Loop Recap: A Summit for Music Makers w/ Vasco Ispirian

From October 30th to November 1st, Ableton hosted a summit for music makers in Berlin called Loop. Dubspot’s Vasco Ispirian takes us through the three days of performances, talks, and interactive workshops aimed at exchanging ideas at the cutting edge of music, creativity, and technology. 

A few weeks ago I traveled to Berlin for Loop, a music makers paradise. The Ableton based summit was a gathering of around 400 people and centered around artist collaboration, the benefits of working with others, sharing ideas, and working to further open the channels of creativity. I have to say I enjoyed myself very much and as a teacher, producer, and music lover I felt it was a very valuable experience and walked away with a new sense of fresh motivation. Although I would’ve loved to sit in on every talk, discussion or workshop, it is impossible to be in five places at once but did my best to visit the most I could and here I will discuss my favorites.

 Loop

The Festival opened with a stunning performance by King Britt, Claudio, and Gloria Justen demonstrating a nontraditional marriage of classical instruments, electronic beats, and epic vocals.

Loop

The performance was followed by the opening keynote by Robert Henke (Monolake) called ‘Failure=Success.’ The motivational talk was about taking a closer look at the way we perceive failure and by changing our mindset learning to use failure as a tool to move forward toward success. He encouraged trying new things reminding us that there is always room for growth and opportunities to deepen our imagination.

Loop

The following morning I attended Matthew Herbert’s talk, Creative Manifesto. The British multidisciplinary artist has a vast and diverse catalog spanning from 90’s house bangers to full albums created only using field recordings. His latest album, ´The End of Silence,’ is all based on one five second sample of a bomb dropped in Libya. In his talk, Herbert explored one of the major problems of modern society which is the huge disconnect between what we do and the consequences of our actions. He works to represent his critical point of view of the world through his music. He also showed us his Manifesto, a template for his own work written back in 2005 where he states among other statements “No drum machines, no synths, no presets, only sounds generated at the compositional process or taken from the artist archive” or “The mixing desk is not to be reset before the start of a new track in order to apply a random eq and fx.” His daring approach to music production inspired all listeners to think outside the box and not be afraid to try something new.

Loop

Next I attended an interactive discussion led by Peter Kirn titled ‘From artist to engineer and back again: Coding as Artistry.’ Brilliant programmers, Adam John Williams, Alexandra Cardenas, and Juno Bandel lead us on a journey through their state-of-the-art live coding. They focused on the deepest part of music composition which is writing lines of code using the actual process as the art form.

 Loop

Later in the day I found myself in a room at ´New ways to play: visionary designers on their instruments,´ with pioneers like Roger Linn (MPC, Linn Electronics), Stephan Schmitt (Nonlinear Labs, Native Instruments), Gerhard Behles (Ableton), and Carla Scaletti (Kyma). Moderated by Dennis DeSantis, the discussion talked about how they were working to find the perfect beat regarding their definition of an instrument among topics like real-time composition vs. classic recording processes. The panel also expressed the difficulties they encountered along the way while creating new cutting edge products in a digital non-stop market environment most of which centered around how to make them the most user-friendly.

 Loop

The next presentation I attended was a series of collaborations between audiovisual artists and musicians (James Holden, Dan Tombs, Forest Swords, Sam Wiehl, Kathy Alberici, and Federico Nitti). The shows took place in three different studios at the same time, each very different. The point was to wander between the three and experience the effects of the different collaborations.

In Daniel Miller’s Channeling Creativity talk, the A&R of Mute explained the trials and tribulations of starting a label with zero expectations and then eventually signing huge artists such as Depeche Mode, Erasure, and Ben Frost.

Loop

My next adventure takes us to a boat on the river spree where Moldover heads up a talk about the future of controllerism. He explained his process of designing and creating new and sophisticated customized controllers from his most artistic approach. His guitar and microphone were completely covered in different buttons, ribbons, and sliders. When a spectator asked if he still used a pedal, he laughed saying he hadn’t touched one in 10 years.

Loop

After getting back on land I jumped in a discussion headed up by Erin Barra, King Britt, and Lawrence Grey in conversation with Tony Nwachukwu called ´Practice What You Teach.´ Each teacher discussed their personal processes and hardships of writing curriculums for different social conditions, genders, levels, and economic classes. The talk was then opened up to the audience creating a safe space for all of us to share our own difficulties and finding ways together to overcome them. This discussion was an empowering experience for me.

 Loop

The next morning I started my day with a presentation by Team Supreme called ‘The power of the music collective.’ The Producers Collective is based out of L.A. Alongside their personal careers, they work together to learn as much about the production process as possible. They host contests for producers giving them strict parameters to make music and see how they are able to think outside the box with their given limitations. The time constraints enrich their creativity in a different way that is also very interesting to observe. One of the members stated that he has the most fun during the creations of the project than having the final outcome. This statement was a strong example of how collaboration heavily influences and benefits these musicians careers.

 Loop

I then headed back to the boat for a Max for Live presentation called ‘Max Connect: a showcase of performance practices.’ My favorite of which was by DJ Rupture, a New York-based artist. In a nutshell, he tells stories of public interaction with a focus on low-income communities. His latest project focuses on lower Manhattan. Through historical research, he found that thousands of black bodies were buried where the modern day stock exchange now takes place. In 2016, he hopes to complete the project with a performance on location in June. He also developed a series of plugins under Max for Live called ´SufiPlugIns´ which became very popular. One plugin he mentioned, in particular, was called ‘Devotion.’ He states, “Devotion lowers your computer’s volume five times a day during the call to prayer. You set your location by clicking on the map, then choose one of the presets: Agnostic, Obserant, Fervent, Devout, Etc. Which determine how much the volume will be lowered. Atheism is not an option.”

Loop

The closing presentation was conducted by Gerhard Behles, CEO of Ableton. He announced the release of the new version of Push and Live 9.5. Things then took an emotional turn when he also announced that anyone interested in returning their original Push to Ableton would be given a discount on Push 2, and their original devices would be donated to educational programs for young people along with copies of Live for free.

Loop

I have to say the weekend was incredibly inspirational, and I only wish I could have gone to every talk and presentation simultaneously happening throughout the week. Looking forward to the next one!

 


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