Lvrgrl’s Weblog

Hello Ladies
April 17, 2009, 5:48 pm
Filed under: art, music

A friend asked me to volunteer art direct for an Au Revoir Simone music video shoot at Brooklyn’s Bell House. The first music videos they made for the band a few years back was a beautiful and misty romp through the woods that ended with the ARS girls fishing for their keyboards off the side of the a dewy dock, so I said yes. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into and I think the other boys and the girls on the crew may have known even less.

The girls were fresh faced, bright eyed and on set hours before the cameras were turned on. While picking outfits, doing hair and making up, they conducted the business of being three friends in a band careful to accommodate each other in every way possible while rising step by step to the top of their game. Gold and purple tee shirts have to be made, opening bands must be chosen, fans must be responded to and it all must be done together with ease and success. Tres impressive.

Without giving too much away, the idea was a create a stop motion merry-go-round sort of look using multiple cameras and more angles than you’d find in geometry book. Part of my job was to make a nice-looking star formation out of amps, keyboards and monitors so when the whole set is shot from above each piece is mirrored by another. Think of, I dunno, say a big fat diamond engagement ring that shimmers like crazy with each facet reflecting brightly off one another.

Achieving this effect meant hours of taping down degrees of circles on the floor using protractors, pencils and string until both the space around the band, as well as each band member, were marked up to perfection. Later, large metal sections of circular rails held five separate cameras clamped to exact locations.  This unit was moved around the map until all 360 degrees of the set had been captured. Each performer also had to be surrounded by crew members with cameras held steady as we shuffled, shoulder to shoulder, around the curves. While the song played on repeat. Till 2am.

Sounds fun, right?

Well, yes, yes it was! You know the sort of feeling when you leave camp and all these people you knew nothing about at the beginning of the summer now seem like they’ve been part of your life all along? It was like that. We’re calling each other by nicknames carefully chosen at opportune times, giving away hugs like they are ice cream sandwiches and shouting out times to get together out through the darkness as we each retreat back to our own lives. Even while joyfully imaging sleeping in my very own bed and soon, I still didn’t want to leave.

And this, of course, is due to the non-stop hard working creatively visioned humorously inclined crew who ended the night on a dolly cart whirling around the set to capture the most important and most difficult shot. Dispose of everything, keep nothing but a pure heart and lots of love.  Good luck in Paris, Ladies!


Memory Who?
March 13, 2009, 11:42 am
Filed under: music | Tags:

The Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai is the pedal for today’s rocker.

The basic gist of a loop pedal is you play a small tidbit of music into the box and it will grab the sample and play it over and over again for all eternity.  What’s more, you can layer these loops on top of one another for a cacophonous effect.  This method is used by many a solo artist, like the recent Andrew Bird, to create the appearance of friends.

But the M squared is not just your run of the mill looper.  Nor is it a practical one, like the multiple phased Boss looping station used by Owen Pallett of Arcade Fire / Final Fantasy or the USB inputable Digitech Jam Man, even better than the station for a mere $20 more.  And sure, you could get the single nail polish red Boss pedal to add to your collection of colored things that look the same but better as you add more of them, but we’re models of conservation these days, right?

No, this Electro-harmonix jobby is not a piece of beginner’s gear, but then you don’t make beginner sounding music now do you. The looping function is paired with blend, decay, filter, reflect and delay controls.  This means a few things: one is you can click just the right hand bypass button and use these effects without looping or you can click the left hand button to loop and add the above effects to any sample – even after you’ve recorded it.  But most importantly the additional controls mean that the sound is immediately textured and forever pliable so you’ll be making noise out of music in no time.

The Hazarai doesn’t refer to the 70’s party pattern, but it’s eight different programmable modes, the true bells and whistles of this little guy.  Each of these modes, in combo with the controls above, allow you to create different settings for the repeated parts of your loops.  For instance you can make your bit of music start off soft and then grow louder and louder, like a rushing wave, each time it repeats. This happens automatic like and without turning a knob slowly in real time to get the effect if you catch my drift.

The stereo feature only works to create a ping pong effect between the two speakers if you actually have two separate outputs.  If you are just using one cable to one amp the whole stereo idea null and void.  The tap tempo is supposed to be critical for live performance but I wouldn’t know about that part since this thing has yet to see the light outside the basement.

Some actual down sides, just to be upfront:
There’s only one, yes one, input.  So if you want to layer say your vocals over your guitar you need some more gear, like maybe a switch pedal.  Also, unlike almost every other pedal in existence you have to actually HOLD DOWN the button with your foot while recording, which means you have to wear shoes.  This prevents you from tweaking the knobs with your toes and you are not likely to hold shows in galleries anytime soon.

