[interview] Feisty Little One: Ross Johnston

Here's FXDB's interview with Ross Johnston of Feisty Little One:

How did Feisty Little One start?

We started with building contact microphones and circuit bending keyboards because we were/are too poor to buy synthesizers. Once we got our soldering chops, we learned how to read schematics and started building effects pedals and simple oscillators because they produce more predictable results.

I think Feisty Little One became an official project (we gave it a name) sometime in the summer of 2008.

Help came in the way of nice people posting information and tips on DIY websites and from lurking a lot of message boards (we're just not very talkative).

Where does the name come from?

Our project's name comes from a scene in Jabba's palace in "Return of the Jedi". Hologram Luke just gave C-3PO and R2-D2 to Jabba. He sends them below to be given work assignments.R 2-D2 beeps and boops at EV-9D9 (the droid in charge of coordinating the slave-droid labor at the palace).EV -9D9 responds in a creepy, ring-modulated voice: "you're a Feisty Little One, but you'll soon learn some respect".

It's kind of an homage to R2-D2's anti-authoritarian nature.

How do you name your pedals?

Everything is based on Star Wars. The original Star Wars, not the shitty prequels.

Except the Vorpal Sword. That one is based on "Through the Looking Glass" which is a sweet book and is no longer copyrighted.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

For the circuits we look through old electronics books for ideas, breadboard the ideas and play around with them... change 'em up a bit. Once we're happy with the sound(s), we lay everything out for a prototype. If the prototype works the way we want it to, we move on to the enclosures.

For the enclosures we figure out a way to fit all the pots and switches and other stuff into the box.Then we watch star wars a couple times to come up with a name. Once we have a name, it's time to design some artwork, print the artwork on adhesive vinyl, cut it out, stick it on the boxes, add a couple coats of clear varnish, and finally drill.

All circuits are made on perfboard and everything is hand-wired. It takes forever.

How important is the look of your pedals?

We try to make the pedals pleasing to the eyes and understand that, to most people, a good looking pedal is more desirable than a plain aluminum box labeled with a sharpie marker. But we're not artists and focus more on making the pedals sound good and last a long time.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

I am most proud of the Vorpal Sword because it took me six fucking hours to build the prototype circuit board and then I had to figure out how to silence an unwanted oscillator bleed. Once we get our new dual filter and arpeggio pedals done, I'll be most proud of them.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I suppose we make pedals for the noisier/heavier/weirder end of the genre spectrum, but we think they can be pretty versatile.

What does the future of Feisty Little One look like?

We'd like to continue getting our products out to more retailers.

We're also working on some pedals that are not just distortion and hope to have them available soon. There will probably be some non-star wars themed pedals in the future.

And we'd like to not be broke.

Are you working on any new products?

Always working on new fuzz boxes. We're also designing a parallel VCF pedal and an arpeggio pedal. I have no idea when we'll have them ready. There will also be an analog bit crusher-type pedal... our great white whale, so to speak.

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