At 33 years old, with a background in visual arts (art school, photography degree, subsequent painting, exhibiting, and even occasionally selling my art work), my unceasingly needy little mind decided, upon little more than a whim, that it absolutely had to learn to play piano. At this point, I had already been dabbling in music software, since I’d been looking into creating my own background music for some art projects and videos, so I already owned a MIDI controller keyboard with full sized keys, and was aware of the music lessons available for free in GarageBand (which, by the way, are pretty good as a starting point, and if you do have a Mac and any sort of inclination to learn to play guitar or piano, are well worth going through). So, that’s where it started.
I learned guitar to a reasonable standard as a teenager, and have learned to (sort of) play the ukulele in the past couple of years, so I haven’t come to music entirely out of the blue. I was surprised, though, to find that I took to a keyboard much more comfortably than I’ve ever felt with stringed instruments, and that became a bit of a gateway drug not only to more sophisticated equipment, but also to the hows and whys. From reading about sound synthesis, basic electronics, and MIDI, to discovering and re-discovering music from the 70s onwards, and opening up my entire life to a fascinating new world.
Coupled with the many friends I have who play electronic music, the fact that the majority of the music I listen to is synthesiser/electronic based, and my general interest in technological shiny toys, my dabbling with software synths soon led to a desire to have something physical under my fingers. I found a Novation MiniNova on eBay for a bargainous price, and an Arturia MicroBrute not long thereafter. Since then, I’ve reshuffled gear; finding cheap used kit on eBay, selling what I didn’t quite ‘mesh’ with, hunting down free software and bundled deals, and nearly a year on, have a setup I’m happy with, which promotes inspiration, and which should be a solid basis for live performance when I’m ready.
When I become interested in something new, I do have a tendency to make it my entire life for a short while. On the down side, this means my other interests (and occasionally such luxuries as eating, sleeping and doing the laundry) get sidelined. It all evens out over time, though, and the huge plus side is that I learn a hell of a lot, in a short time, and I do tend to question everything.
Now, it’s begun to even out, and I’ve spent time wondering where I want to take this, and how I can incorporate it into the visual art I create. So, what began as a placeholder for the music I wanted to learn to produce, to accompany some already written verse has grown in ambition. Eventually, I want the project to encompass sound, imagery and the written word, to create something akin to a full installation piece – originally with the aim of basing it entirely virtually, but more recently, I’ve started to come round the the idea that maybe performing live isn’t going to be the horror I once imagined.