Posts Tagged ‘gear’

Moog FXToday I dug through my all-things-old-and-forgotten cupboard of musical gear and pulled out my Digitech bass effects pedal.  Then I connected that bass effects pedal to my Moog Little Phatty and now I am in love!  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Moog before.  Nothing else sounds quite like it and I have consciously decided to build my sound in Shot in the Dark, my electro-rock project, around the Moog.  This just gives it an extra dimension.

Previously I had a T.C.Electronics multi-effects unit attached to the Little Phatty for a bit of chorus and reverb or the occasional delay, but it’s a second hand unit and it’s outbound signal is dirty, so it’s not anything I would want to take to a show and put through a PA.   Plus it is a rack unit,and the foot-pedal bass effects just work so much better for me.  I’m pretty excited to integrate it into my current set up for my next show with Shot in the Dark which happens on Friday, December 20th.

This will be the first show we’ve had where we can turn up.  Our maiden voyage, when we weren’t yet a band, happened in the front room of El Rio in San Francisco and we were a little unprepared when it came to understanding how our live sound needed to be handled.  Then we played at Wild Side West and understood we needed keep it down.  Finally we’ll be able to crank up the bass and drum machine and guitar and play the way we (mostly) play in rehearsals.

This will also be my first time out running Ableton as part of the performance.  I feel I use about 5 percent of Ableton’s capabilities, so I’m a little self conscious about getting on stage with a laptop and the Akai controller.  However, I’m also playing keys and singing so it’s not like I have an additional 2 hands to tweak the Ableton tracks on the fly.  Ableton is replacing my Roland SP-555 sampler which I had in my set up for a few years.  I felt really sure of the sampler.  It’s been a bit of learning curve, getting the feel of the controller down, and then I’m left with the question – what constitutes live performance?  If I’m triggering the samples on the fly, but I have a chance of screwing it up, wouldn’t it be better to just sequence everything?  And if I’m just sequencing everything, then what is my added value on stage?  Before I go spiraling out of control on these questions, I’ve promised myself to just keep everything as it is right now and worry about making changes after the December show . . . except for adding in the bass effects pedal; and re-recording a keyboard track for the Ableton tracks; and replacing the high hat part on one of the songs; and re-editing the ending on another song. But after that, I’m on lock-down, practice mode only.  Really. I mean it.

Post script on the War Horse entry – I actually ended up talking about watching War Horse to my therapist.  Isn’t that weird?  Also, that wasn’t even rock bottom. I’ve discovered Suburban Shootout.  I need to get out more!

 

When it comes to being a one-person band, a producer/performer if you will, it would appear that boys like their laptops and their big fancy light shows and us girls like our gizmos and gear.  I don’t have a term for it yet, but I’m seeing a trend of female artists who aren’t quite electronica yet definitely use electronica elements in the creation of their music.  I think I may be part of a genre and I’m in good company!

For myself, I got the notion of using a looper from watching guitarists and originally was planning to use my JamMan Loop Pedal with just a bass guitar, layering notes to build chords and rhythms.   It didn’t quite gel for me and I put the whole thing away for a while.  Somewhere between putting it away and pulling it out again to loop keys and drum machines, I encountered Lily Taylor and I think I would be remiss to not admit her performance style was an inspiration. Using a loop pedal, effects pedals, and Casio keyboard, Lily layers lush vocal harmonies over ambient synths to create hypnotic music.  She is currently based out of Austin, TX, but seems to visit the San Francisco Bay Area on a regular basis to perform.

Poised on hitting the mainstream, Grimes is a Canadian artist who also performs with a keyboard,  effects pedals and a sampler.   Her vocals are lovely and ethereal, while her music ranges from ambient to pure pop.  She recently performed on Jimmy Fallon and I’ll admit I was a bit sad to see they felt the need to dress up her performance with back up dancers and some special effects, but it was still a beautiful performance.

Finally, there is MNDR, which is actually a duo comprised of Amanda Warner and Peter Wade, but Warner performs solo.   I’ve seen Warner perform with a synth and also with a guitar, but it seems she is focusing mostly on singing live.  She reminds me a bit of Kim Wilde (of Kids in America fame) so I guess I’ve included her here just because I really like the music. She’s also opening for Duran Duran these days.  I think I would like to be her when I grow up. Heh.

I recently realized that I am anti-laptop when it comes to music performance.  It feels like a crutch to me, or maybe I just don’t want to compete on the same playing field as all the people who can kick serious a** with Ableton Live.   I currently describe my music as having all the canned sounds of electronica and all the shaky timing of a garage band (ba-dump-ba), although in truth, I think my timing is pretty amazing considering I make most of my loops live on the fly.

Currently I’m beginning pre-production on my next recording project and also thinking I’d like to perform live again soon.  This song, Lessons, performed at the Stork Club in February, will most likely be on my next CD. Check it out and enjoy.