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Sam Gutman: "I feel inspired to make music. This is blowing my mind."

We get to know the talented keyboardist currently on tour with Ms. Lauryn Hill, who is taking RISE 2 on a musical journey fueled by innovation and passion

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Meet Sam Gutman, an incredibly talented musician and keyboardist who is making waves in the music industry with his spirit of creative exploration. We caught up with Sam to chat about his musical journey and how he's found a new companion in the Seaboard RISE 2 while he's currently on tour with the legendary Ms. Lauryn Hill and the Fugees.

From a young age, his music-making journey began inspired by the likes of Pink Floyd and the White Stripes. After discovering the bass guitar, he quickly immersed himself in the world of sound creation and composition and formed his own band called Out of the Beardspace. Since then his journey with music has taken him across the globe, sharing stages with his collection of keys and synths with icons like Parliament Funkadelic, Lettuce, and Mike Gordon.

Most recently, Sam's love for innovation led him to embrace the Seaboard RISE 2, which he describes as nothing short of "mind-blowing." With the ability to seamlessly merge traditional keyboard playing with cutting-edge sound design capabilities, the Seaboard allows Sam to create nuanced performances by translating subtle finger movements into awe-inspiring modulations while on stage and in the studio.

In his latest video, Sam shares his experience incorporating RISE 2 into his performance setup, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his creative process.

How were you inspired to start making and playing music?

When I was around 13 or so, my cousin showed me how to play “Seven Nation Army” on the bass guitar. Years later, the first band that REALLY spoke to me and inspired me to make music of my own was Pink Floyd. However, on a deeper level, I think I really became serious about music because it gave me a sense of identity and community. I was very lucky to grow up amongst other creative and serious musicians, many of whom are my main collaborators to this day.

What was the first track you finished and how has your music developed since then?

The funny thing is, the music I make now is a lot like the first music I ever made — not because I haven’t evolved, but because I’ve come full circle. When I was a teenager, all I wanted to do was make ambient music that sounded like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd. I remember experimenting with synth pads and sound effects on Garageband late into the night on the family computer. Since then I’ve gone through a million musical phases — but when Covid hit and I started making a lot of solo music — it was back to the synth pads and sound effects! Although my synths and sounds are much better than they were 20 years ago.

What was the first piece of hardware you purchased and how did it help you achieve your musical goals?

Aside from the way too many keyboards I’ve owned over the years, my first significant hardware purchase was the Elektron Octatrack. When I started getting deeper into synthesis and sound design, I found it difficult to remember and pull up all the necessary patches across multiple keyboards during a show. My solution was to use the Octatrack to send program change messages so that all I had to do was hit one button and my entire rig would snap to the settings for a specific song. This didn’t work as well as it was supposed to, and I ended up selling the Octatrack. I definitely could have done this more effectively with Ableton or Mainstage. At the time though I didn't want to use my computer in my live setup, although I’m pretty committed to it now that I play a Seaboard.

What was your first experience like using Seaboard RISE 2?

My first experience was abusing the pitch slide functionality! No, but in all seriousness, the learning curve was only about an hour long, and once it clicked I was off to the races, and it wasn’t too long before I started playing it at shows.

What does it allow you to do that none of your other gear does?

The RISE 2 marries sound design with playing the keyboard in a way that expands what a keyboard actually is. I’m very into all the nuances of synthesis; the slow opening of a filter, LFO 1 subtly modulating the speed of LFO2, things like that. On my other keyboards, I accomplish these things by turning knobs or creating automations in a DAW. Another favorite thing about Seaboard is that it brings a whole bunch of things that previously existed only in the domain of sound design into playing the keyboard. Rather than creating those modulations with post-production or with knob-turning, now I can create them by playing with more or less pressure or moving my finger up or down on the keyboard. It’s really revolutionary.

What is your favorite feature on the RISE 2?

My favorite feature is the way that upon initially striking a key, it defaults to the closest in-tune pitch no matter where on the key my finger lands and then from there, you can do all the slides and microtonal stuff with further motions. That is really the thing that makes it so that any keyboard player can pick up a Seaboard and “get it” within minutes. Imagine if fretless guitar or bass was like that!

Did you have fun exploring Equator2 and which sounds did you like?

Equator2 is delicious. Shout-out to the “Bowed Glass Bell” sound.

Sam Gutman’s musical adventure is a testament to the power of embracing innovation and following one’s passion. His commitment to pushing creative boundaries, combined with the seamless integration of cutting-edge technology like the Seaboard RISE 2 inspires aspiring musicians to embark on their creative journeys, fearlessly exploring new horizons and redefining the possibilities of musical expression.

Follow Sam on Youtube and Instagram.

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