Mandroid Talks Roland Juno 106 and Why He Loves the Sound of this Iconic Analog Synthesizer

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

He's a Secret Scientist, making computations... © A. Rataj/Facebook

Mandroid is one of the true gems of the Electro scene. Seamlessly and quite eloquently bridging the gap between old school Electro Funk and contemporary Electro Bass, his music has transcended time and space and into realms of Sci-Fi futurism, with a twist of conscious awareness over societal and political issues that have plagued mankind since the very beginning. His melodies lush and full of mystique, with a strange sense of inspiring melancholy, as if reflecting on the past with a desire to create a new and better future. His vocals intriguing and witty, at times even commanding and slightly sinister, with a keen sense for the Funk and the B-boy culture that popularized Hip Hop across the globe, yet going above and beyond the typical and often monotonous robot voices, earning him the title of "Prince of the Vocoder".

As one of the originators of the UK Electro sound, getting his starts on famed imprint Breakin' Records, Mandroid has gone on to release on many labels, both digital and vinyl, including Dominance Electricity and Fundamental Bass Intelligence, even collaborating with iconic Dynamik Bass System on the Controlled Society EP as their duo "Faster Than Light".

By his side and through much of his catalog has been one of the most revered of all analogue synths, the mighty Roland Juno 106. Here, Adrian Rataj - the man behind Mandroid, gets a chance to talk about this machine, and why it has been such an important part of his music.

Do you remember when you first got the Juno? How did that come about?

I acquired the Juno in 1992 from a shop in Leeds (UK) called Big Deal. I got to know the owner pretty well, and got a lot of the equipment I used for Mandroid from that shop in the days before eBay, including the OSCar, which I got from there in 1998.

What specifically about the Juno 106 do you find so interesting?

I just found it a good all rounder, and could get nice string sounds out of it. I like the Pulse Width on pads, etc. I found it fit in a mix easily, it was only one oscillator, but created quite a wide range of sounds for its limitations.

Roland Juno 106 © Roland Corporation

Which of your own records as Mandroid that used the Juno stand out to you as some of the most representative of that character you love about this machine?

The Juno was used on the first EP Retrospect. The string sound on Linear Phase was the Juno. Also it was used on Future Teknology and Instigated Monopolization quite heavily. Most of the synth sounds on Instigated Monopolization were from the Juno 106 actually. The World Conflict EP on FBI was another one that had quite a lot of Juno 106 on, along with the JX3P.

The Juno is essentially a poor man's Jupiter, but in the right hands it can sound sweet to my ears...

What is your opinion on the Roland Boutique JU-06, their miniature reissue of the Juno? Do you believe Roland got it right with their ACB tech, or should they have recreated it full size and analog?

I owned both the JX3P and the JX-03. Although it replicated good, it didn't seem to have quite the same depth or warmth. I would imagine the JU-06 would be similar in that respect. I found the controls a little too small too...guess I'm just old school! I prefer hands on analogue and full size, but that's not to say there isn't a market for them. Music tech is big business these days.

Is there another machine out there that compares to the Juno perhaps? Have you heard of Behringer’s Deepmind series? It’s supposed to have been in some ways their recreation of the Juno without actually cloning it.

Yeah Behringer is doing good things at the moment. Looking at the specs I would say the Deepmind has a lot of what the Juno had going for it. The Juno is essentially a poor man's Jupiter, but in the right hands it can sound sweet to my ears.

Listen to Mandroid's Linear Phase (1997), which features the Juno 106: