take a breath

I’ve been making more of an effort to pay attention to breathing. Call it mindfulness, deep relaxation, meditation – whatever it is, I’m finding how powerful and impactful it can be on my daily life. It sounds so simple, since breathing is an involuntary function. But it’s not simple, and I’m finding how important it can be during my day to take small pauses for intentional breathing as opposed to short, pressured breathing that can creep in and serve as a backdrop and vehicle for stress. I’ve casually read about the science of why the focus on breathing makes a measurable difference, but my own experience is enough for me.

This preamble really exists to plug an event happening tonight – Aquifer of the Ducts by James Allister Sprang. Tonight, James shares a 40 minute, multi chapter work that incorporates tape loops, modular synths, and sound design. It’s meant to be absorbed as a complete meditative experience.

James called me to mix and master his piece. I always try to tap into that “creative flow” while working, but for this project, I truly made an effort to monitor my breathing and physical response while working. If a change I made elicited a measurable response for me, I kept it. It’s not unlike mixing non-ambient music, but with the absence of traditional melody, harmony, and structure, keeping tabs on my response became my main measurement of how the mix was shaping up.

Aquifer of the Ducts premieres tonight. If you, like me, feel like you need a collective breath and break from anything and everything going on right now, tune in.

Nerdy tech indulgence: for most of the mix, I would automate several parameters. These could include volume, filters opening and closing, resonance, etc. For a few of the automation tracks, I spelled the word “aquifer” while handwriting the data points into the software.

we watched the moon

I’m attempting to get my website up to date, share projects that have been released during the pandemic, and practice gratitude. Let’s see if I can do it all in this post, or at least kick things off as the first in a series of updates.

I first met Drea D’Nur at the Singing Nina fest that I produced in May, 2019. Her performance, along with my friends in Rootstock Republic, was nothing short of spellbinding. She truly encapsulated the spirit of Nina Simone, which was particularly impressive considering that her voice does not resemble Nina’s one bit. Anyway, we hit it off after that performance and proceeded to work together on subsequent stagings of Dear Nina in later 2019.

So, when Drea called and asked me to travel to Buffalo to mix her album release show, I was both honored and a little intimidated. She was entrusting me to convey and deliver her sound in a foreign venue. Oh, and it was an enormous show. Drea was the center piece at the piano, but was surrounded by electric and upright bass, drums, percussion, a horn section, keyboards, backup singers, poetry, and dancers.

The performance was a complete immersive experience. Even in writing this, I’m transported back to that night (I can’t believe it was earlier this year – somehow it feels both immediate but so far away). It was an icy night in Buffalo, but the theatre was ablaze. Drea is a commanding but giving performer, and she took all of us with her that night. Thankfully, we recorded the entire show. I took the files home to mix and master. Drea released everything as a live album several months ago, so this post is long overdue. I will say this: treat yourself to all 20 minutes of “Moongazing,” you won’t regret it.