Art + Music + Technology

Absynth is one of my favorite software synthesizers. It is everything you'd want in a modular system, but is packages like a standard instrument - helping smooth the way for quick-and-efficient patch development. But the level of modulation and pure sound design goodness is unparalleled - and this thing is 15 years old!

It's a sign of great work when something lasts, and 15 years is forever in software terms. What makes Absynth so great? A combination of excellent design, fantastic sound and the fortitude to keep improving it the whole time.

Several people have pointed to Brian as a potential interview; I finally reached out to him and found him more than willing. Then we started talking, and it turned out to be one of the great chats that I've had. Brian is a cool guy, and was willing to be introspective about his work and perspectives. I felt like I made a new friend during our discussion - and you get to hear it happen.

Check out Brian's sound work at his Soundcloud page. And if you aren't using Absynth, you need to check it out at its Native Instruments product page. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_131_BClevinger.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:11am MDT

I really love people that follow their passions - wherever it takes them. Logan Erickson is one of those people; his company (Low-Gain Electronics) features Eurorack modules, MU-format conversions, format jumblers, power components and other goodies. You also get a little insight into Logan's mind - he loves a lot of different things, and puts his efforts where his heart is.

In our chat, we discuss the different formats, talk about the different threads of module developments, and explore some of the ideas about the comfort of different cable and mode sizes. We also talk about the nature of custom builds; how it comes about, and how it works for a professional builder.

Logan combines building and playing, passion and business - and has the experience to make interesting and informed decisions. This was a fun interview with a fascinating guy - enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_130_LErickson.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:49am MDT

Jane Rigler opens a lot of doors for me. She's always been generous with her teaching opportunities, her performances and her contact; the last time I spent time with her, she told me about an upcoming performance with her friend and colleague Elizabeth Hoffman - and that Elizabeth would be a great podcast subject.

When Jane speaks, I listen!

This podcast is the result of that contact, and it's a great one. I really enjoy interviews where we start diving into people's motivation and concept development, and Elizabeth was more than willing to dive into that stuff. Additionally, we get a glimpse into the actual workings of a composer's career - it is never a straight line, and it is always packed full with self-education and exploration.

This is an interesting chat in many ways, but it was also fun because I feel like I got to know Elizabeth a lot over the course of the 45 minutes. I hope you do as well! You can find out more at her personal NYU website, and check out her CD (which I will continue to rave about...) at the site for the work: Intérieurs harmoniques.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_129_EHoffman.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:38am MDT

My friend Gregory Taylor made an interesting connection for me: Ben Houge, an instructor at Berklee, also had an interesting sideline, and Gregory thought I'd be interested. And boy, was he right: Ben composes music to go along with top chef's meal presentations, creating a performance that I'm dying to check out!

In our chat, I get to find out what this means, how you get the gig in the first place, and the kind of background that it takes to compose at this level. Combine this interest with Ben's background as a game composer and you clearly have an incredible chat-in-the-making. But Ben also seems to have a knack for talking to people (and getting them to talk back...), and we explore that a bit as well.

You can find out more about Ben at http://benhouge.com/, his Berklee page, or hear his work on Soundcloud. But dive in deep, and you'll find an individual with an incredible and fascinating body of work.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_128_BHouge.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 2:37pm MDT

When I interviewed Andrew Benson a few weeks ago, we talked about the video label that he worked with, and the fabulous people he knew from that experience. One of them, Johnny Woods, was willing to be interviewed for the podcast - and I jumped at the opportunity.

A crazy-fabulous animator, modular synth nut and label/economics guru, Johnny has a great vision - and interesting opinions - on a lot of subjects. And I felt like we covered a lot of them; our discussion starts with animation and end with us taking over Silicon Valley. As a result, I'm going to have to go to LA to get the cabal rolling, but in the meantime you get to hear our chat.

Enjoy listening, and make sure you check out Johnny's work at johnnywoods.com as well as the Undervolt & Co site. At the very least, take a little time out of your schedule to find some work by an artist, share it where you can, and help spread the word about the amazing art that's being made!

