VauxFlores now available through

•March 23, 2014 • Comments Off

VauxFlores on


The title’s pretty self-explanatory. VF’s now available through for those who favor online gear marketplaces over online craft ones. Yet another tendril of the industry that defines us. Check it out!

Gold Standards

•December 19, 2013 • Comments Off


This might be a long one. For anyone interested in the basic facts, separated by informative bullet-points, it might be best to skip ahead to the actual page. For those interested in how this all came to be, hey now, read on.

Travis tells a story in his typical rambling fashion:

This is how this all happened. Three things went down in January 2013. First, Pau and I went to Panama on an art thing. Second, we got married. And third, I began contemplating a return to the United States, taking into account such factors as location, occupation and minimal income needed to sponsor Pau’s immigration proceedings. A few months earlier, I’d applied to a few positions in anticipation, but inevitably learned the hard way that regardless of how internationally well-versed you seem and what biennial’s you’ve shown at, a knock of opportunity isn’t necessarily a guaranteed thing.

In short, get over yourself. Love, Your Ego.

Two addendum to that last statement. The first parallels a common mistake I’ve often made in the few fistfights I’ve been in over the course of my existence – don’t just throw a punch and expect it to be over with. Usually that ends up leading to you standing and looking dumbstruck as your opponent a.) doesn’t flop to the ground in some sort of glorious heavyweight knockout and b.) probably will rally the gusto to decide to take a swing back, not necessarily parlaying to the same rules of fisticuffs of bygone era’s depicted in newsreels of the vaudeville. Instead, it’s better to keep swinging, thoroughly pummeling your opponent until the threat of any imminent retaliation has been subdued into a dusty, blood-spattering pulp on the boardwalk. It’s not that I don’t yearn for the vaudevillian era of dueling – its just, well, you know how these trying times are, metaphorically speaking. I guess what I’m trying to say is you can no longer submit just one application to what you perceive as your dream job and wait to hear back as if nothing else matters in the world. Instead you have to keep sending out apps to anything marginally related to our desired position and hope for the best. Yeah, that fits the metaphor, right?

Addendum two: Just like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it. So in April 2013, I boarded a flight north and landed in New York, intent to hit the ground running and hope I could potentially nab something zesty within driving distance of the nest, or at least from an organization willing to cover the cost of airfare. However, before I could do anything, I had to run a couple errands. Funny how that happens. One of which involved taking a trip to Baltimore to return a pair of sandals to a friend with a rather large footprint. Being of average size for your typical American male, I was unaware of this, but apparently anything over a size 14 is extremely hard to come by and the cost of shipping is commensurate with the cost of a one-way ticket on the chinatown bus. Adding to the necessity of this trip to Baltimore was my friend Ami, who was playing in New York that weekend and just so happened to be looking for some company on the drive back – trust me on this one – New York and Baltimore seem close on a map, but the drive itself is a bit of an endurance test. Well most routes, at least. There is that one way that goes through Harrisburg that’s kind of pleasant, but it also dumps you out 100 miles north of the city. Good for Hudson Valley farm rats such as myself, not so much for the metropolitan commute. We left at 8. We arrived at 2. I slept most of the way. Apologies, I’m a horrible navigator.

Later that morning, my boots hit the pavement in search of coffee and a rendezvous with Peter. Ironically, I ended up getting coffee at the coffee shop next to my future office, observing the banners for the school and contemplating whether or not they had any open positions. Imagine the time I could’ve saved. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy reconnecting with New York, but eh, necessity and industry and whatnot. I met Pete in the early afternoon, and after spending a good chunk of the day talking circuits and playing in the park with his son, we reconnected with his wife, Ayako, who I went to grad school with, as well as Liz Meredith, a very old friend, violist, collaborator, band-mate, composer, etc., also from my California era, as well as a couple bi-coastal tours afterwards for good measure. Good people, one and all. And, like many good people who haven’t seen each other in a while, we had dinner and we talked.

