One Night at Tekserve

Last night I had the great pleasure in taking part of Tekserve’s The Future of Music V, The Craft of iPad Music-Making. First off, Tekserve is one of those NYC places. It’s a place that defines the city just like Katz Delicatessen or The Empire State Building. The fix and sell Apple products and have been doing it long before the Apple stores existed. The large store sits in the flat iron district and it’s full of people and goodies. Not only new glass and aluminum stuff but the shop is filled with vintage cameras, awesome recording gear from the 60s, computer posters from the 80s and it’s a classic Mac museum too. You can tell it’s sits on Manhattan real estate because like the city it’s always packed and the pace inside is frenetic. Numbers and being yelled, tutorials are happening and people are spending obscene amounts of money all around you. The real wonder of Tekserve is the amazing team of what I learned were close friends running the place. Paul Rechsteiner who manages the place flies around the store smiling ear to ear doing what at first seems like mingling but on closer inspection he’s micro organizing everyone like a turbo charged Roomba. I met a few of Paul’s co-workers such as Rob in the A/V dept and operating the on stage camera, Ben Casey who was doing sound who took the time to show me his Elektron Oktopad and Steve Chu who helped me figure out a hardware glitch on this very Macbook Pro I am writing to you on today. It’s a smart bunch and when Paul walked me through the huge back and basement of the store to get me coffee even the managers and CEO smiled at me. This place reeked of pure class.

Around 7:00PM the other presenters of the evening arrived. I’ve know Peter Kirn for a few months now and he brought his new Meeblip with him. I’m fascinated with the energy he puts into his blog Create Digital Music and it’s a kick to talk shop with him. During his performance He used the software Pure Data on his iPad and Midi to control his hardware Meeblip. I met Harry Allen who had a seriously long list of credentials but for the life of me the only single fact I can remember about his resume was that he was the guy who said the line, “Don’t Believe the Hype” in the samed named Public Enemy song. Steve Horelick who runs the popular Macprovideo.com tutorial site and is known for creating the theme song for the television show Reading Rainbow played two ambient pieces. Before the event there was a lot of discussion because Steve really wanted to play a longer piece. In my mind I thought oh boy ambient this is going to be lame. Not only were half the people there solely to see Steve both his live pieces were great. I usually hate that kind of music but it was more Stanley Kubrick soundtrack and hippy dippy burnt guy sounds. Joshue Ott created an iPad app called Thicket. It’s an art toy filled with as my wife put’s it “migraine inducing visuals” and sound. His performance was by far the most futuristic. The generated audio bleeping away with the wild grid lines the app puts out were really stunning when projected loud and large.

For my own performance I used TC Electronic’s Voicejam, a great 360 looper on my iPad. I used an IK Multimedia iRig adapter to bring audio from several iPhone apps into the iPad and Voicejam. I first created a beat using Tweakybeat. It’s a little drum machine app with a heavy swing and random option. Anything Tweakybeat creates could be a Berlinesque minimal track. Next I layered in some Moog Filatron. I set the Moogs analog delay simulation all the way up to feedback and then recorded a loop while I played with the delay time. It creates a sound like 500 samplers all pitching up and down. For the third layer I recorded a vocal saying “I Want Your Body” into an App called iVoxel. It’s a nice sounding vocoder app with a neat trick. There is an edit mode where you can scrub your finger across your recorded and vocoded waveform. Into Voicejam that went to but not just a simple one shot. I recorded my finger swiping across the waveform. I added some white noise toms from a synth App called NNN Mono. Just to impress the crowd I then used an app called Scanner911 and recorded some live Chicago Police department ramblings. Once all my loops were recorded I used Voicejam and put on a quick performance. The wonderful thing about this looper is it’s circular and each loops plays in time where you put your finger. So if you click around the circle at different loop locations your glitching or say time traveling between loops.

Tekserve was notified the New York Times, Rolling Stones and some other big press were at the event. There were certainly enough large still and video cameras around to believe it. On my way out Paul handed me a Tekserve bag with a 1TB portable Glyph drive in it… class operation!

It’s 7:30AM so I have to run out of here to my day job calling. Tonight I will update this post with more photos and eventually the entire video from the night will be online. Thanks to everyone who showed up!

UPDATE: I finally had a chance to upload a full photo set: click here

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For more info: tekserve.com

Meeblip

For the price of a plug-in you can buy a Meeblip. It’s a digital synthesizer that’s fully buildable, hackable and modifiable. It has a MIDI din and a volume knob that goes to 11. What could be the most interesting thing about the synth is who is comes from. It’s a partnership between James Grahame of Reflex Audio and Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music. Therefore, any cool hack, trick or update on the little box will surely be covered on the CDM blog. That fact alone makes me want to be part of the story. If you have a kid and you don’t mind the risk of getting him too involved in the music industry put one of these together with him this December.

