Any trip, anywhere can turn into a creative opportunity – if you pack the right stuff. So if you’re hitting the road this summer, here are some thoughts.

Adam John Williams is a media artist and maker and musician and lots of other things. But even among that rarified breed, he’s somewhat unusual. The man brings Olympic effort to hack days – one of the organizers behind Music Tech Fest and a prolific performer and inventor. As a participant at our hacklab at CTM Festival, he was applying painful shocks to himself in time with Ableton Live – and that’s just one example.

Adam is a maven among mavens, so of course peering inside his luggage is uncommonly interesting. (Don’t worry, we’ll keep it geeky.)

An image of those very contents crossed my feed as Adam headed off to Reykjavik, so I asked Adam to explain. It’s got some good tips for what to pack, as well as a window into the way he approaches each day as a chance to make something new.

Here’s what he says:

What’s in my bag?

After posting this picture whilst packing for our trip to Reykjavik, my friend Peter Kirn wanted to know what I was carrying, so I figured I’d write about what I’ve got and why.

  • MacBook Pro 15” – not the most travel-sized computer but anything smaller than this feels like a toy to me
  • Grain Audio PWS – my take-everywhere rechargeable speaker with 8 hours of battery life, and mostly wooden construction which makes it a sturdy yet beautiful object. Surprisingly excellent sound, even down into the low frequencies that are so often my home, and it was even loud enough for an small and unplanned hostel-party on my travels recently
  • NI Maschine – integral part of my production process & live setup, used with Maschine natively and also as a MIDI controller for Ableton or my standard live setup which consists of multiple instances of Reaktor running inside Max MSP
  • Panasonic GF1 – micro 4:3 mirrorless camera, great for HD video, super compact but with interchangeable lenses, such as the scuzzy little Optex VA-0310 fisheye that seems to get used on an awful lot of my videos
  • AIAIAI TMA-1 Studio – these headphones were a freebie from AIAIAI when I was invited for a play test at Fabric, and since then they’ve become the headphones that join me any time I’m going to be away from studio monitors. Loud enough to DJ with, but flat enough in response to get some actual production done whilst on the move
  • 3M MPro150 – a surprisingly good yet ridiculously tiny rechargeable pico-projector that does the usual stuff like connecting to your laptop, but also plays back video from a memory card, so it’s fun for guerrilla projection on-the-go. A personal favourite of mine is creating video of a colour-changing dance floor and shining it at the feet of confused drugged-up people in clubs
  • Zoom H4n – not the most compact flash recorder but worth the increased size because it doubles as a reasonably well-equipped audio interface, with jack/XLR inputs and 4-channel field recording using the inputs in tandem with the built-in XY mic

Then there’s of course the usual mass of cables & chargers etc. but the unifying feature of every device here is that it is either rechargeable or battery powered. Freedom from mains electricity is the key, and being able to work in any chosen medium, at any time, and in any location while traveling is paramount to my feelings of being creatively free and fulfilled.

I recently found myself taking part in a techno jam around a campfire in Umeå, Sweden after Music Tech Fest – made possible by battery powered Korg Volcas, Teenage Engineering pocket operators and a plethora of apps on the iPhones of various team members. Upon arriving in our Airbnb apartment in Reykjavik today, I found lots of interesting surfaces and objects that are just begging for some projection mapping, and thanks to the 3M pico-projector I can try it out.

I no longer want to to look back at things and think “it would have been cool to have done that”, but instead to remember that cool idea and the attempts made to realise it, regardless of whether the result was great or shit.

More of Adam. She’s not into you, apparently.

And here he is doing some lovely jamming on the wonderful (discontinued) Mutable Instruments Anushri:

Say what you will about social media. It’s like a lot of things – it’s good if you’ve got the right friends along. So thanks, Adam!

Now he’s off to