Interview By: Rodney Clark
From learning how to bend to just straight frustration. Maybe you want a certain sound but can’t get it through self journey. Then you’ll want to contact Ivo Ivanov of Glitchmachines. What exactly is Glitchmachines? Let’s find out…
Q: What is Glitchmachines?
Glitchmachines is a privately owned and operated circuit bending brand that is dedicated to producing aesthetically unique, high quality instruments. Glitchmachines is focused on fusing modern art and design with circuit bent instruments in order to produce products that look as intriguing as they sound.
Q: Who all is involved with Glitchmachines and when did this venture start up?
Glitchmachines is run by myself, Ivo Ivanov, and was founded in 2005.
Q: How many bends a week would you say you do, or how often do you complete a bend?
On average, I work on 3-5 bends a week, time permitting. I often have multiple orders that are worked on simultaneously. If I can get everything synced up, I like to do my orders in stages; one day for prep and drilling, one day for painting, one day for soldering, one day for testing.
Q: Is this a full time job for you or do you make a living elsewhere?
I am 32 years old and a returning college student. My primary motivation for doing this is my interest in sound design, electronics, and art. I am currently enrolled at the Expression College for New Media in Emeryville, CA. I am working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science with an emphasis on sound design within the field of Interactive Entertainment (video games). I was the first ever recipient of the $10,000 Game Audio Network Guild Scholarship in 2006.
Q: How many units would you say you have bent in total?
I don’t have the exact number, but I am definitely well over 150 units since 2005.
Q: What’s the most requested bent item you sell?
My most frequently sold instrument is the Syntax Cataract. Thus far, I have sold over 70 units. I frequently run special edition versions of this instrument which feature one-of-a-kind paint jobs. The ‘standard’ unit sells for $200 and the special editions run between $225 – $250.
Q: If you had to have a favorite bend what would it be and what makes it number one in your book?
There are so many great bends out there that are all characteristically unique, but I’m particularly fond of Casio keyboards in general. The Casio MT-140 is a great unit with a wealth of possibilities for all kinds of interesting bends. The Casio MT-500 is a very interesting bend, but also one of the more difficult for me to build, as I incorporate industrial grade arcade joysticks which are very tedious to mount into the speaker ports.
Q: What was the biggest dollar amount you netted on one bend?
I have sold a variant of the Logic Bomb for $400. It‘s often difficult to price my units because of the crossover into the art world. If I were to price them in a different context, as artwork, they would likely be much more expensive. I believe that I have come up with a pricing structure that is reasonable, competitive, and relevant to the circuit bending scene and music community.
Q: Does the love for bending wear off, having to bend so much for so many other people?
I would never do this if I didn’t love it completely. More often than not, I am so eager to implement a new design idea that I can hardly wait to get back to my work bench. Of course, there are certainly moments where I get frustrated, but I always try to implement new ideas to keep things fresh. When you are going to school full time and coming home to 5 projects that all need to be finished and shipped as soon as possible, it can sometimes be a little much.
Q: Do you sell a lot of things on the net, or to people locally in San Francisco?
I use eBay quite a bit. It’s been such an excellent retail platform for me and has allowed for me to reach a worldwide audience. Myspace has been a really solid resource as well. I have been able to build a strong network of contacts and am now at a point where I receive multiple inquiries on a daily basis. The best thing about Myspace is that it has put me in touch with artists that I would otherwise have no connection with. People like Richard Devine and Otto Von Schirach have come to me on their own accord, requesting custom units. Occasionally I will be commissioned to do work from someone in person, on a local basis.
Q: What would you say to people that would tell people not to buy bent instruments, rather build them yourself for a lot less?
I’d say that I fully encourage anyone who is interested to get into bending their own stuff. It’s all relative though. It’s like saying that everyone should stop buying art and just start painting themselves. It takes a certain amount of savvy and patience to deal with electronics. I believe that with Glitchmachines, I offer a product that most people would not be able to easily replicate. I have definitely seen a lot of bent gear being put up for sale that is underdeveloped and of questionable quality. Hopefully, people are generally aware of what they are buying, but I know that this is not always the case.
Q: Do you ever make your secrets known…and lend advice on bends when contacted for help?
I do, but I treat situations like that on an individual basis. Sometimes if I answer a question with too much enthusiasm, it can lead to a full on tutorial, which is time consuming and often under appreciated. I try to guide people in the right direction without spelling things out completely. After all, circuit bending is all about exploration and I think it’s cheap to just use someone else’s methods without putting any effort into making your own discoveries.
Q: Do you have a private stash of bent toys just for you? Stuff you use for your own recreation? If so how are they used?
I do have a few units that I keep around for my own enjoyment. I typically incorporate them into my music project “acrodot”. I have been asked to perform live solely with my instruments, but it has thus far not come to fruition.
Q: Where would someone go to get a hold of one of your machines?
I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org I typically refer people to my Myspace page so that they can have an idea of my body of work. I then narrow it down according to a client’s particular interests and we decide on a unit. I like to take custom color combination requests, though I typically reserve complete creative control over the design of each instrument. Occasionally, I release special edition units that are posted on eBay. If you add “glitchmachines” as one of your favorite sellers, you will be prompted next time that such an instrument is made available.
Q: Anything you want to add?
I’d like to thank everyone at GetLoFi for taking an interest in my work. This site has been a great resource over the course of its existence, and has been an instrumental platform for illustrating happenings within the circuit bending community.
Cool…We thank you as well, for answering these questions. We wish only the best to you and the future of Glitchmachines.