You can find it at Main Drag Music real easy since it’s the only looper they carry.  Ask for Teddy: a moppy dark haired man who knows a lot about synths. You can use their private rooms to try it out with a Moog keyboard that practically plays itself.  If you find that the first line your record gets quieter when you record and play the next layer of the loop, it’s not a drawback of the device.  Just make sure the repeat knob is set to less than full and you’ll get equal levels for everything you record, if that’s what you are going for!

An Experiment – presented by Owlie Hour
February 2, 2009, 4:45 pm
Filed under: art, movies, music | Tags:

Owlie: So like i want to take the logic regions and make picture song out of them so that the playback is one read from visuals rather than from a thought out sound composition.
Lvrgrl: Regions?
Owlie: Yes, the blocks of color that represent a sample in logic.
Lvrgrl: Riiight – wait, show me.


Thus began our experiment, the result of which is song clip (press the play button above and hope that the lvrgrl server wants to share) made from the shape of my nickname and some random samples from Owlie’s sound vault. It would be better if you could see the way the white bar sweeps over the regions during playback because then you could follow along and get excited when the red sample comes around for the second time. Can you picture it?

First prize goes to the listener who can correctly match each the sound to its appropriate color.

January 28, 2009, 8:50 pm
Filed under: music | Tags:

Ponytail dancers at the Bell House.

Music from the Crypt
January 13, 2009, 1:26 pm
Filed under: music | Tags:


Introducing Owlie Hour

Owlie hour is a more than hour long session with Owlie (Allie Alvarado) and lvrgrl (Emily Kramer) who meet on the internet to talk about sex, dating and technology. We will take notes on the technology part for public use.

Things we’ve learned during Owlie Hour in Session 1,2 3 and 4.

iChat enables two people with Leopard to share screens. Not only can you see what’s going on on someone else’s computer, but you can reach out across the interweb and touch your partners computer screen, IM-ing members on their buddy list and reading bits and pieces of their digital journals stored only on their desktop. Don’t ask us how it works, it just does.

Gmail is not the most efficient interface for e-mailing from your computer. Mac Mail is! One bit of proof is the drag and drop attachments that preview in the body of the email as well, so you can be sure you aren’t sending along a copy of your phone bill instead of an invoice to your ex-employer.

You can host music files for your WordPress blog in the public directory of your mobile me folder if you don’t have another server option.

Your iPhone will be more useful if you group listings in your address book. For instance, do like Allie and put all your hairdressers in one a group together for emergency situations.

Pixelmator is a good choice for people wanting to do graphics stuff who can’t afford Photoshop or are scared of it.

You can use use automation in Garage Band to bring effects in and out of a track. or to the whole song using a master track say serious Owlie.

Use compression creatively to pump up your drums, yo, or to control the dynamics in your track. No, No, No we’re not going to go into a whole compression discussion here.

If you are teaching technology to a person who would like to add new age music to still pictures of flowers, you just have to suck it up and do it anyway. Sharing is healing.

Um. Do your software updates EMILY.
Then maybe this year’s version of iChat will work…

We will have a graphic once Allie gets her wackem. It will be of an owl and a clock. “Watch” out, get it?

Tweet, tweet!

Art Crush
November 21, 2008, 10:45 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: ,

I first discovered Sam Amidon aka samamidon aka sam-on the internet, after googling my famous-in-the-contemporary-music sense of the word neighbor, Nico Muhly. Nico, if you are reading this, I live upstairs. Come borrow some sugar.

Just a few home videos in, I was in love. Several clicks lated I found myself at his not low-fi but dated home page with simple, what they call static, pages linking out to the myspace and back to the videos on youtube – a convoluted mess of ideas thrown together and rarely updated.

What really won me over was a sharp and clear recording of an old violin tune. Compared with the dusty style of fiddlers that ain’t got no teeth scratching away through the end of their years, Sam’s playing was clear like he wanted to teach me a little something about the everlasting note. After missing a sold out show at La Poisson Rouge, and just not making it to the performance at Glass House, last night’s show at the new Museum of Arts and Design had been in my Google Cal for a month.

So there he was, my internet idol. Other then a slightly blushed face he looked just as he had on the screen in my living room. Like an angle.

Scrawled notes and shapes make up the jokes he calls comics. These he projected behind him while his otherwise totally touching songs reached out and warmed my heart. With a pause in the live performance, Sam scurried off into the wings, leaving us with a video and narration of a fiery blob fought with fervor by those who found it necessary to do so in a situation such as this. Hopping back onto the wide wooden stage in the museum’s intimate theater, he invited a friend to accompany him on the “plucked-from-the-inside” piano, while he played banjo and crooned away.

After a series of intentional mistakes, an actual struggle with technology ensued and the misbehaving laptop was cast aside. The last few songs were left standing alone in the spotlight to be witnessed in their full glory. Now disarmed, I listened liked we were by a fire in the woods, watching each other’s eyes twinkle in the darkness.