Eric (Jim) Sawyer

Sound Designer
(Chemistry Volume 3, Catalyst)


Jim (also known as Eric and EJ2 in various online electronic music user communities) was born in 1944, and grew up with two other brothers in a working class family in the north end of Canada's Steel-Town, Hamilton, Ontario. He explains, "We didn't have a lot of money back then, but my parents made sure we had what was needed to develop into well rounded citizens.  One of those supports included piano lessons for my oldest brother and me.  My dad was an excellent piano player and it appears we inherited some of his talent and love for music."

Jim makes no secret that he lacked discipline, hated to practice, and was reluctant to follow proper technique.  At 10 years old, he quit formal piano lessons – but not music altogether.  A few years later, after strapping on his neighbor's new accordion, he demonstated to his parents he could play it, and was rewarded on his twelfth birthday with his own lovely 128 bass pearlized Scandalli. Later, he played drums in his high school stage/jazz band, and lead trumpet in a local Royal Canadian Air Cadet marching band.

Jim soon found a desire to connect with keyboards, especially the electronic kind, and it wasn't long before he was playing keys in various local rock groups. His first electric keyboard was a beat-up rented Vox Continental, which was soon followed by a Yamaha YC-10, and eventually a Roland Juno 6. "I absolutely loved messing around with this synth because it augmented my penchant for sonic experimentation.  I didn't just restrict myself to the suggested settings from the diagrams and schemes in the manual.  I went whole hog and before long, I had a brand new vocabulary - cut-off frequency, modulation, LFOs, VCFs, VCOs, ADSRs etc. The Juno 6 was a great synthesizer to cut my teeth on."

Prior to acquiring his Korg Karma, he had dabbled in sound designing with numerous synths from various manufacturers.  "I never stuck with just the presets.  I had to peel back the layers to see how far I could push whatever piece I was exploring to create new sounds. But it never occurred to me that I should be offering my work to others - not until the Karma.  The Maroon Monster as I call it was a godsend. Once I recovered from the euphoria that accompanied exploring the Karma's combis, I started in on my usual experiments. I found KARMA technology to be a fantastic labyrinth of sonic possibilities. It was both amazingly wonderful but demanding at the same time."

Jim put his new found explorations to work and over time developed a variety of fully KARMA-fied combi collections for the Korg Karma which he marketed under his own company, Double EJ Projects (EJ2 for short). His commercial collections for the Karma were well received by the KARMA community.  "But having honed my sound designing skills on the Karma wasn't enough.  Succumbing to the most intensive GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) that I ever experienced in my music career, it wasn't long before I was navigating OASYS' KARMA 2 technology and its fantastic real-time controls.  What a treasure trove of tools - this was exactly what I had been dreaming of.  The OASYS is a sound designer's paradise, at least from my perspective.  To be sure, I had a new set of techniques to learn with the much improved control surface, touch screen, tabbed layers of parameters and menus to be accessed."

In September 2005, Jim produced a small set of combis for the OASYS dubbed "ECLECTRIC v 1" blending the words "eclectic" and "electric", and sent them to KARMA Developer Stephen Kay for his perusal. "I took the gamble that he would ultimately audition my combis. To my surprise and excitement, Stephen presented a proposal to take me under his wing with a golden opportunity to join Karma-Lab as a developer of combi collections for the Karma, OASYS and Korg's newest kid on the block, the M3. He would act as executive producer and final editor, bringing my material up to Karma-Lab's standards. In a flash, I accepted."

The first offering to come of this collaboration is the inclusion of 32 of Jim's combis in the newly released Chemistry Volume 3 for the Karma Workstation (and Triton series when used with KARMA Triton software). The 64 combi set also includes 32 combis produced by veteran KARMA sound designer Paul Osborn, and 128 new GEs. Jim says "to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart (another Canadian), 'This looks like the beginning of a beautiful relationship!"

Jim's latest release is the 32 combi set Catalyst Volume 1, which is now available for the Korg M3, Oasys, and M50 (with KARMA M50 Software).