Ableton Loop: A Musician's Renewal
I’m a Musician? (!)
I still get this constant nagging in the back of my mind that I’m not really a musician. That’s because I started making music in the box and as an adult. And since I didn’t start playing actual instruments until even later, this somehow disqualifies me from ever being a musician. Of course, that’s all in my mind. But honestly, the real thing that holds me back is my shyness to perform. My “origin story” tells that I was allowed to be a visual artist and scientist, … but music, performance and the ability to be social were ONLY the realm of others in my family.
As if these were divvied up in the beginning of our lives and we cannot break out of these molds.
Ultimately the only one who holds me back is me.
So, I can listen to the chatter of a few harsh comments from others ruminating in my mind.
OR I can move passed my doubts of being socially acceptable, my fears of being attractive enough, smart enough, “fresh” enough, friendly enough, or just barely weird enough (tamp it down grrrl, tamp it down). I can step outside myself for one evening, one conference, one single week, and do the opposite of what I’m comfortable with, which is being in my own studio, alone.
What’s my worst fear? Showing up. Talking. Performing. Being shamed.
I wonder how many people felt like me, walking into Loop.
I’m a Musician! (?)
Over the last few years I’ve learned a few rules about my social anxiety, and how to tamp it down.
1. Fuck it.
2. Showing up is the scariest part. Walk out the door and show up.
3. Speaking up is the second scariest, so be loud. Really be a caricature of your biggest, boldest self. It counters that “I need to run away now” feeling.
4. You can’t go wrong if you sit up front.
5. Do your damnedest to thank the speaker/host. It’s really good practice and it’s the right thing to do.
So that’s some basics on how I made it through Loop, even survived and had fun.
LOOP: The Experience
Let me start with my picky, not-so-much list:
-Meetups were too short.
-The distances between venues were long (made longer by the smoke of the air. Cough cough.)
-The overlapping scheduling of workshops.
-Lack of hangout areas with food…real food.
There’s too much to do. There’s not enough time. You will stand in line and miss a workshop. You will have to stop for lunch. You WILL experience FOMO.
Relax, and remember to breathe (indoors only). There’s always something else to do, so have your plan B and plan C ready just in case. I missed out on two sessions/workshops. However, I met really great people in line, so there’s definitely a way to make the best of wherever you are.
Some highlights for me were:
Teaching Yourself to Make Music Software
Hearing Steve Duda talk about how he created and moved Serum throughout the years was chill, yet inspiring. I think he’s going to rev more musicians to fiddle with and create their own software synths, VSTs, and other plugins. His advice was very practical, including when and where to hand off parts of your project to others.
Watching with your Ears: group improvisation with dancers
I had such fun in this workshop. Michael set up a very easy going atmosphere, and it allowed us all to experience the art of improvising off of dancers, and their movements. I took a chance by pulling out my latest “Instrument “obsession: I hook up a microphone and sing through a Mic Mechanic pedal, and a EHX Canyon pedal, in order to make my voice into a weird synthesizer. My sounds and textures were received very well. Playing with the musicians and playing off of the movement of the dancers made for one of the most from the gut, in the moment, musical things I’ve ever done. I felt a true connection to others through the music.
The Kepler Concordia Maker Workshop
Dr Kelly Snook, Monica, Margaret and the Minions with mi-mus.
I’m sure you know who Imogen Heap is. But do you know who worked with her to create the mi-mu gloves? Dr Snook, that’s who. And now She’s embarking on an even greater mission. She’s making a musical instrument based on 400 year old Astronomy calculations. Wanna help? There was a 6 hour workshop where you could dig right in. I knew I couldn’t actually do too much (I had another workshop in the middle of this one), so instead, I made myself into a “nice pest”, and asked every person at a computer station “What are you doing? How does this work?”
The Concordia project is based on scientific data, but it is romantic and cool and artistic in every way.
All around, the meetups were excellent. This was one surefire way to make quick connections with other liked minded individuals.
I’m excited about the people I’ve met more than anything else. I think this is how good things begin.