Of the many subjects that came up that night was the future of VauxFlores, since said cottage industry had blossomed just a bit since our last collective encounter, not to mention the intrigue on how, or if I would continue to carry the torch now that I was back in the states and actively seeking a day-gig. At that point, I was honestly a little undecided. Shortly after the weeding, I’d placed an order for a couple boxes and switches in hopes of depleting my reserves and returning without my usual tools and components, but the combination of my Ticotronics class and our trip to Guatemala pushed things back a bit. I mean, I did finish a couple and while describing these special editions, I mentioned this one gold-colored, stripped-down 24 that I had just sold in New York a few days prior that ended up being pretty cool in the end and was jokingly referred to as my new “Gold Standard” while describing the box. This is what it looked like, by the way.




The next part is a bit hazy – sorry, I don’t remember every conversation I have over dinner with friends, but by the end of the evening, Liz and I had agreed to collaborate on a pedal, with Liz supplying the artwork and me designing the circuitry. And finally, after nearly 8 months, we’re proud to introduce y’all to the newest addition to the VauxFlores family – a dirty, striped-down fuzz-monster capable of some amazing heaviness that invokes a symphony of harmonically-rich buzz saws, grinding, shredding, tearing, even vivisecting your tone, cutting through mixes and taking no prisoners. It’s intense, it’s gated, it’s for real. It even sounds great on bass, guitar and viola, produces some amazing chirps and artifacts when not passing signal and in certain settings, the tone control does this strange filter sweep thing. Is it for the tone chasers out there? Nope, not in the least – there’s nothing transparent about this beast. Is it something intended for the crowd who believe that every box they rock needs more controls than an Apollo module? Nope. Think minimal racing-edition – built for speed, not precision. But for the crowd looking for something interesting that applies itself to creative music in a footprint that we all know and love, hey, it’s worth a shot. Not to mention in comes in a sparkly gold enclosure with some killer artwork that doubles as a graphic score. Into score-based, aleatoric shoegaze? Now you can look cool and follow the chart at the same time – how’s that for forward thinking?

Either way, both Liz and I are proud of this little number and we’re happy to share our collaboration with the world. So uh, yeah, take the plunge. We like it. And if we like it, who knows, maybe you might, too.

Here’s the link again, for anyone who just read this and is adverse to scrolling.

From the Depths

•December 8, 2013 • Comments Off


Ok, so it’s been over two months since the last time we updated. Probably a little too long, but to admit, it’s been busy. Moving to a new city and settling into the groove of the new day gig takes it’s toll. Not to mention settling into a new apartment, nesting, shuffling, sifting, storing, etc. Looks like we’ll be in Baltimore for a second so the usual minimal rig is expanding and the desire for such things as housewares and the like have taken precedent. Hell, the next flight I take might not even contain a toolkit in my carryon. Hah. That’ll be the day. Tjohns: age 30, forever shoehorned into the societal expectation of mad-scientistry, electrical and otherwise. Regardless of that, hey, we’re back. And as usual, there’s a bunch in in the works now that the new routine is more or less established. First up: a new synth – Number 44. It’s a three-oscillator lofi noise-box paired with a 4-step sequencer designed to either be used as a stand-alone box or a shaky voltage controller for the times when you need a jittered march in your modular. It’s cool. And also being featured as an item you can pick up at MEDIATE’s 2013 SilentSonic Annual Fundraiser, happening at Alter Space in San Francisco, Ca. on Friday, December 13. I love Friday the 13ths. Maybe not the movies, though I did once work at the summer camp where the second one was filmed. It was pretty creepy. Creepier still was that Henry Kissinger’s estate was situated on the other side of what stood in for Crystal Lake. How’s that for a trivia item, eh? Either way, if you’re in SF and might potentially be interested in participating in a bidding war for an exclusive, hand-made instrument, take a spin over and check it out. By the way, this is what the little guy looks like. Neat, right?

Number 44

More on the way. It’s good to be back.

Also, this is what it does in video form. I’ll post an official build report soon.

