Chachi Jones, in action. Did he look like he was checking his email? Yes, I’m fairly certain that’s what that egg whisk percussion instrument was for.

As digital musicianship grows, it’s critical to have places like Robotspeak. This small, basement-level music shop on San Francisco’s lower Haight is a brilliant music tech boutique by day. On regular evenings, it becomes a venue, packing in fans of genre-bending electronica. Walk off the street, and you feel like you’re in someone’s basement — someone with lots of toys and a great affection for throwing great musical parties.

I got to play Robotspeak last month on a program with some terrific players: the legendary Daedalus, armed with the prototype device that inspired the Monome, the fabulous Chachi Jones, and the sonic explorations of acoustic ensemble Pineresin. Thanks to the power of video, we can share a little bit of that performance with you, complete with discussion of the tools. Tools are not incidental, either: it’s great to see the range of ways people approach exploring sound and performance, even in this small cross-sampling of artists.

My favorite video it the outtakes, but I’ll resist the temptation to start with that — suffice to say, yes, all of us laptopists face the same problems. Be sure to look to the end for that one.

I had an incredibly great time — there’s nothing like being in a really supportive venue, one that values musicians taking some real risks. Now, the videos:

Before today’s slick-looking Monomes, there was this, more rustic, wood version. And no one can play it like virtuoso Daedalus.

May was a Maker Faire edition; I personally obliged by trying some sets that were in beta. The beautiful documentation was shot and edited by Andrew Cavette.

Peter Kirn

Ed.: That name’s familiar. Not sure why. Y’all have rightfully bugged me to put more of my actual stuff so you know what my own work sounds like, so I’ll swallow my shyness and put this first.


Chachi Jones



More Robotspeak

For more of this series, here’s the season opener:

Robotspeak’s free concert and artist Q&A series “Sessions” kicked off 2007 with a thunderous robotic belch on 01/31/07. You’ve got 0mnis0und’s Casio SK1-infused Ableton Live session with live drumming. Snareface’s MPC rocking, beer-spilling, cell phone-ignoring bleep funk. Then Puzzle’s relentless hardcore drum & bass outfitted with wah-pedals and repeater delays. Behind it all Doolittle puts a giant-breasted insect woman on a pane of glass and a psychotic weepy-eyed robot on the wall. To hear the whole show, look for Robotspeak’s audio-only podcast on iTunes.

Robotspeak Sessions 3.5 “Maker Faire” Edition, on the Robotspeak blog/magazine