[ home ] : [ faq ] : [ section 3 ]


  what does banco de gaia's music sound like?

often wrongly classified as only world music or only trance music, banco de gaia's widely varying music crosses into many genres. as of autumn 2001 toby marks thought of the music as 'global-ambient-techno-dub-with-a-hint-of-minimalisation-and-western-classical-combined-with-the-timeless-
beauty-of-the-panpipe', clearly indicating his sense of humour more than anything else! banco de gaia, if nothing else, prefer to let people guess their music. as toby stated in 1998: "one thing i'm really pleased about is that, for whatever reason, i've avoided being fashionable. that's made it very hard over the years - to get press, get attention, get stuff out there - but it also means that what i've done is write music first and foremost and worry about whether it's ambient or trance or whatever else afterwards."

  what other artists sound like banco de gaia?

to many people banco de gaia is unique and there are no other groups who come close to the sound and style that they produce. in theory, banco de gaia follows the same 'plan' as enigma and deep forest - mixing traditional music with electronic sounds and chords. however, the overall sound of the music is uniquely different.

people who like banco de gaia's music may also like deep forest, eat static, transglobal undeground, some planet dog compilations (feed your head vol. 1 is excellent), and other compilations on which a banco de gaia track appears.

  where do banco de gaia get their samples?

as of 1995 banco de gaia discussed samples by saying "i'll find new samples in an old album, or hear something in a commercial, or see an advert for a broadcast and tape it. films, old b-movies are good. just anywhere, really, but it's pretty rare to take something straight. usually i'll find a starting point, i'll filter it, reverse it, slow it down or something so that it's different from the original.".

due to recording more live instruments, newer banco de gaia albums rely less on samples. of those used, some are created by banco de gaia themselves, such as toby's local gardener on gates does windows from big men cry.

  what is banco de gaia's attitude about samples?

unlike some artists whom take the samples and their origins very seriously, banco de gaia treat them as one of many instruments to choose from. in 1997 banco de gaia confessed a fascination intheir used, and in 1999 toby added that : "i don't think about samples in a cultural way. as far as i'm concerned a balinese vocal sample has no more or less 'ethnic' significance than a new york drum loop. apart from the specific cases of the tracks last train to lhasa and china, which were supposed to be making a point to some extent, i use sounds as sounds and not with any kind of cultural-political intent. i don't really think many people think about where a sample comes from when they hear it in a tune so i doubt it has much impact, positive or negative, on the culture it comes from."

  what was done to the vocal in amber?

the vocal on amber, off the ?? album, is actually backwards as banco de gaia thought it sounded more natural this way. it was slowed down a bit and then reversed. the original vocal is from "this really weird language" according to toby.

  was big men cry a depressing album?

of all banco de gaia albums big men cry is often debated as being more banco magic, or one for the bargain bins. from its pink floyd-esque instrumentals to the extended randomness of starstation earth, it got tongues talking. in 1998 toby admitted that the album "was relatively serious, in part because of what i was going through at the time". it is not known what his issues were.

  is the magical sounds of banco de gaia basically maya 2?

the unequivocal response to the magical sounds of banco de gaia was "this sounds just like maya". to some people, this meant they just grabbed some old samples and off they went. instead magical had the vibe and energy of maya whilst going on a journey of its own. less of the ambience of big men cry, and more of the fun! in 1998 toby agreed stating "the new album, to me, is more like maya than any of the others," he agrees. the vibe of it, the energy - i actually reach 135 bpm i think. that's a record [for me]."

  was recording vocals difficult for banco de gaia?

the album igizeh gave banco de gaia the challenge of recording tracks with live vocals, courtesy of jennifer folker. this task proved to be easier than expected, with the vocal performance for glove puppet being easy to record. toby marks puts this down more to the singer, than to the process itself.

  how was glove puppet recorded?

glove puppet, off the igizeh album, involved vocals, strings, and electronics. the vocals were easily recorded, attributed in many ways to the singer. the string arrangement started with some basic chords, then the solo lines were played around with to build them up.

  how was b2 recorded?

b2, off the igizeh album, revolved around a basic groove, though it is not noticeable in the final result. it started with ideas involving a very big kick drum. however, according to toby "it developed in a fairly random way until the combination of sounds and samples made sense."

