Several times in youtube comments and in person, I’ve been told that I should do a Kickstarter campaign for the band. It felt good to hear that (hey, people want to give me money!) but when I imagined how the campaign would play out, it didn’t make sense. I might be able to raise $1000 to cover the cost of a new machine, which would be helpful, but the campaign wouldn’t cover my biggest deficit: time. What I need more than funds to cover capital costs is time for building machines, writing software, writing music, and above all, practicing, and the best way to get more time is to have some or all costs of living paid for. But Kickstarter campaigns don’t work that way. They are designed to cover costs for a big project that at some point comes to a finish and delivers a product, like a movie or an app. Musicians and other artistic creators don’t cross a finish line. They create a steady stream of stuff and while they’re doing that, they need to buy groceries. So I passed on passing the hat and focused on doing shows and talks.
Until now. Last year Jack Conte, one half of the youtube band Pomplamoose and a DJ/producer in his own right, started patreon.com, a crowdfunding website that aims to support musicians, artists, and other creators who make lots of thing all the time. For example, fans of a band can agree to donate $1 or $3 or $5 or more every time the band releases a new album or a new music video, and in exchange those patrons receive early and free access to music and other perks like a mention in credits, a T-Shirt, or even a Skype conversation with the band. (Patrons can put a ceiling on their monthly amount of support and can withdraw their patronage at any time.) That kind of support is exactly what I need to keep making electro-acoustic robot dance music and doing the incremental work that moves the band forward, especially because becoming a father has made doing out-of-town shows almost impossible. I invite you to check out my Patreon page at patreon.com/jazari.
With your support, I plan to work on several projects this year. The first is making music regularly–nothing like consistency to drive progress. The second is integrating the Myo gestural control armband into my rig. I just got an alpha version of the device from Thalmic labs and am figuring out its software kit and brainstorming ideas for mapping gestures to musical concepts. And the third is building a machine to play the Rhodes piano I bought last summer. The basic idea is that I’ll use the Myo controller to “steer” algorithms that generate note streams that will be played by the Rhodes bot. Finally, I want to invite guests, other humans, to play with the band and with me. There’s a lot of talented improvisers and producers in the Twin Cities, and I’d love to see what other people can do with (or against!) the robots. Your support will help make all of this happen. Thank you,
[Update: Due to the nerd blog media explosion (which is great!), I've had to buy Bandcamp download credits so I can keep giving away my music. If you've enjoyed the videos and music and you'd like to support the creation of future r0b0 beats, you can buy Vio for iPhone and iPad. It's $2.99 and makes your ears feel really good. I use it for the vocals on my EP The Human Element]
A year and a half ago I decided I had to abandon my horn claw MIDI controller. It was a tough decision because there was a lot to like about the controller: gestural control of rhythmic density and beater velocity, zebra wood, and of course, horns. That controller is the first, and as far as I know, only device to put dead springbok into the service of beat-making, a distinction that has earned it pride of place on my bookshelf of discarded electronics. But in the end, what mattered was making music live, and the horn claw made that difficult. It monopolized my right hand and didn’t have enough buttons to trigger pitched instruments. Enter the Meganome. (more…)
When I started playing with Propellerheads’ Figure app recently, I had a case of rhythmic déjà vu. I heard highly syncopated rhythms somewhat like the bell and clave patterns of African and Latin music but also some stranger and more modern timelines. Figure is an electronic music making app, so the patterns were rendered in the sonic vocabulary of techno and house music, but the spiraling, endlessly-forward-falling clave rhythms were unmistakable. The Aka pygmies of Central Africa were in the club. (more…)
One of my favorite memories of listening to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew is reading the stream-of-consciousness liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason. They’re very much of the era, with their run-on sentences, digs at the man, and confidence in the incipient unfolding of some glorious electric new age, but to me the first paragraph still stands as a timeless description of what I love in a lot of music.
… so much flashes through my mind when i hear the tapes of this album that if i could i would write a novel about it full of life and scenes and people and blood and sweat and love.
Ecology and narrative: those are the qualities in Bitches Brew that left me awestruck. The sensation that you’ve been sucked into a wormhole and deposited into an alien place with half-familiar beings who move about their lives–that impressed me and seemed so much grander than just expressing emotions. (more…)
…is out. Four years after I left academic music and started building machines that play drums, my debut EP, The Human Element, is available for free digital download. Visit Bandcamp to grab the whole thing. I’m going to do a longer, liner-notes-style post soon, but for now, enjoy the video of the in-studio performance of track 2, Quick Minute.
The first track on The Human Element is getting a video treatment with thousands and thousands of particles rendered in Processing. This is a still from one of the clips I’ve generated today, which is a bit more subdued than the others. Most of the clips have a psychedelic, cortex-melting flair, but this one had a cooler, impressionist look that I like.
The result of two years of blood, sweat, and coffee hit the app store last night. It’s called Vio, and it’s based on the voice processor I use with Jazari. One year ago, I began collaborating with Audiofile Engineering on incorporating my audio code into an app that lets everyone explore fantastical sonic spaces derived from their own voice and gives musicians and producers a powerful voice-processing tool that goes beyond existing technology. That process deserves its own blog post. But for now, I’m going to post the amazing artist videos we recorded with Carnage The Executioner, Aby Wolf, OSO, and myself. You can learn more about the app at transformyourvoice.com.
I haven’t put up a performance video in some time, and this is the first one that shows the MegaNome controller in action.
Minneapolis-based vocalist Aby Wolf is riding a wave of success with her Wolf Lords project with Grant Cutler. The sound of her voice pitch corrected to just intonation with the Sitar Hero preset is one the most beautiful sounds I’ve heard from the app.