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Demonstration of my iphone/TouchOSC based Gestural control system January 14, 2011

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I keep getting asked about how my iphone based gestural system works, so i thought a video would say it better.

 

Smartphones for the modern busker January 12, 2011

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At the time of the first edition of this book, it is the beginning of 2011. The world has experienced exponential social change at the hands of technology. We are more connected in more ways than we dreamed possible only 10 short years ago.  From laptop super computers that  enable us to have not just “an” entire studio in the space something the size of a textbook ( and smaller),  but multiple “studio’s” more powerful than their  physical world counterparts. From global music distribution instantly to social relationship constructs that allow us to connect with as many like-minded people as we want.  Todays world is surreal in that everything an artist could want is now available and in many cases, for free!

 

One of the emerging big movements in the world of technology lately, is the smartphone.  Let me preface by stating that the term “smartphone” has been around for years to describe phones with functionality that allows them to do much more than merely make voice based phone calls.  I am not really talking about that device.  I am referring almost exclusively to the world wrought by the introduction of the apple iphone.  In 2007, apple released a device that repurposed the term smartphone to being a small continuously internet connected  device, running an OS capable of running “apps” which enhanced the abilities of the device after the point of purchase.  Before this, almost all smart phones came preloaded with carrier specific applications that allowed severely limited functionality. The iphone blew that out of the water.  Now you had a device that could run apps, downloaded over the air, to allow you to do things far beyond anything possible before on a device of this size and type.  With its integration of high speed wireless internet,sensors, a camera, gps, wifi, Bluetooth, multitouch, and even PHONE CALLS, the iphone lived up to the hype, as a device that changed the world.

 

For myself and my busking exploits, the iphone is now indespensible.  I use mine as a wireless midi controller using an app called TouchOSC.  When I  arrive in a new city,looking for locations to busk, I make use of a gps enabled map app called MotionX GPS which allows me to download maps of an area before departing home, then drop map points of interest either from research at home, or from recommendations of people I meet in said city.  It allows me to arrive in a new place and bike around, finding interesting locations as I go.  When I find one that is viable based on the criteria to be covered in the next chapter, I drop a map point and location notes onto the map.  This allows me to do recon on many areas of a new place, quickly and efficiently then when I am ready to play, I can focus on playing rather than pitch recon. If one potential pitch is occupied or in some way, undesirable, I can look at my map and go to the next closest potential pitch,without having to go into “recon” mode,which saves a lot of valuable time.

 

This is digital nomadism.  Which is defined as The ability to use technology and the internet to work remotely from anywhere, is profoundly  freeing. Maybe not so much if you work for someone elseand are  inundated with a constant barrage of emails from your employer, but as a freelance artist, YOU are the boss and your now enhanced ability control your own destiny, easily, fromanywhere, will prove to be life altering, to say the least.

 

The ability, in between sets, to return email, or inform fans on your social networks of your performance whereabouts, or find a local jam session or open mic quickly, then navigate right up to the door of the venue using gps and online maps, means you can spend much more time performing and less time scanning local magazines and paying for overpriced internet cafés to find out what going locally.  At very least, you can use the GPS to find places where buskers and other musicians hangout and ask real people face to face.

 

That is only the tip of the iceberg of the reasons that modern buskers need a smart phone.  Selling merchandise? With a smartphone you can accept different forms of payment in different currencies.  It is now easier than ever to accept credit cards with systems like square and/or you can use paypal, which has grown far beyond a simple method of making payments on E-bay.  (Although you may want to refrain from selling Wikileaks cables, lest paypal shut off your account;-) ).

 

How about creating spontaneous street concerts in the form of flashmobs? You can simply inform fans and friends on your social networks that you will be at a particular place, marked by a gps map point they can see in google maps or equivalent mapping service, at a particular time, and watch as dozens or hundreds (ok, your girlfriend and one guy from a music forum you frequent, but still…)of people come to check you out.  This type of spontaneous gathering is all the more powerful now, with these tools.

 

One of my favorite functions of such devices is as a portable press kit.  I love busking as much as I love playing shows in venues.  Many times people who book such venues, will see me on the street and hire me to play.  But sometimes I happen upon a place or person and strike up a conversation and said person wants to see what I do.  So, I whip out my trusted iphone, which i have preloaded with different types of videos. Some more “jazz” oriented for cafes and jazzier places, some more “dance oriented” for clubs and bars, and some live “street oriented” vids for farmers markets and street fairs.  A picture may say 1000 words but a video says it all. The video quality on the iphone is extremely high and the volume is adequate.  Very useful and powerful.

 

If you keep a blog, which you should, being able to photograph and post the many wonderful locations you find yourself a part of, builds excitement about you and your art.  On my summer 2010 busking tour, I blogged daily with nothing more than my iphone, even without a cellular data account in the countries I went to.  I simply took pictures and notes then the following morning during breakfast, I would summarize the previous day and include a pic or two that was the most descriptive.  Afterward, I would use the wifi connection to upload it to my blog where an automatic link would be sent to my twitter feed and facebook account.  I received loads of very positive feedback from the people who follow me online.  Some of whom commented back instantly asking me to do such things as “take a picture of yourself for in front of the Eifel Tower”,which I was more than happy to do!  All of my fans came with me on my adventure!

 

So here are are few suggestions for incorporating a smartphone into your busking concept.

 

  • Pick a smart phone that has apps.  That may sound silly today, but there are still a class of these devices which look like modern smartphones, but are really just holdovers from a bygone age.  I prefer the iphone, which I have jailbroken,  and the google makes an OS called Android that is, in some ways, just as good, some ways better (and also runs on my jailbroken iphone) .  it is your choice.  Just make sure that you are able to acquire apps that allow you to do the following things.
  • Take and EDIT photos and video.  Although the capability to edit video wasn’t even around just a couple of years ago, I find it indespensible now. Being able to edit in the device allows you to record your career without having to go to the financial and temporal expense of laptop/dedicated camcorder based editing.  You can take your pics/vids and do what you want with them, instantly.  It also allows you to take pictures of the many flyers, and business cards you receive while playng in the street.
  • office software. Knowing when and where you can perform is very important.  Such as knowing the local farmers market schedule and the name and mobile number of the person you must speak with there.  Having decent contact management and scheduling will make your life much easier as you jump around from place to place.
  • GPS. Having a database of map points with associated information such as event schedules, crowd type (local/tourist/festival), event type, trouble makers (drunks, jealous vendors, cops,etc), will make your busking much much more efficient and therefore stable (ie profitable). If you share your mappoints with other like minded buskers, and they with you, you will have a viable “busking circuit” that will allow you to work consistently, anywhere in the world.  I will cover this topic later in the book.
  • Always have performance videos, pictures and audio recordings of you act.  You would be amazed at who you meet and when.  Many times, upon seeing what you do,people offer up valuable information concerning everything from potential busking locations to potential paid gigs. Make sure that the media that you share, is of high quality and focuses on your art, so no “drunk at a party” pic or vids, please.   Your media should show what you would look like or bring to a particular place so different videos or different  types of performance may be necessary.
  • Payment systems. There is no reason not to have paypal on your device.  Same goes for Square, which is a credit card merchant account type system that allows you to swipe credit cards using a small “square” reader that plugs into the headphone jack of your device.  All processing and verification is done online and the purchaser gets a receipt sent to their phone as an sms msg. elegant.  This will increase your sales potential and best of all, both of these are free to download and use, except for a transaction fee.
  • Musical controller.  There is currently a revolution in mobile music making, not seen since the rise of laptop music making.  From guitar fx to vocoding to midi controllers to gestural-multitouch synthesizers,  to full DJ applications and sheet music, these devices are becoming powerful musical devices.  So much so, you may find that you need more than one; one as a dedicated musical device and another for the functions I mentioned above.  My iphone/touchOSC based system is so integrated into my live performance and studio music making concept, that I can no longer perform what I now consider as “my music”, without it.

These types of connected smart devices will only get more powerful and the above suggestion only scratch the surface of what is possible so, as soon as you are capable of absorbing the cost of one of these device, you should definitely acquire one and learn how to use it. You will be happy you did!

Of Mp3’s and Wikileaks December 16, 2010

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I can’t be the only person that sees the relative correlation between the US government and its stance against Wikileaks and the music industry circa 1999 and Napster.  It’s so obvious as to be comedic.  Or to quote Battlestar Galactica “It has happened before, and it will happen again.”

If you are seeing your industry, whatever it may be, changing drastically in the last couple of years, you would do worse than to make a study of the Music, AND Recording Industry from 1998 to now.  Let’s go back (cue dream sequence music…)

The time was the late 90’s.  The “mp3 threat” had only just begun. 200 Many people were beginning to rip their CDs to this new, tiny format and a few mp3 players had begun to trickily onto the market. But it was still underground, kinda.  You could rip your CD’s and you could get an mp3 player for them but there was no really efficient way of getting them online besides chatrooms and ftp.  But then, in July 1999 a college student named Shawn Fanning created something called Napster, which was his nickname at the time.  It allowed you to share your mp3’s with others AND get mp3s that you wanted, FOR FREE!

 

I don’t want to give the ending away, but the music/recording industry was PISSED. They underestimated what was actually happening, how, and what they could actually do about it.  they failed to understand, as many other industries are now learning, that the music was simply the first of many aspects of our collective culture that was to become native to this interconnected network of computersand servers known as the internet.  They 200thought that shutting down Napster would (wagging their proverbial finger) show them all whose boss!  So they went about the task of demonizing Napster with a full frontal propaganda assault and, long story short, sued Napster into irrelevance.  But no sooner than they had even noticed that Napster existed, others were already popping up and evolving the concept. By the time Napster was finished, it had birthed an entire ecosystem of systems that did everything Napster did, better.  The lessons learned from how the recording industry attacked Napster, allowed the next generation of file-sharing systems to be smarter and more resistant to attack. The Music industry helped, through its antics, birth bittorent and iTunes. (More on that in just a moment)

 

So, the result of this war on file-sharing? The music/recording industry, still resistant to change, has not only been decimated, but has allowed a computer company to become the biggest distributor of music in the world.  They literally GAVE it to them, and by THEM I mean Apple.  But simultaneously, they opened to door for the young guns to come in and rebuild the music performance, distribution and licensing infrastructure, without their input.200 Sites like Bandcamp and Reverbnation are potentially more important than iTunes in that they are providing a way for any artists to distribute their wares in any way they see fit while being able to connect with fans more intimately. Something the old industry was and still is, loath to do.

 

How does this relate to The US government and Wikileaks?  It’s the exact same movie with different actors, in my opinion.  Wikileaks releases a massive load of secret documents and the US government is PISSED.  And again, this time the US Govt has underestimated what has actually happened, how and what they can do about it.  their thinly veiled dDos attacks on the Wikileaks servers, grabbing their domain, actually having the shortsightedness to warn law students NOT to study the biggest leak of classified documents in US history (and really…who would hire someone who had NOT read them?), pushing for corporate reprisal, banning removable media, and on and on. the result so far?  Wikileaks is going strong, with or without a domain name, people are mirroring the site to keep it up and best of all, they are giving Wikileaks loads of free publicity.  They are creating the monster they think they are killing!