“It’s a hardware box that makes noises – virtual analog synth noises, chip-sounding noises, good noises, bad noises, noises you can make into music. It’s got physical knobs and switches on it, plus a MIDI DIN in port so you can connect that keytar you bought on eBay… The MeeBlip is the creation of James Grahame, of Retro Thing and Reflex Audio fame. (He tells the full history of how it came to be.) But we’re serious about the Create Digital Music name going on there, too… At the same time, just because it’s “open source” and “hackable” doesn’t mean the MeeBlip is just for hackers. On the contrary – we wanted a synth anyone could play. With the Quick Build Kit, you can assemble the MeeBlip without a soldering iron or, really, much skill, in a matter of minutes.” – Peter Kirn

For more info: meeblip.noisepages.com

IMSTA FESTA Panel Review

I had a great time speaking on the “Geek Out” panel at this weekends IMSTA FESTA. The event put on by Shocklee has pro-audio companies show their stuff in different recording studios at SAE Manhattan. As I approached the street entrance a young guy stopped me and asked if I would buy one of his hip-hop CDs. I was surprised because I didn’t think I looked like a good target audience for him. I asked if he was coming inside and I was surprised again when he told me he had no idea what I was talking about. I let him know he should come up and there would be producers, djs and lots of stuff to check out. He looked a bit afraid and I got the idea he was probably 15 years old or so. Anyway I went in without him and wondered if there was anything at all on the CDs he was trying to sell.

On the 9th floor of SAE there were about 10 security guards in the halls. Once I meandered into the recording studios I knew why: there was lots of nice equipment inside! Immediately I ran into Fady Hayek who is the National Sales Manager for SSL. I was a regular at the Club Cubase meeting he ran when he worked for Steinberg in the 90s. James Bernard had a nice audience watching him go through some amazing tricks and tips with Reason and Record. I love watching him demo stuff. He really gets the software, knows the shortcuts and makes you want to run home and do it yourself.

In the VIP room I met Peter Kirn (Create Digital Music) for the first time face to face. We spent some time thumbing through the latest Keyboard Magazine where Peter wrote the lead story about Moog. We instantly got into the Voyager XL and how it doesn’t make any sense and how awesome it is. I met the Micah Frank from Puremagnetik who apparently I had some emails correspondence with in the past but forgot. Sorry Micah! I briefly met Julie Covello (DJ Shakey) from Warper and we moved to the panel room. We decided to each chat about the one thing that’s blowing us away these days. Peter chose Pure Data and explained in other words it’s the code he’s got a passion for. That it can be on his old desktop machine or his phone and it’s been with him a long time. He’s pure geek for sure! Julie picked SoundCloud and YouTube. I didn’t even consider a non-tangible object so props to her because I think we all spend more time in Social Media than making music (shame on all of us!). I thought her pick was a right on. Micah picked Renoise the old school Tracker that was recently updated. I made the obvious choice to everyone that knows me… iPad! What was unexpected is upon polling the crowd we found that only two people there owned iPads besides me. I showed off iElectribe, SynthPond and SoundPrism. We had a short Q&A where we learned Micah translates earthquake data into sample packs. Yep… he’s a geek too. Propellerheads let me give a few shirts and hats away and it was a wrap. Thank you Jo-Anne for inviting me I enjoyed it greatly!

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IMSTA FESTA

I will be speaking on a panel with Peter Kirn (Create Digital Music), Micah Frank aka Kamoni (Sound Designer & Founder of Puremagnetik), and Julie Covello aka DJ Shakey (DJ, Creator & Promoter of the Warper Party, Music Collector) on Saturday, September 25 at the SAE, 1293 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York NY 10001.

The IMSTA FESTA is free and should be good fun and of great interest to anyone who reads this blog. It’s a pro-audio manufacturer get together and panel series. It’s from 11:00AM – 7:00PM. Some of the exhibitors include Ableton, Arturia, Bias, SSL, Celemony, IK Multimedia, Image Line, Native Instruments, Pianoteq, Propellerhead, Rob Papen, Steinberg and Waves.

UPDATE: Over 1,000 people are registered. Come on down!

“IMSTA FESTA, a celebration of music software is coming to the heart of New York City. The First IMSTA FESTA started in Japan where it was highly successful for technology companies, producers and hobbyists alike. IMSTA FESTA brings a collection of the top audio technology companies together in an environment where they can interact with music makers face-to-face. If you use music software you will benefit from this event in a number of ways.” – http://www.imsta.org

For more info: http://www.imsta.org