Inherent Charm

•September 19, 2013 • Comments Off

Charm City


Ok, so remember in our last post how I mentioned how lots of things were happening? Here’s one of them: Outside of the world of art, sound design, analog circuitry, glitched images and nostalgic writing about the passage of seasons there’s also the whole concept of what it is that I actually “do” for a living. In my case, I’ve been fortunate that for the past two years what I did was directly related to art, sound design, analog circuity, glitched images and nostalgic writing about the passage of seasons. And for the foreseeable future, that’s still going to be the case, with one small exception – on top of the aforementioned, we’ll also be adding the title of Academic Technologies Administrator to the list. Well, that’s more of the general job description – the title is something else, but long story short, I accepted a position at a school in Baltimore, Maryland and will be moving to Charm City over the next few weeks for an anticipated start date in early October. Meaning, there might be a slight lull in productivity while we (being Pau and I) change locales – it might take a second here to set up a new workshop, as well as gather the materials from New York and Costa Rica before we reach full-productivity in the electronics department again. As the sign says, “Pardon our Dust,” or something like that. At the moment, inventory s a little low – basically whatever we have is available on Etsy – give us a month or so and that will change. As in larger production runs, a new design or two on the horizon and a couple surprises just in time for the holidays. In all, this is very exciting and we’re happy to share the news. In the meantime, we’ll update y’al when we can as we get settled in our new port-of-call.

More Natural Intelligence

•September 14, 2013 • Comments Off


A quick update, considering there’s actually a lot going on at the moment. First, here’s a link to the initial press about the Inteligencia Natural show from out last post, providing a nice overview of the show through the lens of Costa Rica’s La Nacion newspaper.

Secondly, as mentioned, I provided some sound design for the show. For anyone interested in taking a listen, here it is. Keep in mind that this is intended to be installed in a space to compliment the atmosphere of the show, etcetc. so for the full experience, I guess what I’m saying is you’ll have to head south and check it out.

Ala descriptions, here’s what’s up with the track: Processed field recordings conducted in the town of Yorkin, on the Costa Rica-Panama border. Presented as an ongoing sound installation in the Mariposario of El Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, September – December 2013 as part of Inteligencia Natural, a show on climate adaptation sponsored by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

New on the Gallery Front

•September 6, 2013 • Comments Off

Inteligencia Natural


Hey All,


A quick update on what Pau’s been up to for the past couple months while I’ve been attending to the family farm and building a fleet of custom electronics for the extended crew. What is it? It’s big, that’s what it is – a show sponsored by the IUCN, at the National Museum of Costa Rica, as curated by my amazing wife, Paulina Velazquez-Solis. More info to come, but if you happen to be in the area, come check out the opening on the 11th. I actually have a new sound piece in the exhibit, but more on that after the opening.


In the meantime, this is your portal for more info on the show – enjoy!


VF in the Field

•July 31, 2013 • Comments Off

Number 23

Recently, we sent a modified Number 23 to San Francisco artist Joshua Churchill for use in a couple upcoming projects of his, as well as to see what sounds a much more capable guitarist is able to conjure out of said box. Here’s his first report – needless to say, I’m blown away – take a listen and you’ll be as well. As a heads up, there’s only a few boxes remaining from the second batch of 23′s – two in fact. One’s available for direct order from the workshop in New York, and the other’s available at RetroTone Guitars in Costa Rica. These are also the final two remaining 23 circuit-boards, meaning that there won’t be any additional 23′s for a second until another batch is made – I guess what I’m trying to say here is get ‘em while the gettin’s good, y’all.

Ala the track, here’s what’s up in his own words – this is from his Plumes project, by the way:

“the loop at the beginning is just guitar w/ a tiny bit of OD, running thru a stereo delay and reverb (no VF23 at first).

you can hear where i start to blend in the VF23 (at about a minute in).
the 23 is on for the rest of the track (along with the aforementioned delay and reverb, and occasional OD running before the 23).”
Enjoy – and as always, don’t be a stranger.

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