I’m a producer/bassist and music technologist based in Brooklyn, New York working under the name CØm1x. My background is as a bass player. I grew up in Boston, MA and began studying classical piano at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School at the age of 5. Since my mother is Nicaraguan, I listened to a variety of music growing up, from Salsa to Chopin. At the age of 13 I met the electric bass and fell in love. By 17, I was playing jazz gigs around Boston and hanging out in clubs as often as I could.
1992 – Live at Tuesday’s ice cream shop, Brookline, MA – our weekly gig that summer. With Ryan MacMillan and Michael Geher.
I went to Harvard University where I studied American History, however, I spent most of my time playing jazz, gospel and funk in various groups around Boston. I came to NYC after college to be a session bass player and studied with master bassists John Pattitucci, Matthew Garrison and Lincoln Goines at the Bass Collective. Since then, I’ve had the fortune of performing and touring as a bass player (and keyboardist) with some great artists at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to bizarre underground Brooklyn parties.
2006 – Backstage with Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson of the B-52’s where I played bass for Peter Gabriel’s 2006 Witness Concert at NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom.
From the late 90’s when I first came to the city, I began playing in groups that merged digital and acoustic instruments together and playing underground parties like SqueezeBox. In those days, we basically played along with giant Akai Samplers. Laptops were too unstable and weak to be used for live performance. Yet, at these underground parties, many of them part of NYC’s queercore parties like the Homocore party that took place at CBGB’s, I saw some of the most cutting-edge merging of live and electronic sounds of that time.
In post-9/11 NYC, the scene shifted to Brooklyn and as the live keyboardist with Stellastarr* ,I was fortunate to be part of the amazing musical environment of Williamsburg in the 00’s. Bands like TV on the Radio, The Scissor Sisters, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD SoundSystem, The Brazilian Girls, Shy Child, The Bravery, The Juan MacLean, etc. etc created a new sound merging electronics and live instruments.
In 2004 as the musical director for Xavier, an incredibly talented singer produced by Babydaddy of the Scissor Sisters, I began to use the then brand new Ableton Live software to incorporate Babbydaddy’s productions into our live set. In 2005, Xavier’s label, Virgin, sent him to Berlin to play Berghain, which was brand new, and we chose to bring just him, drums and me on a laptop. That show at Bergain was the first time I used Ableton in a live show and I was hooked. We played with many groups in NYC’s mid-00’s electro scene including the Brazilian Girls and the Juan MacLean.
The drummer in Xavier’s band Ken White and I were fixated on the possibilities of Ableton Live and merging digital and acoustic instruments. In 2006, we founded Comandante Zero (CØ) as a bass/drum/electro-funk duo. Between 2006 and the present we have performed in the US, Europe and South America, both as our own entity and as a rhythm section for other groups. In doing so, we’ve developed various techniques for merging acoustic and electric instruments. Currently, we play as a trio, our third member being the digital visual artist Øh1ØM1ke.
Working with CØ got me interested in production as well. We had the privilege of working with Grammy-winning engineer Bob Power on our 2009 E.P ‘Slouching Towards Babylon’ and he encouraged me to dive into this world. At this point, I do a pretty significant amount of production, mixing and remixing, both on my own material and for clients at my studio in Gowanus Brooklyn. You can check out some of it on my Soundcloud page.
I am presently faculty at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music which is a part of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where I teach courses on electronic music production using Ableton Live, including its uses for live performance. From 2010 – 2016 I was a senior instructor and Director of International Programs at the cutting-edge DJ/electronic music institute Dubspot here in New York City. I am also an Ableton Live 8 and 9 Certified Trainer.
I am the founder of the Brooklyn Digital Conservatory and I do worldwide workshops on the use of Ableton Live, especially on production and integrating it with live instruments. In the past two years, I have presented and performed at such places as Harvard University, Sonar (Barcelona), The Together Festival (Boston), Festival Internacional De La Imagen. (Colombia), DJ LAB (San Jose, Costa Rica), The Centro Cultural de España in Mexico City (Mexico) the Universidad de Santiago (Chile), the Strøm Festival (Copenhagen, Denmark), The International Museum and Library of Music (Bologna, Italy), IATEC and AIMEC in Brazil. I also currently consult with artists, musical and theatrical groups on using Ableton Live for production and incorporating it into their live shows.
I also currently curate New York City’s largest Ableton User Group at Brooklyn’s ShapeShifter Lab. It is a free and open monthly group that features presenters who specialize in techniques for merging live instruments and visuals with digital instruments.
In the spring 2016 I also developed a solo live generated digital music set using Ableton, the Ableton Push and various other acoustic and synthesized instruments.
My current fascination, and a main topic of this blog, is the integration of acoustic and digital instruments in live performance. I believe that the laptop is the instrument of the 21st century, just as the electric guitar defined the sound of the late 20th century. I also believe that as the technology develops, the laptop will become as responsive to the subtleties of human touch, even with pre-recorded sounds, as a violin is now. Furthermore, I believe that musical performances will eventually be as much visual as sonic performances in many cases and the visual and musical will be increasingly tied together, so that as the performer creates music, they will “play” the visual element. Finally, I believe that we are moving towards a time when we shift away from the model of active performer/mostly passive audience. The audience will have an increasingly important role in the musical/visual spectacles of the future.
I’m also quite interested by the proliferation of digital music-making technology throughout the world, even to areas where it was previously unfeasible for most artists to ever imagine making a record, never mind distributing it globally. Now an artist in Guatemala City can post a track that can be heard in Tokyo and shared with a friends in London and Capetown. Artists will no longer be divided by access to technology distribution and foreign music, but only by their individual skills at songwriting and producing. It already amazes me how digital music is a global culture with a global audience and I love listening to local variations of it worldwide.
Peace & Love/Amor & Paz