[interview] BugBrand: Tom Bugs
Here's FXDB's interview with Tom Bugs of BugBrand:
How did BugBrand start?
Well, yes, pedals were something I did early on, but I gradually moved away from such areas to standalone/desktop sound-devices and synthesizers - for various reasons, partly mechanical, partly to create my own niche area.
I got started by simply trying out some lofi circuitry and by circuit bending - it all then gradually developed from there. It was pretty much self taught and directed learning.
Where do the name and logo come from?
I used to produce music under the name Knowledge of Bugs (just popped into my mind...) - BugBrand initially was a label to release recordings, but when I started making electronic devices it seemed good to use the name.
A friend of a friend designed the logo - I am still unsure why the bug looks so sad. I've tried a few times to edit the mouth to make it more happy, but it always looks funny..
What sets BugBrand apart from other builders?
Niche & Vision - modular synths have been becoming increasingly popular and I could have slotted in to the existing Eurorack world - but I chose to develop my own standard/system and the 30 or so systems out there now prove some worth of this approach - they are loved and are pretty darn unique.
Tone/pitch and rhythm are very important for me so my design approach & choice of modules has been informed by these factors -- drumming is one of my musical pursuits.
How do you start on a new product?
There are always TOO many ideas. Sometimes ideas will swill around for a good few months before an initial design is finalized, then it can take a couple of months to actually reach prototyping etc.
There are no hard and fast rules - some move quickly, some stall indefinitely, some just stay as ideas.
How do you name yourproducts?
Pure logic (sometimes with a smidgen of humor thrown in).
Can you tell us something about the production process?
Everything is currently in-house except for PCB fabrication (the raw boards) and metal work.
One employee who does the majority of the building work - I do the final work/testing and all the admin & (obviously?!) the design work too.
The circuits are currently hand-build SMD though moving soon to 'proper' production. The enclosures are custom designed/fabricated metal frames with front-panels made from PCB material.
How important is the look of your pedals?
Very - blue is best. Bananas also add visual clarity // show how things should be connected.
How important is parts selection?
I use nothing too rare.
Which of your products makes you most proud?
How the BugModular system works as a whole.
What was your toughest build?
Haha - something one-off like the Weevil Saxophones.
Which product is the most popular?
People have really enjoyed the various Weevils but these designs are currently asleep.
Who uses your products and for which genres?
I design synths along the lines of what I want to play in performance (not that I play so much anymore...). Most users tend to be 'hobbyists' who just love the machines.
Misquoted - 'I played it on the train from Cornwall to London - great fun - got some funny looks - but I gave it to a friend who needed a synth, so I'd like another one please.'
What does the future of BugBrand look like?
Unfortunately 'pedals' are not on my radar! My focus for a few years now has been the modular works.
Are you working on any new products?
No, I can't tell you...
You can expect them when they are ready!