 

200What’s gonna happen?  My prediction is that they will continue their propaganda campaign and build more protections for existing infrastructures rather than adapting to the new realities, effectively taking themselves more and more out of the growing global conversation until the point where the viability of such actions is to stark to ignore, THEN, it will adapt as it always does. In the meantime, the technology of leaking will become more and more refined and efficient. Wikileaks recently began using bittorent which is ironic. Technology from the first digital content war is now being incorporated into the current one. Ironic and telling.

 

If one looks at the current state of the music industry, one sees that from the corpses of the old model of centralized distribution is springing forth an entirely new ecosystem of decentralization that is allowing more artists to create, connect and succeed. New industries have sprung up around new opportunities. And the old guard are dying or adapting. It has become truly democratized, for better or worse.

 

Using the music/recording industry debacle as a reference point, here’s what I see. The US Government needs to study the success of the more influential internet companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. Apple is the kingdom of secrets, but they are also resolutely innovative. They set the pace and I believe that if their secrecy becomes more hindrance than benefit (it will), they will adapt. Google provides a platform for interfacing with the world of information. From maps to mail to documents, they want to be the platform we stand on and build our lives on. Whereas Facebook is the surprise contender. What was an exercise in college narcissism is now a powerful means for all people to connect with other people and share the information they want to share. It is how an increasing number of us are getting our news, music, and even personal event schedule yet is simple enough to navigate and understand for most people.

 

200These companies aren’t perfect but each of them understands the world as it exists TODAY, not 20-30 or more years ago. People complain about Facebook and privacy issues, but not enough to leave, because the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. If/when that perception changes, people will move onto something else, like they did with MySpace.

 

How does this relate to the US Government? I believe that the government must embrace the net and the world as it is NOW. It must realize that although it thinks it is in control, more and more people are investing themselves into this new world order. The internet has elected one president already!!! Without the internet, there would be no Barrack Obama for obvious and not so obvious reasons. The fundraising, the Facebook group, Democratic Party network that reached into almost every community in the entire United States…this was simply not possible to this level, in 2004 or earlier. It was as much the arrival of the political clout of the internet as it was of a new president. The old system was not enough to hold back the will of the people in this case. And the peoples will was informed and connected through the internet.

 

Currently there are attacks on net neutrality in hopes of controlling the internet but I posit that it is too late for that and it didn’t work the first time. There was already a time when people paid for tiered data packages at the beginning of the web, and all that will happen is that it will create a market opportunity for the companies smart enough to make it happen.

 

The US government must embrace the change. I would suggest turning all government data into open API where we can see the data in real time and create mashups to interpret that data. Being able to see how our tax dollars are spent doesn’t mean that America will stop fighting wars or provide healthcare for its citizens, but then again, it just might. Our representative must be able to have access to exactly what is it his constituents want, and be able to act on that instantly, knowing that that is what we expect and we must be able to see if this is happening, instantly. When they know that we are watching, right now, they will act very differently, which is part of the reason for the over-reaction to the Wikileaks documents. People acting with impunity, allegedly on our behalf are afraid of losing their cloak of secrecy.

 

being able to see just where and how our government is acting and being able to be part of the process rather than just subject to it, would, I believe, reinvigorate all aspects of American life and its economy. With data, we can start to vote in our own interest rather than just absorbing propaganda from over politicized media conglomerates (which is another model that is going to die soon). We can act on DATA. Not simply feelings, or patriotism or manipulation.

 

Will it happen? Not today. The amount of change happening in society is so exponential and profound right now that I don’t believe America can deal with a ground up rewrite of the system, of this magnitude. There is only so much “change” people can grasp at one time. Otherwise people will start “reacting” to change rather than “acting” to create said change.

 

Will it happen tomorrow? Inevitably. But not before it gets worse. using the lessons of the music industry war on piracy as a metaphor, leakers, will be lumped in with terrorists, more people will be assumed to be  guilty of non-existent crimes, the existing faltering old systems (useless wars, banking system, health insurance system, prison system) will be propped up, with American tax dollars until they crumble under their own weight and we will witness the most profound media campaign against a concept since the war on drugs (and you see how well that worked out). but as a newer (not necessarily younger) generation of connected politicians and officials, gain power- a generation that will have been weaned on social networking and collaboration on a personal scale on up, the obviousness will be converted into verifiable change.

 

But the experiment for the way forward has already begun. We simply have to carefully look at how the inconsequential audio layer of a movie compression format, brought down an empire and has permanently changed how we interact with music. A similar change is underway with government and it will be a far more profound change but will follow similar vectors.

 

