Art + Music + Technology


Performing Arts




December 2014
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Sometimes you can't plan a good thing - you have to let it come to you. I wanted to talk to another 'maker' in the modular synth area, and reached out to Andrew Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Audio; he was enthusiastic about it, and a call was scheduled.

A few days later I saw a posting on Synthtopia for a new Kilpatrick synthesizer - the Phenol. What luck! So our chat includes discussions about his Euro modular creations, the development of his own format (the Kilpatrick Modular format, a 4U variant), and the design decisions behind this new device: the Phenol patchable synth. While talking about this, we learn a lot about Andrew's background and his design process when creating new devices.

This was an awesome talk, and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed doing it!

Direct download: podcast_058_AKilpatrick.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:42 PM

Otso Pakarinen is one of the finest composers that I personally know. He runs a company out of Helsinki that does jingles and soundtrack work, but he is probably most widely known for his work as the primary personality of Ozone Player. His compositions are a masterful mix of complexity and tunefulness, and he combines influences with a deft hand. Love his work, and I also really like the man. I'm really excited to share this discussion with you!

One of the things that I appreciate about Otso is the pragmatic approach he takes to composition. Especially important is the discussion about how he takes on new projects: he gives himself a lot of time to come up with ideas, then expands from there. So much the opposite of the way that I approach thing, but so sensible.

Thanks to everyone for putting up with my less-than-ideal sound quality while I was on vacation; but the content definately makes up for the crappy microphone!


Direct download: podcast_057_OPakarinen.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:38 PM

My friend Mark Mosher doesn't get adamant too often, but when he does, I have to listen. He was adamant about getting into his friend AfroDJMac, and the work that he's been doing on Ableton Live packs. I jumped into my research (i.e., I took things for a quick drive then started digging deeper), and was really impressed with the work. Reached out to see if he'd be up for a quickie chat, and he jumped on the opportunity.

So you get this - my Thanksgiving gift to you. Great talk with a really insightful programmer, sound designer, songwriter and Ableton Certified Trainer.

I always like when someone opens a door for me to explore. Brian's ideas about vocal music (especially mixed with electronic music concepts) are really unique, and the way that he mixes music and teaching is also very interesting. Listen to his work here, and enjoy the discussion!

Direct download: podcast_056_AfroDJMac.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 5:26 PM

I've been wanting to do this interview for a while, but Andrew kept pushing me off - he thought that too much of the stuff that he does is just related to us working together. Alas, I had to point out that he works with a class of instruments that I've never touched, he lived 40 years before we even met, and he has a completely unique view of how electronics is used on-stage.

So he ended up saying "OK"!

Since we've known each other for a long time, the conversation is relaxed, filled with laughter - but also filled with interesting new information. We discuss the role of electronics on stage, how computers change the performance game, and how you approach practice when you are working with massively augmented instrumentation. Super fascinating, and something I'm hoping you'll enjoy.

Andrew has put up some audio of his work. Check it out at this link. And enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_055_APask.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 5:52 PM

At the beginning of this podcast, I talk about "KMI" as if everyone already knows who they are. And I suspect they do: Keith McMillen Instruments is the home for some of the most interesting portable keyboard and control systems in the industry. But Keith has come through a long line of inventions (and companies), starting with Zeta Systems, through some software iterations, and now with KMI.

In this chat, we talk about his history, how he got to the point of playing with unique materials for hardware creation, and what he sees in his (and the industry's) future. We also get a chance to talk about the future of musical instruments, and learn why Keith feels like we might not see any more instruments in the future. Fascinating stuff.

Thanks for listening, and enjoy the podcast!

Direct download: podcast_054_KMcMillen.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:02 PM

Chris Blarsky is a guy that has his fingers in a lot of pies. He's the main man behind the Ninstruments brand, which puts Gameboy music systems into play for well-wired studios and stage setups. He's also been hacking in the Eurorack world, with hacks of the Pittsburgh Oscillator, Moog Werkstatt and the TI Speak & Read. All of it is awesome, and the build quality is impeccible.

Where does someone like this come from? Well, it turns out that for Chris, like many other hacker/musicians, it all starts with the Commodore 64. Balancing black and white hats as a youth, he found his calling in game music, and the result is some amazing hardware tools.

This chat gave me a chance to explore some of the ancient days of gaming, PC's before the PC and hackery in general. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_053_CBlarsky.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 4:19 PM

This week's chat-ee is Mirko Vogel. Mirko first reached out as a listener, and invited me to a show that was going to happen last week. I told him I'd love to go, but would also like to record a conversation. Hence, this podcast.

Mirko is a pretty amazing cat; he's worked as both tour developer and tour manager for bands, has done a lot of his own work, and also collaborates with a number of interesting people. As a result, he's got a pretty unique view on how the music world works, and also some hard-earned understanding of working with people.

In this chat, we talk about the process of transferring music from album to stage, how you manage working with analog synths in a touring environment, and how you choose the people you work with. In the end, though, Mirko just opens up about what he is in this for - which is pretty revealing.


Direct download: podcast_052_MVogel.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:19 PM

I've been working with Jane Rigler for a while - I've been helping her with some technical options for her performing rig, and I've been a guest lecturer at some of her classes at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. I've also had the chance to see her perform several times, and she is a stunningly good flute player. She also pushes the instrument to its limits, creating multi-timbred soundscapes with her flute and Ableton Live.

I was really curious to find out how she became the player that she is, so the last time I visited UCCS I asked her to do an interview. It turns out that she's been listening to the podcast, and also has her students listening to it for class. Cool! She was game for the chat, and I was blown away by the result.

This is a great way to kick off our second year of podcasts, and I'm grateful to Jane for the opportunity. If you get a chance, please let your friends know about the podcast, and also feel free to drop me a line with suggestions or interview requests.


Direct download: podcast_051_JRigler.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:56 PM

Joshua Kit Clayton is one of the people I respect most in this world. He lives a thoughtful life that embraces technology, artistic practice, politics and spirituality in a holistic way that I find remarkable.

In our chat, we talk about his background (Ukranian Beet Farmers?), his involvement in the San Francisco 'scene' from the 1990's and 2000's, pulling together Jitter and his current work as both Cycling '74 CTO and live performer. We also talk about how he views politics, in particular, as part of the culture of an artistic life.

I've known Joshua for a long time, but I learned a lot during this discussion. What a treat!

This episode marks the first year of the podcast, and I really appreciate everyone that has been involved: interviewees, tech helpers and listeners. This has been a great ride so far, and I'm looking forward to the next 40!


Direct download: podcast_050_JKClayton.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 2:54 PM

It's hard to compartmentalize Jeff Kaiser. He's a monster trumpet player, a music label impresario, ethnomusicologist and technologist. Somehow, he finds a way to live his life where he can be all of these things - all of the time. He's a force, but also an incredibly nice guy to talk to.

In our chat, we talk about coming out of a religious music background, driving into (and through) an academic endevour, and coming out the other side with a hard-to-define career. We also talk about words, which might sound funny, but it really important when you think about how people interact with art and music's place in history.

Props to Jeff for the talk; you can find out more about him at Oh, and that's Doctor Jeff to you (and me)!

Direct download: podcast_049_JKaiser.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 3:44 PM