Art + Music + Technology (performing arts)

I've seen Marcel Wierckx' name around for years, but hadn't seen his work in action. Recently, my friend Gregory Taylor ran across some of his work with dancers and was blown away. Of course, given my work with dancers and choreographers, I was really excited to learn more about what he's doing, how he builds up his performance system, and how he develops the work that he does.

The more I dug around in his lownorth.nl website, the more I found to discuss. His view on the arts is unique, and has a depth that isn't often found in the media art world. But Marcel also has a particular position on his work: he considers himself a composer, regardless of the media (visuals, OpenGL, audio, music) that he is working within.

We mostly talk about work with dancers/choreographers, which was timely; I'd just done a panel at the Berklee Voltage Connect conference about live performance, and talked extensively about working with a dance company as a means for interesting new performance options. Marcel takes this to a new level, mainly because he's been doing it for so long.

It's always great to talk to someone that is as introspective as Marcel is, and someone that embraces both teamwork and self-focused development in the creation of art. A great chat; hope you enjoy it!

Direct download: podcast_167_MWierckx.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:41am CDT

I have to admit loving the looks of a good wooden modular case. There is something about it that offsets the overly high-tech look of a modular system, and turns it into an organic, living beast. And of all the case work that I've seen, it is Lamond Design's work that catches my eye most frequently. So when I decided to have a chat with a case maker, guess who I called?

This chat was one of the most comfortable I've had, simply because Ross is a very laid back guy that is quite taken by the fact that people like his work, and also grateful for the opportunity to do case-building as a gig. And with his background as an attempted musician (and it is clear that he still keeps his hand in it, even if he downplays the musical thing...), he always keeps his eye on the artistry of the work.

In our chat, we cover everything from getting started with modulars through learning woodworking from scratch. And in the meantime, it has been growing, tweaking and pumping out the best looking cases you've ever seen. If you aren't familiar, you should check it out here: http://www.lamonddesign.co.uk/index/

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_166_RLamond.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:04am CDT

The first time I saw Huston Singletary I was on a ride. At the NAMM show, surrounded by amazing talent, all giving their best shots at demos. A guy gets up in front of the Ableton stage and starts riffing on the latest version, showing all the new features and stuff - standard fare. All of a sudden he stops, says to someone "Hey, that's a great question!" and wheels off into an impromptu clinic on how to perform some production magic that had everyone mesmerized.

That is Huston at his best - in one of his lives. In other parts of his life, he does amazing sound designs. In other parts, it's feet-on-the-ground production. He's got bones in so many parts of the audio/music field, and it's wild to hear him talk about moving - frictionlessly - from one to the other. But above everything, he loves to help people learn about doing new things, and this is the legacy that Huston will always have to me.

I hope you enjoy this longer-than-normal, wide-ranging talk with someone that was there as studios moved to DAWs, synth stacks moved from keyboard stands into plug-in folders, and production moved from the few to the many. Huston has seen it all, and it is really interesting to hear his take on the music/production world.

Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_165b_HSingletary.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:29am CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT