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Stochastic Instruments & Fully Wired Electronics: A Eurorack partnership fused at dBs Plymouth featured image
Sam WillisApr 11, 2024 4:53:12 PM6 min read

Stochastic Instruments & Fully Wired Electronics: A Eurorack partnership fused at dBs Plymouth

Dan Legg & Phin Head, the founders of Fully Wired Electronics & Stochastic Instruments respectively, fused a business partnership over several years at dBs Institute in Plymouth. Learn how they went from student/tutor to colleagues.

At our Plymouth campus, where the dBs story began more than 25 years ago, we have some of the best expertise in Eurorack and modular synthesis of any higher education institute in the country. In Phin Head and Matt Ward - both members of our incredible faculty and founders of music technology companies Stochastic Instruments and Kinesotronic - we have teaching staff who know and love this incredible niche within electronic music technology.

All of that knowledge, and our prized collection of modular gear, is evident in the students who graduate from dBs Plymouth and have gone on to forge companies of their own, creating a cottage industry of modular manufacturers, designers and fabricators in the South West. 

One of those graduates, Dan Legg, who is the founder of Fully Wired Electronics, started his business during his MA Innovation in Sound degree and is now in a business partnership with his former tutor Phin Head. Read on to learn more about this remarkable fusion which illustrates the tight-knit community at the heart of dBs Institute.

dBs Institute students and staff working on modular synth

Hi guys! Please introduce yourselves.

Dan Legg: Hi I'm Dan Legg. I'm a dBs alumni and I am the founder of Fully Wired Electronics which is a Eurorack and CM manufacturing company.

Phin Head: My name is Phin Head. I'm a lecturer at dBs Institute, Plymouth and I'm also the co-director of Stochastic Instruments Limited.

Tell me about Fully Wired Electronics. How did it all start?

DL: I started Fully Wired in June 2021. It initially started as a contract, PCB manufacturing company in which I had work outsourced from Stochastic Instruments. As that progressed, I then started designing and developing my own Eurorack modules, which I started selling in 2022. There are now multiple clients that we produce PCBs for which has extended outside of the world of Eurorack and is even starting to venture off outside of music electronics. In terms of Fully Wired's products, we started with one product in 2022. We've currently got somewhere in the realms of 50 products listed on our website, and another 78 in production or prototype.

How did you first meet each other and how would you describe the business partnership?

PH: I first met Dan on his BTech, where I taught him a little bit, but then lectured him much more extensively on the undergraduate degree, was involved in the third-year project he did, which was electronics, and then he came back to us and did the Master's. We went through the whole year of that and he was already forming the sort of embryonic Fully Wired.

DL: The working relationship between FWE and SI is centred around dBs. We started working together following advice from Matt Ward [BA (Hons) Electronic Music Production course leader in Plymouth]. dbs was a huge part of that because of the tutors and the industry connections that you end up developing. What made me fall in love with modular was Matt Ward's hands-on teaching with the Eurorack and how it was a core part of his lectures. We'd actually get up and play with it rather than, you know, see something on screen. So having lecturers that are experts is very important because you know, where else are you gonna get that real-world expertise? That's the beauty of dBs, you do have people who have worked in the industry for a multitude of years, and they know their stuff. Setting up the business was rather exciting. It was daunting but thankfully, you know, I had Phin's help, and I had Matt Ward's help along the way. By the time it came to set up Fully Wired, it was pretty much all done! It was just plain sailing.

PH: The tagline that we use for Stochastic Instruments to describe the company succinctly is ‘performative process’. The thing that interests me most about modular isn't actually so much the sound, but the fact that you can set up a compositional or performative process in the system and it will generate as much of the music as you want it to. We wanted to find the balance in the modules we design between the system doing everything and you doing everything.

The relationship that Dan and I have professionally now in the manufacturing design world, the companies are separate. So stochastic and Fully Wired are separate companies. However, we needed something manufactured at scale, because the then only product, the Stochastic Inspiration Generator was doing very well. Lots of people wanted one and there were some pretty high-profile clients: My Chemical Romance, Amon Tobin, J.J. Abrams and Depeche Mode. We needed to get these things out and across the world. It was just enormously fortunate that we had someone of Dan's extraordinary capabilities here on site to do that. What I think is really rewarding is that in the design cycle of the new stuff that Stuart and I are working on, Dan's very much a part of that. More and more, we will then go to Dan, go, “Okay, look, this is an engineering solution to the last problem that we came up with, can you do that at scale? What do you reckon?” And Dan will come in and say, “Well, look, move that bit there, because that's going to shave off one minute per build”, but then at scale, that increases. So the throughput can be better, our returns are better, and so on and so on. Having that as a conversation that runs through the design cycles is absolutely invaluable. I don't think we could do without it. So I mean, yeah, it is fantastic. The people who are buying Fully Wired modules, Stochastic modules, they're out there far and wide, America, Australia, all around Europe. There are big touring acts making albums, playing live with these things. That puts a little local cottage industry on an international map and that's really exciting.

How do you think dBs Institute has helped nurture Fully Wired Electronics, Stochastic Instruments and other student ventures in this area?

DL: There are maybe four or five students that I've seen come rising out of dBs Plymouth. Not just in Eurorack but guitar pedals as well and there's this kind of very niche feel about dBs Plymouth, where you can just really dive into electronics and be supported because there are people who are connected to dBs, who do that for a living full-time. Everybody's aiming towards the same goal. Everybody has their expertise, and you can all help each other. There's a lot of cross-pollination. It's just generally a very wholesome community.

PH: One of the other really rewarding things about how the undergraduate into postgraduate process at dBs works is that it's now been running long enough that there is really an intergenerational connection between alumni. We are professional colleagues now, but now Dan is also manufacturing for our current crop of undergraduate and postgraduate students. So there's a third generation.

DL: It's nice, as a figure in the industry, that I can offer that back to the students because it would have been wonderful if there was somebody like that when I was a student. It would have helped massively. For FWE in the future, it's grown to a point where it's no longer just a project in my bedroom. I'm now getting to the point where I can compete with bigger UK manufacturers, and more to the point, bigger Chinese manufacturers, which kind of brings business towards us here in Plymouth, which is fantastic. I think with the cottage industry thing, particularly here, it's wonderful because, from our point of view, we can help students develop their products which will hit the market so they can go off and make something of themselves.

dBs student Harvey Jones, Matt Ward and Phin Head

Learn more about our Access to HE Diplomas, Undergraduate degrees or another one of our Music Production Courses or visit us at a dBs Plymouth Open Day!