Thursday, 26 April 2012

Darren Percival on The Voice Australia

It's been terrific to see one of my favourite looping artists Darren Percival, a.k.a. Mr Percival featuring on 'The Voice' Australia.

I've been a fan of Darren's for a few years now and have seen him perform live on a couple of occasions. Let me tell you, he is a GREAT performer and I think the format of the show will suit him perfectly.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Welcome To The Blog

Well, welcome to my Vocal Live Looping blog.

Ever since I saw Kid Beyond's famous youtube clip I've been fascinated with applying looping technology to the voice. I'd seen loop based artists a couple of times before, but that clip really captured my imagination.

I've been singing for years, but there's just something monastically cool about standing on stage with a mic and a controller and conjuring full musical arrangements out of thin air.

For those who haven't seen Kid Beyond, over the next few months I'll post  mini-bio's on him and many others who've inspired me in some way.

So, after picking my jaw up off the floor, I decided this was something I definitely had to do, and set about making my own looping rig.

My ideal rig would have to tick a number of boxes.
  • I wanted to develop a looping setup that was powerful in features and flexible in application.
  • I wanted to make my setup largely invisible to the audience, so as to avoid being the looper hunched over his rig, twiddling knobs. Technology is fun, but it can sometimes act as a barrier to performance.
  • I chose to limit myself to manipulating my voice only. This meant developing a broad enough sonic pallet to create an engaging and musically satisfying sound.
  • Of lesser importance, but still part of my thinking, was keeping things inexpensive. Some costs can't be avoided, but much of my setup is based around open source applications and relatively affordable hardware.
The has been plenty of trial and error involved. I've taken the scenic route to get to my current rig, and it remains in a constant state of flux. I doubt you ever really finish these things, so I'm always open to improvements (and there's room for plenty.)

This blog will primarily focus on the route I've taken into looping rather than the broader topic of looping in general. Hopefully you'll find it of some interest.

I'm no guru, but I've picked up a few things along the way and I figure you never stop learning, so feel free to join in the conversation.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Kimbra - Plain Gold Ring

I absolutely love this performance by Kimbra of the Nina Simone classic 'Plain Gold Ring'.

The clip is from a live set she did at Sing Sing Studios in 2010.

She's currently touring the US from March to July. She will be both performing with Gotye and doing some headlining shows at well.

You can check out where to find Kimbra on tour and catch up with any news at her blog

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Looping Artists - Dub FX

Many people would have got their first taste of Live Looping by seeing one of Dub FX’s excellent performance video’s filmed by Ben Dowden. They give a pure and unadulterated view of one of his unforgettable street performances and at the time of writing this article, the clip posted below had racked up a staggering 13 Million views on YouTube alone.
Dub FX (real name Benjamin Stanford) hails from Melbourne, Australia, but it wasn’t until he made the move to Manchester in the UK that he really began to make a name for himself.

Finding himself in such a musically diverse environment was a revelation to him, as he began to absorb grime, dub step, jungle etc. and find his own musical voice for the first time.

Busking on the streets of Manchester gave him the chance to explore his ideas on live looping, developing an innovative and well rehearsed approach. In his own words; "One day busking on the street is like six months practicing in your bedroom".

His original songs incorporate elements of a variety of musical genres, notably hip hop, reggae, grime and dub step.

Dub uses a setup based on BOSS gear.
“I originally started out with the Akai Headrush pedal as my loop pedal with a GT-6 guitar pedal as my effects. I had been experimenting with the effects pedal for a few years in bands and one day stumbled across Mal Webb, who also uses the Headrush. He totally opened my brain to the possibility of looping and how powerful the voice alone can be. I knew that combining it with the GT-6 could be something different and cool. Eventually I found out about the BOSS RC-50 and the new GT-8 came out so I saved up and bought them both at once. This was awesome because it meant I could send the tempo between the pedals via MIDI, making my performance cleaner and tighter with all of the delays and oscillators. Nowadays, I have the GT-10 as my effects pedal... ...but the hardware isn't what makes the performer good. It just gives you a different set of boundaries to help you get a sound.”
More recently Dub has been involved in the setup of Convoy Unlimited, an independent artist collective, bringing together a collection of like minded creative individuals. You can score product from Dub FX there, as well as the other Convoy artists so why not drop on by and give them your support.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Looping Artists - Kid Beyond

Some years ago Kid Beyond a.k.a. Andrew Chaikin released a great video on his looping setup he based around Ableton Live.
This was the video that lit a fire in me and really kicked me into action.

He honed his skills in acapella group The House Jacks which he co-founded in 1997, and has toured with the likes of Buckethead and Imogen Heap.

He seems to have gone a bit quiet lately, but I love what this guy does.

He released his EP 'Amplivate' in 2006. It's on iTunes and is well worth checking out.

Software Loopers #1 - Möbius

After scouring the web for looping tools, I stumbled upon Möbius.

This terrific piece of software is the creation of Jeff Larson; a developer based out of Austin, Texas. It began life as a virtual representation of the Gibson Echoplex, but has since moved on to become one of the most flexible and adaptable loopers available.

In an amazing spirit of generosity, Jeff offers Möbius to users completely free. The only thing users are requested to do is report any problems and submit feature requests for the applications continued development. 

From the site:
“Möbius is software for the real-time creation of audio loops. It was inspired by the venerable hardware loopers of the past, but moves beyond them in many powerful and exciting ways. You can think of Möbius as 8 synchronized stereo loopers that can be used in any combination with extensive MIDI and computer keyboard control. Loops may be saved to and loaded from files.  A powerful scripting language allows you to create macros or customize Möbius to support your unique style of performance.”
Möbius is available for both Windows (XP and Vista) and OS X (10.4 or higher).  It can be run standalone, as a VST plugin, or as an Audio Unit plugin on OS X.  

I can’t recommend this application highly enough, its feature set and continued development are second to none. I’d suggest, that if you too find it to be as great as I have, then go over to Circular Labs and make a donation. I’m sure it would be appreciated by Jeff and would assist him in the ongoing improvement of Möbius.

Link to Circular Labs

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