MILLVILLE, NJ: Kush Audio, the pro audio manufacturer started by Gregory “UBK” Scott, has seen its first product, the UBK Fatso, through to full-blown manufacturing and global distribution. Scott’s already deep into the development of Kush’s next product, and gave us some advance intel on its functionality and interface design, touching on bigger-picture concepts of how a product’s interface may actually heighten or impede creativity.
A: Well, it’s a brand-new product (not a mod) and it’s not a compressor. It’s going to be another no-brainer processor that you can’t make sound bad, a processor that always sounds amazing and does things to sound that almost everybody wants. And, it’s going to come in at a price that’s crazy for what it does and the quality that it offers, which is the primary thing for me. I find it such a bummer that so many of the amazing pieces of gear are so expensive.
Q: And, what stage of development is that at right now?
A: UBK: We had an early prototype built that performed and functioned perfectly. Now, it’s a matter of developing the interface. My interface ideas are all about creating an experience for the user that pushes them outside of their boxes. The cool thing about the UBK Fatso, for example, is that because you’re freed up from all these other knobs, and all you have to do is choose from the different flavors of compression, people can get right down to the business of experimenting.
That’s one thing I noticed at the tradeshows, watching people play with the UBK Fatso, they would do things and use degrees of compression that they wouldn’t try when they moved over to the distressor. Something about their brains being freed of all these technical things, they immediately moved into creative mode.
Q: So, at a time when producer/engineers have basically unlimited sonic palettes, you’re taking a less-is-more approach?
A: Lately, I’ve been all about limiting my own options in the creative realm. I got rid of the computer in my studio, I put an 8-track reel-to-reel, a small little 8-channel 70s console and I unhooked all my gear and shoved it in the corner. I decided I’d work on my music and I would only plug or patch a piece of gear in when I need it. I broke all my patterns, stripped it all down. And I found that out of 15 pieces of gear I had in the rack, I’m halfway through a song and I think I’ve patched in two compressors.
The interface on my next product will have an array of switches and knobs. What it does inside the box is fairly similar to a few other things that have existed in the world for as long as there’s been recorded audio, but the way I’ve designed the interface, it’s not like anything you’ve ever used. So what’s going to happen is people will run their sound through it and start hitting switches because they don’t know the interface, they’ve never experienced a piece of gear like this. And, they’re really going to hear what it does.
Q: So you think the interface actually affects what they hear, and how they hear?
A: There’s something about the interface — like how the color of the plug-in influences the way you hear its effect — i.e. wood-sided panels on the software plug-in somehow make it feel warmer. I’ve had this experience as a user. The brown color of the UBK Fatso was a deliberate choice for that reason and there’s been more than one person who’s commented on its “brown sound.” I give my compressor names like “Splat,” rather than calling it a “bus compressor.” People reach for that sound when they want a certain texture.
The designer I’m working with wanted this box to have like 15 settings, and I suggested that we pick the best 4. We ultimately compromised on 6, and I split those up into two sections. This piece of gear could have functioned with two knobs, but I broke it out into 6 switches and 3 knobs instead. Just to scatter the patterns in the brain and force people to come at this thing differently.
My new processor is going to bring clarity to your sound. You’re going to turn a knob and your sound will come up and forward. One guy that used the prototype said that it “wipes the mud off the windshield!” And I’m convinced he never would have thought of it that way if I packaged this in standard interface form.
Q: So you’re not the one actually designing the circuitry of the Kush products?
A: No, I know just enough about electronics to get in trouble. There are so many talented and gifted designers out there who don’t want to run a company, or bother with manufacturing and distribution. They just want to build things, and give it to the world and maybe get some credit and earn some money. My company is going to seek out these designers, help them bring their ideas to market, compensate them generously for their time and gifts and I’m going to package these products in a way that I think helps to further the creative bounty of the world.