( formerly called S.A.T.A.N ).
It is certainly the most complete application you can get for free and also being one of the few apps that can be called complete as SunVox / Caustic / G-Stomper Studio / Syntheogen / Nanoloop coming with multi tracks / sequencer / soundengines / effects.
Happy to say there is a continous development of the application and it will be interesting to see how it will develop.
Had planned too interview Anton for a while and finally it is done.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
When did VuKNOB start to be developed?
VuKNOB started out as "Signal Applications To Audio Networks" back in 2003 when my friend Johan Thim and I did a project in an Applied Signal Processing course at the university of Technology in Luleå, Sweden.
So how did VuKNOB ( S.A.T.A.N ) end up being a Android application?
At that time S.A.T.A.N was created it was a command line tool for Linux machines, written in C. Even though that was the last time Johan and I worked on that project I could not really let it die so I continued with it together with another friend, Ted Björling.
Him and I decided to rewrite the basic framework in C++, and do a more GUI oriented design. Still at this stage the target was a Linux based desktop machine.
Frankly, the idea of running this sort of software on a phone did not even cross my mind back then. The first stab at porting it to a phone was when the OpenMoko came out, it ran standard Linux and GTK+ based applications, so porting it was quite simple.
Unfortunately the OpenMoko phone was basically going nowhere, or at least nowhere interesting from my point of view, so I abandoned it after a while.
However, I learned a few things about doing signal processing on an ARM based CPU without a floating point processor. This came in handy when the Android NDK came out, so I started to play with that.
As it is an open source project how many people have been involved over the years?
There is basically zero community around the VuKNOB source code.
I wish more people would take advantage of it.
Before the Android port there were hardly any users of it,
and frankly it wasn't even useful back then.
The only people involved except me are a few of my friends who did bits and pieces
here and there.
The latest "contribution" to the code was when Sima Baymani, another friend of mine, created the sima_overdrive effect together with me.
Ted Björling also deserves credit for giving me the color scheme for VuKNOB.
The app was going in a much darker and depressing direction before he showed me the bright side of things.. Hehe.. :)
Is there any change in vision since the project got started?
Wow, yes definitively!
With every new target platform the basic vision has radically changed.
When the first version of SATAN for Android came out it was one of a very small number of apps of it's class. I'm not sure it was the first DAW for Android, but pretty darn close I would say. The first release on Play was the 22:nd of June 2011.
The vision was blurry back then, but crystallized soon.
I want to provide a tool with which is as easy to use as a toy,
but at the same time does not limit your creativity by removing the flexibility of a complex program.
What is planned for the future?
Since the inception of this app 11 years ago I've had so many cool ideas.
Many of the real cool ones are still not implemented.
I would like the tool to be more collaborative, and hopefully I'll be satisfied enough with the other parts to start working on that.
Less grandiose ideas are of course to add more synthesizers and effects, make it generally more usable and easy.
I still get quite a lot of complaints about it being difficult to use, but compared to the other equivalent apps on android and other platforms I am not convinced VuKNOB is so much more complicated than the rest of the pack.
The thing I've been working most lately is the JAM view.
Unfortunately that part of the app is only useful on phones and devices that properly implement low latency audio. This is not the case on like 99% of the phones out there. Only the last generations of the Nexus series does it, and a few of this year high-end phones from Samsung, LG etc. So, if you're going to do audio on Android - get one of those devices!
The JAM view let's you play with VuKNOB in real time. You can record multiple sessions which plays back automatically while you continue to play. This let's you come up with new ideas on the fly, and make instant recordings which is great.
I still got plenty of improvements up my sleeve which I hope to implement to make it even more fun and usable.
Also - I would like to have feedback from any user out there of what features to implement. I just created a Google+ community for VuKNOB where I would be happy to get this kind of feedback.
As the app was named S.A.T.A.N I have to ask if there was any Satanists ( which is fine by me ) involved in the making of Vuknob?
The first iteration of the project was named by Johan.
He thought it was a funny joke, and I guess we didn't have much respect for religion back then. Not sure if I would call him a satanist though. It wasn't a philosophical thing, just a silly twist.
Why did the name get changed?
The project had reached a certain maturity and there was no longer much resemblance to the original project.
I wanted to give the app a new graphical design and give it a more distinctive and recognizable name. SATAN was not a very unique name.
VuKNOB is maybe not the best name, but it's unique and recognizable and I'm pretty proud of the logo attached to it.
I'm still quite proud of the original logo that I did for SATAN too, actually... I love vector graphics. :)
What software if any was the inspiration for Vuknob?
I think someone wrote it in a review on Play Store -
Buzz Tracker by Oskari Tammelin.
That together with OctaMED for the Amiga has been my greatest inspirations for VuKNOB.
The GUI version of Satan started out as pretty much of a clone of Buzz, although it was free software.
Oskari made the mistake of only keeping the source for him self, and he also did not do backups.. So one day it was basically lost.
That could not happen to VuKNOB. The way you connect machines in VuKNOB is pretty much how it was done in BUZZ, but the tracker type of UI does not fit very well with a finger controlled device like a phone.
The JAM view was heavily inspired by the Korg Kaossilator, for which I think there is an app for iOS. Again, my version is free software...
Are there any other Android music applications that you use?
If so what do you like with it / them?
I've been playing around with a few synths and keyboards, and tools like Caustic, just to see what they are all about, but I don't really use anything but VuKNOB.
I would say Caustic is quite a program, powerful and solid.
I don't care much for the graphic design of the UI though, but that's just my taste.
However, the UI is usable and flexible but I would say it's at least as confusing as VuKNOB.. :)
Do you have any music that anyone made with Vuknob?
I just finished a track tonight, I wrote some beats and then I played around with the JAM feature. Here's a link to it on SoundCloud:
What is your favorite aspect/s of Vuknob?
I would say the aspect that I enjoy the most in VuKNOB is the JAM view. That let's me create complex patterns in a very creative way.
What do you feel is the weak point of Vuknob?
The development speed.
There are so many ideas I would like to implement if I only had the time.
I'm not making a living out of VuKNOB so I have to spend most of my time doing other things, but I try to spend a few hours every week with it.
What is your own background in music?
I've had schooling in classical piano and the drums, and I was always very interested in music. I started to create music in a program called Amiga Appetizer.
Here's a video of that amazing little program:
From that I moved on to MED and then OctaMED.
Here's another video of that:
Then finally Buzz Tracker with which I created some of my best work -
A few of my friends went on to actually doing music on a little more professional level and gained some fame, but my music really never left the hobby level.
What is your background in programming?
Before I got into music creation on the Amiga around 1989 I actually started to program on the Zinclair Spectrum that my dad bought a few years before the A500.
For the first few years most of it was done in different versions of Basic, like Blitz Basic,
but I switched to C later because that was a more serious tool.
I've programmed ever since, and programming became my profession.
I've mostly been working in the telecom space in Sweden.
What are your other projects in programming that you are working on?
Outside of work I've been doing a few other hobby projects.
Mostly computer graphics and game stuff, but for the last ten years it's only really been VuKNOB. If I could find out I would really like to know the amount of time I spent on that.
The number must be huge.
Any other creative endeavors?
These days I have quite a time consuming job, and also a family of my own.
This leaves somewhat less time for creative endeavors,
but I like to do graphics and create music when I got the time and inspiration.
I put stuff on SoundCloud - of highly varying quality...
So thank you so much Anton for taking time to answer questions and sharing!
Here is some screenshots of VuKNOBS earlier days.
Do not know why but I do like to see how thing started!