The Volt per Octaves
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The Volt per Octaves


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The Volt per Octaves @ Whiskey Richards

Santa Barbara, California, USA

Santa Barbara, California, USA

The Volt per Octaves @ SoHo

Santa Barbara, California, USA

Santa Barbara, California, USA

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If you were to trace the course of how a couple of high schoolers obsessed with punk rock would become two of the most lauded emerging exponents of classical electronica, one couldn’t imagine a more convoluted path than the one taken by The Volt Per Octaves. During the past four years, the husband-and-wife ensemble of Nick and Anna Montoya have not only refined their sound, but also firmly established themselves within the swirling world of synthesized music. Like any worthy purveyors of a craft, their relationship with the music they create is fueled by an unyielding passion.

For insight into their musical fervor, one needs only to explore the 10 compositions that constitute their new recorded endeavor, Moogsaic. The album is a summation of the whirlwind adventure that has seen the two evolve from multi-instrumental newlyweds into one of the most talked about electronic ensembles embracing analog instrumentation. While most musicians their age explore the myriad of possibilities offered in the digital realm, The Volt Per Octaves have their hands firmly grasping the dials and keys of classic synthesizer instruments like Moogs and Theremins. And, despite what current convention might suggest, for The Volt Per Octaves, digital technology simply doesn’t measure up.

“You plug a digital synthesizer into the wall and the electricity that comes out of the socket is powering a computer that has RAM and a CPU,” offered Nick. “It is nothing but ones and zeros making some perfectly pitched orchestral sound. But our instruments take raw electricity and run it through various resistors and transistors and springs that actually make electricity audible. What you hear in a Moog is audible electricity. When I am playing the keyboard and twisting the knobs, what I am doing is changing the path of electricity in real time. … It’s not a computer making a sound for you.”

Rather ironically, the life journey undertaken by the Montoyas is just as intricate and twisting as the goings-on in their music. After meeting in high school, the two soon found themselves taking on the role of teenage parents. Having battled all the complications and misgivings that come with starting a family at such a young age, Nick and Anna married. Six years after they first met, music again started to take prominence in their lives. Nick had discovered the Moog and quickly started contemplating the idea of making music with Anna.

“At first, it was kind of rough,” recalled Nick. “We would bombard any open mike night we could find and we would turn up with our keyboards. You should have seen the looks we got!”

“The response we got wasn’t too positive at first,” added Anna. “No one really got it. At open mike nights, most people usually turn up with a guitar, plug it in, and just jam away. And here we were with all of these strange instruments. People would be standing there thinking ‘What are these people doing?’ But, after a while, they got into it and we started to find a niche.”

That niche came at everybody’s favorite downtown bar, Elsie’s. While partaking in a handful of the establishment’s open mike nights, it was quickly suggested that the Montoyas start playing their own shows. After scribbling their names onto the venue’s booking calendar, Nick and Anna became The Volt Per Octaves and Elsie’s became their staple gig. As they concentrated on refining their craft, outside opportunities quickly arose — one of the most important being their entry into the Holy Grail of synthesized music: the synth competition known as Moogfest.

“The big step in between the open mike slots and booking our own shows came in 2005 when we won the Moogfest competition,” recalled Nick. “It was an online competition run through the Moog Web site where all these Moog synthesizer greats were playing the fest in New York, and they were looking for one undiscovered act to join them. We didn’t ever think we would win. Our sound is very simple and we are definitely not like many of the virtuosos out there. But they closed down the contest a week early and then sent us the announcement telling us we had won.”

It wasn’t just the judging committee of the Moogfest that saw something special in The Volt Per Octaves. When it came time for the duo to record its latest album, a couple of those synthesizer greats were more than willing to join Nick and Anna’s endeavor. One of the pair’s biggest influences, Roger Manning Jr. (who has worked with the likes of Beck and Air), contributed an armory of masterful Moog tracks and arrangements, while another Beck collaborator, Ross Harris, also dropped by to lend a helping hand.

“We’ve looked up to these guys since we were kids, and now they are our comrades,” said Nick. “Ross Harris actually wrote, codirected, and produced our favorite movie of all time, called Southlander, which is about the hunt for a rare and elusive synt - The Santa Barbara Independent

Music Makers

The Volt Per Octaves

By Stephen Fortner | January, 2006
Tribal armbands, Celtic knots, Chinese characters, and . . . the Moog Music logo? For 22-year-old Nick Montoya, it was obvious which tattoo belonged on his tricep, because the fluid, organic character of analog synthesis had long since made just as indelible an impression on him. “My mom always played a lot of music around the house when we were kids,” he recalls, but the biggest memory has to be Stevie Wonder. “I was just mesmerized by the bass sound of ‘Boogie on Reggae Woman.’ The second biggest thing would have been Steve Winwood’s solos. I knew they had something in common.” Nick’s curiosity about what could make that sound led him to synthesizers, and finally to Trevor Pinch’s bookAnalog Days. “I’d been in other bands, as the drummer actually, but as soon as I got my first Moog, I felt like ‘Man, people need to hear these instruments in a close-up, live way. They deserve to be taken out and played.”

With the help of high school sweetheart and spouse Anna, a classically-trained pianist-vocalist who credits Aphex Twin and Portishead as formative influences, the Volt per Octaves were born to evangelize analog, at first just to intimate crowds in coffee houses and wine bars around Santa Barbara, CA. While you had to go there to hear the oscillators, the buzz made it a lot further, culminating in their opening Moogfest 2005 in New York City.

“The promoter held a contest through, and we knew the caliber of some of the virtuosos submitting stuff, but said, ‘What the heck?’ We couldn’t believe it when we won, because our sound is very simple. I love the basic stuff the Mini is known for — basses, wormy leads, filter sweeps — all that stuff. I guess they decided it represented them in the right way, and the next thing we knew, we were sharing the stage at B. B. King’s with people like Jordan Rudess and Edgar Winter. Gulp!”