updated iphone gestural system December 3, 2010

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This is one of those really REALLY geeky posts. forewarned…
My gestural system has reached a milestone in beatjazz technical development. i’ve updated my iphone control system to do much more than before.  the system is MAD unstable, but that never stopped me before. yaaaaay!!!
In the beginning, all of 3 1/2 years ago, after years of playing clubs, i had a few requirements for my next phase as an artist.  no footpedals, dynamic soundsets and the ability to control parameters easily and wirelessly using a handheld device and wifi or bluetooth.  in the old days, back in 2005, i used an HP ipaq running a terminal server wirelessly from my laptop, located in the DJ booth. it wasn’t very elegant but it was very freeing.  no need to have to run back to the DJ booth to stomp some footpedal or screw with the trackpad on the laptop.  i could just do it from the ipaq from anywhere in the club.  my soundset was loaded and i could select different sounds by program changes sent from my wind controller.
it was at this time,while living in NYC that i also discovered max/msp by attending the SHARE parties in the east village.  although i didn’t really need this type of software at the time, i knew that it was going to be the future.  eventually i settled on its open source sibling, Pure Data and set about a 2 year journey to understand what it was, how it worked and why i would even want to use it. and it was about a year and a half ago after adapting a gamepad controller to “play” my FX in performance, that i started to realize how this software could allow me to add very personal functionality to my system.
since that time, i shifted my focus from  the game controller to the iphone for two reasons; an app called TouchOSC and its ability to allow me to easily make use of its accelerometer.  and accelerometer is the sensor in iphones that tell it what direction you are holding it in.  for me, a light went off in my head! I could control things without having to mouse-around on the laptop!  so last winter i holed up in my flat in Berlin and set about making use of the combination or the touch screen as controller interface and accelerometer as dynamic controller.  most of my music from the last 8-9 months showcases that work.  as a concept, using accelerometers attached to one body to control computer functions is called “gestural control” because it make use of bodily “gestures” to manipulate computer data in a fluid manner.
in that first iteration, i was able to use directions to control functions. left to right is the x-axis. tilting the hand front/down up/back is the y-axis and turning the hand upside down is the z-axis. so i had 3 axi to play with, in addition to customizable touch screen knobs and sliders. so i create a simple means of controlling volume and patch selection with the touch screen and FX with the accelerometer.  the results were much more fluid and interesting than i had anticipated. so much so that i wont perform without my iphone anymore (at least not until i finish construction of my custom controller).
this system has accompanied me to all of my gigs this year and it is because of this intimate relationship with the system that i started to see the weaknesses.
  • the accelerometer was underutilized. way too much “touching”.  i wanted a means of controlling and adjusting some parameters without having to constantly tapping the back of my right hand, where the iphone is located.
  • i wanted to use the power of pure data to make the wind controller more powerful by giving it the ability to control things as well,instead of just sending musical midi data.
  • push the boundaries of the gestural concept by controlling many more parameters from the accelerometer and using midi and touchOSC to determine which parameters got edited and when.
  • create the first in a series of gestural sound design templates.  to be able to not have to use the same sounds but to design the sounds to be dynamically controlled by accelerometer data.
So upon returning from my summer sojourn i set about working on what this system might be like and i just finished the first prototype of that system last night.
the most important part of the system is what i have termed as the B-A-G system. up until just recently, my usage of pure data was as the interpretation layer between my iphone and fl studio, my synth rack.  my wind controller worked as normal as a midi controller playing the synths and nothing else.  now, i have managed to shoe-horn pure data in between the wind controller and flstudio as well.  this is a very big deal and it will define everything i do from this point forward in my music and career.  now pure data interprets everything i play before it goes anywhere so my wind controller is a very malleable  number stream generator.  each note being a number, some notes can now be buttons and functions and  switches.  B-A-G stands for the top 3 notes on a woodwind instrument…B,A and G. so now i can play a high B and for as long as i blow into the horn i can use the accelerometer to send data somewhere ( and remember that the accelerometer has 3 streams of data), then again with the A key and again with the G key. so that is 9 streams of control data!  BUT,wait….theres more!!
now each instrument in my system has its own dedicated midi channel which means that each channel has its own B-A-G functionality including a new FX channel just for playing the FX like any other instrument!  so this is an order of magnitude greater control than i’ve ever had.  now,for instance, i hold a note and turn my hand as if i am turning a knob for volume, and adjust my volume.  or assign synth parameters to certain axi and design a completely original sound from almost scratch,onstage, without even glancing at the computer!
and finally…FINALLY I have added a chord creation system that will allow me to create rather than simply play chords!  its simply a breath controlled midi sustain, but it is very powerful within this context.
it seems that it would be unwieldy, but quite the contrary. the parameters i programmed are systemized so they are memorizable.  such as that high B/x-axis is always volume, no matter what channel,for instance. and I have made intensive use of many Native Instruments and fl studio plugins that utilize built-in x-y control systems! how perfect is that!?!?  and it just so happened that N.I. updated their FX suite with DJ FX so i’m pretty much in heaven right now on the sound/fx front.
why? Beatjazz is my answer to the atomization of genres in music culture.  today, as soon as a genre establishes itself, it is atomized and disintegerated into 1000 sub-genres and each of those goes thru the same process.  the only way to survive in this world is be genre-less.  to exist in a malleable state where you are -using the definition for quantum non-location- here AND there simultaneously. to be rock AND hip hop AND dubstep without being any or them.  i theorize that a dynamic gestural computer based improvisational system achieves this and if it doesn’t, its a step in that direction and someone else can pick up from where i leave off.  the next step is…well i don’t want to say but lets just say that its everything above without ANY pre-created sounds. totally in the moment sound and music creation,but you’ll have to wait a few months of rmore details on that one 😉
“is your system stable?” um…no. in fact, its is wildly unstable.  ” are you going to perform with it?” Hell yes!!  I will be debuting the system and the new sound designs at my show tonight, Dec 3rd @16doors (reutestr 47, Neukoelln-Berlin) the system is seriously “alpha” and i have to hit a  midi panic button every 2-3 minutes or the midi data clogs up the pathways and freaks out, but hey…that never stopped me before.  Pure data doesn’t like my wind controller right now but in time they will learn to love each other.  and i’m pretty sure that remembering all those gestures will make my frontal lobe implode but i LOVE this shit! if its too unstable, i’ve got a really nice alternative beatjazz soundset with new dubstep/8-bit sounds.  but the first 20-30 minutes is dedicated to pure experimentation,warts and all. I will film it for those of you who can’t make it.  for those who can make it. i hope to see you tonight.  cheers!
Onyx

Onyx Ashanti – Under Construction (inner child edition) November 28, 2010

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Hey kids! It’s been a while!  happy winter and all that.  I felt like it was time to get back in the blogging saddle.  I havent posted in a while because…well…I really just haven’t felt like it.  I know it should be more profound than that but i figure that one well thought out, heartfelt post is worth 10 spam posts.  Sometimes its better to get on with “doing” than talking about doing.  and really…do you really want to know what groceries i buy and that i had 3 too many beers last Friday night? (ok…way more than 3 too many, but that’s literary license).

