With Geoff Waterston the designer and creator of THE ENIGISER & ENIGISER X.
When was the ENIGISER first built and what was the inspiration for it?
I first started modifying synths in 1987 when I dropped out of an analogue electronics course to join one of the first music technology courses in the UK. I had been immersed with music from the likes of Depeche Mode, Human League, Giorgio Moroder, Jean Michael Jarre and Kraftwerk, OMD etc. Then when the acid house sounds started coming over from the US I just I got really serious about making my own music. I was poor and running out of sounds to make for my own music so I would literally put switches, pots, sockets, inputs and outputs into every module and part of the synths I had and convert all the standard filters into multi modes so I could create my own organic sound.
I then got massively involved in the acid house/rave scene in the late 80’s, early 90’s and after countless demo tapes, some amazing pirate radio sessions, gigs, underground raves. I released my first EP called Eternal on cassette which had loads of my modified equipment on it. We would play a gig and then sell all the cassette tapes afterwards. The “Eternal tapes”sold out in their thousands, so I recorded it to vinyl and ended up selling a few thousand copies and playing some pretty crazy big crowd raves and chill out rooms all over the UK.
Creating the machines to make the music was what I loved doing, so after years of playing around with different designs THE ENIGISER became a finished fully fledged product in about 1995.
What about the name?
Well the name Orgon comes from Wilhelm Reich “Orgone Energy”. His books also led me in the early 90’s to build some pretty far out plant feedback interfaces. Not sure if there’s a market out there for feedback plant machines, but my interests for how we interact with nature are still incredibly important to me.
Why are first edition ENIGISERS still going strong and why did you stop making them?
First off I never stopped making machines or music and while there was always a fairly steady and at times big demand for my synths. I just found the commercial aspects of big production and big business were not something I was very comfortable with. And when I hired managers to handle it for me I discovered that most of them weren’t very good at it either.
I think the first edition enigisers became so desired over the years because they were the first ever synth designed specifically for experimental dance musicians. They have also lasted the test of time in how robust they are and plus they are actually really hard to make. I mean I’ve seen some copies of the enigiser that people have sent over for me to look at and they really have got many aspects of the design wrong and they don’t even understand how to use it.
It was an incredibly spiritual and magical phase of my life when I created THE ENIGISER so obviously the machine carries that energy within it and the copies just haven’t got that.
What about your ORGON Modulars?
I love the Modular’s and love building them and over the years I’ve sold quite a few to private collectors and musicians. What I keep finding is that they are often misunderstood as being a DIY project rather than the fully fledged, unique machines they are. But yeah I’ve been digging some old Modular’s out the workshops and playing around with them and looking at bringing some out for sale again, maybe later this year even.
So why release the enigiser again now?
Because I’ve never lost my love for it, it seems more relevant than ever and even though I have other things going on in my life people still manage to seek me out for them, so I guessed after 26 years it was time to get the enigiser back into production. Plus this time round I’ve got more time, more energy and more space to build and produce in higher quantities than I did first time round. Also there’s some pretty out there musicians right now and I love that some of my personal favourites have been in touch to buy one. For me that really blows my mind that people I totally listen too and respect are using my machines to make music. I mean when I saw DISCLOSURE playing an ENIGISER on a live video stream at Devon Analogue, I was blown away.
What about the fake ENIGISERS out there?
A couple or so years ago we started getting messages from someone asking for our schematics for the ENIGISER which obviously I wasn’t going to share. So when I saw that a Swedish guy had made an attempt to back engineer my designs and was trying to pass off my work as his, I made immediate contact with a cease and decease notice as no permission had been given to him to copy my work. I got a few weird emails back that didn’t really make much sense and I’ve heard that he is actively now selling these as his own. I’ve put this into the hands of a legal team as there’s been some other very strange claims he has said online, so really it’s out of my hands now. I mean it’s odd that someone who has stole my designs is angry at me for selling my own designs but ultimately I designed the ENIGISER for musicians who want to be experimental and creative. So to consider buying an enigiser from someone who has no creativity of their own, just won’t have the same energy and kind of misses the point.
Who is buying the ENIGISER?
We have had loads of orders from DJ’s and producers who are blown away by the sound of the ENIGISER and what it can create and the pure dominating impact of it. And like I said earlier we’ve sent some out to some of my favourite musicians which just blew me away when I realised that people I totally respect loved the ENIGISER and wanted to buy one. I was worried about Brexit and the impact on the European market but we have sent quite a few out to Europe. And Japan has always been into my work so that’s still a really good market for us along with the UK as we still have a lot of synth lovers here. But really they seem to getting sent out all over the world as we’ve been shipping to Chile, the US and Australia as well.
Have you still got all the articles from the mix mag DIY projects you did in the 90’s?
When I first did those articles for mix mag we actually had to write them on a typewriter and fax them or post them over as we didn’t yet have a computer which feels a bit mad looking back. We did borrow a computer for the weekend from my brothers workplace for the manual though, but the program was pretty rough and already out of date. We’ve decided to keep the manual in the format it was created in as it does cover everything and it looks pretty retro.
In regards to the DIY articles, I’ve started digging them out and I am going to start publishing them again here on this site.
Any other plans/products?
We have just released the new ENIGISER X which was a bit earlier than expected but as we had these cloners faking our products, I wanted to let people buy the expanded version of the ENIGISER from us instead of having to buy a machine that is really badly made from someone else. But yeah since I’ve seen the demand for the ENIGISERS I am right back into it. I even have the same notepad from the 90’s with all my designs in so I am definitely going to be resurrecting some of these. And I’ve got sone really exciting new ideas for the synth market but I’m keeping this under wraps for now. The focus right now is all on the enigiser and the ENIGISER X and making sure we keep on posting out people’s orders. Plus I’m pretty excited to see/hear what people are going to be doing with the enigisers.