Interview with Irfan Gusani
- March 25, 2021
- by Ray Williams
- Meet the Programmers
Beyron Audio is new company from Finland that has released a great sounding instrument called Altron. We predict that you will hear more and more about Beyron Audio because of this synthesizer is unique in a sea of me-too, sample playing sound machines. This new synth simply sounds amazing and we invite you to check it out for yourself and not just take our word for it. In addition to a commitment to usable, inspiring sounds, Beyron Audio is also invested in performance as so beautifully illustrated in the Smart Sequencer built into Altron. Once we started to use Altron we loved it and mostly because of its sounds and the way it triggers inspiration with the Smart Sequencer.
We were able to sit down and talk with Beyron Audio’s Founder and CEO, Irfan Gusani, about his journey to becoming a synthesizer maker, and this was what we discussed:
MM: Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you?
IG: I was born in Croatia but grew up in Finland because my father brought us over when he found a job opportunity here. It was supposed to be temporary, but as we started school and developed a life here and made friends, we told him that there was no way we wanted to go back to Croatia. Thankfully, he agreed, and we decided to make it permanent.
My father had been in bands since we were back in Croatia. While at school in Finland, I was into music as my father played in a popular band here too. I have really been surrounded by music from as long as I can remember and gave my first public performance singing with my father at the age of 6 for about 2,000 people. It was a thrill and I believe from that time I wanted to go into music myself as a singer or producer. Following my dreams, I went to a school for a bachelor’s degree in Music. I then deeply immersed myself in the music culture and began to write and produce music with computers in my early teens. Altron is at the end of a long road that began way back there.
MM: Is there anything in your background that enabled you to write code? Did you study computer programming?
IG: To be honest, I did not study coding; I learned from forums and YouTube because there are no schools that teach KSP, which is Native Instruments coding language. I studied Music Theory, Technology and Production plus History. I ended up completing everything in 4 years, and the next thing I knew is I was thinking about how to make my own synth. It was crazy but I was driven and soon I was on the internet learning coding in the forums.
MM: You definitely had a music background and strong passion for creating music, but tell us more about how that turned into creating Altron?
IG: Before I started developing Altron, I was using Omnisphere, Nexus, and other synthesizers. I got them when I was beginning to work in music. I was so excited when I purchased the products, but as I used them, I began to feel disappointed. There were all these sounds but nowhere to go with them. It was then that I began to form my initial ideas about Altron. These ideas all rushed into my head like, "If I created my own product, what would it be?" and I started to design Altron with everything that these other products were missing. But it would take many years to complete that task. Little did I know it would be that long. [Laughs]
MM: How many sounds did you really use from those synth libraries?
IG: Not even 100 hundred sounds if I think about it. Of course, they had some great sounds in the expansion category but in my opinion did not live up to the hype overall. The other important thing was that I could not create my own sounds in the synthesizer. All these cool presets, but then I could not go any further with them. I felt like the process kind of halted with it. It was also missing the realism from their libraries in like guitars, saxophones, and other musical stuff. I just felt limited and a generally disappointed. I wanted more for myself.
MM: I guess it’s quality over quantity, as well as taste?
IG: Yeah, I was browsing through the whole patch table, and I remember that, while I was browsing, I said to myself, "when I create my own sounds, every one of them should have to ability to inspire and allow me to create from the moment I hear them." It should have its own soul, its own power, which is important for me.
MM: Where did this drive for sound come from? When did it all begin?
IG: I am a person who would not offer to you what doesn’t taste good to me. I guess it comes from my family, but unless I am totally satisfied with the quality of whatever I create, I would not make it available. I really liked Korg synthesizers and wanted to emulate that in the virtual world. At first, Altron was just about the samples of high-quality analog sounds and libraries. Suddenly I had an idea about making Altron an arranger and started to code and created the Smart Sequencer, which sets Altron apart from your typical “virtual instrument.”
MM: What was it like working on Altron alone? That is a lot of work for one person, no?
IG: I was determined, and I had a vision for what I wanted. I applied myself to be able to translate the sounds I was hearing in my head, through the synthesizer I was creating, to the speakers in my studio. This for me was a solitary kind of work. It just worked that way for me.
A lot of the times, synthesizers are created through collaborations. One musical guy gets together with a programmer and makes a great synthesizer, but for me it is different. I have worked as a Producer with Sony and Universal Finland. With that background, I believed I could make something special and totally useful to other Producers like me. I already knew what I wanted, what I could expect from a product, but I wanted people to know that Altron could do much more than just play back sounds. I wanted to create a product that helped create levels of inspiration as you play, as you make music, or just listen to the sound. I wanted something that could sort of play along with you. I wanted a product that would get you more and more inspired the more you delved into it. I think we achieved a lot of that with Altron.
MM: How did you record the sounds?
