Reggie Watts

Here’s Reggie Watts doing a piece he calls Binary Existence. I think all musicians get diarrhea of the mind. We babble and have moments of awesome babble. Reggie manages to capture some pretty good moments. He’s getting a lot of buzz because he’s opening for Conan O’ Brian’s tour. Well deserved I think… Not long ago I drank some very sugar packed red juice and began beatboxing, mouth 303ing and screaming I am a robot over and over. I think I went on and on for 20 minutes. If I only had the best 3 of it on tape maybe I could be opening for Conan too. Ah well more likely it would have just been a source of ever ending embarrassment.

“Reggie Watts is a Brooklyn-based comedic/musical performer. Watts’ shows are mostly improvised and consist of stream of consciousness standup in various shifting personas, mixed with loop pedal-based a cappella compositions. He also performs regularly on television and in live theatre.” – Wikipedia.org

For more info: reggiewatts.com

Subcycle Labs Multi-Touch Interaction


multi-touch the storm – interactive sound visuals – subcycle labs
from christian bannister on Vimeo.

I received an email yesterday from Christian Bannister of Subcycle Labs asking me to view a video of a project he is working on. This is another example that shows how transforming touch screens are going to be for musicians.

“This is part of a series of sketches exploring the potential to bridge the gap between sound visualization and musical instrument. With multi-touch interaction it is possible to manipulate multiple characteristics of a sound—visually, and simultaneously. This shift has the potential of bringing the experience of synthesizer as music instrument to a whole new place. This approach allows the performer to have a more tactile and immediate experience of the synthesizer and also creates a visual reference for the audience. In the performance of electronic music it is fairly common that the audience is alienated from the process and performance of the musician. This project hopes to create a common visual language and experience for the electronic musician and the audience by enhancing the perception of sound and music on both sides.” – Christian Bannister

For more info: www.subcycle.org

Diary from Live Friday night in Geneva, Switzerland.

Here’s a slice of my life from this weekend. I wanted to live blog this but I couldn’t bare to spend about $35 USD on internet access from my hotel room. Why do they charge so much? The cheapest Café will give you free net with a $2 cup of coffee.

I had a booking set for Geneva, Switzerland at a club called LeZoo at Usine. The contract was signed and the advance and flights were paid so everything was go. From checking out the websites and MySpace pages of the promoters (myspace.com/feelingandsound) and other bands performing I knew this event would be a cool one. I’ve performed in Switzerland before in Zurich, Bern and Lausaunne and all those were also quite excellent. The only major hitch was the flight time home was brutal, 8:35AM back to Berlin!

Every show starts for me a full day before I travel. On Thursday I laid out all the equipment and went over my check list. The reason it’s important to do it 24 hours before is if anything is missing that gives me time to buy replacement stuff. In NYC, where I used to live everything is open all the time, but in Berlin (my current address) if I am missing a cable or adapter it’s not always given I will find it too easily. Worse case scenario if I can’t find something at least I can contact the promoter to help me search their city with some warning. I also check the live show in Ableton, make some backup CD-Rs, do laundry and a few other things.

I wake up pretty early everyday. I don’t have blinds on my windows and once the sun is up my cats think it’s time for me to get up too. So even though it would have been smart to somehow sleep late on Friday I was awake around 7:00 AM. The flight to Geneva was at 2:20PM. Normally I take a taxi to Tegel airport for 20 euros but this was a Easyjet flight from Schoenefeld airport and it’s far so I took the U2 to Alexanderplatz then a special S-Bahn train directly to the Airport. It’s all easy and only cost 2.10 euro but you do have to leave a bit earlier. I think I left my house around noon.

Easyjet corrals you into a room to wait to board and that room has less seats in it than any in airplane. This is some evil experiment I am sure. Standing for an hour to board pisses me off even more when I know I’m not going to be sleeping that night.

I’m picked up at the airport by the promoters and taken to the hotel. “How was your flight?” and the usual banter ensues. I’m uber happy to be performing but to be honest I’m totally jaded when it comes to certain things. I really never want to every tell anyone how my flight was ever again. It’s always the same. The airplane goes into the sky and lands. Thats it. It’s amazing for sure but it’s always exactly the same. That’s an ass-y thing to say I know but imagine 20 years of being asked the same question.

It was now 6:00PM and because the venue opened at 9:00PM they asked if I could drop off my clothes and do sound check right away. This was fine with me and off to sound check we went. I met one of the other acts Mimetic. His music was kinda noise mixed with breaks running of a Macbook and Ableton, no vocals. After setting up and testing my audio I had the usual argument with the “visuals” people concerning the fact that when I perform I don’t want any lights or their video playing. I have my own video that plays in sync with the music. Why is that so hard to understand sometimes? My show is only an hour they can spit smiling faces and fractals all over the club for the other 11 hours! Actually the video guys at Usine were great and they did have a cool set up of screens and the imagery they used was a nice mix of live footage from the evening and basic logos.

