Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
 

Tags: Creative Spice


October 30, 2017

Flipping The Script...

by Chris Randall
 



Yesterday, I started writing a post about watershed moments in your creative lifestyle, when something (either external or internal) brings a change to how you make music (or, well, whatever it is you make.) Then I thought "meh, that probably doesn't really happen to anyone else, because everyone else seems totally together. I'm just a nut." I highlighted all the text and pressed DEL and got on with my day.

About 20 minutes ago, the above exchange took place on Twitter between Noisetheorem, myself, and DJ Empirical that made me realize that this sort of thing isn't uncommon at all, and in point of fact I'm totally norms.

For better or worse, your external environment greatly affects your creative output. Speaking strictly for myself, spending the last three years boxing and shipping Eurorack, talking about Eurorack, travelling for Eurorack, sleeping in piles of Eurorack, and generally devoting my entire existence to Eurorack, has left me in a creative nadir which was unparalleled in my 30+ year history of making music. Earlier this year, we came to the conclusion that we were devoting too much of the company resources to Euro, and decided to ease off and work on desktop and mobile ideas. Since the nature of the Euro market means the hockey stick is ludicrously strong, without a new Euro product we can't really justify remaking older Euro products. As a result, I got to spend the summer, which in Phoenix is like winter for the rest of the country, doing something I truly enjoy: making user interfaces, and not putting Eurorack modules in boxes.

Since confirmation bias is the name of the game these days, as you're reading this, you're going to only see the Zig Zigler Power Words and run off to say "Chris Randall's an asshole! He hates what I do!" or "GOD DAMN RIGHT, FUCK [insert creation method here]." I can't do anything about that, but let me relate a metaphor:

I was raised by divorced parents about 50/50 in rural Oregon and New York City. The rural Oregon half of my family are, for the most part, gun nuts. I was raised around guns, and am comfortable with their existence and use-cases. I own a gun, and know how to use it. My father (the New York half of my co-parenting lifestyle) was a general contractor, so I was also raised around power tools. I am comfortable with their existence and use-cases. I own power tools, and know how to use them. In my head, a gun is basically just another tool. There are people for whom guns are a religion. I am not one of those people. I do, however, understand the motivations and mentality that lead to worshipping guns, talking about guns, collecting guns, etc, and how guns become a lifestyle and not just another tool in the box.

Anyhow, you get the point. Lots of boxes and M3 screws, creative nadir, tedious metaphor, blah blah blah. Long story short, two things happened:

1. Due to our considered opinion that iOS was finally ready for pro (or at least semi-pro) music-making, we decided to make a run at the mobile side of things, and began porting our desktop products to iOS. This forced me to purchase and become comfortable with a state-of-the-art iOS creation environment.

2. Due to customer requests for MPE versions of our synths, we needed to investigate MPE, something of which I knew very little. After pondering things for a bit, I decided the Linnstrument was probably the best source of MPE data, and since I'm friends with Roger, I dropped him a line to see if I could borrow one of the small ones to develop some test cases.

I got the Linnstrument a couple weeks ago, and the first thing I did, to test how MPE worked, was to plug it in to the first synth in my collection that understands MPE. That happened to be Animoog, the polysynth that Moog made for iOS. I spent a few hours playing with this, and decided that MPE was worth exploring. So I moved the Linnstrument to my big computer and folded it in to my development process. Since I don't have a ton of room on my desk, I moved my normal controller, a Kontrol S49, out of the way. The much smaller Linnstrument sat in its place.

Since it was sitting there anyhow, I ended up using it to try to play melodies when I was testing other shit. And I suddenly found myself puzzling out scales and chords on it, and my testing other shit turned in to making songs. At some point that I can't exactly put my finger on, it clicked and I was able to play it. I'm not going to review the device itself because there are reams written about it. But yesterday morning, my wife pointed out that it was nice to see me making music again. I was like "huh?" And she goes "you haven't actually sat in your office and made a song in like 2 years, dude." That's when all this hit me, and I wrote Roger to tell him I'd be buying the Linnstrument off him.

It isn't, of course, as facile as that. There are other outside stimuli that are affecting things (new hobbies, the weather change, etc.) but putting in the time to get the Linnstrument to ease itself into my methodology was definitely the deciding factor in unwedging my creative block. Let's hear it, AI peoples. Do you have similar unblocking experiences?

