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This £200 synth is Marquis Hawkes' go-to for ’90s house

In our new feature My Studio Bargain, we find out why the Roland JV-1080 is a low-flying ’90s staple...

When looking for throwback sounds, it's often tempting to resort to sample downloads designed to sound from the era – even though they were likely made 20 years later. It's often much better – and sometimes just as affordable – to look at the lesser-known bits of kit from that era to get the authentic sound. That's exactly what Marquis Hawkes was after when he picked up the Roland JV-1080 from a Turkish wedding musician.

We spoke to him about why he loves the JV and why it's his pick for a studio bargain...

"If you’re looking to sound ’90s, and get that flavour of R&B from that period, the go-to box at a reasonable price in my opinion is the Roland JV-1080. I myself wrote the box off for years as it’s not a particularly cool piece, and being a sample and synthesis module, it doesn’t do a very good take of an analogue synth. 

"However, this is not what this box is all about! It came to my attention when I was starting to move away from basing my own productions on sampled loops, and I really wanted to get into the essence of the kind of material I was sampling. This meant looking for the sort of equipment used to produce the mainstay of what I was influencing me at the time, which was that soul sound of the ’90s."

"I was also looking for a box used by early-90s house producers like Masters at Work and Kerri Chandler"

"I was also looking for the kind of box which was used by many of the early-90s house producers like Masters at Work and Kerri Chandler. These kinds of sample and synthesis modules, such as the Korg M1/M1r and the EMU Planet Phatt, alongside the JV-1080, were often a mainstay of those type of producers for their piano, rhodes and string sounds, and also the capability of layering those different tones together in one patch. 

"I picked mine up for about €150 from a Turkish wedding musician from some backstreet lockup in Neukölln. He actually had a whole heap of gear from back in the ’90s in there which he was also trying to sell me – I just wanted the Roland, but he tried! It’s still possible to pick these boxes up for under €200 or £180, and I’m sure there’s even more mileage in them than I’ve managed to obtain so far."

Catch Marquis Hawkes playing Ministry of Sound on New Year's Eve 2018.