It was now almost 9:00PM and I wanted to see some of Geneva so a friend of mine who lives there met me and we walked around. Geneva is a wealthy and nice city. Plenty of Ferraris on the streets. It sits on Lake Geneva and the Rhône River runs through the center of the city. It’s surrounded by the snow tipped Alps. The streets were full of people dressed up heading out for the night. I heard a decent mix of French and English being spoken.

After walking for a few hours I realized I better get back to the hotel, shower and get my show clothes on. My show time was 2:00AM so I told them to pick me up at 1:00AM. I don’t like hanging in clubs before the gig. Nothing kills my mood more than standing and screaming over loud music some mundane conversation. Even worse is being backstage with whatever bands have been drinking there since soundcheck.

I always request a four star hotel. The main reason is I need to know for an absolute fact I can get 24 hour room service. Why? Because at 1:00AM I need some dam coffee! Guess what? This hotel’s room service was closed. Down I went to the lobby and although there was a coffee machine in the office they “weren’t serving” any that late. Four stars my ass. I had the instant coffee in my room, with the instant creamer shit and sugar and got myself an instant stomach ache.

Yeah so they pick me and I get to the venue and they tell me everything is delayed a bit. I go on at 3:00AM. Ok so now I have to stand and banter for an hour an a half. Remember I’ve been up, traveling and walking all day. You can see why bands do loads of speed/cocaine right? Although this blog post would be a lot more interesting if I did some lines… I didn’t.

3:00AM and I go on. This is the part I love. I really do enjoy performing live. As soon as the music starts I’m happy screaming my head off and running around. It’s what I do best… my true nature comes out. During the show I trying and attach to the audience as much as possible. I jump and and off the table and stage a bunch of times, sweat a lot, etc… I make sure not to “go through the motions” and really tell the words I am singing. I keep a fresh memory of being 17 and seeing bands like Front 242, Bauhaus and Neubauten live and what that meant to me and what makes a live performance incredible. I also keep in my mind that everyone in that club paid money to see me. It’s my job to make sure they get what they paid for. It’s my job to exceed their expectations. Amazingly videos from the show appeared on Youtube already (they are the ones on this page).

After the show I throw the equipment into the cases and go backstage for about 40 minutes. I get paid and a ride back to the hotel. A few years ago this part would be very different. It would involve all the excesses you could imagine. But to be honest I want to live to see my 80s so this post about this weekend stays PG.

It’s now about 5:00AM and I need to empty the cases and rubber band all the wires, etc… I’d say about 50% of the time I am stopped for a special check at the airport. It’s pretty wack to open your cases up and there is a huge mass of tangled cables.

I’m 38 and before I get a taxi to the airport (remember the flight back is at 8:00AM!) I have to take some Advil (Ibuprofen). Getting old is weird… tired = pain. Of course once at the airport it’s time for another Easyjet boarding area standing room only hell experiment. This time I’ve been awake more than 24 hours… bastards!

By the time I get back to Berlin it’s about noon again. Time to sleep. Imagine I had another show on Saturday night!?

The show must go on! Bring medicine!

Pills

The past two days I’ve been dealing with the flu. I’m not a happy sick person and my mind simply aint right.

Being ill brings to mind a good tip. Pack all sorts of (legal) pills with you when you perform. There’s nothing to say that even though you feel great when you step outside your apartment on the way to the gig your going to return that healthy. You can go from Joe Weider to Droopy the Dog in less than a few hours.

vomitI also pack throat lozenges. Often I find a long sound check mixed with pre-show loud “talking” in the club to kill my voice right before show time. Make sure you chuck them in the bag of wires so your sure to have them.

I also pack Sedonium (300MG) which is basically concentrated Valerian Root. It’s a natural sleep-aid. Too often I get back to the hotel at 5:00 AM and Im still way pumped up from the night. I’d stay clear of Ambien unless your prepared to miss your flight home.While your at the pharmacy also grab some Saline Solution, wet naps, moisturizer and lip balm. It’s a rough world out there!

Here’s my advice if you are sick before you even leave for an event, don’t cancel! One hundred percent of the time you will get through the show feeling fine and survive. Be strong because rule number one is, the show must go on!

photo credits: bayat and assbach

If you play live your music will be better.

The Horrorist Live - Praezisionswerk

Most of my best live shows take place in East Germany. The people there really go crazy. On Saturday night I played near Leipzig at a club called Praezisionswerk (precision work).

You have to practice what you preach when it comes to music. If you play live your music will be better. It’s a simple as that. No one will be more honest with you than a room of drunk strangers in the middle of the night! Make it work there and you have yourself a real song.

To see the full photo set from Saturday night: click here