Inside The ‘Sonic Sanctuary’ Of Synthesist Lisa Bella Dona

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The latest episode of EarthQuaker DevicesShow Us Your Junk series features a tour of synthesist Lisa Bella Donna‘s epic home studio, Appalachian Recordings, deep in the Appalachian mountains of the eastern United States.

Lisa Bella Donna is best known now as a composer and synthesist, but has known EarthQuaker Devices founder Jamie Stillman since the early 90s, when they would play punk house shows together.

This 48-minute video offers not only an extended tour of Bella Donna’s studio, but a deep dive into her perspective on a huge range of vintage and modern gear, and how it plays a part in her approach to composing and synthesis.

Video Summary:

“Lisa is a renowned recording artist, composer, sound designer, modular synthesist and educator.

In this incredible episode of Show Us Your Junk, Lisa talks about her early inspirations that led her to start playing music, and eventually using electronic synthesis to craft the unique voice that she envisioned. After hearing Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Wendy Carlos’s “Switched on Bach” and “Sonic Seasons,” it became clear that music was her destiny. Her stories include recording and editing commercial jingles in the 80s, selling her car to put a down payment on an Arp 2600 synthesizer, and discovering the rich characteristics of recording to 8-track tape.

While this studio packs in a ton of rare gear, Lisa claims she doesn’t consider herself a collector. “My choices are very utilitarian; pretty much everything in here is here for a purpose, and it’s part of the big picture – the great stream of what my albums become,” she says. Some of her staple instruments include the ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, ARP Omni, Mini Moog, and Fender Rhodes. EQD pedals she frequently uses include the Rainbow Machine, Arpanoid, and Grand Orbiter, but her favorite EQD pedal is the Avalanche Run. She loves it so much that she had a custom rack mount version built, which is patched directly to her main console. “It’s one of my favorite reverbs still – one of my most used for sure.”

Lisa has an interesting perspective when it comes to connecting music to visual concepts in nature and her environment. “When I compose music, I see it just as much as I hear it. I look at my arrangements as landscapes or deep woods mountain paths with all the textures and colors of the elements that surround it,” she says. This all makes sense when you see the picturesque plot of land in which she chose to settle down to build her studio and raise her daughter.”

Credits:

Shot by Chris Tran, Jeff France, David Whited, Dannesh Moosa
Edited by David Whited
Additional footage shot by Tristan Whitney Weary
Music by Lisa Bella Donna, EYE, Deadsea

Music Provided by Lisa Bella Donna
“Turning Points”
“Twi Spirit, One Life”
“Kohoutek”
“Emerald’s Run”
“Ascension”
“Pure Stereo Time Machine”
“Falling Leaves”

Special thanks to:
Moog Music Inc.
Waves Audio
Antonus Synthesizers
Hologram Electronics
Lower West Side Studio / Canada
Behind The Sky Records
SFI Records

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