Category Archives: Interviews

Workshops 101

“Workshop…There’s plenty of info on the net!” Maybe, but a lot of us are visual learners. We need someone to show us while we touch and feel around the task at hand. Who better to show you than a good buddy who does circuit bending in his/her basement. You know, the guy you always see at the thrift store picking out new gear to bend. Ask him if he wants to throw a workshop and help you learn how to bend. Invite your sister and the dude upstairs and it’s a sure party! Well if I was to ask a friend I’d ask my good buds Bianca Pettis (Beatrix), and Jacob Aaron Roske (JAR), from Beatrix*Jar, out of Minneapolis to help me out. See they’ve done plenty of siminars spreading the good work of bending. They also put on a really rocking show! I asked if they could maybe help explain what all goes into a workshop, and this is what they said…


Q: How many Circuit Bending workshops have the two of you put together?

JAR: Gosh maybe thirty?

BEATRIX: Or maybe forty?

JAR: Thirty seems about right.

Q: Do you travel a lot to places to put on workshops? Is this sort of thing in high demand?

JAR: We have traveled a lot of places, there’s always new places to show circuit bending.

BEATRIX: We’ve been up and down the west coast – through a lot of the midwest. We would like to travel more. It’s not an easy thing though – in the end we sort of create the demand for ourselves. A lot of energy goes into contacting institutions and venues to see if they would be interested in hosting us.

JAR: Most people don’t know what circuit bending is.

BEATRIX: It’s our duty to tell them!

Q: Where are some of the places you’ve been to, to put on workshops?

JAR: Gosh – so many: Erie Art Museum in Erie, PA. Wexner Art Center in Columbus. Ohio, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore…

BEATRIX: Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus Ohio, this D.I.Y. Space in Cleveland called Parish Hall, Trunk Space in Arizona.

JAR: The Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor Michigan, a really cool space in New Mexico called High Mayhem and Super Happy Funland in Houston.


Q: What was the best workshop you have done as far as location and crowd?

JAR: When the Bent Festival came to Minneapolis and the Spark Electronic Art and Music Festival at the University of Minnesota. Those two were pretty big as far as workshops go.

BEATRIX: We felt the most love at a venue called the Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor. The workshop was chaotic but in the end a group of three teenage girls started a band.

JAR: They called themselves Triple Trouble.

BEATRIX: The played instruments they had circuit bent that afternoon at our workshop.

JAR: They’re awesome!

Q: What all goes into preparation for a workshop?

JAR: We practice at the house with an imaginary audience.

(They both laugh)

BEATRIX: I just try to make sure we have all the tools and supplies…Jacob never does!

JAR: We go thrifting for toys. We usually ask people to bring their own toys to the workshop – but we find it helps to have a lot of backups.

Q: What kind of things do you go over in your workshops?

JAR: A real good introduction. What we like to call the basics of adding an on/off switch.

BEATRIX: We only endorse battery powered devices – and we get real excited when someone puts on a switch during the workshop.

Q: What do you teach as far as applications of their new found knowledge?

BEATRIX: We talk about circuit bending in perspective to sound art and we encourage people to make music no matter what the instrument.

JAR: We want people to walk away and feel inspired to listen to different types of sounds in the world.

BEATRIX: We want to encourage people to be sonic explorers. We also try to book a performance with the workshop at the same venue…

JAR: …to show people how we use circuit-bent machines and hopefully inspire them to incorporate non-traditional instruments and sounds into their own work.

Q: How would you gauge turnouts in the regions you’ve been a part of with these workshops? Is one area…on top of the whole circuit bending “scene” more than another?

JAR: Honestly, turnouts vary from location to location – even the weather can be a factor. If workshops are well publicized and people know about it then the turnout is excellent.

BEATRIX: The east coast seems to have a large scene. New York – you know since they hosted the first circuit bending festival.

JAR: And we’ve turned a lot of new people on to circuit bending so maybe more scenes are forming.

Q: If someone wanted to put on a workshop in their area what should they know?

BEATRIX: Encourage people to bring their own supplies: toys, soldering guns, etc. that’s the main thing.

JAR: We always encourage people to get together and bend after our workshops…you just need a space and an interest.

