Sensomusic has announced the release of Usine Hollyhock II, a fully modular music making environment and VST/AU plugin host application for Windows and Mac OS. Usine Hollyhock II is available as a fully functional free version (with a nag screen), as well as in Pro and Addict versions which come without any limitations.
The Pro and Addict versions of Usine Hollyhock II are currently available at a discount price (69€ instead of 119€ for Pro and 249€ instead of 449€ for Addict). In comparison to the Pro version, the Addict version includes unlimited free updates for life and exclusive access to private Sensomusic forums and beta versions of the software.
One lucky BPB reader will get Usine Hollyhock II Pro for free – scroll all the way down to the giveaway section to learn how to enter the draw. For more info about the application itself and a behind the scenes look at Sensomusic headquarters, check out our interview with Olivier Sens, the team manager and main developer at Sensomusic Software.
BPB: Hi Olivier, thank you very much for joining us for this interview! For our readers who are not yet familiar with Usine Hollyhock II, could you please tell us a bit about more about this product?
Olivier: Usine Hollyhock is portable software for Mac OSX and PC with AU and VST Plug in support. It is based on a rack concept with a modular environment (you can create patches with modules and connect them by virtual wires, up to 64 channels). You can create customizable interface and Usine have also a native multi-touch support. Of course there are classic features like direct to disk, Midi and key learn, many samplers and granular samplers included, a complete library and more.
But above all Usine Hollyhock is designed as a flexible software solution for spontaneous electronic music creation, including live sampling, effect processing, and sound design.
BPB: What were your main goals when creating Usine Hollyhock?
Olivier: As a professional musician, I couldn’t find in existing software’s a real solution for creative live interaction with instrument players like me (I’m a double bass player), so I start to build my own tool with this goal in mind. In Usine, all functions are “real-time” so we can resample, modify, input sound on the fly. Usine is also “thought” as a third musician on stage; there are many patches that interact with incoming sound. A good example is my work in the duo Mosalini Senso and our recent album discrete time where Usine as an independent member of the band, can change the tempo, create new breaks and musical phrases.
The second idea was also to propose to musicians an easy way to manage several projects / bands. I have different works myself. I know that it’s not always easy to adapt a workflow each time so I have implemented several tools like playlist, easy ways to start new workspaces or this new feature which lets you have 2 workspaces at the same time in Usine. The purpose of all those ideas is to help musicians to free their mind on stage and help them to add an electronic layer to their work.
BPB: In your opinion, what makes Usine Hollyhock stand out on today’s market?
Olivier: There is actually a standardization of electronic music tools. From my point of view, it leads to a standardization of the creativity. With Usine, you can create your personal and unique environment. I think that for an artist, it has no sense to be the best, but only to be different.
Conceptually they are many singularities between Usine and other softs. The first is that Usine is made to really play electronics in real time, not only press “space bar” and wait until the end of the tune. The second is flexibility: you can add and change your workspace very easily and quickly according your inspiration, even on stage! The third is that the time is not a constant and can be flexible: for example if you play an introduction but you don’t know how long it will last. For that Usine will give you many different solutions.
Moreover, our business model is different, we don’t spend so much money for advertising or marketing, and 90% of our revenue is reinvested in development. Even if Usine is very affordable we also try to be in line with our vision of the world and Usine is free for inhabitants of developing countries.
BPB: What exciting new features does the latest version of Usine Hollyhock II bring to the table?
Olivier: This new version contains more than 500 improvements covering a large range of features:
- New design and user interface.
- More than 50 new modules.
- DMX/Art-net support for light management.
- A powerful timeline Grid.
- Automations recording.
- More than 50 new modules covering a large range of applications including:
- New Grain-Sampler module,
- New Midi Sampler module,
- 3D support,
- Leap V2 support.
- Smpte, Midi Timecode (MTC), Linear Timecode (MTC) support.
- OSC learn on every controls.
- New powerful library.
- 64 channels support on every audio modules.
- Up to 196 channels sound card support.
- New open source SDK.
I certainly forget many others. It represents more than two years of hard coding and reflexion.
BPB: In the future, what are the things you’d most like to improve in this already great application? Are there any features you’d like to add?
Olivier: We have to create the 64 bits version for Mac OS, an iPad remote. Usine is in perpetual evolution, so we are continually learning, bringing fresh ideas and innovative way to improve the product. Each week, I meet new creators who want to change their tools for creating electronic music. Also, we try to be present on the forum as much as possible to discuss with the community and have a constant feedback from users.
BPB: Not being a programmer myself, a thing that always interested me is how do you see Usine Hollyhock II from a user’s standpoint, being the creator of the program?
Olivier: I’ll probably disappoint you but I only use 10% of all the possibilities of Usine! Moreover, in the community, they are many users better than me in patching. Of course it’s great to know that I created something beyond me.
I use Usine for my artistic projects every day and I feel what is good and what I should improve. I think that it’s the force of our team.
The main difficulty is to make a synthesis between my needs that are generally simples, and needs of the community.
Usine is not a song or an album but I definitively consider this software as a complete part of my artistic work.
BPB: How much compromise is there between feature requests from the users and your own “dream version” of a music-making application?
Olivier: Each time I have a suggestion, I try first to feel how it could be useful for all the community. In a second time I try to find a way to implement it and keep Usine as simple as possible. It’s a constant compromise: add new features and keep Usine simple. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible. Everybody knows that the perfect soft doesn’t exist, but I wanted to create a soft that extends the limits of our creativity. HH2 starts to be very efficient in that point.
BPB: Thanks again for this mini interview! We can’t wait to see how Usine Hollyhock will evolve in the future!
Olivier: Thanks a lot Tomislav. And yes, be sure there are more new features coming and with the Sensomusic team, we hope to have you in our community.
We are giving away one Usine Hollyhock II Pro license to one lucky BPB reader! The rules are a bit different this time, so please carefully read the two steps which are required for you to enter the giveaway: Download the free version of Usine Hollyhock II and install it on your machine. Leave a comment below telling us what you like and/or dislike about it. The idea behind this slightly changed giveaway system is to draw more attention to the fact that the application can be downloaded for free from the developer’s website and also to hear your opinion about the application itself. The winner will be picked by a random number draw on June 15th and announced on this page. Good luck everyone and thanks for reading BPB! :)
WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT // The giveaway is now closed. The random number generator at random.org gave us #32 this time, which means that our reader Adem gets a free Usine Hollyhock II Pro license. Thanks everyone for joining the giveaway, thanks to Sensomusic for giving away their awesome product on BPB and congrats to Adem for getting the prize!
We have more cool freebies coming soon, so stay tuned! :)