The brief synopsis of the last 3 months has been moving into a GREAT new flat here in Berlin. renewing my visa and,most excitingly, having begun to work, creatively,  with a wonderful software-synth company who shall remain nameless for right now. its been a very busy active time here, but not stuff I wanted blog about meticulously.
Now, having settled into the new crib and gotten comfortable,i feel i can give you a proper “state of the union” update.  firstly.  I mentioned in a post earlier in the year, that i needed to see some profound changes to my life and career to justify continuing on this artistic path beyond this year.  I was a bit…funky about the lack of momentum with certain aspects of my career.  I, over the years, have created many many ideas that never “took off” (more on that i n a sec) so i allowed myself to get a bit discouraged. but then i had to think…did those ideas actually not take off or was it that people werent ready for them?  it may sound like the same thing, but its not.  like my “i’ll play on your track for free” idea.  not one person took me up on it. NOT ONE!  at the time i took it as a judgement of myself and my playing.  now i realize that many people need someone to point them to things.  in other words, not to hear “me” say “hey,i’ll play on your track…” but to hear someone else say it about me.  and that’s just one of many many MANY ideas. while biking and busking around europe this summer i got a chance to think about it more. and i was reminded of the concept of having an “inner child” and to take care of that child as you would any other. Once you allow self-defeating crap to take the wind out of your sail…to crush the dreams of a child that is still inside you, other aspects of your life start to seem pointless.  it puts a different perspective on all of it. MY inner child creates things that may or may not be popular or profitable, but that same child CREATES.  My Inner child HATES, booking gigs and chasing money.  I always believed that I “had to” do those things-I have to exist somewhat within the system.  which is bullshit.  a friend of mine brought up a website dedicated to people obsessed with navel fluff (no shit heres the link http://www.feargod.net/fluff.html ) YES!!! My inner child wants to be a superhero and shoot lasers from his eyes, and make sound beams that blast through walls and talk to aliens!
so it was with much thought that have made a few somewhat obvious addendums to my career concept.  first,may seem obvious but I am a full time artist which means that all the other stuff that is not creating music with technology (or biking) is off my radar.  I LOVE doing shows of course but I’m not really concerned with booking shows anymore.  its a headache i don’t really need.  i make my living vagabonding around the world now.  if you want me to come do a show, email me, otherwise, I will be concentrating on creating freaky shit for the parties i do for myself and my friends. all i want to do is create really dope futuristic shit and i don’t want to have to think about whether or not this crowd or that clique will dig it because i, officially, don’t give a shit.  just so happens that my experimentation with gestures and sound design combined with my pay-what-you-want disc allow me the freedom to not have to sit on the phone with someone who’s never seen any of my youtube vids, explaining what a wind controller is and why i should play their event.  good riddance.
And in the inner child category of whats going on, it’s all WEEEEEEEEE for an O.G. (original geek). (note; it gets pretty geeky from here) first and foremost I finally shoe-horned pure data in between my wind controller and my soft-synth rack!  I KNOW!! I’M STOKED TOO!!  what does this mean?  well, basically right now, the horns data goes directly to the synths.  i can play a synth with note, breath and lip controls. its very expressive but still limited.  NOW, I intercept that data as it comes from the horn,in real-time, and can manipulate it in any way imaginable before it goes on to the synths. basically, remember in the Matrix when Morpheus took Neo into the “loading program”-the white room where he explained that they could create anything they needed to take with them into the matrix?  yeah,its that.
so,on the simple simple tip, i can now play real monophonic chords with a patch i made. i blow, then each note i play holds until i stop blowing…simple but undoable for me until now.  on the complex tip, the horn now integrates with my iphone gestural system to allow me to use note and breath data to control sound design parameters live and in real time using accelerometer data.  so now blowing, playing a particular midi note and moving my right hand ( the one with the iphone strapped to it) allow me to have an unlimited number of sound design parameters,all controllable in real time!  what does this mean? i can literally create ANY sound i want and make chords,which are also infinitely sonically variable.  THIS is where my dedication lies now and it is very very exciting! not to even mention the new preand post loop processing systems i’ve designed. my first demo of this new system will be Friday at 16 doors in Berlin (Reutestr 47,neukoelln, 9:30pm). Me and the other 5 people who show up are gonna party HARD!
As far as the near future beyond this week, there are two items of interest.  the first one is my mythical busking book.  as you can see from the mindmap of the outline, it’s become a bit more ambitious than the 50-60 page e-book i had originally planned. but now that i’m not biking around an island or living in a tent, i am dutifully back on the case, although i’m not going to give a completion date, suffice it to say, i’m working on it.  the second item is another O.G.-Inner child focus; I want to give a TED talk on Beatjazz…one day.  don’t know when.  I have, to date, given exactly 1 talk on Beatjazz and i was nervous to the point of nausea so i have much work to do; history, empirical data, powerpoint, yaaaaaay!  this is the shit i love!  so over the next 12-18 months you will see me posting about more speaking engagements including one in January, in preparation for attempting this particular goal.
from OJ with loveSo there it is.  3 months condensed to one post.  I will be posting more often over the course of the next 3-6 months about a wide range of ideas and topics but i wanted to get this one out of the way.  I have a show at 16 doors in Neukoelln on Dec 3rd. if you can make it,come.  just know that I’M going to have a GREAT time either way! Merry (-insert politically correct holiday classification here-)!!

