Building Things

Leafcutter Contact Mic Shop

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 | Building Things, LeafyShop | No Comments

I love contact microphones and have used them extensively on my records and installations from the late 90’s until recently. They are like little sonic microscopes allowing you to listen in (and record) the secret internal sounds of everyday objects.

One drawback of most contact microphones is that they can be very delicate and I’ve had both DIY and +£100 pickups break. That’s why I’ve designed and made a small selection of more rugged contact mics.



The above mics are housed in a tough copper outer casing, offering protection from physical damage and electrical interference. They’re crafted with high quality 4mm Van Damme XKE cable, and I only use top quality connectors (Neutrik/Rean). The contact mics are made and tested by myself in my east London workshop.

There are two contact mic models, the only difference is the base material.

base-materials-webYou can choose HIP (High Impact Plastic) or wood as a base material. The sound is very similar. The plastic offers slightly more bass response and the wood has a touch more high-end clarity. Please note: the plastic may be white or black and the type of wood used will change depending on stock levels.

Introducing the Studio, a beautiful Perspex cased, hand made contact mic designed for studio work.

moody shot studio crop


You can specify what kind of connector you would like on the cable


The first two Jack plug options come with a 1.5 metre lead and the Female Socket comes with a short lead.


If you’d like a mic you can CONTACT ME  I’ve built up some stock which I’ll be selling shortly.

Also keep an eye on my social media, thats where I’ll announce prototypes and new stuff. 



Thanks for the support people! On to building……



Drum Machine Ideas

Saturday, May 30th, 2015 | Building Things, Max/MSP, video | No Comments

If you can’t see the videos please refresh the page.

Italy is a good place to develop drum machines!

A video posted by Leafcutter John (@leafcutterjohn) on

Working on a new drum machine in beautiful Italy.

A video posted by Leafcutter John (@leafcutterjohn) on

Videos of Leafcutter John OXYO set

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 | Building Things, Electronics, Live Shows, Max/MSP, video | No Comments

New Leafcutter John music and Gig at London XOYO

Well I’m currently working in a forest in an undisclosed country working on the new version of my light controlled instrument – this time the wax splattered cardboard gives way to clear acrylic for a slightly more professional appearance.

out with the old

in with the new.

I’m looking forward to playing some new music with this at BEAM@NIME 1st JULY AT XOYO LONDON- info and your tickets here!

I’m also making a record, yes it’s been a long while but I’ve been hard at work trying to make sounds that I’ve never made before and put them together is totally new ways for me. I’m making a lot of software at the moment to explore a new compositional technique which essentially weaves sounds together in different ways. Here is a little portal into the technique…

More exciting developments for you coming up soon….


Hack your MiniBrute into a Modular MEGABRUTE!

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 | Building Things, Electronics, Modular Synth, Music! | No Comments


The MiniBrute (MB) is an affordable analogue mono-synth which offers several Control Voltages (CVs) for use with modular synth systems. As standard you get:

Pitch out

Gate out

Gate in

Amp in

Filter in

Pitch in

Main audio out

Headphone out

Audio in

Midi in

Midi out

This is amazing for a synth of this price but inside the MB lurk many more useful CVs! Opening up the synth you will see there are many test points, these are all numbered and will make the task of modifying your MB a piece of cake.

I spent the last week poking around with a osciloscope and discovered lots of useful CV signals and waveforms just waiting to zip in to a modular system. Here is what i found:

Power (small board middle, ground main board lower left)

PT742 +12v

PT743 -12v

PT720 / PT 605 3.3v

PT175 Ground – there are loads of ground points to choose from, try and stick with one though.

Envelopes (large board upper left)

PT105 Filter Envelope

PT112 Volume Envelope

LFOs (large board lower middle – these all respond to tempo and are MIDI beatclockable!)