Q: How would someone go about getting you guys out to their area to put on a workshop?

JAR: Just contact us: or you can call us directly at: 612-227-8414.

Q: Anything you two want to add?

JAR: Circuit bending is a real personal experience, everyone is going to have a very different sensation with it. So enjoy the trial and error and go into the unknown of sound art.

beatrix jar

If you want to know more check out Beatrix*Jar’s myspace page. They also have a bunch of tour dates listed. Maybe you can convience them to swing by your place if they aren’t already coming over for dinner soon. Dig in! -Rodney

Edited to add:

Beatrix*Jar will be playing at LoFi Fest 2007 in Iowa City on 9.15.07 Come check it and maybe even talk shop with them.

Make Some Noise Italy!

Interview By: Rodney Clark

I’m Curious about the “world” of bending. How far does it really reach? I needed answers to my questions. I thought I’d ask Lorenzo Mos and Nazareno Bassi of the great circuit bending duo… Circo Bazooko, what they thought of Italy and the “scene” there. Just how much of the world truly wants to get bent?

Circo Bazooko

Q: What is the scene like in Italy for Circuit Bending?

A: I know few people at the moment who bend instruments and toys in Italy… so I don’t think we can talk about a “scene”.

Q: If I was to go to a show in Italy what should I expect as far as a vibe toward Circuit Bending?

A: In Italy playing in a show is not that easy, even if you play covers of Nirvana. Ah, ah! There are some clubs where they try to propose good music and talent artists… but there are very few people interested in listening your music if you are not a hype little star, ah, ah, ah!

When Nacho and I play live with my bent or DIY machines, people is very curious, astonished or amazed. I can see the smile on their faces and this is good.

At the moment we haven’t a proper noise-experimental project, we try to mix Circuit Bending with dance-punk-electro music and traditional electronic instruments, like drum machine, sampler, sequencer…

Q: Do you guys get together with others and do workshops and trade secrets on bends, or is it just the two of you?

A: We don’t live in a very big city… There are some blogs and forums, but noting more… We don’t know anybody who does bending here. It is a pity… on the other hand, there are a lot of things I have to discover yet, and this is fascinating!!!

Q: How easy is it to get the materials you need in Italy to bend…like keyboards of choice and stuff?

A: I look for my stuff on ebay or in some junk shops where sometimes they sell chips. Sometimes some friends don’t understand the potentiality of a old Casio keyboard and so… they make my a present!

But there is stuff that Italy will never see.

Q: Is there anything unique you can’t find over in Italy you would love someone to help guide the way to getting one?

A: Let me think… sometimes on the web I find strange objects and very interesting bent machines. There are a lot of stuff which I don’t know, I can’t tell what the hell they are… too many.

Yes, I definitely would like to meet some of you, with your unique machine. Maybe one day!

Q: How are the records selling for you guys as far as being Circuit Benders trying to preform and sell your material?

A: “Record selling”? What do you mean? Ah, ah, ah!

Q: What other artist are there in Italy you would like to turn on people to?

A: It’s a pity but we never meet other benders, just some Italian guys on myspace: Cobolpongide, Eraser, Postalmarket … my parallel project LMos 😉

On the other hand there are a lot of good Indie bands like: Jennifer Gentle, Father Murphy, il Teatro degli Orrori … or some old Italian bands like: CSI, Lucio Battisti, Area… but I don’t think you would love them! 😉

Q: What web sites do you enjoy checking out to help bettter your techniques if any. Some place people might not know about to help them learn how to do new things?

A: and obviously,,

Q: Will we be seeing any Italian artist, including yourselves…coming to the states or traveling elsewhere to preform any time soon?

A: We’d be very happy to play in the U.S.A, we never make plans about this… and at this moment since none invited us to the States for a live set (is there anybody out there? ;D ), we are working on some dates in London and in Barcelona in Spain… maybe next winter.

Anyway, if you like, you could go and see my brother playing not-bended keyboards with Jennifer Gentle, they are on tour in the States, now. 😉

… But why don’t you come in Italy?

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: Yes: Thanks again for everything!!

