[S05E01] May 2023 - David Levi

David Levi of MicroKits.net

In the May 2023 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, host Rick Reid plays theremin music from Canada, England, Peru, and Italy. Rick's special guest is David Levi, designer of the MicroKits Theremin Electronic Kit.


  • "Son coin de paradis à lui" featuring Thorwald Jørgensen (Hoogezwaluwe, Netherlands) - Sébastien Lafleur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
  • "Memory" - Monelise (London, England, UK)
  • "կ​գ​ա​ն ա​վ​ե​լ​ի լ​ա​վ ժ​ա​մ​ա​ն​ա​կ​ն​ե​ր (Ya vendra​́​n tiempos mejores)" - Veronik (Lima, Peru
  • "Nimereht" - Unreal Project and Toroids (Italy)
*The full-length recordings featured in this show were used with the knowledge and permission of the artists and composers. Please support the artists by visiting their websites, purchasing their recordings, and attending their performances. 







Copyright 2023 Rick Reid 



Please note: This transcript was created with the help of speech-to-text AI.  It may contain some errors.

David Brower  00:04

This is "Theremin 30," thirty minutes of theremin music, news, events and interviews, with a new episode about every 30 days. Now, here is your host from Denver, Colorado, USA -- Rick Reid!

Rick Reid  00:20

Hey, welcome to the May 2023 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast. This is the first episode of Season 5.  If you're new to the show, this all started way back in April of 2019. Since then we've featured approximately 160 theremin songs and more than 3 dozen interviews with some of the most influential artists, teachers, historians, and technology experts in the theremin community. If you haven't listened to all the previous episodes, I encourage you to put them on your playlist. 

In this episode, I have some recent music and some tracks that didn't make it into previous episodes, featuring thereminists Veronik, Monelise, Thorwald Jorgensen, and Lorenzo Di Marcantonio.  And my special guest is David Levi, the designer of the Microkits theremin circuit building kit for kids.

To get the show started, I have a 2022 album track  by  Montreal-based recording artist Sebastien LaFleur. It features Thorwald Jorgensen on theremin. This is called "Son coin de paradis à lui" or "His Own Corner of Paradise."

Rick Reid  08:13

We started season 5 of the Theremin 30 podcast with ""His Own Corner of Paradise,"" from Sebastien Lafleur and featuring Thorwald Jorgensen on theremin.  It's from the 2022 album called Strates, which is available on Bandcamp. After that, we went back to 2019 to hear ""Memory"" from the Hauntology album by Monelise. Among many other music projects, Monelise has begun releasing a series of theremin-infused meditation music tracks for her Patreon susbcribers. You can get more details about both artists by clicking on their names in this month's show notes at Theremin30.com.  

I'll be right back with the Theremin 30 calendar and a lovely new recording from Veronik.  Also, later in the show, I'll visit with David Levi from Microkits. And I'll play a new ambient track from an Italian duo.  So stay tuned."

It's time now for a look at the Theremin 30 calendar of theremin events!  On May 20th, Sheuh-Li Ong hosts a new episode of her live ""Music and Chat"" show on YouTube. On May 23rd, Michelle Moog-Koussa conducts exclusive tours of the Moogseum in Asheville, North Carolina, to commemorate the birthday of Bob Moog. On May 26th, Yoko Onishi performs at the Zushi Culture Plaza in Zushi City, Japan. On Saturday, June 3rd, The Divine Hand Ensemble performs its annual Concert Among the Crypts at the Laurel Hill Cemetery in the Philadelphia area. And on June 4th, Dorit Chrysler performs at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, New York. For details about these events and many more, check out the interactive calendar on Theremin30.com. If you have a theremin event you'd like me to list on the calendar, send me a note with all the details.

One of the very first songs I played on Theremin 30 was from Lima, Peru-based recording artists Veronik.  When she was my guest on the show back in October of 2021, she told us about a rock music album she was working on.  The first single from that album is out now and it's called "Ilusiones Peligrosas" or "Dangerous Illusions." I am not going to play it for you today, but you can check out the music video for it on the Theremin 30 YouTube Playlist.  Instead, I'm going to play a lovely new instrumental than Veronik recorded during the final days of her father's life. The title comes from reassuring words from her father, "Ya vendra​́​n tiempos mejores," "Better times are coming."

That was ""Ya vendra​́​n tiempos mejores,"" ""Better times are coming"" by Veronik.  You can find that track on the album ""El Ele,"" a music compilation to raise funds for the victims of the recent major earthquake in Turkey and Syria. There's a link to the album in this month's show notes. 

