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Tonoso, EDM, and the World of 'Artificial Dreams'

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Tonoso, EDM, and the World of 'Artificial Dreams'
Jacob Grabb and Paul Salerno of Tonoso

Art is a mirror that reflects the conditions of the times. Whether it's socio-political realities or the mundane day-to-day experiences of a generation, artists decipher the codes and tell hard truths like prophets in the wilderness, warning people of the ills they don't see or feel.

In their new album Artificial Dreams, Kinetik's new artist, Tonoso, carries out this by masterfully weaving synthesized sounds, organic instruments, and words that are not afraid to tell the realities of an artificial world.

Watch the band talk about their beginnings and their new album.

Paul Salerno and Jacob Grabb went to the same school in Palos Verdes, California but a few grades apart. Both were in separate school jazz bands and knew each other but were not friends.

"It wasn't until I got back traveling abroad, in Colombia, around 2018, where I posted on Facebook asking if there was anyone in the area who wanted to jam," Jacob said. "He (Paul) responded to the Facebook post, and he came over, and we jammed."

Paul began his musical journey as a jazz guitarist, obsessing over George Benson, Wes Montgomery, and other guitar giants in the genre. As he entered the film scoring world, his exposure to various genres helped him navigate the complexities of writing the perfect music for visual elements.

Jacob, on the other hand, was in his elementary school choir. He then took up drumming, which became his focus until 2012, when he was introduced to Ableton Live, which ushered him into music production and electronic music.

Tonoso's music is grounded in electronic dance music or EDM, but the duo's rich musical background allows them to infuse various elements that make it their own.

"One thing that sets us apart is that we have these different interests that we can weave different styles together," Paul said. "If we're feeling like we want a Hip-Hop feel or Jazz, or whether it's a little Blues, Rock, or whatever kind of thing one of us studied."

In terms of their approach to songwriting, Jacob and Paul have yet to set rules.

"There's just a lot of trying things out, and sometimes, things work, and there's a kind of magic, "Paul said.

Tonoso's sound is unique, and they create it using a good mixture of analog and digital gear. They employ the services of classic synthesizers such as:

  • Prophet 6

  • OB6

  • Moog Minitaur

  • Moog Model D

For guitars, Paul is loyal to his Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster. However, if the track has a Motown feel, he uses a Gibson ES175 through a Wah Wah pedal.

"It just sounds fuller or vintage," Paul said.

For vocals, Jacob records through this impressive chain:

  • Neumann U87 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

  • BAE Audio 1073 Microphone Preamp

  • Warm Audio WA76 Discrete Compressor

Tonoso plays many live shows, and their setup is as robust as their studio one.

"I run Ableton Live on my laptop through a Universal Audio Firewire rack interface for our let set. That way, I don't have a lot of latency," Jacob said.

He also runs two vocal signals through the interface and controls all the tracks with an Akai APC40.

Jacob uses Roland's TD 12 electronic drum set for drums, loaded with many excellent presents for every genre.

"What makes our live set different is that it's pretty much like a House/Club set, but there are guitar solos and drum solos," Paul added. "We try to have that live band feel but keep that club-heavy kick."

Listen to Tonoso's album Artificial Dreams, now available for licensing through Kinetik/APM Music.

Tonoso, EDM, and the World of 'Artificial Dreams'


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