From Bach to Yes, early exposure to new sonic possibilities changed Chris Stack’s life.
“I try to instill the magic of creating something new by experimenting with connections. What happens when you connect your cell phone to a set of Taurus 3 Bass Pedals or a Little Phatty to a $1,000,000 Star Wars-era analog video effects processor? There’s only one way to find out, and over 40 years ago Bob Moog planted the seeds that made me want to know.”
One Monday morning at work after a late night music gig in Asheville, I got an email from Barry telling me that Bob had died. I knew that he was sick, but had no idea that it was terminal and the news came as quite a shock. It also set in motion one of the stranger coincidences of which I have ever been a part.
That is a whole other story, and you can read about it here.
I worked at dB-tronics and related companies for twelve interesting years. One day out of the blue, I got a call from an electronic components sales rep with whom I had worked since the CDI days. He also worked with Moog Music and heard they had an opening for a marketing manager. He knew I was heavily into synthesizers and when he asked me if I would be interested, once again my answer was something along the lines of “Oh, hell yeah!”
Long story, slightly shorter, in 2007 I became the marketing manager of Moog Music. Part of my job interview took place in the same house where you see Bob living in Hans Fjellestad’s famous documentary. The sense of my life coming full circle was overwhelming, in a good way. I went to work at the factory on Riverside Drive in the old cotton mill. I used to joke that it was the only place in the world where you could stand in one spot and see a Gold Record, a Grammy and a forklift.
Even though at that point I had been collecting synthesizers longer than anyone in the company and probably had owned more than everyone in the company, I had veered down a digital path in my instrument acquisitions. The coolest things in my setup at that time were a pair of Kurzweil K2000s that Bob Moog had helped develop, but it was obviously time to get back to my analog roots, and what better place to do it. My cherished vintage analog Electro-Harmonix Vocoder was soon joined by a Voyager, Little Phatty, Slim Phatty, Moog Guitar, Etherwave Plus Theremin, a Multi-Pedal and ten Moogerfoogers. If only I had time to play them.
The next few years were a wild combination of long, hard hours at work punctuated by the most amazing things you could ever imagine. One day I might be pulling an all-nighter getting a press release package ready and the next day Lou Reed is in my office checking out my Laurie Anderson tour poster. Another day I’m leaning tradeshow displays against a wall in the loading dock, the next thing I know, Matisyahu is saying his prayers at that same wall prior to a video shoot. Once while working on a Saturday afternoon (a not-uncommon occurrence) I posted to Facebook that I could hear Medeski, Martin & Wood coming from the next room. Someone replied asking if it was iTunes or Pandora. My response was something like “neither… Medeski, Martin & Wood are in the next room.”
While I am not part of the Bob Moog Foundation, I still had an opportunity to see their work up close. There was always a new wonder waiting to be found as they dug their way through Bob’s archives. Rare documents and exotic prototypes were common finds. One day while visiting a cataloging operation, I got to hold in my hands something that was really special. It was the reel-to-reel demo tape that Wendy Carlos used to get the Switched-On Bach record deal; a synthesized version of the song What’s New Pussycat? As I held it, I was for a moment again that same 7th grade kid whose ears had just been blown wide open by sounds he never knew existed and I knew that a sense of wonder never goes away
After a few years at Moog, it was time to move on to new adventures. Now, in addition to my work in multimedia for the abstract painter Jonas Gerard, I run the blog/YouTube channel ExperimentalSynth (experimentalsynth.com), where I have the absolute freedom to explore all aspects of electronic music and a variety of related topics.
Connections have always been an important part of my life, and on ExperimentalSynth I try to instill the magic of creating something new by experimenting with connections. What happens when you connect your cell phone to a set of Taurus 3 Bass Pedals or a Little Phatty to a $1,000,000 Star Wars-era analog video effects processor? There’s only one way to find out, and over 40 years ago Bob Moog planted the seeds that made me want to know.
To see Part 1 of the series please click here.
To see Part 2 of the series please click here.
To see Part 3 of the series please click here.