A year ago, I had the pleasure of working with the great jazz pianist Rachel Z in my studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn. I showed her my live set-up and complained that, as a bass player, I really didn’t like to perform electronic music while standing up behind a table. She suggested that I should take the Ableton Push and mount it on my body and play it like a bass. We chatted about it and I realized it was a really cool idea.
Soon afterwards, I spent several weeks in Costa Rica and Colombia on a tour and in my spare time, I drew pictures of this Push-guitar. By the time, I got back to New York, I knew exactly how I would put it together. First, I pulled a bass into pieces. Then, I went to Home Depot and bought $18 of supplies – some clamps and some velcro and “Blinky” was born.
Blinky consists of an Ableton Push 2, a Korg nanoKONTROL 2, a Numark Orbit controller and a Keith McMillen Instruments 12 Step MIDI Foot Control. I use the Ableton Push 2 for making the music – playing it like a keyboard. The nanoKONTROL 2 is used for effects – filters and such, mutes, changing sounds and recording loops. The Orbit is used to filter the lead sounds and launch beats and clips and the KMI pedal is used to also launch loops when my hands are busy.
The programming in Ableton Live 10 is done using a lot of ClyphX Pro. On July 9th, I’ll drop another video with a more detailed explanation of the live set.
I think that we live in a really exciting time when laptops offer us unlimited sound possibilities, but the physical interfaces that we use to perform with laptops are still being developed. Blinky is just my attempt to create a digital performance interface that works for me as a bass player. I’m hoping that I can take it further than just a janky and slightly gimmicky mash-up of some controllers and prove to myself that I can create a musical experience with it that’s fun for me and hopefully to the audience as well. I also hope that it may inspire people to create their own music making interfaces that make sense for their own musical performances.
This video was recorded live on June 14, 2019 at King Killer Studios in Gowanus, Brooklyn, NYC. It’s completely built from loops created on the fly, with the exception of an ‘Amen break beat’ that I triggered at certain points in the song. The song is called ‘Prelude 4’ and it will be the first track of my upcoming record “Red Hook Sun” which will drop at the end of the summer. “Red Hook Sun” will have 5 songs composed on Blinky.
A big thanks to everyone who helped with this video: Alejandro Vega on drums and for the mix of the live version of the song ‘Prelude 4’ that we did here, Ian Elkind at King Killer Studios for engineering the session, Edgardo Parada of Shake Up Productions for shooting and editing the video and Bob Power for the mastering of the audio.
Hope you enjoy. Amor y Paz!