PT59 Random Steps

PT58 Smooth Steps

PT35 Sine

PT32 Triangle

PT34 Saw

PT33 Square

Oscillators (large board mid right – respond to pitch)

PT13 Square

PT158 Sub (square or sine as selected on MB panel)

PT22 Triangle (+metaliser if activated)

PT19 Triangle (clean)

PT20 Saw (the modulating wave for this is PT65)

PT57 Noise

PT151 some kind of folded triangle ( |\/|/\| )

Clocks (large board bottom left)

PT136 Clock out

PT145 Clock in (see special tap emulation circuit)

Modulation (small board bottom right)

PT656 After Touch

PT655 Mod Wheel

PT654 Pitch Bend

there is a thread about the mods on Muffwiggler

And I’ve uploaded fairly comprehensive mod instructions here MegaBrute Leafcutter Mods 03.pdf

Have Fun!


Chaotic modular techno.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 | Building Things, Electronics, Modular Synth, Music! | No Comments

Playing with a chaotic patch built around the doepfer ‘chaos patch’ found here


3 modular synth excercises…

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 | Building Things, Electronics, Modular Synth | No Comments

The idea was to get to know some of my modules better and to try and emulate a couple of real-world sounds. I limited myself to 15 mins per patch so they are not perfect but I had a lot of fun and found out a lot about my system – like how much I love the A-199 spring.

In no particular order….

Church Bells
Signal source is a Modcan FMVDO supported by a 110 sawtooth and frequency divided square wave (thanks a-163). Also present the ring mod output of the MFB 0sc-02. FMVDO goes through make noise MMG and the other stuff through a 101-2 LPG. Notes thanks to Turing Machine quantised via A-156. A-199 reverb and a little Dub Jr delay on the FMVDO and the other waves dry

Water Drops
Signal source is an A-106-6 filter on the verge of oscillation, pinged by random gates from 1-149-1 expander. Random pitches from 1-149-1 distribution output. Some drops have a pitch bend env generated by MFB dual ADSR. A-199 reverb and a little Dub Jr delay

Rock Guitar Freakout, (Thurston Moore Simulator)
Basic patch is Piston Honda into A-199 Spring reverb, with PH wavetable modulation. Pitches come from A-149-1. There is a little Dub Jr delay which is randomly faded in but I like the reverb sound better.

The SOUND of MONEY Algorithmic Max/MSP experiment based on the Price Of Gold 1957-2013

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 | Building Things, Max/MSP, Music!, Software News | No Comments

This is a work in progress but I thought it might be interesting to some of you. The Max/MSP patch below tracks the price of gold between 1957-2013 and uses the data to control parameters of an algorithmic composition.

It’s a mess but it works!

Here is the price of gold between 1957-2013 expressed as an audio wave

You can clearly see it’s general upward trajectory, it’s a bit like a upwards ramp but with lots of extra harmonic content. This waveform is used for much of the percussion in the piece which you can hear below….

Gigs, London/Berlin

Friday, November 15th, 2013 | Building Things, Electronics, Live Shows, Max/MSP, video | No Comments

Hi, I’ve been beavering away in the LeafyLab  making good progress on my light controlled musical interface:

Coming up this month:

Nov 16th, Jazz on 3 BBC radio recording FREE – Cafe oto, London, Doors 2pm

Nov 24th, Old Cholmeley Boys Club, Dalston, London £6/£5, Doors 8pm

Nov 25th, Converse Hack Workshop, Hoxton, London. It’s oversubscribed already but you can register to join us online!

Nov 26th, Cafe oto, first outing of new light controlled instrument Kammer Klang night, £7, 8pm INFO

Nov 28th, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin w/Talvin Singh and others, 10€/8€, Festivalpass 30€, 8pm INFO

Be good,

J x.

Light Controlled Music Interview at Operation Ton, Hamburg.

Operation Ton #7 Licht & Ton: Leafcutter John & Nikolai Ockel von Sallwitz “The Light Controlled Interface” from RockCity Hamburg e.V. on Vimeo.

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