Luke Reddington: Going On a Bender

Luke Reddington has become one of the go-to circuit benders, having made instruments for several prominent artists. Here’s his story. . . .
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EQ: Where did your love for bending toys and instruments start?

LR: I was at my girlfriend’s house, and her friend’s boyfriend had a Speak ’n Spell that he circuit bent . . . I thought, okay, I need to learn how to do that! Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on buying things and bending them.

EQ: What are your favorite objects to bend?

LR: I enjoy working on Vtech Talking Whiz Kid Plus toys, there’s lots of versatility in them. I also really enjoy bending the Yamaha PSS-460 keyboards, they have the most unreal sounds in them. But really, there are too many to have a favorite.

EQ: What’s the most extreme bend you ever did?

LR: I would have to say the Casio MT-240 keyboard, it just does some of the craziest sounds ever.

EQ: Do you have other bending heroes? What’s your favorite “bending” music?

LR: I don’t really have any bending heroes; basically I enjoy what I am able to do, so can I say I’m my own hero? [Laughs.] As to bending music, for now, I would have to say Vinetian Snares. He uses some unreal sounds and it inspires me to make more interesting instruments.

EQ: What’s your bending philosophy?

LR: Philosophy? Hmmm . . . bend an instrument, then another one, and keep going until my storage unit is empty!

EQ: Do you own a studio, and write music with your modified instruments?

LR: I do own a studio; I love to collect synths and hear new noises. But unlike what I planned, I do not use any of my modified instruments; I know what they are capable of doing, but I can’t find the time to make myself sit down and actually make music for myself. For now it is just musical instruments for other people.

EQ: Who are the most famous musicians who use your bent instruments?

LR: Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Buckethead, Trey Anastasio of Phish, Venetian Snares . . . I am sure there are many other artists using them I’m not aware of at the moment. I have sold to a lot of different musicians on eBay.

EQ: Any hints for bending newcomers?

LR: Go to a lot of thrift stores, use good test leads otherwise you will be frustrated . . . but don’t go overboard! And you will . . . don’t buy too much crap!

EQ: What is the difference for you between “bending” and “modding”?

LR: I would say bending is straight anarchy to the circuit chip; modding would be creating modifications to an already finished machine. With bending, you are morphing an instrument into something it is completely not at all.