Art + Music + Technology

Bana Haffar's profile in the modular world is growing by the day. She really hit people's attention with her demo video for the Moog Mother32: Liquid Light Solid Motion, but is also gaining momentum by being involved (with Eric Cheslak) in creating and coordinating the Modular On The Spot performance series. Although a self-professed 'beginner', she's obviously found a way to express herself in the modular instrument, and has a release coming out shortly as well.

Surprisingly, in this interview we find out about an artist that has embrace Death Metal in Dubai, musical session work and the inevitable move to LA. But rather than let any of this define her (or swallow her up, as it can with many artists that move to LA), she's expanding herself with more experimentation, trying out more instruments and more collaboration.

Alas, Bana did this interview from an outdoor cafe while I was huddled in my over-heated Minnesota house; I was more than a little envious! But I was also inspired by an artist that is seeing success without ceasing her own development. That's something we can all learn from, right?

Thanks to Tom Hall for this great connection. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_164_BHaffar.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:23am CST

Qu-Bit Electronix holds a special place in my heart: there was a time when I wouldn't do a gig unless I'd loaded up a thumb drive with some new samples for munging with a Qu-Bit Nebulae - that company's first product. Since then, they've gone on to do a lot of additional modules, including a new series of devices that are in 'sets of four' - which Andrew talks about in this chat.

Talking with Andrew is also interesting because you find out about an accomplished musician that learned everything - design, programming, synthesis - out of a love of music and musical devices. Brought up under the tutelage of Dr. Boulanger at Berklee, Andrew took what he learned and made it concrete, literally wedging Csound code into a module so that he could further pursue his interests.

At the forefront of bringing digital to Eurorack systems, Andrew remains excited and fascinated by synth tools, and has some pretty big plans for the future. Listen in and enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_163_AIkenberry.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:56am CST

Brenna Murphy is about as mediated of an artist as you will find. She combines video and animation with the development of physical objects (through a variety of means), but will also include analog synthesizers in her installations and as soundtracks for her films.

Hand-made synthesizers.

If you don't know Brenna's work, you need to check it out at http://www.bmruernpnhay.com/ (the site is a mashup of her first and last names...), where you will find a ton of different kinds of work. I especially loved the videos, since their soundtracks often sounded like they were taken straight from the vaults of late 50's sci-fi flicks. But as you dive in deeper, you find an incredible depth in Brenna's work, including the use of 3D printers, fabric printers and other fab systems to create sculptural work from her designs, and collaborations with her partner Birch Cooper (see http://mshr.info/) to create the synthesizers that sonify much of her work.

In our chat, we talk about the development of an artist in Portland - and the development of the sorts of communities that allow for this work to bloom. We also talk about the difficulties in creating work, getting it shown, and finding out how to work in an environment that wants to embrace everything - all at once.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_162_BMurphy.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:33am CST

I ran across Fabrizio's work in a rather typical way - I was trolling through maxforlive.com, searching for something that would interest me (and would make for a good article for the Cycling '74 newsletter...), and I ran across some work by a developer that tagged everything with "J74". That was enough to get my attention on that evening, and I started looking into his work. There were several interesting devices, several of which were related to "guided generative" sequencing, an area that always kind of intrigues me.

So I started playing with some of the devices, and got drawn into one of them: J74 Progressive, which is a chordal (harmonic) content generator that can be as simple or as complex as you like - and it draws you in by helping make interesting and fun chord changes.

I had to learn more, so I reached out to the developer - Fabrizio Poce - and started a conversation. Next thing you know, we were doing a podcast interview! This is a great one, because Fabrizio is more than happy to share his perspectives on both musical creation and software development. This is a balance that is hard for many to maintain, so it is good to hear some ideas from a successful developer.

If you want to dive into Fabrizio's J74 work, you can check out his site at http://fabriziopoce.com/, and check out J74 Progressive here.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_161_FPoce.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:00am CST

In a quiet and self-assured way, Tarik Barri has been turning heads. His visuals for Monolake established him as a serious visual artist, while recent work with Laurel Halo and Thom Yorke are putting him at the forefront of live visual performance and programming. But when you talk to him, you'd never know - he's one of those people that is somewhat self-effacing, and both open and honest about how he feels and how he reacts to his process.

With a backstory that included some solitude in Saudi Arabia, several swipes at academia and a long-form software development process, it's probably not surprising to see Tarik have a unique and idiosyncratic (visual) voice. But he is also one of the most insightful people I've talked to when it comes to self-realization, and he was amazingly free with his opinions on how he creates his work, interacts with other artists and balances tech with art.

Catch up on Tarik's work by checking out his website, or check out some of the live video captures with him playing with Monolake and Yorke. But don't miss this discussion, which is a fascinating insight into an artist's mind.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_160_TBarri.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 9:35am CST

Joshua Eustis is one of the busiest and most focused people you'll run across. From his many recording/performance entities and collaborations (Telefon Tel Aviv, Second Woman, Sons of Magdalene) or his work with mainline acts (Puscifer, Nine Inch Nails), Josh's influence is woven throughout electronic music.

And you know what? Good for us! If you aren't familiar with Telefon Tel Aviv's music, take a listen - it's among my favorite music at the moment. Doing a little research will help you understand the difficulties surrounding that project - including the heartbreak surrounding the death of Charlie Cooper, Josh's collaborator with Telefon. 

