Art + Music + Technology

My friend and co-worker Wesley Smith joins the podcast today. I'm excited to talk to him for many reasons, but his work in heavy-duty graphics/OpenGL is the stuff of legend. It was interesting to hear about the trail that he's taken to get to his current position, where he sees himself going in the future, and what he's doing now to make our heads spin!

When you talk to Wesley, you are often surprised to find out how personable he is - and how willing he is to share. Talking to him about his approaches to graphics, math and collaboration gives us a unique opportunity to see how a complex character is able to combine dense theory, heavy tech and great artistry into a single - and compelling - outcome.


Direct download: podcast_060_WSmith.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 10:54am CDT

There are many different loop library companies out there, but nobody seems to be doing it quite like The Loop Loft. These guys are combining impeccably recorded instruments with timeless (and ultra-clean) mixes to create some of the best loop sets around. Ryan Gruss, the founder and CEO of The Loop Loft, is our guest this week, and he opens the door to his past at Berklee, inside the loop at Atlantic Records, and the development of The Loop Loft from its beginnings as a blog to its current position as a killer loop-lib company.

In addition to the interview, I want to take the opportunity to point to a Kickstarter campaign that a friend is putting together. Linz Craig has been working in East African maker spaces spreading the word about Open Source software, hardware and the opportunity that comes from making things. Please visit the Kickstarter site for his documentary project, and help him spread the word about the power behind making things!

Have a happy holiday season, and drop me a line if you know someone that would like to be interviews - even if that someone is you!

Direct download: podcast_059_RGruss.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 11:43am CDT

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: 1:42pm CDT

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: 12:38pm CDT

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: 11:26am CDT

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: 11:52am CDT

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: 12:02pm CDT

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: 10:19am CDT

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: 12:19pm CDT

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: 2:56pm CDT