People in association withLBB Pro User

Camera Osbcura: Pedalboard Pleasures with Ale Martí

Music & Sound
London, UK
Air-Edel composer on why he loves his little electronic boxes of joy

Ale Martí is a composer, producer and session player based in London.

With a unique voice as a composer and guitar-player, supported by an eclectic collection of stringed instruments, Ale creates music for film and television. Recent projects include the BBC’s teen series ‘Almost Never’, Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’, Ron Howard’s ‘Genius’ series, and the biopic ‘Escobar’, starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. His distinctive soundtrack style features instruments such as guitarviol, prepared piano and Weissenborn, while his background as a sound engineer and pop-band front man adds to his range and versatility in the studio.

Outside the film world, Ale’s work includes personal projects — such as his new album Ariadne — as well as trailers, film library music and ads.

One of my (many) obsessions for music-making is my pedalboard. I have a terribly overgrown one that I use for everything I do.

Pedals are little electronic boxes of joy that allow you to bespoke your sound in ways that were impossible some time ago; when combined in a pedalboard, what you can achieve sound-wise is truly limitless. And so much fun!

I started my pedalboard journey about 10 to 12 years ago when pedals started getting more interesting. They went from regular sound-shaping duties like providing e.q., compression, or overdrive to bringing to the table new, more textural effects, like filters, self-isolating fuzz boxes, bit destroyers, whammy effects, etc.

I took notice of these because of my interest in creating texture and colour in the music I was producing. I don't always want to hear guitars sounding like themselves; sometimes, I want to morph them into something new and exciting.

It's quite an extended obsession, I think; many musicians are using pedals these days, and the beauty of these little boxes is that it's very much about building your musical world; there are thousands on the market, and they make all sorts of noises and textures, from mellow to downright unmusical, so you get to create a landscape of sounds that is unique to you, by combining them in a pedalboard.

I run all my stringed instruments, guitars, basses, etc. through it - my analogue synths, sometimes even drums and vocals. At the end of the day is about creating emotions through sound. It has evolved through the years. I started, like everyone else, using the odd pedal when playing, but then all these weird new pedal brands popped in, and that was when I got hocked! That's when my interest became a full-on obsession.

Sometimes I get a "wow, that's an amazing synth sound", and I'm thinking "well, that was my ukulele going through the board." Other times, I use pedals not to take the natural sound of an instrument away but only to add something to it. I have been using it for everything I do; in the ad world, every guitar I recorded for Vodafone, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Ford, Peugeot, etc.

I remember using pulsating delays on a guitar for a Pantene ad broadcast in Italy in 2022.

Processing analogue synths through it for an Audi eTron ad broadcast in Spain in 2021.

And filtering vocals in a tango for Loewe.

In film, creating low otherworldly pulses with a pitched down electric bass and a midi synced tremolo pedal for Guillermo del Toro's "Antlers", making disgustingly dirty-sounding guitar sounds for Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem's "Escobar", or the thousand guitar and analogue synths tracks on the BBC series "Almost Never" all using in it one way or another.

My advice for anyone getting into these is to try out as many as possible; start with YouTube videos and then go into the shops to hear yourself through them. Find the brands whose sensibilities match yours. And have fun! :)