Art + Music + Technology


Performing Arts




April 2014
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Sorry about the missing podcast last week - I was working up in Portland, and was a little network challenged. Now I'm snuggled at home in the middle of a mid-spring snow storm, and am remembering the Pacific Northwest quite fondly.

This week we talk to Ben Bracken. I wanted to talk to Ben for a number of reasons: he's a graduate of Mills' MFA program (which has an incredible history in the electronic music sphere), he has done almost every type of art and music imaginable, and he is an active collaborator. Currently, he is working with Ashley Bellouin on installations and performances that feature handmade instruments, and the work is quite compelling.

So I take the chance to quiz Ben on his Mills experience, how he manages working in so many environment, and how he is able to manage collaboration. A great and informative talk, and one that is sure to teach you something!

Direct download: podcast_026_BBracken.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:33 PM

I mention it during the intro, during the interview and during the outro - I'm a fanboy of the work of Olivier Gillet. As the designer/developer behind Palm App "Bhajis Loops" and "Microbe" (as Chocopoolp) and the Mutable Instruments modules (with Braids as one of my alltime favorite modules), Olivier is on the front lines of music technology creativity. If you haven't yet heard of his work, I'm glad to be introducing you to him.

In this interview, we talk about Chocopoolp's creation, how this morphed into Mutable instruments, and how a DSP-trained student became a leader in the mostly-analog world of modular synthesizers. We also learn a little about how he works, and where he is taking Mutable for the future. The conversation flys around a bit, but Olivier keeps me on track...


Direct download: podcast_025_OGillet.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:58 PM

Teacher, maker and tool-builder Ali Momeni is our subject for the week. Ali is well-known in several communitied, having been an active coder/composer while at UC-Berkeley, creating large-scale word at the University of Minnesota, and now active with ArtFab at Carnegie Mellon University. He works in Max, Pd, microprocessors and (as we hear in this podcast) a wide variety of industrial fab machines. He is also one of the most engaging people you'll ever meet - whether in person, or in an interview like this.

One of the recent projects that Ali finds himself involved in is a library of machine learning tools. The link for that library is: If you are interested in more complex mapping of data to actions, you will want to dive into this collection of tools. He is also active in the ongoing development of the Udoo board; you can find more information here:


Direct download: podcast_024_AMomeni.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 1:55 AM

Mark Mosher is one of the most active synth-fanatics in the Denver area. He creates music, leads a scene of performers, helps organize the Boulder Area Synth Meetup, does example and tutorial videos for hardware and software - and probably doesn't sleep much. This last week he put out a new album Fear Cannot Save Us, which is a continuation of the science fiction themes from his earlier albums Reboot and I Hear Your Signals, but is also one of the finest classic electronic music albums I've heard in a while. So I took the opportunity to quiz him on the making of the album, how he mixes sci-fi themes with electronic music, and how he produced such an excellent sounding product.

If you want to hear the new album, you can check it out at You can also learn more about Mark and his activities at Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_023_MMosher.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:21 PM

Sometimes it can be really exciting to look at New Stuff and get excited about it. But sometimes a review of Old Stuff can be just as exciting. Author, educator, journalist and musician Mark Vail has the gift of helping us see more than the glamour of New Gear, and I had a wonderful discussion with him for this week's podcast.

Given Mark's encyclopedic knowledge of hardware, this could have turned into a "I thought the QRB-1500 was much superior to the FRX-9590" drone-athon, but he isn't like that - he's a relaxed and fun guy that has a story for every hardware spec. He has also spent time with history-making builders and artists, and enjoys sharing the memorable background that helped create the Music Instrument (MI) world.

I hope that you enjoy this podcast as much as I enjoyed making it. Also, you can get a little more info from, and meet/hear him at a book signing at The Avid Reader in Davis, California on April 11, 2014.



