At Synth City

Interview with Zino is the tale of an extremely nice gent from the UK who runs a fantastic database of patch settings for everything synthesizer, or he calls it ‘Pinterest for Synths’. He also makes, what he refers to as, African Tribal Electronic Death Metal. Interview with Zino is also interesting due to his views on his platform, where anyone can upload their ideas for others to download and tinker with. Read on for my interview with Zino, wherein we will discuss the building of his platform, where he is at presently, and his loftiest of intentions with the database.

Where/how did you first dream up Synth City?

This is gonna sound REALLY crazy but the Netflix Series ‘NARCOS – Mexico’ inspired the idea! (yes… the show about drug dealers…stay with me now!).

I’m sure everyone remembers that FIRST time they opened a synthesizer, saw the MULTITUDE of knobs, CRAZY terminology and insane sliders then thought to ourselves… “what the actual frick is going on here!?” Everyone can relate to this. I remember that feeling all too well. Initially, I’d just scour the internet for presets to use, there was so much! People are very amazing very generous (including our base at /r/SynthRecipes). However I realized, this was a massive waste. So many different communities scattered around the internet but having their creations disappear into the aether. Not to mention all the patches that just sit on people’s PCs used for one song and never used again! I’m an engineer at heart so I felt uncomfortable seeing this… It felt like such a waste…

Unintended (non)Consequences

Then I watched NARCOS. I saw how the anti-hero worked so hard to unite all the different communities in Mexico to create a platform that streamlined their entire trade so much they LITERALLY could take on both the Mexican and American governments! I mean, the guy’s a psycho but you have to admire the balls on him. After finishing Season 1 I thought to myself… “Wait a min… I can do that… I WILL do that!”.

So starting with our family at /r/SynthRecipes, I set out to unite all sound designers be they novice or expert. To help us collectively bridge the gap and improve our trade. Our drug of choice? MUSIC! ^__^

For those yet to be introduced to Synth City, would you mind explaining the idea behind it and how one uses it?

Oh love saying this! The dream is to build a platform where ANYONE can get the synth recipe for ANY song using ANY synthesizer! Its goals is to bridge the gap between novices and experts in the sound design community! Simply search for the sound you’re looking for. If its not there you can request and finally post your own creations and give back to the community! For now synthCity supports both sharing and posting. As it grows we will finally implement requesting so do stay tuned!

What were some of the harshest challenges you faced early on in the build?

Hmmm well we’re still quite early in the build (we’ve only officially been up for a month now). However if I had to pick one it would be the balancing act of Designing and sharing patches, WHILE ALSO developing the platform WHILE also working a 9-5 haha. That has been quite a doosie to do. That said, many friends (Chuck included haha!) Have stepped in to help with the community. And finally, the community itself is starting to step in and contribute more and more patches! We could ALWAYS use more minds so if you’re reading this, Join us in sharing your craft on synthCity! 😀

What continues to be a challenge as the platform develops?

I’d say these challenges are probably more ‘perceived’ than actual. As opposed to how I might seem on video, I’m actually quite introverted. I’m kinda your typical bedroom programmer. Putting oneself out there is always challenging. However I’m glad I did, I’ve met so many amazing people since starting this journey. From bedrooom artists, to industry veterans to even a few YouTubers! So many people I’ve personally respected as creators. It’s been worth the challenge and that keeps me burning everyday.

Okay, I want you to imagine we’re in an ideal world where you no longer have a 9 to 5 and could code all day long.. where do you take Synth City in the near future?

My dream has ALWAYS been to be an inventor… It’s a weird niche job but I’ve always loved tinkering, building, and all in all solving problems! I would combine these passions to build a platform that teaches people sound design in a fun and intuitive way. I like the idea of creating video games designed around the concept of music production that help people learn sound design in an intuitive manner (I already have some ideas being tossed around so look out for those ;-] ).

With your goal being to unite artists, is it difficult for you to hear criticisms of synth City by early users?

Oh god not at all! Feedback means the person not only cares enough to give you time of day but that they see just how far your potential stretches! If anything, its silence that concerns me. If people aren’t saying anything it’s not because you’re perfect, it’s a lot more likely that they do not care enough about what you’re doing.

That said, the community has been INCREDIBLY supportive, giving feedback, providing help wherever they can. It’s been pretty exhilarating to say the least!

However…If things ever DO get difficult, I know… I can always rely on Dr Phil…<3

You never struck me as introverted haha. That said, what was the greatest difficulty you overcame to amass the number of users you presently have?

Hmmmm I wouldn’t call it a difficulty (The entire “marketing budget” was the 3 minutes it took make the Reddit post that started all this lol). I did not go in with the mindset to ‘amass’ users. What I had in mind was “I need to solve this problem! I want to make this easier for those who will come after me”. It’s only now I realize that this is a problem that resonates very strongly with people, that people had a strong desired to solve. The fact that so many people have come on board is simply our collective ambition to change the game and improve the sound design industry for everyone :-).

With any preset for any device/plugin at your fingertips, do you eventually see synth City as being the Wikipedia for synths?

Lol you’re getting ahead of me. Yes, but with a hint of Pinterest a dash of your favorite stylistic video game. (Think Transistor by Super Giant Games).

Do you have any plans to monetize Synth City? If so, how?

Yes I do. But no spoilers now! hahaha. However I WILL declare it right now… HELLLLLL to the NAAAAAAW its NOT gonna be ads!

No Ads!!

We all know ads suck. I use Ad-blocker myself and I’m sure you do too. We don’t like them… I’m well aware this is a ballsy gesture especially when considering the internet today basically runs on Ads (*cough* thanks for that Google *cough*).

Zino’s Vision

However, my vision is to help us better express ourselves and provide the tools needed to achieve this. I will be making edutainment software, courses, and GAMES that help people learn and connect with each other. synthCity is one of the first of many towards achieving that vision :). Ads don’t fit well with the vision… If you would like to support me or synthCity, do grab a copy of our software when its out! It really makes a difference! ^___^.

Zino Out

And that concludes this interview with Zino. Something tells me you’ll be hearing that name in the future quite a bit. Synth City is awesome and can be found at Please feel free to leave me any comments below and as always, keep rockin’ and rollin’! Hope you enjoyed interview with Zino!