an explanation of the pleas for help i posted this morning September 17, 2010

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image1449460822.jpgthis morning I posted pleas for anyone to call eurolines to get them to talk to this particular window clerk concerning transport of my bike butni feel that I should explain the situation clearly.

first off, as most of you know, I am a proud brompton owner/rider. a brompton, for those that don’t know, is a very high quality bike that folds down to about the size and shape of a medium sized piece of luggage. I purchased it specifically for this reason. I have flown with it and have taken it on dozens of buses to multiple countries. in fact, i specifically checked with national express and eurolines concerning bromptons and was told that in their folded form, a perfectly fine. cool. and I never had a problem until this morning.

I got off the ferry from Ibiza and went as quickly as possible to the Barcelona norte bus station to buy my ticket. I decide to take the bus back to Berlin because of the weight of my stuff(approx 60kg) and the number of bags, 3 not including carry on, which an airline would charge me exorbitantly for. I snagged the LAST ticket for a direct bus to Berlin leaving the following morning. the next one wouldn’t be til monday or tuesday. yay for me. so i rolled around Barcelona for a bit and then just went back to the station to await the 8:30 check in.

at 8:30, I arrange everything on the trailer to make it more transportable to the bus, and I go to check in. as soon as the woman behind the glass saw the bike seat-bike folded, no wheels even visible- she starts nodding her head back and forth, “no no no no no, no bicilete” to which I tried to explain that this folding bike is approved for eurolines. at this point it got surreal.

she slammed her hand down and screamed no, as if my explanation offended her. I was thinking ,”whoooa, where did that come from?!”. now she’s yelling at me and calling security. security?! for what?! I had not been rude or agressive but yet she’s screaming at me.

security arrives and starts saying the same thing and I’m trying to tell him wat I was told by eurolines and he could not have cared less. they weren’t interested in cheking or finding a reasonable solution. they were simple being outright mean without provocation.

let me say, which I wasn’t going to say before, that I had only heard about racial attitudes here after I had already arrived in July. i witnessed and was subject to a few incidents, but nothing bad. simply irritating. but this was something else. while I was talking to the security guy, he got agressive as well, as if he were going to taser or mace me or whatever that thing was he kept reaching fo r.

at this point, i found an open wifi point and made my Twitter/facebook plea from my iphone. apparently it worked because 10 minutes before my bus was supposed to leave she goes to the back and gets a brompton sized box for me. WHY THE FUCK COULDNT SHE HAVE DONE THAT IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE?!?! I had to start an international calling campaign just to get a box she should/could have given me to start with! WTF?! and was cursing me while handing me my boarding pass.

so for those of you who called on my behalf, especially julia, thank you! because I think the calls actually worked wonders.

with that, I am on the bus and I “should” be back in Berlin tommorow. see u soon!

nomadic diary- my last post from Ibiza September 15, 2010

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image951220143.jpg“the little busking tour that could”.

yesterday was a little anxiety inducing. I had not gotten any confirmation for the gig at Villa Mercedes. I had sent emails and txt messages but had gotten no responses. I was worried that maybe they had forgotten which, historcally is unfounded. most gigs happen with no problems but after my experience with that other place (no free advertisment for them by mentioning their name), I didn’t k ow whether it may just be a San Antonio thing or something.

I biked from Ibiza town to San Antonio at around 11am and let me note that I did it in the rain. the importance of this will be apparent later in this post. I rented the same bungalo I had before, dropped off the kit and proceeded over to the venue where I was greeted with a chained gate and a sign advertising a jazz quartette. although my first thought was that it was from the previous night, I wasn’t completely sure, hence my anxiety.

so I went back to the bungalo, and wired my gear up to the light fixture again and decided to practice. let me note that if you ever have to do this, you still need a ground of some sort So I clamped the ground plug on my power strip and clamped the other end to my toenail…grounding problem solved. FYI…

the afternoon consisted mostly of tweaking sounds and short bike runs to see if the venue was open. I was starting to worry as this was to be my “get off the island” fund. I do love it here and I do plan to ome back next season, but, um, it’s timeto go! I came, I played. i busked. I biked. i have done everything i wanted to do here and now I wanted to get back to Berlin to work on new projects. So the thought of another week or two scrambling around the island was stressing me out. butni decided to focus on practice to take my mind off of it.

at 6, our designated meet up time, I rolled over to the venue where there were now a couple of employees chatting and as you would expect, they were expecting me and happy to see me.

the show was quite enjoyable if a bit empty because of the lack of tourists. it’s end of season now and San Antonio drops dead around this time from what I am told although it wakes up again briefly for the “closing parties” that bring tourists back briefly at the end of September. it went well and everyone was happy, with an invite for me to play There regularly for next season. alls well that ends well.