Coming up after this break, I'll visit with David Levi, inventor of a fun little theremin project kit for kids, so stay right here."

Rick Reid  14:17

David Levi is an amateur musician and professional electronic designer who specializes in electronic toys. David recently started selling his popular theremin circuit building kit in the giftshop at the Moogseum in Asheville, North Carolina. I visited with David recently to find out all about it.

David Levi  14:39

Hello. It's nice to be here. Rick,


Rick Reid  14:41

you have the distinction of being the designer of the smallest cheapest Theremin that we've ever featured on the show.


David Levi  14:50

Yeah, I'm cornering the gateway Theramin market. The Fairman that I make isn't a full instrument that you can play somewhere over The rainbow one but what I do have is a miniature Theremin kit that a 10 year old can put together in like an hour. And then they have their own Theremin, it's actually capacitive sensing to antennas also automatically calibrate, so you don't have to turn the knob, but a little miniature Theremin so that so many more people can play around with electric fields and get to experiment with a Theramin in person.


Rick Reid  15:28

We'll talk more about the Theramin in a moment. But first I want to talk about you. How did you get interested in Thurman's?


David Levi  15:34

I know that I got into electronics because of the Theramin. I'm trying to remember like the first time I saw the Theramin. I saw it somewhere. But I remember going back that night to like Wikipedia, and trying to read all about the Theramin and not believing it. It's like this, this is a made up thing. I must have seen a YouTube video, I didn't see it in person. I'm like, Oh, this is a made up thing. They're using camera tricks. Because I didn't think that that's how physics worked. But luckily, I had a bit of background in working with electronics, because I had a math teacher in middle school who taught me to solder some. But I found out about the theorem. And when I was probably a sophomore in high school. And that's when I really got into electronics, I'm like, I need to build one of these I need to build these other circuits I need to make my own instruments. So the Theramin for me was a gateway into just making different electronic circuits.


Rick Reid  16:35

How did you jump from a hobby to a business,


David Levi  16:39

it definitely helps to have gotten an electrical engineering degree. And after that I went and actually worked in the toy industry for a couple of years. So that's my background is I worked a little bit at Hasbro and Mattel, worked on making toys light up and play sounds. And that kind of toy design, I had the opportunity of being laid off in 2020. And that's when I was able to get this little Theremin circuit that I had designed over a couple of years and just start making more of them and see if I can turn it into a little business. And it's been successful enough that I've also started working on releasing my second product, which is a synthesizer and I'm also starting to work on a third product,


Rick Reid  17:23

which according to your website is secret still,


David Levi  17:26

it's secret right now, I have a prototype that works. But it's electronics, it takes a ton of time to develop anything. You can design something quickly. But making sure you've designed it right is a whole other process. So third product probably take another year or so


Rick Reid  17:43

I thought it was interesting that you described being laid off as an opportunity. What's the opportunity in that?


David Levi  17:50

The funny thing is I actually got into the toy industry, because of the same Theramin kit. I designed it back in 2016 Or maybe early 2017. And I was showing it around to like job interviews and such. And that's how I got a job working in the toy industry. But then I was you know, working on Power Rangers working on Barbies, and I'm like, oh, man, I want to release my own circuit. But you know, I couldn't compete with my employer.


Rick Reid  18:18

Yeah. Okay.


David Levi  18:19

So I was like, oh, man, one of these days, I'm going to go do my own thing. And it happened a little bit earlier than I expected. But that gave me more time to figure out how to turn into a business. I've been doing this since like September 2020. And I've been going to a few like maker fairs, which is a lot of people who make circuits or 3d print stuff or other tech craft type things. I was actually just a couple of weeks ago in Asheville, North Carolina Maker Faire. And that's of course, where the mode companies that after going to the Maker Faire showing everyone my pheromones in person and my synthesizer, I actually visited the Moogseum, which is the Robert Bob Moog foundation about Moga not not mode music. They share the name, but they're separate entities. So I got to see like the old vacuum tube Theremin they have one there. And then they have another really old transistor Theremin. And they have a few ether waves that you can play. So that was great. And then I just shipped 10 Theremin kits to be sold at the Moogseum. So that's very exciting. So if you're near North Carolina, if you're dropping by, you know where to get my kids, my introduction to electronics, you may have heard of this.


