Inspired by playing some one-of-a-kind DIY gear at a Machines Room DIY and unusual instruments jam, I booked onto a Vulpestruments workshop run by Tom Fox. The aim - to learn about building instruments and come out with a playable 3-string in just a few hours. Little did I know it was the start of an adventure that would lead to a high tech hack at Music Tech Fest.
Legendary electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire is being celebrated with a day of events in Manchester on Saturday 12th January, including specially-commissioned new music that will also be played in other cities too.
Sound Designers ModeAudio have launched a competition with Kitmonsters to win some of their great Sound Packs! They’ve had amazing reviews for creating some of the best samples, loops, patches and presets in the business, praised for their quality and style. They’re designed to integrate with your favourite software and include MIDI data and project files.
There’s been a big development in Apple’s GarageBand app, that’s opened up a whole load of exciting new musical horizons. You can now join your favourite apps up and record them into GarageBand for the first time. We checked it out with Yellofier and made some tunes.
Music Tech Fest is back, from 29-31 May in Umeå, Sweden. With the latest in music tech, plus performance, a hack camp and jam sessions, it’s another don’t miss event. Artists already confirmed include Scanner, Laura Kriefman with Guerilla Dance Project, and Kenneth Alewine’s Performing Melancholia, a visual music experiment with an automaton. Exciting new band merch technologies, sound artists, instruments and digital platforms are all featured too, and tickets are free. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Music Tech Fest Paris to give you a feel for what to expect.
The second, and sellout Music Tech Fest had a huge buzz about it. Mike Skinner (The Streets, The D.O.T.) sent over his latest aiff files, RCA Records supplied a load of stems for the Music Hack Camp hackers to play with, and there were amazing speakers. There was so much new stuff to do, see, hear and think about that we’re doing a separate blog for each day. Here are some of our highlights from Day 1, including Alex Allmont’s Lego sculptures that play rhythms, EMI’s strategies for artists, and live performances.
It promised a lot and delivered even more - the ReVu Video Editor app launched to massive acclaim, even from an audience of cutting edge musicians and technologists. It gives you quick fix video editing for iPhone, iPad, and GoPro cameras, and Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) was one of the Beta testers.
We bring you the third day and final installation of our coverage of Music Tech Fest London 2014. It is safe to say we were completely blown away by the variety of innovation in all the projects. It was also particularly exciting to see the results of the Hack Challenges, both with adults and young people alike. The tender age of some of the participants was by no means a barrier to their creativity and technical abilities!
We had a great look at the latest from Chirp when we were at Music Tech Fest Scandi. Chirp is like a sonic barcode - it sings data and lets you share links, pictures, payments and more between devices, using the Chirp app. Currently crowd-funding through Crowdcube, we talked to founder Patrick Bergel and iOS developer Manabu Shimada about the new Chrome extension, Chirp Composer, future plans, and their SoundCloud hack at MTF Hack Camp.
The 2013 Music Tech Fest was an incredible event, especially on the final day when the Music Hack Camp awards were presented, with hacks ranging from new instruments to a remix. Here are some of our highlights from Day 3, including Ableton’s new Push instrument, and guitars and synths made from ‘upcycled’ computer game instruments. The sessions were filmed and the videos are on the main Music Tech Fest site. We will be bringing you a second report as there was so much going on!
Day Two of Music Tech Fest Scandi - the festival of music ideas - in Umeå, Sweden, included the launch of new music format TJAY, an amazing performance from Graham Massey, Scanner and Jason Singh, plenty of new music tech and hacking. The next Music Tech Fest is #MTFCentral and takes place in Ljubljana, Slovenia 18-20 September.
SO YOU WANT A DISTORTION FOR YOUR GUITAR/SYNTH/DRUM MACHINE/BAG PIPES whatever. This is a good place to start.
There’s an exciting musicians’ conference coming up in London on 6th July, and you can get free tickets. The What’s Next Musicians’ Conference is a worldwide series of events organised by Line 6, Topspin Media and industry leaders, to talk about cutting edge tech and ideas, and give tips and info to musicians. Kitmonsters is hosting a session at the London event called ‘Promote Yourself’, with music industry experts giving advice on promotion and social media.
