Synthesizer manufacturer Ģirts Ozoliņš / Article

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Sporting a leather jacket and punk hairstyle, Ä¢irts Ozoliņš does not look like your typical business tycoon. But with echoes of Hewlett-Packard’s legendary debut in a Californian garage, this laid-back Latvian is the author of another remarkable success story, out of nowhere.

Ä¢irts’ started his way to the top by soldering synth modules together in his bedroom. Less than a decade later, his Riga business Erica Synths has grown into one of the world’s most admired electronic music equipment manufacturers, supplying equipment to Depeche Mode, The Chemical Brothers and other stars.

“In a very short period of time we have achieved great things in a global context,” says irts. “Our instruments are beautiful, they are technically well made, they sound great and are a pleasure to play.”

Ä¢irts’s childhood at the end of the Soviet era in the Kurzeme village of Dunalka was about as far away from Silicon Valley as it gets. But his thirst for innovation remained impressive. When he was 12, he found a book on amateur radio technology in the school library and started soldering antennas on the school roof. He later became a physics teacher and made an electronic construction kit to get his son interested in science. It is suspected that the child did not have much time with this toy, as Ä¢irts found ways to make musical sounds with it, then began to assemble components from global manufacturers and eventually found out that people would pay for it. money for his business.

Synthesizer Erica Synths

Photo: Image courtesy of Erica Synths

With three partners, he founded Erica Synths in 2015 to further develop synthesizer modules. By combining digital technology with old-fashioned analog pushbuttons and switches, they produce a unique sound. And combined with interfaces that make them a pleasure to play, they’ve received rave reviews.

“Of course the sound is subjective,” says irts. “But the famous Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer uses two eurorack producers – us and a UK company. And he says he hears the difference! And if he thinks our instruments sound good, then we have to take his word for it!

According to Ģirts, the company is increasingly focusing on stand-alone synthesizers rather than separate modules, because mixing tracks from different manufacturers does not provide the full experience that Erics Synths can offer. The company is currently testing an innovative drum machine called “Pērkons” (which means “thunder” in Latvian), which recently won the award for best new instrument at a prestigious trade fair in Berlin.

“Musicians who know something about drum machines immediately recognize that it is something special,” says irts.

While 99% of Erica Synths’ products are exported, they are entirely made in Latvia. The eight-person team designs the instruments and builds prototypes in-house, then subcontracts the manufacture of electronics and plastic cases to factories in Riga and Daugavpils. irts believes that Latvian electronics manufacturers established over the past decades are world class, and German, Dutch and Belgian music equipment makers have followed Erica Synths’ lead in shifting production from China to the United States. Latvia.

“So we indirectly helped boost Latvian exports,” says irts.


Drum machine Erica Synths ‘Perkons’

Photo credit: Philippe Birzulis

The company has no plans to leave Latvia, but is in the process of relocating its office from RÄ«ga. Its old base in the Adrejosta district, a ramshackle and ramshackle port area turned into a hipster arts district, is set to be redeveloped. In its new custom-built headquarters across the Daugava River, the company will continue its tradition of hosting residences where musicians and composers create new works on the latest equipment and provide a video studio.

“It’s one thing to export instruments, but we also want to support the creative culture here in Riga, and electronic music is an important part of that,” says irts.

While some of his colleagues are award-winning musicians, irts admits he just plays. But there is one hobby they all share. Pointing to a bunch of motorcycle helmets on the wall, irts says all new staff are required to get a motorcycle license. And there is a garage on site to park their rides.

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