January 24, 2017 by

“Electronic Music Production and Performance” w/ Brian Dillon from Meltybrains?, week 1

So, as the self-appointed power supplyologist at myVolts, it’s my job to know the power requirements of all devices, ever. But I’m always trying to learn more about what, exactly, what devices *do*, and how users interact what they’re powering: when, where, and why.
This helps me understand new ways in which myVolts can solve the power problems that plague creative people, especially mobile ones. The best way to understand the needs of the creative is to get creating, so I’m doing just that.

Meltybrains? photos from Kiss Yourself recording sessions by Scan - www.afghaniscan.com

Meltybrains? photos from Kiss Yourself recording sessions by Scan www.afghaniscan.com

In an effort to start to educate myself in making and performing electronic music in the 21st century, I’m taking the 2-day workshop by Brian Dillon (from top Irish noise-making funsters Meltybrains?) “Electronic Music production and Performance” hosted in Block-T in Dublin 8. I had my first class this past weekend – I was excited to learn new ways to make a racket, but wasn’t sure what to expect.
Block T's new Dublin 8 home - right by where the filmed loads of The Commitments!

Block T’s new Dublin 8 home – right by where the filmed loads of scenes from The Commitments!

Brian’s taken on a big subject to tackle over just 10 or so hours, made more challenging by the varied experience levels of the participants: some have been making electronic music for years, and a couple are total novices (like me!) – but he’s doing a great job keeping it relevant, with wisdom on sound processing and sound synthesis for all.
Screengrab from my genre-defining track "wonky-2"

Screengrab from my genre-defining track “wonky-2”

The workshop is, on one hand, informative and practical, with a hyper-accelerated crash course in Ableton Live. I’ve had a couple of frustrated attempts to get to grips with Ableton myself over the last decade, never getting much further than taking an agonizing couple of hours to record some guitar badly over a few bars, then giving up and going to the pub. But this time feels different, I’m actually learning stuff, and it’s sticking.

And on the other hand, the workshop has a more philosophical bent; Brian’s asking some Big Questions, like “Is pressing the play button on a MIDI control or pad enough to constitute a performance?” and “How do you make new music without making new instruments?” – and helping us find the answers.
To inspire, we’ve watched videos of Kid Koala, BINKBEATS, and other artists I’d never heard of till last week – ear-opening stuff.


Brian also opened our minds to what defines “an instrument” by shaking a mic’d up bucket of glass and layering on effects in Live – the effect is electric (I think this might have been Kevin Shield’s secret all along), and getting moving with an XBox Kinect motion sensor video game controller, plugged into Live, mapping the body and triggering samples and sounds with a wave of a real-time arm or leg.

Brian gets Kinect

Brian gets Kinect


Our homework this week is to make a short Ableton set, thinking about it performatively as well as compositionally, for the ultimate goal of the workshop, to be constructed during next week’s session – a live performance of our set – gasp!

Update – if you want to know how I got on in day 2, click here!

Need any help with powering synths, old consoles, pedals, some old hard drive or anything else? Let me know, I’ll help! Drop me a line at caroline AT myvolts DOT com, or DM me on Twitter, I’m https://twitter.com/carolinezoids

Caroline is a leading authority on power supply adaptors. Although there's not a lot of competition, admittedly. She's been at MyVolts for more than 10 years, is Director of Operations, and works in the Dublin office.

One thought on ““Electronic Music Production and Performance” w/ Brian Dillon from Meltybrains?, week 1

  1. Pingback: “Electronic Music Production and Performance” w/ Brian Dillon from Meltybrains?, week 2 | Shameless Plug

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