Cirko Bazooko Bend

NO…thank you! Come on Italy you need to make more noise than that! If you’re reading this…please hook up with Circo Bazooko. Let them know you hear them! Spread the bends! They even just invited you to go to Europe and play a show with them, or put on a workshop! You can visit Circo Bazooko via the net at: or for more info on them, or just to say hello. Thanks again guys!!


Artist Interview: POTAR

Interviewed by: Rodney Clark

I recently had a chance to hook-up with POTAR, a Long Beach Experimental Circuit Bender. I made contact with him via e-mail and had a couple of questions to ask. This is how it went down…

Q: Who is Potar, where are you from, and when did this all start…as far as music and circuit bending?

A: Potar is myself, Michael Winchester from Long Beach, Ca. I’ve been making music by myself since 1996, I had a little Fostex 4 Track and would loop noise from whatever sources I could find. I kept on picking up toy keyboards, drum machines, anything that produced sound. In 2001 I read my first article on “Circuit Bending”, opened up my trusty Roland TR-505 and was amazed at how many new sounds could be produced. I’ve been at it ever since.

Q: Who are some of your all-time music influences?

A: My musical influences as pretty eclectic, I have a pretty good sized record collection. Everything from the Butthole Surfers and Devo, to Hoarce Silver and John Coltrane, to Cold Blood and Dr. Hook.

Q: I since a hint of hip hop as well in your creation? How would that play into the equation?

A: I’ve been into hip hop since the early 80’s. I use a lot of hip hop production techniques in my music as far as samples, loops, and the use of turntables. I have a ton of musical influences and they all play a part in the music I create.

Q: Who do you hang out with and where do you go to hang out? What do you do for fun?

A: I pretty much just hang out at home. On weekends I’ll go to Yard Sales, Thrift Stores and Swap meets with my girlfriend looking for toys, records and the like. Monday or Tuesday JMM will come over and we’ll fire up the soldering iron and bend some stuff. Lately we’ve been building a lot of WSG’s and looking into synth rack schematics.

Q: I see a lot of posted bulletins on myspace about a reggae night with free taco’s…what’s that all about?

A: A really good friend of mine, Daddy Scotty of the Hip Hop Reggae group Chapter 11 does a weekly dj gig in North Long Beach. He spins early dancehall and roots. It’s a good time, plus free tacos and $2 Red Stripes!!

Q: What do you think of the Long Beach and L.A. area Experimental/Noise/Circuit Bending scene, and where will it go?

A: The Long Beach scene was pretty dead for a minute, but now with groups like 11hz Robot and GhostShip, I see it growing. The downtown art scene has been very good to us, people like the Hooray for Humans artist collective have been especially supportive. It’s getting better for us here in Long Beach, but L.A. is still the place for experimental music.

Q: What is in the cards as far as the near future goes with the direction of POTAR?

A: I’m recording a bunch of new material right now for a split release with Talking Computron on Tiger Claw Records. I’ve also been in talks with Hooray for Humans to do a circuit bending workshop sometime in October or November, that should be a lot of fun.

Q: What was the story behind Rolling Stone and the Jared Theremin?

A: My DJ and I were playing a battle of the bands type show at a local punk rock bar here in Long Beach. A couple of the guys from The All America Rejects were there. I used my homemade Theremin in a Jar like I always do and have been since building it in 2002. So a couple months later in Rolling Stone Magazine the All American Rejects were bragging about their homemade Theremin in a jar and how it really changed their sound on the new album. Rubbed me the wrong way.

Q: What are some of your recent builds, and what was or is your favorite bend?

A: Favorite build hands down is the Roland TR-505, mostly because of the variety of sounds it can produce. I also really enjoy building WSG’s & oscillators from scratch. The satisfaction of having a bunch of parts that do nothing and then building them into a useable device is awesome.

Q: What is a WSG?

A: A WSG is a “weird sound generator” as found on Ray Wilson’s website. It’s based around two IC’s, the CD40106 and the LM741 op amp. It’s basically six oscillators controlled by 9 pots. It’s a great build and super fun to play with.

Q: Any thing you would like to add?

A: Keep It Noisy!!

If you want to know more about POTAR check him out at …
There you can listen to some of his songs and get a good look at his bends.