Pulling together The Woodentops’ tapes for their new album, sounds like some kind of knightly quest - with tasks ranging from hunting down lost dance mixes by legends such as Arthur Baker, to oven-baking fragile masters. The indie dance rock gurus have launched the 3-CD set ‘Before During After’, on One Little Indian Records, to great reviews, and there’s a new album due in 2014.
Animations, an app battle, new instruments and even a new genre - Gunk (geek punk) were all vying for attention as Music Tech Fest day 2 progressed.
We got our hands on a new Apple MacBook Air 11” to put through its paces, and find out how you can use it to cover your musical bases from making through to performing.
Music tech startup Vochlea have been creating a big stir with early previews of its Dubler Studio Kit - grime star Novelist is already a fan - and launched a Kickstarter campaign.. Now Vochlea has just won the Web Summit Music Tech Innovation Award for the Dubler, which is available on pre-order.
The iRig Mic Field promises to make field recordings rock - whether they are band videos, music recordings, or audio of things in fields. We tested it in different situations and found it to be a brilliant and compact piece of kit, great for all kinds of high quality field recordings.
The second day of Music Tech Fest 2014 kicked off in true hybrid style, and featured exciting collaboration, innovation and experimentation.
Like a music innovation adrenaline shot, Abbey Road Studios launched music tech incubator scheme Abbey Road Red with a bang. The night included a groundbreaking first project, a standout performance featuring Matthew Herbert, and a chance to get hands on with some great gear, all showcased in the historic Studio 2 where The Beatles recorded.
Graham Dunning’s Mechanical Techno is a masterpiece - he has played Boiler Room Live in London, Music Tech Fest in Berlin, and his demo video has had over a million views. Graham works in art, music and sound, and shared the inspiring story of Mechanical Techno at a packed Music Hackspace.
Vuvuvultures’ music is very much a combination of experimenting with sound in the studio, and the live energy of writing and performing an actual song. As a result we always found playing live to be a bit of a challenge as in order to incorporate the sounds we had made in the studio we tended to have to use a backing track.
The second day of the amazing Music Tech Fest was full of surprises. Here are some of our highlights including new instruments such as The Seaboard Grand, music economy inspiration from Brazil, performances and very practical band help. All the while Music Hackers were mixing top bands’ stems, cocktails, and coding. Our report from Music Tech Fest - Day 1 is here.
Music Tech Fest London 2014 launched with an incredible mix of technology, performance and probing of the future of the music industry. With everything from brain hacking to playable interactive artist merchandise, wearable tech and new business models, it was a compelling first day.
We’ve been at NAMM 2014, the leading music gear show, that takes place in Anaheim in California. We’ll be bringing you choice cuts of some of the 5,000 brands that were exhibiting, and a taste of the exciting instruments and technologies that lie in wait for the coming year. Here are some early highlights and short videos from the preview day. Follow us on twitter, and check out Facebook for more updates.
Tagging – that nightmare point in your upload when you have to pin yourself down. Some places give you wiggle room as a musician, others are more prescriptive. How do you make the most of the process? When Matthew Hawn, Last.fm’s VP Product, gave a cutting edge talk on tags at the amazing Digital Shoreditch festival, we were all ears. You need to know this stuff and not just in relation to Last.fm.
Music Tech Fest is back, bigger and more exciting than ever - taking place in Stockholm in partnership with KTH Royal Institute of Technology. With Creative Labs, Performances, Demos, in Conversations and Family activities, there’s something for everyone at this festival of innovation and experimentation, including Imogen Heap launching her Mycelia World Tour, work from Scanner, Robyn, Lula Mebrahtu and more. Tickets for the public days 7-9 September are available from the Music Tech Fest website.
Design guru Scott Summit and 3D Systems’ Abe Reichental whipped up a storm when they launched the world’s first 3D printed acoustic guitar. Scott is an award-winning industrial designer who counts Apple, Nike, and Palm among his clients at Summit ID, and is known for revolutionising the world of medical prosthetics. Yet he loves playing guitar, has been in bands, and recorded albums. We had an in-depth chat with him at London’s 3D Print Show where he was showing his instrument designs, and he told us about building the acoustic prototype, spectral analysis of The Clash’s London Callling, and future plans for democratizing production.
