Happily Ever After...?

Sorry it took so long to get around to writing this post.  The last two weeks has been interesting in many ways besides the obvious.  The obvious being the TED Full Spectrum Auditions in NYC.  

I am honored to have been able to participate in such an event with such an amazing array of interesting speakers!  Wow! This was definitely a TED; astrophysicists, data visualizations of the migratory patterns of skateboarders, CNC 80-sided bricks that can build unimaginable structures, medical visualizations as art!  It was geek overload!  I imagine that you will be seeing some of these cats doing big things in the future!

When i saw the TED logo onstage, i was so stoked.  Stoked, but strangely not nervous.  Well...not so strangely.  That’s what all the busking is for.  So i can drop into a set, secure in my abilities.  My only focus was to present beatjazz in the most accurate possible light...to convey the idea properly.  This goal focused my thoughts.  This was MY 6 minutes.

when i started, i jumped into something akin to a DnB vibe which, after a few bars, wasn't the direction i felt i needed to go so i changed gears and went in a different direction that was a bit more representative of my vibe in its natural state.  Fortunately, that did the trick.  It was very easy to construct a representative structure in the 6 minute time slot i was allotted.  It also didnt hurt to have a  massive associated instructional presentation happening simultaneously.  i need that for every show!  Idea conveyed.  

once this was concluded, i had a week to kill in NYC before jumping down to Philly to  play Saturn Never Sleeps, with the legendary King Britt and Rucyl.  What can i say about NYC?  It is the place of movies and mythology.  We’ve all been programmed with New York stories since we were born.  It is THE city.  So, with that said, i remembered distinctly why i decided to move to "the city" in 2005...and move away in 2006.  NYC takes a certain temperament.  I'm not the one.  But, it is a fantastic place to visit.  Especially when it is as hot as it was last week.  They have repurposed many intersections as permanent pedestrian thoroughfares.   I found this to be very cool.  Sitting at times square at 2 am, using free municipal Wi-Fi under the radiating glow of thousands of flickering LED billboards was surprisingly nice.

I also discovered that the SHARE party is still going on.  SHARE has a special place in my heart as it was the event where i discovered Max/msp and subsequently, Pure Data.  Dozens of people on laptops, communally creating ordered chaos for everyone and no one.  On this night, i ran into a friend from Berlin, Gad Hinkis, who just so happened to be the featured performer on this particular night.  He was there to play his self-built joystick controller system and did a great job.  It was also good to get a chance to make literal "noise" (as in the style) with the new control system, especially considering that noise had been a particularly hard thing for me to grasp all those years ago at said SHARE parties.

Overall NYC is easy to love and hate.  It is a wonderfully laid out city with tedious laws (bars shut down at 2am?! really?!)  You can hate it, but you can't hate on it.  It’s still a sick city and has earned its reputations, for better or worse.

On to Philly.  I really was looking forward to this trip.  So many great artists have come out of this city in the last 40 years!  I just wanted to see if it was something literally floating around in the air. Although my tricorder didn't detect any anomalous airborne particulates,   there was definitely a vibe.  Not unlike pre-gentrified Atlanta, circa 1993.  

I and my friend Peter Kirn rolled out of NYC on the Bus to Philly (bolt bus with Wi-Fi) and met up with the creators of Saturn never Sleeps, Rucyl and King Britt, at the restaurant part of Silk city where i proceeded to have a type-2 diabetes inducing meal that consisted of bacon wrapped hotdogs, and the best baked beans and dessert I’ve ever had!  So good i had to blog about it!!  Luckily we had a few hours before we needed to play, so during the "itis" coma-state, we all got to chat and get to know each other.

Both of our hosts were so very chilled and cool.  I felt instantly like i was somehow at home, and i felt more relaxed than usual about playing a new city and with someone whose projects i rate highly.  On this night, Britt was rocking a N.I. Maschine in live mode for the first time (he killed it) and Rucyl was doing something that i have been waiting to see from a singer for YEARS; as she sang, she was using an Akai APC40 to manipulate her live vocals.  It was very delicate and reserved in that she was able to mix in with everyone she sang with.  That coupled with Britt dropping the sub-frequencies live, they were a force and deserving of the many accolades i had heard about their set.

In amongst this line up was guitarist David Manley who was able to rock out solo-stylee, then, without a sweat, complete some of Britt’s ideas when they collabed early in the night.  This cat knows how to play to a dance floor!  I was definitely taking a few notes;-)

My set? Well, I’ve been playing around with this whole "perform from the dance floor" thing for the last few shows, since doing it for the first time at ARENA in Berlin a few weeks ago.  The stage is increasingly becoming the place where i leave my gear when i play, rather than where i play.  The effect is much more visceral which is useful because the first thing people think is that I’m a dancer with lights on my hands. From the floor, up close, they can see that i am making the music.  I feel that the effect owes something to close up magic.  Besides that, it just feels "natural".  Like you are where you are supposed to be but haven’t been able to be, for various technical reasons.  I know that i can’t do it for every show, but whenever i can, that's where i will be.

As with the TED presentation, i feel like the ideas that i wanted to get across, were conveyed convincingly.  I don't feel like i got hung up or caught in any conceptual ruts so, it was a rousing success. 

 These "idea ruts" are a problem that doesn't go away.  It’s easy to revisit established ideas that work.  But if you're not careful, you find yourself in a rut where the only ideas are the ones that "work". ie, overly predictable.  predictability is a tool, not a goal. that's why i like starting with something that is just "off" or simply doesn't work, then carving it and shaving it until it works, but in an unexpected fashion.    

 i look forward to keeping an eye out for the SnS project as it evolves.  the rumors about Philly being a heavy city populated with heavy cats is true and well deserved.

 Oh, and one more thing (to quote Steve Jobs)..

.I was just notified yesterday that my performance was selected to be part of TED.com.  So now beatjazz is a permanent part of the TED universe!

And they lived happily ever after...?

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