Émilie Gillet, the developer of Mutable Instruments has today announced the stop of the development of new modules until further notice. During a conversation about a possible Cloud successor in the official MI Forum, she announced this decision. In this, she explains carefully her current personal situation and of the company.
The key message in Émilie’s words: Nothing is underway. I currently have stopped developing Eurorack modules, not sure when or if I’ll get back to it. There is nothing to read, no teasers, nothing”.
What Does This Mean For Cloud 2?
In a long conversation with the Mutable Instruments community, she explained that there is a world between the functioning prototype and the module you can buy at your modular store:
I’m repeating myself too frequently about this, but there’s a world between a working prototype (as indistinguishable from the real thing as it can look!) and the module you can buy at Control. A lot of testing, passing the FCC/CE compliance tests, more software and hardware testing, designing the hardware and software testing tools for the factory, figuring out everything manufacturing related, then testing and validating the pre-production units, which themselves take 2 or 3 months to be made because of the lead times for parts and the tooling.
Then a few more months before a proper release. So having finished the software and hardware doesn’t mean anything really, besides having done the fun 20% off the work 🙂
She confirmed that there is a Cloud 2 prototype but there were some fundamental design changes, ST chip problems.. and more which impeded further development. In Émilie’s words: “so we are far from being done”. Further, she explained that the development of an MI module takes
“3 to 4 months of work and then 9 to 12 months for the project to go through the usual release pipeline“.
So developing and releasing a module on the fast is not the case here, especially not with a near “legendary” module like the Clouds. Because she is currently not working on it, Cloud 2 will be delayed until further notice.
A Lot Of Pressure From All Sides
The power that Émilie has to invest in the development of Cloud 2 and the fear of failing on this project can be clearly seen in her written words: My work rate is currently zero because there’s a massive feeling of dread surrounding this project.
In such circumstances, no modules should be developed, even if the community desperately wants it. The health of a person is the priority, not Cloud 2 or another module.
Furthermore, she explains the current situation with the module manufacturer and also with the shops and their expectations:
My contract manufacturer needs a lot more “surveillance” to deliver the same quality as before, so I can’t imagine what it’d be like to launch large batches of a new product with huge expectations. Dealers are telling me they’d like to preorder batches of 100 or 200, that’s unheard of. I need to continue testing the waters with another contract manufacturer – until then, it’s unclear in which conditions I should have this thing made. Releasing this thing will put me under continuous pressure for 5 or 6 months. I can’t deal with that with serious surgeries possibly on the horizon at unknown dates.
A MicroFreak Experience
In another sentence, she defends her motivation to offer open-source products but also from a “crass” open-source experience: I’ve been to some level affected by some “crass” use of the open-source code, yet I don’t want to release a closed-source outlier in the Mutable Instruments line. I’m struggling with that (I found solace in doing little analog projects).
If I’m not mistaken, this is probably the affair: Arturia MicroFreak vs. Mutable Instruments from January where Arturia described the MF as a collaboration with MI, which was not true.
Plus, Arturia produces not little quantities, so understandable that Émilie is not happy with the situation when a company coins the open-source code like this. Plus all of this is happening while Émilie is going through a lot of deeply personal issues. She recently came out as trans and began using a new name. She said:
I find it much harder to enjoy the activity of coding and developing modules. It feels painful because I can’t help thinking how much of it has been a distraction and a coping mechanism for avoiding more serious issues. And in the long run, it doesn’t seem like a sane move to stay in a line of work where absolutely everybody knows my history.
I’m starting to get a sense of how much of a difference it makes to interact with people who don’t know about my past, versus people (no matter how accepting, tolerant, woke…) who have been exposed to all the old stuff. Some people are comfortable with being visibly trans, but well, I’m learning that it’s not my cup of tea. Maybe I’m too old for that. I’m waiting to find the next niche I can disappear in.
Future of Mutable Instruments
How the future of Mutable Instruments will be is not known. The good news: According to Twitter statements, the current modules (Marbles, Plaits …) will not be affected by the stop. The modules will continue to be built, but she will not develop any new ones until further notice.
Émilie Gillet is today one of the most innovative developers in the Eurorack area, where each module is completely thought out, offers new ideas and everything is so cleverly designed so that you understand it quickly. She is an icon in the module area and is responsible for the rapid increase of Eurorack Synthesizer. With open-source desktop synthesizers like the Shruti or Ambika, she has already shown what she can do before the Eurorack time.
So now the Mutable Instruments development of new exciting modules is stopped. Even if that’s a pity, I have great respect for this step. As I said before, the health of a person is important, not the development of a module. I hope that someday Émilie will find new strength to develop again. Hardware, as well as software friends, will be happy about it. One thing remains and will go into Eurorack history: Rings into Cloud or the recipe for ambient music.
More information here: Mutable Instruments Forum