The following is not a headline from The Onion or

“MSU student uses ‘Groovebox’ to create live, electronic music”

It’s surprising this hasn’t already gone viral, because it goes on from there.

Apparently the Michigan State University newspaper, The State News, is really new to this whole electronic music thing, opening, “when Cameron McGuffie took the stage Tuesday night at MSU University Activity Board’s Open Mic Night, he took not a guitar or sheet of poetry, but a peculiar gray box.”

Now, to be fair, we can easily get lost in a bubble of music tech heads and forget that a lot of people just don’t know a lot of what we know.

On the other hand, that’s Michigan State. You know, the state that has Detroit in it – a city that was doing a little something with “peculiar gray” drum machines back in the mid 80s when they sort of invented techno.

This next bit, I’m — well, not really sure what it means, actually:

McGuffie said he’s noticed a resurgence in producers rejecting “DAWs,” or digital audio workstations, in favor of mechanically-produced music, a trend he calls the “beat scene.”

“When I’m looking for gigs on Craigslist, I’ve definitely seen people asking for specifically ‘no DAWs,’” McGuffie said.

My favorite line, though, I think is this: “A lot of McGuffie’s life is currently undecided.” Yeah, Cameron, we feel you there.

Then there are other peculiarities, like the insistence on capitalizing the Groovebox, and spelling out “extended play” instead of EP.

Oh, well, it’s a college paper. And a reminder that sometimes that writing can be funnier than the parody sites.

Anyway, it is nice enough that Cameron is using the new KORG ElecTribe. And I think playing hardware and getting away from the computer (any which way, whether through standalone gear or controllers) is always fun.

And Cameron – well, we’d all like to travel with music. Best of luck.

MSU student uses ‘Groovebox’ to create live, electronic music

Thanks to @Tarekith on Twitter for the tip.

Now, I’ve made my share of embarrassing errors in my time… that time partially being this week. So I really shouldn’t criticize. But… well, let’s laugh, um, with it.

Meanwhile, significantly – the music is pretty cool! And the guy has almost no followers (so maybe we’re the only ones who read this MSU story). We can fix that by following him.

Also, of course, there is value to finding simple language. The challenge is working out what the balance is. This comic from xkcd nicely sums up why the article above might read as funny to anyone familiar with the subject matter. (Now, xkcd is even funnier as they still get information accurate – the article above is misleading in that is suggests something is novel and unique that is actually common practice in music for some decades. And it’s okay to question accuracy. Readers of this site did earlier this week when I overstated how recent the use of laptops could be.)


  • chaircrusher

    It’s the student newspaper, where the quality of writing varies widely. The University of Iowa student paper The Daily Iowan is famous for incoherent writing and typos in the main headline. It is funny though.

  • xx

    This is a cheap shot and comes off as fairly mean-spirited. You’ve got a student reporter with little familiarity with electronic music writing for an audience that that knows a lot less. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a resident of Michigan to be well-versed in one city’s musical heritage; it’s a big state.

    I love this site but I think you can do better.

    • Well, look, the intention was certainly not to be mean spirited. A reader sent this in, I found it funny, I shared it. I think if we found it amusing, it’s because it was close to home and familiar.

      It’s always strange to see the world you know reflected through a distorted mirror. And any mean-spiritedness may have been because, apart from having worked at (back to high school) student newspapers, I’ve also seen editors from publications much bigger than the MSU paper try to turn writing about music tech into something resembling the above.

      • neurogami

        “Well, look, the intention was certainly not to be mean spirited. ”

        But that’s how it comes across to a good number of people. “Comic gold”? How is that anything but an insult? If you didn’t intend the mocking tone then perhaps you should rewrite it to omit the mocking tone.

      • neurogami

        “Well, look, the intention was certainly not to be mean spirited. ”

        But that’s how it comes across to a good number of people. “Comic gold”? How is that anything but an insult? If you didn’t intend the mocking tone then perhaps you should rewrite it to omit the mocking tone.

    • foljs

      “It’s a big state” is the best you can come up with? As if there are some huge scenes in Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor or Lansing than he knows of, but just missed this whole Detroit techno thing?

      Knowing about the “city’s musical heritage” (which is the major part of the state’s musical heritage) is the least you would expect from someone writing about music in a university paper in the state. Or they could always NOT write about things they don’t know about and can’t be bothered to check, you know?

      • Blue Monster 65

        I hate to tell you this, but there’s a burgeoning electronic scene happening in Lansing/East Lansing right now and they didn’t know about that, either.

        I don’t really consider this article either a cheap shot nor not funny. It’s just “beginner” writing, done from someone who may or may not know what their assignment was, nor did they do a lot of research. That said, they certainly wrote the article for someone who knows even less about the subject.

