The Korg M1
I’ll never forget how I felt in 1991, reading Sound On Sound magazine for the first time. I could hardly understand a word, seriously, it felt like I was reading a scientific journal. The one thing that kept me going though was the picture heavy adverts, with one in particular always catching my eye on the back cover where it regularly sat. This monolithic monster in black, the Korg M1 ‘Workstation’, instantly became the object of my desire. It was way out of reach of course with the retail price exceeding £1000 so how on earth could someone as young as I (I was 21) with so little money be able to afford it. I could barely afford going out at the time, let alone shell out for something like that. Besides, what would I plug it into? If I got that i’d need a mixer, an amp, monitors, some effects devices, a sampler (the M1 was a playback only device) and enough cables to truss up an elephant.
It was several years before I saw one, i’d saved up enough money (£200 for the day) to hire a studio and an engineer in Camden. It was a momentous occasion for many reasons, just the fact that I was going into a studio was exciting enough. I had no idea what I was spending my money on, no idea what gear might lie within the walls. I just knew that this place would be able to give me the end result I wanted, a reel of tape and a DAT cassette with a professionally finished track on it.
Inside it was like an Aladdin’s cave; racks of gear with flashing lights, dark spaces and corridors and a heady herbal aroma. It had a vibe for sure. Despite not being a trained keyboard player It was the keyboard rack that I headed to first. I had always enjoyed messing around with keys, fumbling about until I got a result. And there it was, the Korg M1, the object of my desire ready to be played, by me, for a price. It was worth it of course and that classic ‘dance piano’ sound that every man and his dog was using across the decade sounded great on the track.
The piano sound was not the only sound heavily used in that decade though, in fact it could be argued that the Korg M1 organ is the definitive patch from the factory library. Used for riffs, chords or basslines, it was all over both the underground and commercial club hits like this lot:
If you want that 90s sound it’s a no brainer, just get yourself an M1 on the second hand market or go for the less stressful option; the AU/VST Plugin from Korg. I bought the bundle a while back and it’s been a solid investment; as you know I still have the 90s bug, despite having tried to shake it, and it’s a great tool for the sound. The new release ‘U Got To Get’ that i’ve put up on Bandcamp.com features the M1 heavily so take a listen and you can hear it in a current tune.