Rick Reid  19:40

You're probably too young but RadioShack used to sell kits and they had springs on them so that you didn't have to solder anything. You just slip the wire into the spring. And so I made a photo Theremin with one of the 101 kits. That was my favorite toy.


David Levi  19:55

Yeah, I think I had one of those 100 and ones too. Yeah, that's one of the ones instead, people mentioned.


Rick Reid  20:01

So this kit that you've designed, I assume there's no soldering involved. But you use a different system. There are no springs on this one.


David Levi  20:09

They're sort of springs, but they're hidden inside a plastic, I wanted to make something that they didn't need tools or extra skills, you know, I wanted to make it as easy to go in from no electronic experience to, hey, look, I built my own thing. And now I get to play a fair amount. So I use a breadboard, which is just a piece of plastic, it has a grid of holes in it. And you can place different parts into those holes, kind of like putting different Lego bricks on a Lego baseboard. And that's what makes the electrical connections is there's metal clips inside that connect by row and column. So you just have to place parts on one side, and then you've made a circuit,


Rick Reid  20:51

it is advertised as being appropriate for STEM. Can you explain what you mean by that?


David Levi  20:57

STEM is science, technology, engineering and math. And that's a big buzzword in education is we want our children to learn stem or Oh, the economy needs more STEM workers. It just means people who are working more with technology and developing technology. And yeah, I mean, it's a important skill to have nowadays, because technology and society just keeps getting more complicated. And it's important to remember how to design the electronics are all depending on and then there's also something called steam, which is science, technology, engineering, arts and math. And that's just the idea of let's get all this technical stuff by combining with art. And that's something I'm trying to do with this Theremin kit too, is I'm tricking the kids who just want to make a circuit I'm tricking them to like oh, hey, now you have a musical instrument. And the kids who just want a cool instrument. Oh, you got to learn a little bit about electronics nowadays.


Rick Reid  22:05

Can you demonstrate it for us? Let's hear it.


David Levi  22:08

Yeah, I've have it right here. So let's see. Don't remember if it is two or three octaves of range, but it's sensitive out, like three or four inches. So it's just a fun little thing to leave on your desk if you ever feel the need to make some Theremin noises. And I'm guessing that, you know, to the listeners, like they're much more likely than the common population to have access to their own Theramin. But, you know, they probably know people or families and friends, they've been trying to tell him about the Theramin. But now, here's a little miniature Theramin that they can actually share without having to pack up the antennas and all that.


Rick Reid  23:11

how can listeners get their hands not on but around one of your Theramin kits.


David Levi  23:16

So I have my website. It's micro kits.net. So that's micro kits with an S and then.net. That's where I have my Theramin and my other creations. I'm also on Amazon. If you go to Amazon and type in the word Theremin I'm probably going to be one of the top results there. And then as I mentioned I'm also just got into the mogsie I'm in Asheville, North Carolina, so it should be there in a little while.


Rick Reid  23:43

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us on Theremin 30 podcast and I'll see you again too.


David Levi  23:50

Thank you Rick morth airman's for more people.

To learn more about the MicroKits Theremin kit designed for kids age 10 years and up, follow the link in this month's show notes.  And if you would like to be on a future episode to discuss a product, service, or event that would be of interest to the Theremin 30 audience, get in touch with me with all the details, or click on the "Be Our Guest" tab on the Theremin 30 website. 

Now, with the time remaining, let's finish the show with a new, ambient collaboration from Italian thereminist Lorenzo Marcantonio and guitarist Rocco Saviano. This is called NimEreth," which is, of course, Theremin backwards.

Rick Reid  28:41

That was "Nimerth," or Theremin backwards, by Lorenzo Marcantonio who records under the name "Unreal Project" and Rocco Saviano who records under the name "Toroids." There are links to both artists in this month's show notes.

Before we unplug this episode, I want to thank all of the artists that share their music with us.  If you like what you heard, please support them by purchasing their music and attending their performances.  As the saying goes, ""you can't buy groceries with exposure."" So, please help them to be able to make more music for all of us.  I also want to thank the listeners who support this podcast with small one-time and monthly donations, or by shopping with advertisers that appear on the Theremin30.com website. It really does help me keep this show going. I'll be back soon with another episode. In the meantime, please tell your friends about this show, and share links to it on social media. You can also rate and review Theremin 30 on Apple Podcasts to help get the word out. Until next time, I'm your host Rick Reid. I'll see you in the ether."

David Brower  29:49

You've been listening to the "Theremin 30" podcast. Visit "Theremin 30" on the web at Theremin-three-zero-dot-com.