 
February 9, 2017

Sync 02...

by Chris Randall
 



Sync02 is the second in what is apparently going to be a yearly 1st-Saturday-Of-March affair. Last year's event went off well enough that we decided to do it again, despite the torential rain. As you may remember if you attended, Sync01 took place at JWZ's excellent CodeWord venue in San Francisco. Saturday, March 4th at Holocene. It is over twice as big as last year's, so we got a partner. Audio Damage is doing it in partnership with Control Voltage. The manufacturers that will be exhibiting include:

Audio Damage
Industrial Music Electronics
WMD
Mordax
Moog
S1 Synth Library
4ms
LZX
Noise Engineering
Make Noise
Malekko
Darkplace
1010 Music
01Synth
Topobrillo
Blue Lantern
Møffenzeef Mødular
AI Synthesis
Intellijel
Roger Linn Design
(more TBA)

Control Voltage will have a pop-up store at the venue, so warm up your debit card. The exhibition runs from 10:30A to 4:30P, and then we close the venue for a bit to remove the tables, and reopen at 5:30P for the show. The performers include:

Baseck
Bana Hafar
Rodent
T2

The exhibition is free to attend, and all-ages. The performance is 21+ and $10. So, if you're in Portland, and you don't come to this, well... I am given to understand that Modular On The Spot will be doing a separate event the night before. The Facebook event page is here. Please hit the little button to let us know you're coming. That number is helpful.

It may be a little early to bring this up, but I'm also open to ideas for where Sync03 should be. It takes a while to put these together, so the city needs to have a good confluence of both manufacturers and customers. My initial first choice for Sync03 was Washington, DC, but I'm also open to European cities, or something I haven't thought of.

 
October 26, 2016

Oscillator Breach...

by Chris Randall
 



As some of you may know, I dropped a new album on Detroit Underground™ two weeks ago. It is unusual for me not to self-release, as has been my habit for the last 15 years or so, but I really like what Detund is doing; they first popped on my radar when they put out Richard Devine's excellent RISP project, and their releases comprise a major percentage (maybe 80%?) of the music I've been listening to since then. Kero has an amazing visual sense, along with his great taste in IDM stylings, and I wanted to be part of that family.

The album consists of six tracks and four remixes (from Baseck, Proem, Qebo, and Corbin Davis.) The six tracks are, as is my way for the last couple years, all Euro and tape loops of found sounds. The Tech Time videos in my Analog Industries YouTube channel accurately describe my methodology for making these tracks, so in lieu of an extended process explanation, you can go watch those. The tracks all start with a stand-alone Euro patch and tape loops, and once I have something that I like, I part them out in to Live, and do the arrangement and post-production there. Once each track was done, I pre-mastered it to my Otari MTR-12 two-track deck, and then dumped it back in to the computer and sent it to Wade Alin at Standard Mastering for the final squish. (The remixes were mastered and level-matched by Detund. Not sure who they used.) These are mastered to what Wade calls "Old Guy Levels," which is to say that they retain most of their dynamics, and are not square waves at 0dBfs. The artwork was done by the amazing Layer-Based Human Activities™ from Athens, Greece.

If you guys have any technical questions or comments about the album, now is the time and this is the place!

 
August 24, 2016

The Weekly No. 006: Milestones...

by Chris Randall
 
 



I didn't realize it until I'd rendered and uploaded the video, but this week's quasi-philosophical meandering actually has a theme, and that theme is "milestones." In the first half, I ramble for a couple minutes about the minor yet not minor at all milestone of crossing 1,000 subs on the AI YouTube channel. I also get confetti in my ears.

In the second half, I wander around the subject of actually finishing songs. As to whether I impart any information that one could consider "useful" is open to interpretation. But whatever I'm doing, I feel like I do it with a great deal of charm, and dare I say enthusiasm?

 
November 26, 2015

Octave Is...

by Chris Randall
 

Listen to the album "009909" by Chris Randall.

For those of you that don't follow me on Twitter, I let it drop the other day that me and the missus and our long-time web collaborator Mark Beeson made a thing.

From the embed above, it should be readily apparent what it does. And long-time readers will know exactly why we made it, so I don't need to go in to any lengthy explanation about that. Suffice it to say that we've been working on it for about a while now, and Octave is now open for business. We're addressing user wishes as they come in, so its purview is adjusting (and rather rapidly, it must be said) to the use cases that we, as professional musicians, need.

Happy to field any questions/comments here. One further thing: in conversation about the service with someone that didn't fully understand the point, I quipped the following: "Soundcloud is for musicians with fans; Octave is for musicians with clients."
 

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