Direct download: podcast_127_JWoods.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:29am MDT

One of the most interesting and personable people I've met in my journey has be Stephen James Taylor. An accomplished composer and film scorer, he is also on a path that includes research into tuning systems combined with an interest in building unique instruments. The work he does ranges from Disney animation scoring to bluesy solo pieces, and he is able to weave all of his interests into an amazing sonic tapestry.

In this chat, Stephen and I dive into his microtonal interests (including his work with and on Erv Wilson's tuning mapping), his background coming up in the film scoring world, and how he dealt with the various existential crises throughout his life. We also talk a lot about the conundrum of new tunings, the required new instruments, and how a body of work gets created to support them. We also talk more about instrument design, for while Stephen is a wealth of knowledge.

Enjoy, and check out his work at http://www.stephenjamestaylor.com.

Direct download: podcast_126_SJTaylor.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:29am MDT

One of my early podcasts was with Matthew Davidson (also often known as stretta). At the time, Matthew was working with me at Cycling '74, and was also doing some teaching at Berklee School of Music and working on some monome/modular stuff.

Since then, Matthew has left Cycling and has moved into a fulltime position at Berklee, so I decided to revisit our discussion, talk a little more about what things are like teaching at the school, and what it is like for students that are first attempting to take on something as heady as that program. We also get some insights into Matthew's ideas about ensemble work (with modulars!), personal practice and the excitement of teaching as a full-time gig.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_125_MDavidson.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 9:20am MDT

OK, I'll admit it. Every time I've tried using a Theremin, the result have been a musical car wreck. It seems like I have no ability to control my limbs in a way that provides the instrument with what it needs, so it sounds horrible.

So therefore, it is really interesting to me to talk to talented Theremin players - and this week, I talk to the best that I know: Victoria Lundy. Victoria is a solo performer and recording artist as well as a member of The Inactivists, and is active in our local Synth Meetup. I've seen her perform in a number of different gigs, and she is alway able to hold people's attention with her personal and voice-like sound.

In this chat, we talk about becoming a Thereminist, choosing an instrument, and figuring out how to play before you get disillusioned and sell the instrument on eBay. We also talk about some of the idiosyncrasies when playing in a group, and even how you prepare for working in a Conduction ensemble. Fascinating details, and a great interview.

You can hear Victoria's work here: http://www.victorialundymusic.com/

Sorry for the terrible sound on my mic; the Evil Blue Mic - combined with unknowable problems with Audio Hijack - conspire to beat me down again. <sigh> That's gotta change...

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_124_VLundy.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:45am MDT

I really enjoy Andrew Benson's work, even if it is completely unlike anything that I would ever do myself. Maybe that's why I like it, right? Andrew embraces extremes in color, shape and glitchiness, and the result is immediately identifiable as his own. Having this unique voice has put him in the position of doing some impressive and interesting professional work, and I wanted to talk to him about the process - and the difficulties - in making these things happen.

In podcast #19, Andrew talked about his background and influences, This time, he was kind enough to talk about some of his recent work, how he got the gigs, how he kept them, and how he made the decisions necessary to get the job done. He also talks about the process of moving when one has been part of a local art community (a thing close to my heart at the moment...) and how the tech is selected for a given piece or project. If you do art work of any sort, this podcast is going to be filled with information that will be important to you.

So have a listen, check out Andrew's work at pixlpa.com, and use that info to jack your professional life a little bit. But one of the things that I came away with after talking with Andrew is "Don't Be Scared" - perhaps the best advice anyone could ever provide...

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_123_ABenson.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:44am MDT

J. Anthony Allen is a busy guy - teaching at a university, in private lessons and at the Slam Academy. He also balances the teaching work with his own composition/performance work, and is the businessman behind some of these ventures. Makes me tired just thinking through his day...

In this conversation, we discuss the differences in teaching in different venues, how someone gets into composition in the first place, and how to manage the balance of composing and commerce. We also talk about developing new performance systems, and J. gives me the scoop on the Minneapolis scene.

This is one of those interviews that makes me want to work harder - or maybe smarter. I hope you find it helpful for yourself! Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_122_JAAllen.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:15am MDT