        Bottom line: we should be able to laugh at the writing in the article without it being said anyone is making fun of anyone. I’ve got stuff in my past that’s certainly worse than this and I dare say I laugh at it myself these days! I would think most of us do.

        Finally, my only real disappointment with the article is the lack of info on what’s happening in the area (I currently live between Ann Arbor and East Lansing)! Hopefully there will be some sort of follow-up to promote not just “Kong” but others involved and where one can attend live performances.

        • Hey, I’d love more to hear what’s going on in Michigan! Fire away! 🙂

          • Blue Monster 65

            I’ve met a few people in various music stores that surprise me with the fact that they are electronic musicians (Do people still call themselves that? Or am I dating myself?) and they’ve told me about various events. The only one that is on-going that I know about is Push Beats: Lansing. (Facebook page here: From there I’ve met even more people, but most shows seem to be one-offs or house parties, which is just fine, even for an old guy like me. I’d like to see/hear more and, with the growing interest there, I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to do so. Drop promoter/musician Raj Mahal a line through that page and he’ll give you better tips, I’m sure.

          • Blue Monster 65

            BTW – Glad to know you heard from Kong himself; hopefully he’ll post some dates he’s playing as well (or show up this weekend at Push Beats).

    • Yermom

      I doubt it was meant to be a slight on a college paper reporter when in reality we know damn well that the same terrible disconnect from authentically reporting on a niche topic would be present in any similar report done by a major media outlet. The closer you are to a news story, the more you learn that you should question the validity of reporting in general.

    • Yermom

      I doubt it was meant to be a slight on a college paper reporter when in reality we know damn well that the same terrible disconnect from authentically reporting on a niche topic would be present in any similar report done by a major media outlet. The closer you are to a news story, the more you learn that you should question the validity of reporting in general.

    • This is a cheap shot that hit the nail on the head because the city of Lansing and the school within it are anything but progressive or innovative.

  • Ned Bouhalassa

    I love the part where the writer mentions the student’s upcoming CD release.

    • lala

      ^^ yes, it makes it sound even more like the onion.

  • blabh

    This is mean and not in the least bit funny.

    • Aaron Zilch

      Thank you for your opinion! Your participation trophy for “Excellence in Sensitivity” is on it’s way. 🙂

  • Petere

    Wow, a balding, douchebag 30-40something year old (Peter Kirn), whose website has gone to shit, making fun of some kid in Michigan at school? Peter you are a F-cking Loser.

    • Frank

      While i don’t support the rude namecalling and still do think the site provides valuable information i have to agree that i think the site’s new layout sucks bigtime.The fonts are barely readable and at least in Firefox the site is totally left centered/aligned with a big unused chunk of white on the right column.The previous design was soo much better.

      • I’m fairly certain the previous design wasn’t better, but we’re working to keep tuning this one.

        We tested in Firefox and I’m not seeing your issue. Can you tell me:
        – What OS you’re running?
        – What screen resolution?

        I know there are some font embedding issues we’re improving. I think in the long run you’ll like the new design.

        • Robin Parmar

          Well, I always use the latest FireFox on Windows 7 with standard screen resolutions, so blaming the software is not an option. The main menu alone uses about four different typefaces, the banner picture wastes space that I only need to scroll past, and the social media icons to the right are huge. The typeface for the main story degenerates into random pixels. The comments section is the only part that is readable and works well, but is likely unchanged from the last design. For me the previous design was significantly better. Will keep reading despite all the flaws.

          • I’m not blaming the website … there appear to be issues with Windows font embedding that suggest we didn’t adequately test our font settings, and I’m trying to get to the bottom of them.

            “standard screen resolutions”

            — that could be anything, and it’s vitally important to your perception of things being “huge”. What’s your resolution?

            I think you’ll find these aren’t fundamental design issues but things we can and will tweak over time.

          • Robin Parmar

            What I meant is that I don’t have just one resolution to report, since I use multiple computers and also change screen modes. Currently I am viewing at 1920×1080 but that’s not a dependent variable. Anyway, hope you get it sorted! I’ve used font embedding and never had the same issue… but web design is notoriously complicated.

          • Yes, something wrong with Windows font embedding specifically in Firefox. Will test.

          • Frank

            “The comments section is the only part that is readable” THIS.Kinda sums it up.And i have to emphasize how horrendous the headline font looks not only functionality wise but designwise as well.It doesn’t suit the rest of fonts or the rest of the site at all.Instead of this awkward semi-serif font at least find a non-serif font that is easy on the eyes.Please 😉

        • foljs

          The old design wasn’t better looking, but it was nicer from a functional standpoint.