Currently preparing to record their first full-length album, their biggest regret is clearly, “Not getting to meet Dr. Moog before he passed on,” according to Anna. They also fondly hope daughter Eva, now seven, will join them onstage when she’s a little older. “She’s fascinated by the sound of these things, and already coming home from school complaining ‘Dad! None of the other kids know what a Moog is!’”

(source: ) - Keyboard Magazine

In the Moog -
The Volt Per Octaves looks to make people appreciate the Moog again

By Joel Hartse

It's difficult to put your finger on just what it is that makes the Volt Per Octaves special.

It could be their almost religious devotion to the Moog, an analog synthesizer created by Dr. Robert Moog in the 1960s. It could be the fact that they have managed to make their mark on the music world at large--with no label support--from an obscure corner of Northern California. It could be the cute factor: that they're a husband-and-wife duo whose daughter sometimes joins them onstage. Or it could just be the group's creative instrumental music, a sci-fi style somewhere between trip-hop and prog-rock that is as playful as it is dark and plodding.

You can choose your own reason: Volt Per Octaves is a compelling band. And the duo is on a quest to make the strange-and-beautiful analog-synth sounds of the Moog a mainstay in music again. (If you think you've never heard the instrument, you're probably wrong.)

So what is it about the Moog that led Nick Montoya to name his band after it (the name refers to the "volt per octave" technology invented by Moog) and its logo tattooed on his arm? "My mom really played a lot of music in the house when I was a kid, and a lot of it had a lot of old Moog synths in it," he said. "Stuff like Stevie Wonder and Steve Winwood, and other adult contemporary music from the '80s."

Montoya was fascinated by the sounds he heard on those old records, and purchased his first Moog at age 17.

"From there on, I just started collecting them and getting into the whole history of the company. I came to understand that Moog was the original synthesizer. ... For a long time in the '60s and '70s Moog was a synonym for synthesizer, like Hoover for vacuums."

Montoya played in a number of bands as a youngster but didn't hit on the all-Moog, all-the-time concept until he and his wife, Anna, decided to join forces on a new project. The couple met in high school and became parents at a young age, and their band's impetus was as much marital as it was musical.

"My wife and I have always played music, but we never played music together," Montoya said. "We were actually going through a rough time in our relationship, and I thought that if we started playing music together it would help. We feel like that's definitely strengthened our relationship."

Last year, Volt Per Octaves found that it had won a coveted slot: to open the second annual Moogfest in New York City. The duo had applied for the gig almost on a whim, assuming they'd be passed over for someone better known or slicker.

"We submitted it, but it was like the lottery--you can't win if you don't play. We really love our Moogs and everything, but we're not virtuosos on our instruments like Rick Wakeman [of Yes] or Keith Emerson [of ELP]," Montoya said. "When we won, we were just in awe. We were like, 'We won!?' When you get that first little taste of recognition, it's just a great feeling. I had been playing in bands since I was 11 years old. I always had that dream of being in a rock-'n'-roll magazine."

To the Montoyas' delight, when they got back from their well-received performance in New York, there was a message on their answering machine from Keyboard Magazine, the premier keyboard and synth publication in the U.S., which ran a feature on Volt Per Octaves earlier this year.

Sure, Volt Per Octaves has a gimmick, but it is not a superficial one: The Montoyas love their Moogs and know how to use them. And they're looking to spread the word as they gear up for their upcoming West Coast tour and self-release of their first album, Theta Release.

"Not to sound too heady or whatever," Montoya said, "but we're kind of the epitome of a Moog band."

He's not bragging. It's just the truth.

(source: - Chico News and Reviews


"Sleeping In / Theta Release" (2006)
"Moogsaic" (2007)

Both Albums Available on iTunes and CD Baby. Samples also available @



The Volt per Octaves were born in Santa Barbara, California in 2004. Consisting of the husband and wife team Nick and Anna Montoya, the duo set out to bring Moog synthesizers back into the spotlight. In a day and age where multi-gigabyte samplers and laptop computers rule the electronic music scene, The VPOs are adamant about performing their original electronic music sans any CPUs.

With the intention of at most playing a few local gigs in Santa Barbara, The Volt per Octaves have taken their Moog music a bit further than that. In May 2005, the band got the chance to open up the official "MoogFest" that is held annually at BB Kings Blues Club in the heart of NYC's Time Square. This great experience led to an endorsement with Moog Music Inc, in which the band represented the company at the 2006 and 2007 Nation Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention. They are also featured artists @ Moog In January 2006, an interview with the band was featured in the nations leading synthesizer and music technology publication Keyboard Magazine (Jan '06). Also in January 2006, the VPOs orchestrated a successful benefit concert in memory of Dr. Robert A. Moog, inventor of their much beloved instrument, the Moog synthesizer.

The couple released their debut album "Sleeping In" which was recorded in Humboldt county in August 2006. The relaxing nature of the ancient redwood forest served as a perfect breeding ground for such a mellow, Mooged out record. The album also features a remix by platinum award winning producer Anthony J. Resta ( Duran Duran, Elton John, Missing Persons).

The VPOs released their sophomore effort "Moogsaic" just 13 months later. It features collaborations with synth masters Roger Manning Jr. (of Beck, Air, Moog Cookbook) and Ross "Rossangeles" Harris (of Dj Me Dj You, Sukia). As well as a collaboration with fellow Santa Barbarian "Bizzarro Lord Zool". And most importantly, a cameo by their daughter Eva, on Melodica and whistling!

"Moogsaic" became available worldwide September 4th, 2007.