In my November 2020 column, I introduced you to one of my favorite pedal demo artists, Hondo Felder. This month, I’d like to introduce you to two more stompbox demo makers who are creating great content.
Hissquiet (aka Ash Farrand)
Hissquiet (aka Ash Farrand) is a 3D artist, web developer, graphic designer, illustrator, and sound artist. Hissquiet creates short films that encompass all of their mixed media skills, and effects pedals are incorporated heavily into them. The result is a unique kind of demonstration video, each one creating a different mood while simultaneously showing off what the pedals and gear combinations can do.
What got you into making gear videos?
I’d been feeling the itch to create musically for a few years, since I’d barely picked up my guitar in the past almost-decade. I was browsing the depths of YouTube when I found Hainbach and Ann Annie videos and was immediately drawn into what they were doing.
The very next day I started recording stuff with my guitar and various VSTs [Virtual Studio Technologies]. I think my first foray into pedals was with the EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine and Afterneath.
I started posting my jam sessions and pedal demos on Instagram during “Jamuary” 2018, and I got such a good reception from inspiring folks in the community, like Anne Sulikowski and (NYC DJ) Blkmth, that most of my hesitation about posting went out the window and I’ve been collecting pedals and putting them together in odd ways ever since.
How do you choose which pedals you’re going to demo?
Acquiring a new pedal has been about “how do I create the sounds that I want, to build my perfect setup away from the computer.” I’m not against using a DAW. Since I spend a lot of time using screens the rest of the day for my jobs and other hobbies, it’s good to get away from that for a bit. Like, I’d recently been using a fuzz in Ableton on a lot of my stuff, so I knew I wanted to get a fuzz pedal. There are a lot of options for fuzz pedals out there, so my next question was, “Are there any smaller, perhaps women-owned/LGBT/BIPOC builders I can support?” Now I have the most uniquely gorgeous and lush fuzz pedal.
Anne Sulikowski is a sound artist, composer, photographer, and fine artist who makes sound and video collages utilizing lots of pedals. In my book, she is the pedal queen!
Anne creates ambient soundscapes of the heavily modulated variety, taking each effect and incorporating it into moody, thoughtful, short vignettes—all the while showcasing the settings she is using. Her videos are not meant to be specific to any one sound source. Anne uses modular synthesizers, kalimba, keyboards, guitar … you name it—often with three or more pedals chained together.
How did you get into demoing pedals?
I started to officially make pedal demos in 2018. My first real demo was for the Atmosphere reverb from Dr. Scientist. They did a post asking their followers who they would like to see demo their new reverb pedal. Hundreds of people responded, and one person mentioned my name and a couple of days later there was a message in my inbox. I was shocked, to say the least.
I joined Instagram in 2017. I was posting music for several years before that on other platforms. However, this time I started to post videos showing me creating the music rather than just sharing the final outcome of my music process. That shift opened up so many doors for me. At first no one was watching my videos, but I kept making them. I had only a handful of pedals at the time, but I used what I had and just kept posting.
I became friends with Ryan from Demos in the Dark and Lisa Bella Donna, both active in the demo and music scene. The two of them were very encouraging, as they thought I had something unique to bring to the table. They helped me to technically sort out all the things I needed to be able to make the videos I wanted. Folks seemed to really dig what I was doing, and I quickly went from 300 followers to over 12,000.
Not only am I a pedal addict, but I’m also a filmmaker and abstract painter. My demos became a reflection of that. They are like abstract movies. Each demo is not just a song or tips on how to use a new pedal. It’s a complete experience. I have done over 100 pedal demos, with more on the way.
Now, it’s up to you. Follow the links and names in this story to feasts your ears and eyes on some of the freshest stomp demos around.