2011 is upon us and I couldn’t be happier about it. Don’t get me wrong, 2010 was far from a bad year, but the challenges, distractions, and relentless work load has lead to a perfect time for a reboot. Despite this need, I am very proud of where things have gone for Progtronica in the past 12 months. Last January the concept was just beginning to take an initial form, but needed time and experimentation to find what shape the project would end up taking. I wish I had more time this past year but learned to make the absolute most of what I had and along with molding what has become the Progtronica project, I have also refined my theory of creativity through speedy production. All too often in my musical live I have found myself in great creative projects that ended up losing all their momentum by constant tinkering to the point where no one involved liked what they heard anymore and all perspective was lost. I have taken the opposite approach: focusing on bringing an idea to some sort of finished piece in as quick a time as I possibly can, almost like a game. This often leads to things being rough around the edges, but at least I have something to show for the original idea before it is lost in creative oblivion. Nearly all of the videos I produced this past year (around 20) have been done in a single day from tracking the individual sounds, to the final video editing. What I have found consistently is that I have much more perspective on the music after a couple of weeks have gone by, and I’m usually much happier with it than I was mid-process. The main lesson for me is that the first idea is usually best, and if it isn’t I won’t come up with a better one until some time has passed and I can look/listen back to it with fresh ears and eyes.
The other aspect of what I have been doing that has become more clear to me over this past year is exactly what kind of performance I am after. Sometimes I have been working towards full Ableton controlled laptop performance using just a computer and controllers to make all the music. There are lots of aspects to this approach I find appealing and challenging. For one thing, there is very little actual gear I need to bring with me to make an immense amount of live improvised sound. Also It brings me more into the realms of the digital DJ world opening my music up to a much different audience more interested in the dance floor than the performer. This gives me the opportunity to slip my own creative ideas into a setting that might not be used to it, but is ready to hear it nonetheless. After working hard at this for most of the year though, I started bringing the focus back to my main skill, playing the drums, and using Ableton to create something of a futuristic one man band. For live performance this would bring me into different sorts of venues being that much more equipment is necessary (I can’t really set up a kit in a DJ booth) but it also has proved to be one of the more unique musical statements I have made and has regularly been met with an “I’ve never seen anything quite like that before” response which I must say I like.
In the end what I have settled on is doing a little bit of both. My goal for 2011 is not only to bring the Progtronica show to a live stage/club but to be able to do a show that works in a House club, or a rock concert and anything in-between (I’m going to try to stay away from the state fair circuit). With the freshness of the new year passing, I hope that I will be doing just that in the near future.
Cheers and Happy New Year!