Olegtron is a small business specialized in developing electronic music instruments, mainly for Eurorack modular system. Olegtron, a fictional conglomerate, started out as an art project in the late 90's. I had been into collecting and tearing apart technological junk since a kid, and started to build kinetic sculptures and experimental electromechanical music instruments. A well known finnish art project Bonk Business Inc. inspired me hugely, but instead of anchovy oil I wanted to make synthesizers.
Since then things have evolved into many different directions, but Olegtron has always been an umbrella over my endeavours. In early 2000's I was founding a junk electronics collective Koelse (Association of Experimental Electronics). With Koelse I have taken part in exhibitions, performed live and run workshops in various events around Europe.
Early stuff with Koelse
Photos by Antti Ahonen
In 2005 I freaked into CMOS chips, and as a result sequencing started to get more sophisticated compared to my previous mechanical attempts. I also went deep into LED matrixes. The built devices were unique pieces, athough I had always flirted with the thought of a product. As I started to more and more etch my circuit boards, creating actual production models started to seem more of an option.
One off products
In 2012 I was driving to a Koelse 10-year gathering in Helsinki, as my car burst into fire in the middle of the motor way. We were supposed to practice for our anniversary exhibition "101 Sequencers", and I had all my sequencers with me. All of them burned to ashes.
So, I had a clean table in front of me, and I decided to take the fictional company to reality, developing some ideas into actual products. The first product that saw sunlight was Olegtron 4060. First 100 units I soldered by hand at my workshop. After that a local manufacturer Mariachi Oy took Olegtron into their hatchery and the 4060 into production. During the summer 2015 the production was moved to another local factory, Elnik Oy. Circuit boards and front panels are made in Finland by local Turku-region companies, Printti-Valmiste Oy, Trimet Oy and Seriman Oy.
Although I like to lock into my workshop, all product developement does not happen in a void. I am really thankful to the lively finnish Facebook community of Turun Syntetisaattoriseura (Turku Synth Club) - many of it's members have helped me out with beta testing and pointing out problems. To mention a few from the club: Jesse Juup from Konekonekone is a musician and professional web designer. In addition to beta testing he has guided me on marketing and how the web works. Mesak (Tatu Metsätähti) is an electronic musician with a deep insight to sound electronics and has contributed with a bunch of constructive feedback and on-point improvements.
Building 4060 ver. 3
The first 500 units of 4060 have been produced and sold out. I think a small batch of the original 4060 will still be manufactured, but at this moment my focus is on Eurorack modules. A new revision of the tabletop 4060 will emerge some day too. Things at Olegtron develop slowly, but they do, eventually. The road from bohemian to entrepreneur is rocky. So I haven't quit my day job in art and art education yet. My spectrum as an artist has broadened from electronics, mechanics and sound to other mediums such as light, water and air. Check the videos below or visit my personal Youtube channel. I have been active in an international media-art group Videokaffe since 2011. Come check our next show!
Olli Suorlahti / Olegtron