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by Jeremy Toy

Leonard Simpson Duo Gear Essentials

by Jeremy Toy

Leonard Simpson Duo Gear Essentials

Auckland musician and award-winning producer Jeremy Toy has played in bands including She’s So Rad and Opensouls. He did the movie soundtrack for The Breaker Upperers and releases his own music under the moniker Leonard Charles. In late January he released new album ‘L.S.D.’ along with Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson as The Leonard Simpson Duo (through Berlin label Jakarta Records). Jeremy knows well how to make a good noise, and here he takes us through seven vital pieces of kit he used to make the beats and grooves for this inspired project.

Minimoog Voyager

the leonard charles duo

This minimoog used to be Taay Ninh from Electric Wire Hustle’s keyboard. It’s definitely seen its fair share of hot music grace its keys. I met Bob Moog at the RBMA 2003, Cape Town SA. Moog had just released the Minimoog Voyager and he was there to show off his new synth. He was so immensely excited and happy with the synth, as is everybody who owns one. You can hear it on pretty much every song on the ‘L.S.D’ record. I am so happy that such a beautiful instrument has been played and recorded so many times, I hate it when instruments become collectors’ pieces and stop becoming tools.

Fender Stratocaster (’83 Tokai body, ’68 Custom Shop Fender neck)

the leonard charles duo

This is a bitser guitar! I’ve basically tried to recreate Jimi Hendrix’ most famous Woodstock Stratocaster – this is the closest I will ever come to playing that guitar. The Custom Shop neck is identical to the one he used. When I first saw the Woodstock performance at Auckland Art Gallery in 1994 it changed my life. Seeing Jimi on the big screen was like watching a being from outer space in human form. This is also on almost every song on the record.

Akai MPC3000

the leonard charles duo

This is the second MPC3000 I have owned. The first one I foolishly let go in a weak moment. I started using MPCs in 2000 when I bought an MPC2000(!) I dreamed of the day I would own a 3000 purely because J Dilla used one and they were known for a legendary feel. Turns out that legendary feel is from J Dilla’s hands, not the machine, but the machine does have a distinct sonic quality. I processed a lot of drums through this for the ‘L.S.D’ record, especially  GUILTY, My Ex and the sample chops in Nobody. There is a midrange bump that happens in these machines that makes kick drums in particular really punchy.

My ‘Jimi’ inspired pedalboard

the leonard charles duo

This is basically a modern recreation of Jimi Hendrix set up with a few extra pieces. The Donkey Kong fuzz called ‘Kong of Fuzz’ was made by a custom pedal builder Ian Pittam, GigaHearts FX. I met him when my band was on tour with Ladyhawke in the UK. This pedal has never left my pedalboard. You can hear it all over the record esp the fuzz on Smokin’ Good. The horribly named ‘Fulltone ’69’ pedal is a great recreation, with a few mods, of Jimi Hendrix ’69 Fuzzface hence the horrible name. I know that the RevivalDrive is going to be a pedal that is never going to leave my pedalboard, it is a simulation of a Marshall Plexi pre-amp in a box. That’s the final chain in my ode to Jimi Hendrix’ pedalboard!

Universal Audio Apollo

the leonard charles duo

This is such a great audio interface / plugin processor. I have been using UAD plugins since 2010 and I absolutely love their analogue feel and their ability to get gritty and harmonically complex. The audio quality of the Apollo is rock solid and I actually use the guitar amp simulators from UAD 90% of the time when recording guitar, they sound that good. This was used to record every song on the record.

E-mu SP1200

the leonard charles duo

I acquired this close to the end of the recording process. This used to be DJ Raw’s machine. Raw is an institution and has made some of Aotearoa’s hardest hip hop. I am honoured to have his machine. I have wanted an SP1200 since I first heard Pete Rock’s ‘Soul Survivor’. “I travel the world with an SP in my hand.” Apart from its older sibling the SP12, there is no beat making machine that will come close to the sonics of this machine. It’s so unique and is such an important element of ’90s boom-bap, hip hop. You can hear it on all the sounds on Breaking Bread and the crunchy samples and drums on the interlude She’s Got It.

Ableton Push 2

the leonard charles duo

The Push 2 is a multifaceted MIDI controller that is designed for controlling Ableton Live. I use it in many ways but by far the best is chopping samples fast, manually, across 64 pads to find new ways of rearranging samples then treating samples with compression, filters and EQ. I find it works best when you know where you want to take your song before you start chopping. You can hear it on My Inspiration where I chop up the Citizen Band track In A Lifetime.