Festival Season

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Well, summer’s here and that means the start of the festival season here in the US.  Lots of cool outdoor weekend long parties here in the Pacific Northwest, and once again I got asked to perform at Photosynthesis Festival.  This year I’ll be doing two sets it looks like, a downtempo/midtempo set in the H’art tent again, and a more upbeat one in some other tent.  Not sure which yet, this is all very preliminary 🙂

People who follow my blog know I’ve been talking non-stop about the Octatrack lately, which is my latest gear purchase.  Mostly I’ve been working on taking my previous Ableton-based live set, and transfering it to the Machinedrum and Octatrack for live performance.  Recent posts of mine will go more into the details if you’re curious, but it’s mostly been about remixing the old material into something new with the Elektron hardware.

For the most part, I think the sets are basically ready to perform, I’m pretty happy with both.  I think I’ll still work on the the more uptempo one some more now that I know I’m playing two sets.  I’ve mainly been focusing on the downtempo one, since I knew I had a couple of those gigs coming up this summer.  I’ll post some run-throughs of the uptempo set in a couple weeks when I’ve had a chance to work on it some more.

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Other than the live set, I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks diving back into iPad music apps.  Now that the weather is getting nicer, I can finally take the iPad somewhere and work on some music outside the studio.  I love my studio and writing tracks in there, but now that I work in there all day too, sometimes I just need to go somwhere new for inspiration.

In the past I’ve used everything from my laptop a couple MIDI controllers, to a much more compact Palm TX running Bhajis Loops.  Lately I’ve been using my iPhone running NanoStudio for out and about music making.  It’s pretty amazing how powerful the apps are now, and the newer touch based apps mean you really don’t even need to bring anything else but headphones.

Still, I have to admit there were times it was a little frustrating trying to work on such a small screen.  You COULD write a whole song on them, but it could be a little tedious trying to navigate around some of the more complex apps.  I could always bring my laptop, but to be honest I find it cumbersome to take on my bike or out in the woods for instance.

The iPad has fit the bill nicely though, I’m pretty impressed at how well it fits the role of portable studio.  Well, maybe not studio, but idea starter maybe 🙂  Fits in my Camelbak so it’s unnoticeable on bike rides or hikes, but it’s large enough to turn making music on it into something you WANT to do.  Good battery life too, I’ve yet to come anywhere close to running mine down all the way when out and about writing music for a whole day.

One of the biggest things that I’ve discovered working like this, or on iOS devices in general, is that I’m much more productive if I stop trying to write complete songs in them.  Instead I just focus on building up a cool groove, or some synth melodies.  I can record them into the Octatrack for further tweaking and arranging back in the studio.  Much easier doing that for me, that trying to sit there and be focused enough to do a complete song when it’s beautiful out.

I tend to go to a few different parks every time I work on music like this, so at each new park I start a new idea.  Usually I’ll switch apps to force myself to approach the next song idea a little differently.  It’s a fun way of working, because I know I have a use for anything I decide to keep and expand on later.  If I come up with something that ultimately doesn’t sound that good and just gets deleted, oh well, at least it was fun while I was making it.

Really digging Propellorheads Figure for this kind of work lately too, it’s deeper than you would think the first time you use it.  Now if they would just let us save our work so we can have mulitple songs in the app.  More sounds too! 🙂

 

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