I biked back ths morning. this time, the ride was a piece if cake. mental note. a breakfast with some form of meat in it coupled with a snickers bar 15 minute before the ride, does wonders for endurance. I made it back to Ibiza town in 35 minutes flat, and proceeded straight to the ferry port and purchased my ticket for 11am tommorrow morning. yaaaaaay!!! I’m going home! but wait…

I am hoping I have enough money to get all the way to Berlin. if I do, great!! I should be home by Saturday. if I don’t, 2 months of heavy biking will come inhandy. I will try to take a bus to the flatest part of north-western Europe and bike/busk the rest of the way. 2 months ago, I would not have considered this possibility. but I feel so
much stronger and more confident now. I feel lik I can do it if I must. as there aren’t too many mountains because confidence does not negate that I am
still on a 2-speed folding bike dragging gear in a bike trailer. and on that subject.

I am considering leaving the battery behind. it is very useful to have a power source with you, but this thing is simply HEAVY. It limits my path options greatly. anything more than a steep hill is not even slightly an option. mountains are unridable. BUT, being able to power your stuff anywhere is gold! I don’t know yet. although it is looking like I “might” jettison the battery, I am still weighing it out.

I will try to write a post tommorrow on the ferry, butafter that, I can not predict the next part of this adventure, so stat tuned. L8r.

nomadic diary-the long summer September 13, 2010

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image291447387.jpgI needed a few days to constuctively put my thoughts together. what a mental weekend. first with the debacle at that bar then the realization that maybe, just maybe, San Antonio is actually quite a bit more ghetto than Ibiza town. but the weekend summed up nicely with new friends and good times.

I decided late on Saturday to pack my music gear and come back to Ibiza town to dj and play at es xiriguito. and man! the differnce was soo noticiable. instantly I felt more relaxed. the vibe was simply more chilled. dj don diego and I created one of the most intersting sets I’ve ever been part of. great night. no stress.

afterward I biked it back over to my playa den bossa camping spot. i feared that maybe others may have discovered the obvious awesomeness of te location but no…it was just as I had left it. I pitched my tent, crawled inside and drifted off to sleep to the sounds of waves crashing on the shore….ahhhhhh. but…

I had left the majority of my stuff in the bungalo in San Antonio, so I had to huff back out there Sunday morning, check out, and retrieve the heaviest of my gear to pull back thru 15km of hills, which is nowhere near the ordeal it was just a couple of months ago, especially after talking to a Moroccan cat who told me about his bike journeys from Germany to Morroco and biking through REAL mountains-sometimes uphill for four hours at a time, followed by 10-20km downhill stretches where he’d reach speeds of up to 78km and hour and how he sometimes feared for his life. my 20-30km jumps didn’t seems so arduous after that .

I arrived back in Ibiza town in the late afternoon and after a bit of deliberation, I decided to go to borra borra where their epic Sunday beach party was well underway. I ran into some new friends who completely obliterated my generalization of Black american tourists in my previous post by being just cool and normal and here to have a good time with no stress. and man! we partied! very memorable night.

I haven’t partied in a few weeks (weeks?!) but decided that I should have one more throw down because I am leaving the island by ferry on Thursday. I have a couple of performances starting with my debut performance at villa mercedes in San Antonio tommorrow night, then this weekend in sitges, Spain at the Rock cafe. more dates may be added in the next few days. but they all lead, inexorably, to Berlin.

right now I’ve got to go hit. practice for tommorrow and all that. l8r

nomadic diary-time for some action September 10, 2010

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image2119049075.jpgcan you say “ghe-tow”? I’d say alligator clipping my equipment to the light fixture in this bungalo fullfills this definition. I don’t always go all “Mac Guyver” when faced with a dearth of power options, but now I have to get down to business. there is work to be done. sounds to design, songs to write, programs to create, and I can’t be hitting a cafe all day everyday to do it, especially not when a coffee costs €3.50.

it’s looking like I will finally be able to get my flight home to Berlin. I will be a late season resident at the Bay Bar in Ibiza to do it. last nights performance session went well enough that they are rewiring the place so i can be in a more prominent location. maybe it was when i tied my full size mic to my wind controller so as to enable vocoding, that they were sold (like i said…Ghe-tow). so it’s looking like another 2 weeks here, but I am 98% certain that i will be flying out of here on the 27th. so in the meantime….

I will be playing Bay Bar nightly which means that for my sanity and the sanity of the staff, I will be doing an obscene amount of sound design. I will create new sounds and effects, making use of my gestural system and databasing, to make new noises every night, with fx alterations to the old standbys like sax and minimoog. this amount of playing and sound design can only be a good thing for my beatjazz set. seems a good time to create an “ibiza” soundset for the tour recap album I am putting together.

i have also got to prepare for my live set at Villa Mercedes this coming tuesday. really nice place to near next to the port in San Antonio. They usually have a flamenco band every night, So I want to display a wide range of beatjazz techniques for that night; more fluid sound changes, mixing the improv looping with my DJing, vocoder layering taken to a more creative extreme, and many more gestural flourishes. which means…although I am still in Ibiza, the relaxing part of this adventure is officially over. once I start patching in pure data, there is a discernable shift in my vibe from the physical to the cerebral. these shows, and the inevitable afterparties and one offs, will ensure that Ibiza will be part of my summers for the next few years, so I must be in proper form.

along with the increased workload now, and intensive budgeting, I am also preparing for a show in Berlin at the end of the month at 16 doors on the 28th. this will be my unofficial birthday party. the official party is the following weekend at an undisclosed location. That party will be just a liiiiiitle bit nuts so it will be invite only. if you are in Berlin at that time and would like to come, MSG me on facebook, Twitter or email.

