / Experiment in Terror

The Beatles / Tomorrow Never Knows

Fela Kuti / Shakara

Love / You Set the Scene

Alice Coltrane / Journey in Satchidananda

Erik Satie / Gymnopédie No 1


The Velvet Underground and Nico

Kraftwerk / Computer World

Brian Eno and Harold Budd / The Pearl

Cocteau Twins / Blue Bell Knoll

Nico / Chelsea Girl

David Bowie / Low

Wire / The Ideal Copy

Friends of Dean Martinez / The Shadow of Your Smile

The Kinks / Are the Village Green Preservation Society

Stereolab / Dots and Loops

Pink Floyd / Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Lalo Shifrin / Bullitt soundtrack

Geez...I'd better stop now

What’re your musical inspirations? 

My aspirations are to actually put out some of the hours of music I have made over the years that is just sitting on hard drives and tapes. 

Oh, INSPIRATIONS! My inspirations are usually artists who will follow the muse off a cliff, like Prince, John Cale, Brian Eno, etc. I think it's important to listen to what the song or music wants and accommodate, rather than forcing ego-borne ideas. You can stand back and figure out what it is later. I think the most interesting music is made that way. Too much calculating and scheming can wring the life out of music, in my opinion.

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

The Steve Reich inspired dual looper with offset control for the 2nd loop.

Star Wars or Star Trek? 

I'm down with both! (I also love both digital and analog, and I like crunchy and creamy peanut butter). That said, I probably lean more Star Trek. I really like the design elements of both Star Wars and Star Trek, especially the aesthetic of the original Star Trek TV show. Wah Ming Chang was a designer for the show and he designed the communicator (among many other props, creatures, and ships). I have a communicator replica that can connect to a smart phone via bluetooth and it's probably the nerdiest thing I own.

Favorite horror movie? 

Probably Alien. The Thing (Carpenter version) is pretty great as well. They have a lot of similarities, actually. But I love how Alien hardly ever shows you the alien and is still terrifying.

Favorite pizza toppings? 

Jalepeno, green pepper, mushrooms, and sometimes pepperoni. I can even be down with pineapple if I'm in the mood (yet another crowd polarizer that I'm ambivalent about!).

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

The Cure / Live in Japan

What would your 18-year-old self think about what you do now? 

Oh, that kid would be so relieved I still wear weird clothes, play music, and didn't lose my curiosity.

Favorite NE memory? 

Well, probably back when I dared Stephen to make a module and a few days later he handed me the first Ataraxic Translation. It was ICs super glued to a plexiglass faceplate and components connected haphazardly to the chips, like an electronic bird's nest. I put it in my case and immediately declared, "you need to make 50 of these!"

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