I had a really great opportunity to send a few questions to Emanual Ellinas of Sitori Sonics. Sitori Sonic pedals can be seen on a few of my hero’s boards like Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth and John Cummings of Mogwai! Boosh! Over the years, I’ve definitely heard about and seen a few Sitori Sonic pedals – Harem Fuzz and Brownies and Cream come to mind.
So without further ado, here is the interview with Emanual Ellinas:
When did Sitori Sonics start?
sitori sonics was actually a drum making company when it started out in 1998 or so. i was living in humboldt county, in northern california, and was making ashiko drums by hand. i mean i was hand hammering steel rods into rings, stretching goat skins, and everything. it was awesome, but it was very hard work that involved table saws, welders, and all manner of dangerous toys! my uncle, mark, bought me an aria dual stage phaser for my birthday in 8th grade. he had been in a bunch of really cool bands in high school, so i thought he was superman! i used that pedal constantly, and absolutely fell in love with the textures it gave the guitar signal. to me, hearing the textures of the sounds on my dad’s (incredible) record collection was as LEAST as interesting as the chords and melodies being played. so once i started tinkering with electronics, my thoughts immediately raced to making effects. i cant tell you how excited i was when i got that first pedal to actually work! i still have that one, and use it all the time! from then on, it was very clear to me where i was headed. so around 2007 or so i started putting my effects into a local vintage shop called highland music. they began selling immediately, and we were off!
Where is Sitori Sonics located?
we are in birmingham, alabama.
What would you say separates Sitori Sonics from other boutique builders?
well, i think it may be the way i hear the sounds. i am an active and avid audio engineer, and record bands constantly. i spend most of my time creating sounds and analyzing them very critically. when constructing new effects, i tend to listen to how i would fit them into a mix. i want the upper mids to be present enough to cut through a dense mix, but not be so present as to be tinny. i think a lot of pedal makers, and amp makers for that matter, are listening mostly to the unit itself, and how it sounds while it is being played, but not necessarily in the context of the ensemble. i think that may be one of the things in terms of our approach that separates us from other builders.
Where did the name ‘Sitori Sonics’ come from?
sitori is my dog! she is the most noble creature i’ve ever known, so i used her name. she hates effects! she runs from the room whenever i start playing. what a critic!
What would you say is the ‘flagship’ Sitori effect that defines what you guys are all about?
well, i think we have a signature sound in general. sort of like studios will have a certain sound to them that stretches from project to project. but i would say the tapeworm is pretty much the best description of who i am as a designer. i love delay. and i love explosions and space noises! the tapeworm does those things for sure. i have been involved in the noise scene for quite a long time, and i could do an entire set with just the tapeworm. i love that pedal!
Is there anything you consciously avoid when designing circuits?
cheap parts and cutting corners. i want to use the parts that sound the best to my ears. it’s like spaghetti. it’s pretty much pasta, sauce, and maybe some meatballs. chef boyardee and chef maurice goulet are both making spaghetti, but the difference is in the ingredients and how it was put together. i think it is the same for effects pedals. use great sounding parts and assemble them in a quality manner and you have something delicious. use cheap stuff and cut corners and it will sound like it came out of a can.
Is there a particular type of musician that would be interested in Sitori Sonics?
just the ones that want to sound great! seriously though, it goes back to the texture. i think there are people that focus only on the playing aspect – the scales, and chords, etc. then there are people that concentrate just as much on the textures of the sound they are creating. i am a huge fan of the shoegaze genre, which is very spacey and ethereal sort of psychedelic, heavily layered music. the playing is obviously important with that stuff, but what is just as important, maybe even more so, is the textures. the way the tones interact with one another to create a whole.i think the musicians out there who “get” that aspect of playing are the people i design for.
What inspired some of your pedals?
listening to bands like sonic youth and mogwai. and now they use my stuff! i cant tell you how awesome it is to listen to my favorite band of all time (sonic youth) plating through the pedals i make, WHILE i am making them pedals! how awesome is that?!?!?
Are there any artists sporting Sitori on their boards that we might know?
oh man, there are a lot of good ones! i mentioned sonic youth and mogwai. off of the top of my head there’s the black keys, tv on the radio, tokyo police club, annie clark (st vincent), passion pit, man or astroman, wild flag, helium, super furry animals, polvo, damon johnson (alice cooper), eric essix, mark kimbrell, and a bunch of others. perhaps more importantly are the 100’s of guys that you haven’t heard of using our pedals!
Do you remember the moment when you finally realized this is what you were meant to do? Or are you still waiting for that moment?
definitely the instant i turned on the first pedal that worked!
Where is the best place to pick up some of your pedals?
the best place is definitely our website, sitorisonics.com