But there's a lot more to talk about: what was it like touring with Puscifer - or NIN? What works better for Josh's work: hardware or software? And what are some of the tricks that he uses in order to keep up his aggressive playing and release schedule? All this and more...

I'm really grateful that Josh would take the time to chat with us, and thanks to Tom Hall for making the introduction. And make sure you keep up to date with Telefon Tel Aviv's activities as well as his other project, and keep an eye for a gig near you.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_159_JEustis.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:23am CST

If you have done any electronic music gigs in the US Midwest, or even if you've been listening to previous interviews with people that have come out of the Midwest, you've heard people speak about a mysterious figure: JP. JP helped set up gigs, encouraged people to strike out as players, or to try something new, or to show him something new. He's a dynamo in the area (he's based out of Minneapolis), and is also one of the founders of Slam Academy, a school for learning DJ'ing, production and sound design.

JP has a lot of great memories about how the scene developed, and also a lot of ideas (and opinions) about how people can learn this stuff today. He is on the front lines of getting people involved in making music, and some of his concepts refreshingly avoid the hype of 'get a job in the industry!' and replaces it with 'find a way to make your life better!'

I have to admit really appreciating that perspective.

I hope you enjoy this chat with JP - someone that is not only a friend, but someone who is an inspiration, and someone whose opinion I've come to trust. And if you are interested in the classes he has on offer, check out slamacademy.com for the whole scoop.

Direct download: podcast_158_JPatrick.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:22am CST

NOTE: This podcast is the fifth and final interview in our collaboration with Synthtopia.com on expressive MIDI controllers developments. You can listen to the podcast here, on the Synthtopia website (in an embedded player) or on iTunes.

But you can also read the interview as well as search for information by viewing the transcription on at the following location:

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2016/12/25/keith-mcmillen-interview-modern-instruments-should-combine-traditional-expressiveness-with-new-power/

Back in podcast episode #54, I talked to Keith McMillen about his background, his experiences in developing new musical tools, and the development of his 'smart fabric' technology that is at the heart of KMI's controllers. This time - and on the success of the Kickstarter funding of the K-Board Pro 4 - we talk with him about his experiences working on expressive controllers, and his long term goal of making every instrument able to interact with the computer.

I like talking to people with large visions, and Keith is right there: he'd like to change the world by making instruments more expressive and responsive, reduce latency to nothing - and also change the way that composers document their work so that it is available across technologies and implementations. These visions are the 'hard work' of what we need to do in electronic music, and Keith is simple not scared off by the difficulty of the task.

I hope you enjoy this discussion - we are pretty wide-ranging in the discussion, but in the end get to see the grand unifying vision of Keith's view of the future, and even what steps he may take to see them through. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_157_KMcMillen2.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 12:17pm CST

NOTE: This podcast is the fourth interview in our collaboration with Synthtopia.com on expressive MIDI controllers developments. You can listen to the podcast here, on the synthtopia website (in an embedded player) or on iTunes.

But you can also read the article as well as search for information by viewing the transcription on at the following location:

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2016/12/18/jordan-rudess-interview-on-new-instruments-the-future-of-keyboard-performance/

In the music instrument industry, Jordan Rudess is a rock star. He is a tremendous product demonstration guru, and is able to figure out - and shred upon - almost any controller at the drop of a hat. His history with Korg, Kurzweil and others map out the best of keyboards, and he's been a demo machine with all of them.

In the software development business, Jordan Rudess is also a rock star. He's designed some of the most interesting and playable iOS music applications (including MorphWiz, SampleWiz and GeoShred), and is working with others on some upcoming goodies.

And, of course, Jordan is also an actual rock star. As the keyboardist for Dream Theater, a member of the Dixie Dregs and an amazing solo performer and recording artist, Jordan has established himself as a force in rock keyboard circles.

What's cool, though, is that Jordan is a great guy, and is really wired in on every new technology. He's embraced the expressive controller world, including devices like the ROLI Seaboard, and finds these tools to open up a new world for him in both performance and recording. We talk a little about his past, his present and what he sees for the future in this two part (all in one file...) chat.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_156_JRudess.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 12:00pm CST

NOTE: This podcast is the third interview in our collaboration with Synthtopia.com on expressive MIDI controllers developments. You can listen to the podcast here, on the synthtopia website (in an embedded player) or on iTunes.

But you can also read the article as well as search for information by viewing the transcription on at the following location:

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2016/12/11/continuum-creator-lippold-haken-on-the-future-of-electronic-instruments/

No matter who you talk to about expressive MIDI controllers, one device keeps coming to the forefront: the Haken Continuum. Developed by our guest, Dr. Lippold Haken, the Continuum defined a new class of instrument that put a sensor-based system at the hands of the player. As part of creating the instrument, Dr. Haken had to invent many supporting technologies, and we see some of that in the emerging MPE specification.

But there is a lot more to Haken's work than a spec: there is also the details that he explored in the development of the Continuum. And they are quite remarkable: crazy (and expensive) sensors, highly sensitive interfaces and even the creation of the unique keyboard-like playing surface - all of this had to be developed from whole cloth.

The fact that Dr. Haken pulled it off is rather amazing, and points to the dedication that he has for his craft. This was a great discussion about the system's development, but also his vision for a specific instrument and his tireless search for the right solutions.

You can find out a lot more about the Haken Continuum at the Haken Audio website, and by checking out players like Jordan Rudess, Rob Schwimmer and others wailing on the device on YouTube. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_155_LHaken.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 12:00pm CST