    • Wait, the point of your comment was that *I* was mean?

    • Jaybeeg

      Holy crap. Peter runs an excellent and well-considered music site for over a decade, taking time to use and review gear rather than just regurgitating press releases, attend festivals and trade shows (sharing his honest impressions) and all you can do is viciously attack him anonymously in the comment section of his site because you don’t like the tone of one of his posts. Grow up.

    • foljs

      Funny use of “30-40something year old” as if it implies someone “ancient” who couldn’t understand these youngsters, when in fact it’s the student-reporter who’s out of touch with modern electronic music…

  • Frank

    OMG so you don’t realize that Wundergroundmusic IS the Onion of the music scene ?!

    It’s a PARODY SITE for god’s sake.All their content is fake and meant as satire/parody.

    • lamp

      I think that was the initial joke. Maybe you misread the first sentence.

      • Frank

        You’re right.I read it as the article was first posted on WM.
        My mistake i guess 😉

        • I have seen people repost wunderground stories thinking they’re real, though. 😉

          So, at least this is a real story. Hey his music is pretty good though.

  • Marie

    He doesn’t write for a music website — he writes for a newspaper that covers a wide variety of news and feature beats. Journalists and especially young students are taught to write under the assumption their readers aren’t familiar with all the jargon in a certain subject matter. Being from Detroit and a Michigan State grad myself, I can tell you that most people who don’t live in the city or its suburbs wouldn’t know a thing about its techno background. This kid did exactly what he was supposed to do for his audience, which was not assume they’re all from the southern, most urban region of the state. I can guarantee the MSU students from other states, other countries and the farmlands of the Upper Peninsula don’t necessarily know EP means extended play.

    Big fan of your site, but I’ll echo others who say this was in poor taste.

    • No, it’s okay of course for people not to know the history of techno or music technology (though a *lot* of information is a quick Google search away).

      But this part is worth discussing…

      It’s a question of how *do* you write to that audience? Is there a way to do it that isn’t then comical to specialists?

  • bathyscaaf

    The way the article uses “Groovebox” triggered a memory of “Me and My Rhythm Box” from the film Liquid Sky — and now I can’t get that song out of my head.

  • Steef

    Wow what’s with all the negativity here. Thought it was an entertaining article and great music from Kong. Didn’t feel the article was mean. I like cdm, it’s content and am happy with its current design. Thanks mister Kirn for putting this together every day!

    • Heh, well, I also got a chuckle out of some of the comments eventually… and wound up hearing from Kong, and now from other people in this part of Michigan!

  • adam cote

    Jeez, Commenters, lighten the f@ck up! No one was picking on the musician anyway, and the “reporter” was lame, if in fact this was in the MSU paper. Korg Electribes have been around for friggin’ 20 years. The “reporter” could have interviewed the musician. And I like the new Web design. Kudos, Peter.

  • lala

    I find this amusing to no end.
    When I first read it I thought one of the guys has hacked this together so friends & family could have laugh, lol

  • Neil

    Grooveboxes might be normal for Berlin, but you try explaining that “I’m not a DJ and I won’t be DJing and you probably won’t know any of the tunes because they’re new” in some provincial English town…

    • The United States is the largest market for those products in the world, much bigger than Germany. And those sales spread throughout the country, not just NYC, LA, etc. Wait… English town? We may have wires crossed here. 😉

  • Will

    I think this is pretty rad. It’s a student reporter and their excitement at “Wait, that’s not a guitar?” at an Open Mic reminds me of being 19-21 and constantly amazed at new things (even though most of them were, in fact, very old things).

    And I agree, Kong’s sounding pretty good! Easy to imagine the reporter being moved by it (or the dexterity involved with reproducing it live), wanting to report on it and having some professor/editor say “No, that’s not the story. The weird box is the story”.

  • Svetoslav

    You know creativity has hit a dead-end when you can’t poke fun at your colleagues, pros or not, and neither can they at your expense.

  • No one who has street cred in Detroit likes MSU. It is where all of our racist highschool jocks went to get away from losers who listen to nerd music only to realize that their career in sports would have to pivot into physical education jobs. Its about the furthest you can get from a progressive or innovative scene in Michigan while still being in an actual city. Solid Jams though, this poor kid is sorely out of place in Lansing as evident by the headline; University of Michigan however has been a hot bed for Detroit based talent, home to the likes of Matthew Dear and Todd Osborne. Please take two butthurt pills and check back in the morning. Peter may have been poking a little too much fun at this blindly, but he hit the nail on the head. Its like when a guy tries to pass the ball to a teammate but mistakenly banks it off an opposing player and it goes in the goal anyway. Cosigned and appreciated by a lifelong Detroiter.