Direct download: podcast_022_MVail.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 5:14 PM

I seem to have known Barry Threw for a long time, but after this interview I realized that this was the single longest conversation we'd ever had. Some of the reason behind this is that we often met up at conferences or shows (AES, NAMM, Expo74 and the like...), where time is unnaturally fragmented into small bits. So this was a refreshing change of pace for us, and we took advantage of it by drilling into a wide variety of things: architectural surface projection, Naut Humon and Recombinant Media Labs, the development of the K-bow and even abstract stuff like "religion as a precursor art locale".

Toward the end of the podcast, we also talk a little about the plight of Bassel Khartabil, a technologist currently imprisoned in Syria. If you would like to learn more - or get involved - you can find out more at Barry's site ( and at the FreeBassel site (

Direct download: podcast_21_BThrew.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 9:44 PM

Continuing our discussions with media arts "professional", this week's conversation is with Mark Henrickson. I first met Mark as a performer at the Spark Festival, and I have had the pleasure of performing with him on several occasions. But I also knew that he was active in the show production world - which these days involves multi-channel audio, amazing lighting rigs and projection-mapped video. So I wanted to talk to Mark about how he meshes this professional life with his personal artistic work, and how he uses influences in one area to open doors in the other.

I think this discussion gives a unique view into the background of a pro, but also provides some insight into the development of a personal artistic practices that is unique, recognizable and interesting. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_020_MHenrickson.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 10:29 PM

Andrew Benson flies slightly under the radar, doing design work for Cycling 74, teaching at SFAI in San Francisco, maintaining an active artistic practice and doing visual work for Name Brand Stars that you certainly have seen. But Andrew doesn't really long for a spread in People Magazine; rather, he is constantly diving into edge-case technology looking for new ways of drawing emotion out of media art viewers. In the podcast, I recall my first interaction with his work - and having a visceral reaction based on the movements of a simple drawing. This sort of expression is key to Andrew's art, and in this podcast he talks openly about how he approaches art technology in the pursuit of these feelings.

Another great conversation, and it opened my eyes to opportunities in the visual space that I'd not previously considered. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_019_ABenson.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:12 PM

This week's interview is with a long-time friend and inspiration - Richard Devine. I've known him since "back in the old days" on Analogue Heaven, and we still have great conversations any time we meet (whether after a gig or during a trade show). We came up under many of the same influences, and were both obsessed with the many kinds of cool hardware that we came across.

But one of the things I've noticed with many of the interviews I've seen with Richard is that they focus on his gear and the contents of his studion, but little is written/shown on how he creates his music or how he accomplishes his sound design. And his work is impeccible. Since he was willing to do a podcast conversation, I decided to focus on The Creative Man rather than The Gear, and the result is that we get some insight into Richard's creative process that is really important.

Of course, we still talk gear a bit - I mean, we are only human! But hearing about Richard's trek into electronic music (the story about the
"4 crates of albums" is awesome) as well as his current process of moving from software to hardware, we get to hear of a dedicated learner and a constant seeker. Super inspiring, and apt to make you reflect on your own approach.

Direct download: podcast_018_RDevine.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 3:45 PM

If you are involved in electronic/digital media creation, you've surely run across Julien Bayle. He is a performer, installation artist, programmer, writer and is heavily involved in almost every facet of media arts. He is also a public figure that spends a lot of time investigating systems - and sharing what he's found with the community. I find Julien fascinating, because he seems to be incredibly productive, and seems to finish more work than most people can even conceive of starting. In this conversation, we talk about his background, how he became comfortable with the many technologies that he uses, and how he is able to accomplish so much.

As I suggest in the intro, this podcast was a bit of a scramble; both technical and scheduling issues pushed this right to the brink. But this conversation is a great way to peer into the mind of a self-described "obsessive", and understand how Julien decides on which work to pursue as well as which decisions he's decided to make. Great stuff. To learn more about Julien's work, please check out, where you can read his blog and follow him through some of his tech-exploits.

The bumper music was again created using Max Million's sample library, this time Discrete Energy II. Cool stuff, and really handy when you've got to pop together something quickly...

Direct download: podcast_017_JBayle.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 5:08 AM