IG: I recorded those sounds at my school. I told my Professor about recording for Altron and how I wanted to record them. He was quick to allow me to record these sounds using proper recording techniques and mic placements. He allowed me to do it with all the expensive equipment in the school. We had a lot of cool microphones laying around, and it was just a fun experience and I am so fortunate he was so helpful to me. First, I was recording them on this old Korg PA, and I thought, "Cool I can make all these sounds from here!" That was until somebody told me I could get into a lot of legal trouble that way. (Laughs) Later, I called up Korg and had a meeting where they said to me if I created the sounds from scratch using the Korg and then sampled them, then they would be my sounds, so I would own the rights to those sounds. That is how the sound library ended up being 60% sounds I made and 40% sounds I recorded.
MM: How old were you when you started to create the product?
IG: 21, Ha ha!
MM: Wow, you were pretty young. We would expect someone that age to be playing video games and going out clubbing and partying with your friend, no?
IG: Ha ha! I was driven, and I still am today. All my friends were out there partying and dating, but I was just home working away on Altron. I was alone coding and building my synthesizer. I was not eating or sleeping, just me and my computer. Eventually my 6-year-old dream to have this product picked up by Native Instruments for their collection came through. I was so happy. I remember getting that message and the feeling, it was great to hear that they wanted me to help me and work with Altron.
MM: How did that next phase evolve? Was it easy to finalize the product?
IG: Well, not really as I was put to the test. When I first submitted Altron, Native Instruments pointed out some structural flaws in my architecture. Within 2 weeks I made the adjustments and sent it back to them but unfortunately my fixes resulted in whole new faults. Then I would adjust again, send it in, and more faults would be reported. This back and forth ended up with me almost having to redo the whole product from scratch and at one point, I wanted to give up, but I told myself, "I got this far, I can’t stop now?" I kept going. Eventually it took me 7 or 8 revisions over a 1-year period to correct those structural errors to their liking. I learned a lot from that process, and it tested me a lot, but there was no way I was going to give up after spending so much time building Altron. Eventually, it took me almost an entire year after I believed Altron was ready, to get it to a place where it could officially be released to the world.
Today, we keep developing constantly. I mean, there were a handful of bugs to correct and re-patch. But it is all about making the product better.
MM: After all this, are you happy with the results?
IG: I am that guy who if I do not like something, I am not releasing it. I must be satisfied with this product before I let the world use this product. So yeah, I am happy with the results. Today, I only use Altron to make my music productions and you can hear some of them on Spotify.
MM: Ok, tell me a little about this Smart Sequencer. What is the idea?
IG: The Smart Sequencer was created to work with you as you create. It can analyze and create a whole song just by holding one note. For example, suppose you are switching between a major and a minor chord in a progression. In that case, the code takes the better chord to play based on the arrangement in the Synthesizer. The way it does it is by using two codes are running in parallel to play chords within a given scale. It is currently based on traditional music, and the results are really cool. You can do whatever you want with its customizable interface. You can combine and create a lot of exciting melodies with it. The big thing is that Altron was created to prevent creative block and get people inspired to be creative with melodies and sound design. You can make whatever you want with it.
MM: Tell us about the Q&T engine?
IG: The Q & T engine is an EQ, Compressor, and Limiter that adjusts for every sound to get industry standard sound at the output. The thing to remember is that it reacts differently to each sound in the synth. It is there to give you a certain level of sound quality regardless of what sounds you choose, and which sounds you choose to combine. You can always adjust or turn off the engine, but it is there to spice things up.
MM: You are now in the big leagues with some big names in the synth world. How does it feel to be competing with them?
IG: Well, if it were not for them, I would not have gotten to where I am. I feel happy. I really like those companies and respect them. I hope to collaborate with them someday and just get beautiful sounds out. I am not scared, and I do not see them as competitors; at least for now, I am not trying to compete because our approach is different from the others. If anything, we are competing with Altron, we are competing with ourselves.
MM: There must be some other things you want to do; what is next for Beyron Audio?
IG: Well, I am always thinking about that. I started doing a bunch of sample packs for some expansions, but I decided to set that aside now and focus on the next version of Altron. I think it is time to take it to the next level by expanding the sequencer even more, for example. In the interim, I will do some small expansion and some updates for the current Altron as this process is ongoing.
MM: What have you learned from this experience?
IG: I learned three things. The first thing is not to be a perfectionist. I struggled to learn that for years, but I have become more comfortable with it recently. The second is to get as many people's opinions to shape my own, as it does help steer me in a direction I think can really help. The last thing is to remember to save my code, [laughs]. I have learned time and time again that I need to save my code like clockwork. One time I coded like half a page, and everything worked and was cool. Somebody called me, and I accidentally closed my coding window and never saved it, so I went crazy because I had to recreate the whole thing again from scratch. Now I am writing my code in blocks, so it is just easier to input and work a little magic on the next Altron coming up.
MM: OK, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your background and explaining your vision with Altron.
IG: you are very welcome! It was a fun time chatting with you.
Beyron Audio is a company based in Finland dedicated to creating musical synthesizer in their own unique vision of blending sounds and sound design with performance. Their first release Altron is the embodiment of that vision. It is more than a powerful synthesizer; it is a flexible and unique creative tool that can enhance any music production.