For the most part, guitars are very much like people: it is generally agreed that it isn’t a great idea to open them up unless you know what you’re doing. I’m no surgeon, so it is with a growing sense of horror that I find myself sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by the body parts of my beloved. However, it is the aim of this series of blog posts to share my reflections on the murky world of guitar customization and hopefully inspire others to experiment themselves, rather than scare everyone off with cautionary tales of instrument-murder.
Artist, producer and WITCiH founder Bishi put together an amazing live stream performance with the Volta XR team, for Amazon Music on Twitch. It stunned viewers, who were responding on live chat, and was created using cutting edge code and technology. We spoke to Bishi and to Volta XR’s Alex Kane and Yuli Levtov about how the collaboration worked, and asked for their advice for artists wanting to use VR. There’s also info on how you can become a Volta beta tester!
Bishi’s incredible WITCiH Summer Salons are a magnet for talented innovators, and the June edition was a classic, with amazing insights from Imogen Heap, Bishi and Rachel Wingfield from Loop.pH. The next salon is on Wednesday 12th July at The Barge House in London with Rebekah Ubuntu, Jenn Kirby, Bishi and Kat Five.
We managed to get hold of one of chillwave pioneer Neon Indian’s mini analog synths a while back. It was so exciting, but the PAL198X came in bits and we wimped out of putting it together for far too long. The synth was designed by Neon AKA Alan Palomo and the wonderful Bleep Labs, and Alan held a competition for PAL sounds. A rainy Sunday afternoon in London and we set to work.
Can walls make waves? Well the thought-provoking #PlayThisWall has been making friends at festivals and events across Europe, with its great electronic sounds. It has even made an appearance with Music Tech Fest at the #Horizon2020 #H2020Future conference at the EU Commission. It’s a double sided wall musical interface by sound artist Run Dreamer, and we asked him to tell us all about it.
Attila Haraszti aka Rawfare has hacked SoundCloud by creating an innovative interactive track that’s rave-inspired and changes according to the plays. He’s passionate about creating new ways for artists to get more influence over social platforms and we interviewed him about the SoundCloud ‘Pipo’ track and his other exciting projects.
We’ve checked out a brilliant new app for making lyric videos easy. It’s called Superstring and it’s the first app by new tech company Simplest Ways. Making any kind of music video can be tough on resources and time. Lyric videos are a great way to get your music on YouTube, and they’re popular with fans who want to be able to sing the songs. We asked London indie electro band Feral Five to give Superstring a try on their new single Strung Out.
SO YOU WANT A DISTORTION FOR YOUR GUITAR/SYNTH/DRUM MACHINE/BAG PIPES whatever. This is a good place to start.
ROLI has just launched the Seaboard RISE and it’s a dream to play. A groundbreaking, beautiful, and sleek piece of design with unique features, that’s the most affordable expressive MIDI controller and instrument yet.
While the Apple Music launch has been attracting a lot of attention, Apple has also just put out a new version of GarageBand for Mac with features aimed at dance and hip-hop music-makers. These include new loops, patches and drum kits as well as the ability to share from GarageBand straight to Apple Music Connect via the iOS app.
The latest new instrument to catch our eye is TouchKeys, currently going down a storm on Kickstarter. It turns a piano-style keyboard into an expressive multi-touch control surface, using sensors and software to give you power over pitch, volume and more on any individual key. It gives you a range of new sounds, and you can use it with synth emulations too. You can fit it on your own keyboard or buy one ready-made. We talked to creator Andrew McPherson.
The final day of Music Tech Fest Scandi - the festival of music ideas - in Umeå, Sweden, was both inspiring and thought-provoking. It saw kids hacking, new instruments for more accessible music-making, the Hack Camp awards, and some memorable performances including LJ Rich mixing it up with cocktail master Emil Åreng.
The Music Production Show at Emirates Stadium in London is a hot ticket - the global launch of Steinberg’s Cubase 7 is a huge draw, but there is plenty more on offer. We went along on the first day with Paul Rez - Producer, multi-instrumentalist, acclaimed ‘Analogue Witchcraft’ sample library creator and Vuvuvultures band member, to check out the latest kit. The event runs today - Saturday - too.
