What inspired you to tinker and build effects pedals?
“I started building pedals during summer vacation after my freshman year of college when a friend asked if I could put together a kit for an overdrive pedal due to my limited experience in the replacing jacks on guitars and after looking into it I realized I could build a bunch of rare and/or expensive fuzzes to try so I was hooked!I then went on to do my latest college project on modified fuzz boxes and started LIFE IS UNFAIR Audio Devices after toying with a few circuit ideas and working on some soul destroying work for a few years.
Your pedals are inspired by modular synths and vintage fuzz. Where do you draw these influences from and how do they inspire your constructions?
“I wanted to get my hands on a Big Muff after hearing 24 Hour Revenge Therapy by Jawbreaker and learning that was what was used on the guitars and modular stuff I got myself into years after being transfixed by the Buchla Concerts by Suzanne Ciani. In terms of design, it’s usually about building something I’d like to use myself, like The Dream Left Behind which I designed because I wanted a Big Muff style circuit that would react to the control setting of the volume in the same way as a Fuzz Face circuit.
You have also collaborated with other stellar makers like Triungulo Laboratory and created limited runs for zines like Ladyfuzz. How does this community impact the brand?
“I love working with other people because it means I can work on a lot of things that I wouldn’t have the chance to do on my own and learn from other really talented artists and designers. Of course, cross-pollinating our audiences is great too, as they share all of our work with a wider range of people!”
What other collaborations do you have on the horizon?
“I have a few projects going on, but nothing I can talk about in depth at the moment, unfortunately. We should announce the first collaborative effort between me and the YouTube channel Pedal partners soon, however!
“On top of that, I also worked as part of a design team for a really fun new instrument for Dubreq after doing the PCB for the recent reanalysis of their Stylophone S-1 synth. In the future, there will undoubtedly be more joint efforts with Sacred Island Audiowho worked with me on the Rorschach dual filter/fuzz and who also screen printed all my enclosures, and also the relatively new Cardiff team, Teaching Machines, the first of which offers the stereo Wellspring reverb/delay/filter unit for which I designed the circuit board. ”
You recently renamed the Devi Ever: Cymru, which was also cult. Why did you choose to update the company profile?
“The Devi Ever: Cymru project that I started alongside LIFE IS UNFAIR when Izzi, who started Devi Ever: FX, offered the opportunity to license their circuitry and artwork in early 2019. As a huge fan of the original Devi Ever units, I jumped at the chance and am super grateful to have had the chance to build my version of classics like the Shoegazer.Although I no longer work full time on Devi Ever : Cymru, there may be a few limited runs down the line, and if there are DIY enthusiasts looking to build some of the circuits themselves, there are official maps available in the Devi Ever store :FX on Reverb.com.”
Did you have any external investments at the start?
“I borrowed a small amount of money from my grandfather to cover my rent for three months while I left my day job to work on LIFE IS UNFAIR to see if it was viable, but other than that , it was just about spending any profit on developing new things.
When did you feel like you nailed your brand image?
“I don’t tend to think of things in terms of branding – I just try to create useful tools for people to make music, with artwork that I think is cool!”
With new products to come and a recently relaunched brand, what’s next for Life Is Unfair Audio?
“The next two months are going to be quite hectic as my group live, do nothing are booking gigs to feature our new Hiraeth & Loathing record which has been released by the lovely folks at Specialized subject folders on September 23, so it’s hard to say exactly when the next LIFE IS UNFAIR product will be. I’ve been working on a few non-effects designs though, the first of which to be released will be a new dual CV and expression controller which I’m super excited to show the world as I think it will open up some fun new options for controlling effects and synths.