Getting Inside Music

I’ve been doing a few trips and events recently with my work and outside of work. Its really helping me to think about the things I am interested in musically and ways I’d like to think about making and releasing my own music. Something which I think I may be finally ready to begin as a process.

A while back I did a talk at Secret Garden Party with Dr Gianna Cassidy. Gianna was spoke about the roles that music plays in peoples lives, its emotional importance and how involvement in music can create numerous psychological effects. I was demoing some of the apps we develop at RjDj. We set up a ‘faceoff’ situation where we invited 5 volunteers to come up and play out a track on the Rj Voyager iPad app, the crowd deciding the two finalists. Then we did the playoff with the RjDj Moovz app. It was great fun and the participants really got into it. The crowd was rooting for them and went pretty wild on the winning performance.

What was really great about this was how the apps augmented a group of peoples musical reach, so they could entertain an audience and compete as if they were experts. It was personally a really emotional experience to see people feeling the freedom of musical expression using musical frameworks I had designed.

A week later I was at Field Day festival. Not speaking this time, but wandering the ( unfortunately hipster infested ) gigs. There were some great acts there. Here is a little vid I made and edited ( like a hipster ;) ) on my iPhone :

Matthew Herbert stood out in particular. I think what I liked was how, whilst setting up, he looked like a totally geeky balding bloke you’d pass on the way to work ( sorry Matthew but I guess it resonates with me too ;) ). Once the performance started – he ran out of a tent on stage and turned into a mad scientist of sound, constantly on the edge of losing control over his insane musical experiment. There was always real danger of a total mess up involved, but also a willingness to allow technology to augment his human abilities massively, or even allow the technology to run away on its own sometimes.

A while ago I saw him at Resound at the Barbican. It was a pretty stunning gig and great collision of composed music and improvisation :

Resound featuring Matthew Herbert Big Band with Eska from British Council Music on Vimeo.

At Field Day it was really interesting to me to hear James Holden playing this track by Cosmic Baby. It really sent me back to the early 90s when I first heard it at Club Dog and Oscillate. During that era it really felt to me like huge musical horizons opened up. Its interesting that a DJ known for an edgy progressive sound referred to that 18 year old track.

We also did a quick visit to my parents place. Here my recently retired Dad is setting up his dream shed. This instinct is clearly something he passed on to me. It was really great to see his set up, which still out geeks me, and is certainly much more organised. It was great to twiddle the dials of his radio kit. I really liked the combination of distance and intimacy, noise and music : 

A week or so later and myself and @kocicenka were off on a well deserved holiday to Czech Republic.


It really gave me some time to think. In the dark forests around the lake Lipno and rolling fields of Moravia it felt easier to classify the things about various types of music which I like and things which I actually dislike. I even sat down and made a list of them using  Ommwriter. This may seem pedantic and overtly cerebral, but I think it really helped me.

Whilst we were there, I also showed some RjDj Moovz scenes to @kocicenka ‘s  father. To my astonishment he spent over an hour playing with it, really engaged in navigating the music physically. It really blew me away.

Around this time we had just launched RjDj Moovz and started a competition with Chiddy Bang. I met up with them in London just before the holiday and filmed this, which was also a really great moment when they started freestyling over the music :

Immediately on our return it was Music Hackday London. This was an interesting event that turned out some great hacks. Especially Jim Purbricks Disco Snake.

Whilst at the event I had great discussions with a lot of really interesting people. One of the most fascinating was Kelly Snook, who is a research scientist at NASA and studio manager for Imogen Heap. We had a wideranging discussion about music interaction and understanding of meaning through sound. She showed us a wonderful sonification of the mandlebrot set, which may or may not be here ( im not sure if its public )

A week or so later, we found ourselves at a launch party for Justine Pearsall’s ‘Everything In-Between‘ documentary made about the making of Imogen’s grammy award winning album Ellipse. It felt like a great privelidge to see that story and the magical place of its creation. It was very inspiring to see Imogen’s artistic process and journey through making the album, and I think the DVD will be a great inspiration to lots of artists.

I also had a brilliant chat with Tim Exile. He is a hilarious chap and really thinks progressively about music. His live work is stunningly interactive and progressive. He also has some fascinating perpectives on interactive music so its always great to talk with him.

After all this it was time to zoom off to the bi-annual RjDj offsite in the Austrian alps. As always the discussions with that gang were crazy and inspiring. We also went on some hikes through some truly stunning countryside. Most of the RjDj gang are much fitter than me ( something I’m trying to rectify aided by Epic Win App ) but I didn’t mind as I split off and had some calm solitary moments like this :

Again, these kind of moments gave me a bit of time to think about music and what I’d like to do. I’m going to try to fit it into all the other stuff Im very lucky and happy to be doing. Anyway. I’m going to do another blog post about this project once it all gets a bit less fluid :)


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