The iRig Mic Studio is another IK Multimedia triumph - a beautifully-engineered, super compact, high quality USB condenser microphone that’s great to use.
Olaf Diegel is the world’s 3D Printed Guitar guru, marrying innovative structures and designs, with tried and tested guitar hardware. His highly customisable 3D Printed guitars made with 3D Systems caused a sensation at the 3D Print Show in London, and will be shown at The Namm Show in California for the first time this year. We talked to Olaf about his plans for 2013 and heard about some amazing new ideas.
It’s always great to see something truly innovative, and today sees the launch of REV, designed by Gregg Lehrman and his team at Output. It’s going to get producers, composers and artists really excited - saving hours of time - as it offers you tons of instruments, loops, rises, pads, pulses, and swells all in reverse, in real time. Not to mention the supersonic stutters!
Ableton has announced the immediate release of the new Push, alongside Live 9.5 – a free update for all Live 9 users. It’s inviting owners of the original Push to take part in a trade-in that offers a saving on the new version, plus Ableton is introducing Link, a new technology that lets you play in time with multiple instances of Live and a growing number of iOS apps.
The groundbreaking Nuraphone headphones are tailored to your hearing and give a breathtakingly deep and different listening experience. They’re a more than worthy recipient of a CES award this year, for Best of Innovation in the headphone category, and we’re sure there will be more honours to come.
The first Music Tech Fest, run by Ravensbourne College and Stromatolite in London gathered sound gurus, hackers and musicians together to make, talk and play. From synth legend and 3D sound designer Martyn Ware (The Human League, BEF, Heaven 17) to the dance demon that is Coldcut/Ninja Tune’s Matt Black, and new app designers, minds were well and truly expanded, if not blown! There’s even a free Synaesthesia app.
Saint Agnes set out to thrill - whether it’s stunning raw rock n roll live shows, putting their blinding new single Sister Electric out on lathe cut vinyl, or merch that’s a special ‘The Fuzzy Agnes’ hand-built effects pedal.
Guitars are very important to me. I have spent a large portion of my time and emotional energies in guitar stores, looking for the new, novel and personal. It is this fascination that brought me to Tim Van Tassel’s house in Golden Valley, Minnesota. My girlfriend’s family comes from Minneapolis and we were going to see them. Our journey planned for August, I picked up the phone and called Tim out of the blue. I said I was a fan of his work from England and wanted to help out, could we meet? He seemed keen though a little surprised and frankly I felt the same. I could sense that feeling familiar to guitar fiends of being reeled in on the hook that one has baited.
Martyn Ware launched the stunning “Tales From The Bridge” in July, a 3D soundscape collaboration covering the length of the Millennium Bridge in London. The mesmerising piece was commissioned by the Mayor of London for the London 2012 Olympics. We filmed behind the scenes - with riggers more used to rock stadiums, dangling over the Thames - and asked Martyn how he and the team, including Grammy winning composer Eric Whitacre, and poet Mario Petrucci, created the work. There’s more from Martyn on making his Human League and Heaven 17 hits on our bands page.
Our favourite festival - Music Tech Fest - celebrates its 10th Edition in Berlin 27-29 May, with an amazing line up of performers, technologists, hackers and industry. It’s a giant creative laboratory and festival of music ideas, taking place at the legendary Funkhaus studio complex, and we’ve got a great discount on tickets for people on our mailing list.
I don’t often talk much about what I do or why I do it. I’ve tried to avoid any sort of personal theology and let the instruments just talk for themselves. But this past weekend I attended Music Tech Fest in the wonderful city of Ljubljana in Slovenia and it’s made me re-think a lot of things.
Gerard went to the Apple Store in Regent Street, London, for an event with Liam Howe:
“This was my first Apple Store event. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was pleasantly impressed. If you are at all curious about an artist or product, in this case Logic Pro X and Liam Howe (Sneaker Pimps, Lana Del Ray, FKA Twigs etc) I’d definitely recommend attending an event.”