Art + Music + Technology

Micah Frank has been doing it for more than a decade. And by "it", I mean pulling amazing sounds out of the air, formatting them to be playable, and releasing them through his company Puremagnetik. I've long been a fan, and finally was able to corner Micah for a podcast chat.

In this one, we talk about everything from his background as a New York session drummer through the development of his favorite sample packs, and also talk about the tools of the trade that he finds useful. We also talk a little about the business of sample pack creation and even a little about collaboration with other artists. But mostly we talk about how one becomes a sample pack developer, and the joy that comes with embracing that gig.

I really respect Micah's work; if you haven't heard it, check it out at the Puremagnetic site, try out some of the free packs, or maybe pick up a little gift for yourself (I'd recommend the "b-systems" packs made in collaboration with Richard Lainhart, or the new Cinematic stuff we talk about in the podcast...), but enjoy our discussion!

Direct download: podcast_137_MFrank.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:26am CDT

There are a few people that I've known forever - even if we don't talk often. Paul Vnuk is one of those people - we were Milwaukee folk at the same period in the late 90's, have interacted with Mike Metlay over the years, and still cross paths during NAMM shows. But we seldom seem to talk; we are often busy (especially, as you'll hear, when Paul is multi-tasking at full throttle), so it seems difficult to get the time. So, we needed to make time.

I had a problem with this week's interviews, and Paul was willing to jump into the podcast for a nice chat. And the hour went by in an eyeblink; Paul has worked on so many interesting projects that I was left with a book-load of questions for the next interview (or three...) that we'll do. Nevertheless, Paul was happy to talk about whatever I'd bring up, and I wanted to talk about everything!

So we talked about recording tech, Paul's background, working on Ma Ja Le, doing loop libraries for Sonic Foundry/Sony, learning new instruments and working on remote collaborations. A fascinating interview with a really interesting guy - and I already can't wait for our next chat. And I can't wait for that next release!

So enjoy!!!

Direct download: podcast_136_PVnuk.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:12am CDT

Dino J. A. Deane is a bit of a force of nature. He's been a session horn player and touring musician, he was one of the earliest proponents of live/real-time sampling, a sound designer before that was a widely-known 'thing', and a practitioner of Conduction, a method of real-time composition developed by Butch Morris. And he's still rocking it out there, working with a group in Denver called FluxCrew, continuing to record, and pushing the envelope with the methodology behind Conduction.

I've been getting pushed by several friends to talk to Dino, and it finally happened. And boy, am I glad I did. Dino is a deep well, and I was blown away by the people he's worked with and the experience he's had - whether working the punk/jazz scene during New York's loft heyday, tripping over Arp 2600's in L.A. during the first golden age of home studios, or exploring the brittle edges of sampling with early Akai and Ensoniq systems.

I hope you get into this conversation. If you want to know more, you need to check out his work at, or take in a bit of live action in his YouTube channel. You can also find out more about Butch Morris at


Direct download: podcast_135_DJADeane.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:17am CDT

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit David Beaudry at his design studio in LA. It was pretty interesting; behind a laid-back facade was a passionate and excited designer/developer that clearly was "into" his work - and the practice of interaction design in general. On that day, we talked details about fluid dynamics, the generalities of getting gigs and and joys and pains of working with Max over the years.

I was really pleased to get a chance to interview David for the podcast, and his over-the-phone delivery - and insights - is just as amazing as his in-person. This is one of those interviews that seemed to go by in an eye-blink, because each question led to many potential next questions, and once we got rolling there was much stopping us. It was also cool that David doesn't try to shield anyone from the tough questions: What is the "hard thing" in the implementation of his designs? How often do you have to deal with difficult customers? When do you end up in no-win situations?

David was into talking about it all, and we are the beneficiaries. I hope that you enjoy this chat as much as I did; it was an eye-opener on many levels, and will really give you some insights the next time you are at a museum installation, kids' theme park or educational kiosk!

Direct download: podcast_134_DBeaudry.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:59am CDT

Sometimes you run across 'old souls' - people whose depth belies their physical age. Cory Metcalf is one of those people; he seems to have been born to both art and philosophy, and the depth of his expression is remarkable.

Cory is one half of the group Noisefold (David Stout, from podcast #10 is the other half), but is also an active teacher and solo artist as well. He's about to launch into a new journey even as some of his existing work is getting attention, and he (like me) is in the middle of a physical move to a new location. Since we were diverging in location, I decided to take the opportunity to touch base with him for the podcast - and to document his story.

And an amazing story it is. Cicadas, films school, monkey gods and meditation all make appearances, but not it a typical "I'm dropping my groove onto your lap" kind of way. Cory is incredibly introspective about influences (both internal and external), and is able to embrace and integrate influences in a way that doesn't subsume his own voice. How that happens is at the heart of our discussion, and I hope you find the exploration interesting.


Direct download: podcast_133_CMetcalf.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:27am CDT

My first encounter with Carla Scaletti was at an AES show, where she was doing personal demos of the Kyma system in a little square in the middle of the show floor. In among mic preamps and tape decks was a bunch of computer monitors and a demo station with a mic. I was blown away when Carla proceeded to use the microphone to record her voice, then use it (her voice) to do score following - it was magic to me.

Since then, I've always been fascinated to see where the Kyma system appears. Often tied to serious sound designers, I saw it in studios, in background pictures of Hollywood sound-heads and in the workplaces of my friends in the game industry. I also started seeing it in academic institutions, where it was being used for both teaching/recording and research.

I was so pleased when Carla said she was willing to be interviewed for the podcast. I'd recently noticed that she was pretty active in the community, having given the keynote speech at the 2015 ICMC (which was also published in the Computer Music Journal), and Meg Schedel mentioned that Carla was going to be doing some sessions at Stony Brook. And now I'm happy to present this talk with Carla, where we range from her personal history to her (incredible) ideas about the nature of modern experimental composition.


Direct download: podcast_132_CScaletti.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:37am CDT

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: 7:11am CDT

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: 9:49am CDT

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.


Direct download: podcast_129_EHoffman.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:38am CDT

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, 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.


Direct download: podcast_128_BHouge.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 3:37pm CDT