Devin Kerr scratches on his Casio Rapman.

Devin Kerr lives in a bungalow, on a street full of bungalows, in a place called Bungalow Heaven, which is a neighborhood in a town known for its bungalows (Pasadena, CA).

One day in the recent past, I drove up to Pasadena for a business meeting.1 There I found Devin and his laptop on the porch behind the bungalow. The conversation started with business chatter, but soon we turned on a microphone and started talking about — what else? — his first instrument.

Devin’s answer (which you’ll find below) struck me, initially, as unusual. I raised an eyebrow. But then, a nanosecond later, it struck me as the perfect first instrument for Devin; these days he spends most days with both arms deep in the vocabulary and mathematics of digital audio.

Find out more about Devin and his work at Goodhertz at

What was the last thing you listened to?

I listened to the Cher track, “Believe.”


It’s the first use of auto-tune as a creative tool. I was curious, just generally, about the progression of the auto-tune sound over time. Antares made that hardware unit, a hardware auto-tune box. Apparently the designer never thought anyone in their right mind would use it on that fast of a speed, because it just sounds robotic. So I don’t know, at the Cher session, if somebody bumped the knob and liked how it sounded, or if it was more intentional than that. But that’s where the T-Pain effect came from — that Cher track in the 90s.

What was your first instrument?

I think my first real axe was a Casio Rapman — 32 keys, with a fake scratchpad and three drum-pads. It also had a realtime pitch-shifter with a mic, which is kind of crazy for whatever year it was, 1990? It was a Christmas present, from my grandpa. I loved that thing, I think I still have it. It’s pretty rad.

What’s rad about it?

Just great 80s sounds. Three-voice polyphony.

So if you hit a chord with four notes…

It just cancels all the notes. But, yeah, it had a bunch of cool backbeats.

Did you ever make anything with it?

I think I used it on recordings in college. [pause] At least, I think that was my first instrument.

What would the other contenders be?

I had a piano in my basement that I played a lot, and my uncle — at some point — gave me a Ludwig 3-piece drumkit, though that might have been later. A Ringo thing, a 1960s Ludwig 3-piece, which my dad later threw away. He didn’t know what it was, but I wish I had it now!

1Devin & I are the co-founders of this site’s primary sponser, Goodhertz, Inc., which is an audio software company.