I will be laying out all of the projects I am working on for the next 12 month, shortly, but briefly, they are

*finishing the busking book (40% done)
*finishing and prototyping the beatjazz controller
*compiling this tour into an ebook with an associated EP
*reigniting Backlit Lounge in Berlin
*begin writing ” The Quantum Metaphor: the unified theory of beatjazz”

these are just the main projects, not including the teaching and speaking engagements and performances. in the next 2-3 weeks I will give you the opportunity to participate in these projects if you so desire, so thank you for your inquiries and stay tuned.

gotta go practice. l8r.

nomadic diary-“San Antonio vs Ibiza town” or “ahhhh, so that’s where all the Afro-Americans are!” September 9, 2010

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image686504430.jpgI’ve wanted to come to this island for years. I’ve read about it. I’ve dreamed about what it would be like to play and party here. I’ve watch documentaries about the unique nightclub brand tourism of this island. The only place in the world I’ve wanted to go more is Tokyo (foreshadowing…). And from the very beginning, I’ve heard a constant unchanging stream of criticisms about San Antonio with always changing variation on the same theme; British tourist, blah blah, punchups, yada yada, tacky, and on and on. But now that I’ve actually been here AND the other side of the island, let’s give my take…

Brits are Brits. They can be loud and they do love to get drunk, but from spending time on both sides of this island now, I feel safe in saying that Ibiza town, playa den bossa area, where all the clubs are, is just as ghetto. The difference?! The Italian-german-french sets all seem to congregate in Ibiza town and San Antonio is more focused on English speakers. To me, that’s the BIIIIIIIG fucking difference. If you don’t like speaking English, go to IT(Ibiza town), and if you mainly speak English, (it’s all about SA (San Antonio).

Other differences? Not that I could see. Each place us overrun with obnoxious 20-somethings, drinking to the point of collapse, with a self issued license to do all the retarded shit they can squeeze into the time aloted by their all-inclusive. The music is a perfectly flat landscape of earbleed crap with sporadic hills of decent music spotted around. I just found and played at the first funky/soulful house bar I’ve been able to locate on the entire island, last night! After having been here going door to door looking for one for what is now just over a month!

Of course there is some great dubstep, and even a smattering of DnB here. That’ll be €50 please…yeah…me either.

So beyond this, are there any actual differences? One, that I can see. It would seem that SA is where all the Afro-American tourists go as well. In IT, I haven’t seen hardly any, and yes, one can tell them from darkskinned people from other parts of the world.

Afro-American tourists fall into one of three categories;

older “family reunion/jazz festival types” with money. They usually have a Spellman or Howard university t-shirt on or travel in packs of 20-30 donning similar brightly colored t-shirts that will say something like “Prichard family reunion 2010-YES WE CAN!” in the front, and Evergreen United Municipal Baptist Episcopal Church of God in Christ, Ltd on the back. Their event is at one hotel and that where they will remain for the entire trip except for that one early morning walk on the beach to roll up one leg of their trousers and slosh exactly one foot in the ocean. Bikini?! HAHAHA!! you must be joking! Topless sunbathing? …..……….. Moving on…

The other category are usually from 25-45 years of age, and are the “unique” set. They tend to stick out and blend in simultaneously. They are a bit odd but very friendly, And they get along with just about everyone…no shit, EVERYONE. These are your Afro-punks; strange hair, piercings, and permanently mounted sunglasses of some sort. The chance of seeing them in the ocean decreases proportionately with the amount of effort and money expended on their hair, but it does happen.

The last group(which is by means the last group…just the last one I want to discuss right now. If you are interested, let me know and I will write a more in depth analysis) are, ironically, the most conservative; the homies. Which are very similar to what the British call “chavs”, except more quiet away from home because they don’t want everyone to know they are actually having a good time. I find the first two groups to be very conversational on holidays, but when i have attempted to engage the homies abroad in light conversation, they are too busy trying to suppress the urge to have fun, wondering if I am gay, or both. Looks like it takes a lot if energy to remain screw face for a week. Too bad for them. Characterized by their uniform of oversize tshirts, baggy shorts and high priced trainers WITH socks! Have mastered the art of looking unfazed in all situations, and won’t show any signs of life until the dj plays some hip hop, at which point they will regal you with their “hands in the air, feet glued to the ground, “AHHH, YEAH…!!” dance. You will not see them in the water as they are worse that Afro-American women when it comes to their cornrows/fade/press wave-hairdo. (definitely another post)

Yes, the Afro-American tourist is alive and well represented in San Antonio. So where does this folklore about SA being so much more ghetto than IT stem from? I believe, mistakenly or not, that it’s down to nation/neighbor politics. In my travels, I notice that people usually reserve hate or dislike, for people somewhat close to them. Most texans have no harsh words about Norwegians, but have loads to say about louisianans(close state neighbor), or Canadian (close national neighbor). For Instance,(my observations) Spanish people have their kick with Africans. English people and Germans, Americans and mexicans, to name some that I have witnessed. It not seething, simply familiar. Seems to me that monolinguals go to SA and multilingual go to IT. that theory could be pure bullshit, but that’s what it looks like to me. Feel free to correct me. I love Learning new shit.

Annnnnnnd next. As mentioned before, I finally found a place that plays soulful funky music, and if everything goes as planned today, I should be playing there every night for the remainder of my time on the island.

I went by there, Bay Bar, yesterday, and played a little for them and they made me a resident damn near on the spot. If all goes well, I may be back to
Play there next season as well!

Today I plan to force myslef to sleep as last night I brilliantly thought it was a good idea to have a coffee/brandy after my set and didn’t even pretend to sleep til about 6am. I have decided to hold onto this bungalo until at least tommorrow. If all goes well with the gig. I will keep it for the remainder of my time here, otherwise, I will start tenting again. Think I will close my eyes now. L8r.

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