  why did it take so long for old albums to be re-released?

from around 1998 until may 2002 banco de gaia's albums maya through big men cry were unavailable. the reasons for this were due to a falling out between banco de gaia and the record label, planet dog. it is also what prompted banco de gaia to start their own label, gecko, and to associate themselves with six degrees in the u.s. (though another reasoning for this is banco de gaia's wish to break the market there).

to this day the exact reasons for the discrepancies are unknown but the debate between artist and record label become very public and very angry at times. eventually in early 2002 banco de gaia got the rights to re-release former studio albums on their own label. whether michael dog, the owner of planet dog records, will get any royalties from this is unknown.

  how does banco de gaia prepare for a live gig?

up until around 1997 banco de gaia used to take all their equipment, a good tonne's worth, on the road. on stage they would basically push buttons and tweak knobs. but toby, with a live gig background, became frustrated with this and wanted to do more with the guitars and similar instruments he was familiar with. so, in 1997 and 1998, a live banco de gaia gig involved 5 artists, including toby and ted. while toby had his artistic freedom back, banco de gaia were missing out on some gigs, especially international ones, due to the cost and logistics involved for all the band and crew. so, five become three.

at the same time banco de gaia decided to use less equipment. they started using a solitary alesis adat xt20 to play back an 8-track submix of the sequenced synth and sampler parts that accompany their songs. toby was slightly uncomfortable with this situation, as he felt it a bit of a cop out to play along to a backing track. these feelings were partly compensated by the fact that he now played more guitar on stage, keeping his hands busy!

today he is likely to have on stage non-programmable, knob-laden, monophonic analog synthesizers, including a roland juno 6 polysynth, a roland sh09, and a sequential circuits pro-one. this choice of equipment is due to his lack of keyboard skills. 

  what instruments and equipment do banco de gaia use?

when discussing equipment a common theme comes out: banco de gaia prefer old equipment to newer. this partly stems from toby's lack of keyboard skills, and from a belief that music can be driven from high quality equipment and samples rather than a sample-ridden keyboard with too many options.

from an article in may 1997 it is known that banco de gaia have used the following equipment:


  • korg m1

  • clavia nord racknovation bassstation

  • oberheim matrix 1000

  • roland sh09

  • roland jupiter 8

  • roland juno 6

  • roland gr50 (guitar synth)

  • sequential circuits pro one


  • roland s750 (18mb ram turbo cpu)

  • roland s760 (32mb ram)

  • roland s770 (18mb ram turbo cpu)


  • apple powermac 9500/200 running emagic logic audio v2.6 and digidesign protools 3

  • apple powerbook 520c running emagic logic audio v2.6

  • opcode studio 4 midi interface


  • mackie 32:8:2 desk

  • sony tcd d3 dat

  • tascam da30 mk ii dat


  • aces 2 x 15 graphic eq

  • alesis quadraverb effects

  • alesis midiverb ii reverb

  • aphex type c exciter

  • art proverb 200 reverb

  • bbe sonic maximizer 422a

  • boss microrack delay and reverb

  • boss se70 effects

  • roland srv2000 reverb

  • roland sde330 dimensional delay

  • roland srv330 dimensional reverb

  • spl vitalizer

  • studiomaster gates and compressors

  • yamaha q2031 graphic eq


  • tannoy dtm15 mkii (main)

  • genelec 1019a (nearfield)

in summer 2000 their simplified live setup was:

  • alesis adat xt20

  • alesis quadraverb

  • boss se70 multi-effects

  • cry baby wah-wah pedal

  • fender stratocaster (two)

  • mackie 1402-vlz mixer

  • roland srv2000 reverb

  • roland juno 6 synthesizer

  • roland sh09 synthesizer

  • sequential circuits pro-one synthesizer

in autumn 2001 their selected kit was:

  • alesis midiverb

  • aleses quadraverb

  • apple mac g4 running logicaudio

  • apple mac powerbook

  • boss se-70

  • clavia nord lead

  • joemeek vc3

  • kork ms2000

  • roland jupiter 8

  • roland sh-09

  • various guitars

at this time banco de gaia had a self-confessed love of roland samplers despite their age.

copyright 1998-2002 gavin stok. all rights reserved