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2014 California Winter House Concert Series

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Tour Time!

Happy New Year! Happy Days getting longer! I will be back on the road in late January, touring Southern and Northern California with two gifted improvisers: multi-instrumentalist Daniel Berkman & world renowned fretless bassist Steve Lawson, who will be here from the UK for a few very special shows. We’ll be toting an eclectic mini-orchestra of fretless bass, cello, voice, ukelele, keys, percussion, African kora, and gadgets, and playing mainly improv.

Most shows are private house concerts. Please RSVP to join us:

 

Thursday January 23 - Foothill Ranch, CA
Friday January 24 - Encino, CA
Saturday January 25 @ 2pm – Joshua Tree, CA**
Saturday January 25 @ 6pm – La Quinta, CA
Sunday January 26 = Long Beach, CA
Wednesday January 29 - Santa Cruz, CA
Friday January 31 - San Jose, CA
Saturday February 1 = San Francisco, CA
Sunday February 2 – Petaluma, CA
Monday February 3 – Oakland, CA
Tuesday February 4 – Ukiah, CA

 

** Public performance at Radio Free Joshua Tree Listening Lounge.

 

Last year”s tour with Steve & Daniel resulted in a whole boatload of beautiful recordings, including For Now, a compilation of tracks I sang on during tour.

 

 

FingerPainting: Complete is 10 albums, 10 hours of recordings from all the shows. This week (January 5-11) it’s available for only £10 - a tiny price for a mountain of mindbending music…

Download FingerPainting: Complete

House concerts are a wonderfully intimate way to experience live music, refreshments and inspiring conversation in a cozy environment with friends old and new. I hope you can join us (or send a friend along to join us!) at one of these very special events!

Can’t join us? Follow our tour right here or on Facebook for updates on which shows we’ll be live streaming!

Header photo by Don Albonico

 

About the Music and Musicians

Improvisers Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman met via singer-songwriter Artemis in 2012, and have to date played 10 shows together, resulting in a 10-hour set of albums called FingerPainting: Complete. At eight of these shows, Artemis’ vocals added yet another emotional dimension to this most cinematic and storytelling of musical pairings. Their music has been played on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, BBC Radio 6Music’s Tom Robinson Show, and on Radio Free Joshua Tree. Exploring vast territory as solo artists, the musical inquisitiveness and broadmindedness of each of these artists informs their synergy as a trio.

 

STEVE LAWSON (UK) Expanding far beyond the traditional bassist’s palette by utilizing a multiple overlaying technique known as looping – Lawson becomes his own backup band. Deeply inspired by guitarist greats like Bill Frissel and Robert Fripp, Lawson uses a digital looper to create layers of overdubs in real-time, adding guitar-like lines on the effect-modified upper strings of his six-stringed instrument, as well as using other effects to create lush chordal pads.

“Steve’s complex array of sound and rare, intimate touch are rapidly turning him into one of the most influential bassists in the world” – Bass Guitar Magazine

DANIEL BERKMAN is a San Francisco based composer, multi-instrumentalist and innovator of the kora (a 21-stringed harp/lute from West Africa), using electronic devices and loop boxes to transform his kora in real time in live performance. Daniel also plays guitar, handsonic percussion, and piano and is a featured electronic artist on RTFM Records under the moniker “Colfax”. Daniel has also composed many eclectic scores for choreographers and dance companies in San Francisco, notably Robert Dekkers of Post:Ballet, Sarah Shelton Mann, ODC, Company Chaddick, Lizz Roman and Dancers, Kunst-Stoff and others.

ARTEMIS is a New York native, Joshua Tree-based artist whose songwriting is a relentlessly genre-defiant exploration of science and sensuality, etymology and emotion, the natural and supernatural. In live performance, she layers looped vocals to build skeletons of textured harmony and quirky rhythm, adding naked timbres of piano, guitar, flute, and ukulele, alongside various electronic devices. Floating above and weaving together this simple yet sophisticated palette, the singer’s superpower is subtlety, from intricate inflections in a near-whisper, to the use of dissonance as counterweight in belted-out Bulgarian-style choirs.

Artemis “presides over an aural slow-burn like one of Wim Wenders’ angels – warm, wise, detached, waiting for you….”

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New EP – Triptych I (Eight for a Wish)

New Music – The Triptych EP Trilogy

This winter I’m releasing a series of three EPs called Triptych. The first EP in the trilogy, Triptych I (Eight for a Wish) is out 11/11.

Each of the three Triptych EPs contain 3-4 songs, and they will be available as separate albums for digital download. I’ll also be releasing a Triptych (I, II, III) CD containing all the songs from all three EPs, as well as prints of the cover art from each of the EPs. CDs and art prints can be pre-ordered now, and will be shipped in January 2014.

Triptych Songs

The three Triptych EPs are comprised almost exclusively of material I wrote during Songaday 2012. Songaday is a monthlong music composition intensive I’ve done each year since 2011, where a small group of musicians commit to writing, recording and posting online a song every day for the month of February. It’s quite a ride. Terrifying, exhausting, exhilarating, raw and brilliant. I was hooked from day one.

Songaday changed the course of my musical life. Though I started my songwriting journey writing songs solo on guitar (take a listen to some of the stuff on the Treasure album), for the past several years I’ve been mainly co-writing with a handful of producers, often taking someone else’s musical ideas and arranging songs around them, then bringing them to life with lots of lush, lovely production, and performing them live with a full band.

The songs on Triptych are my foray back into writing songs 100% solo, from the ground up. These songs, with a few exceptions, are more stripped down and intimate than what you hear on previous albums. And I’m intimate with these songs. I know them skin to marrow, I love them inside out, and I can perform them with a band or on my own. So this is what you’ll hear me performing as a solo artist, my main gig these days. If you caught one of the shows on my 2013 Room For Living tour with Daniel Berkman, you’ve heard some of the songs from Triptych already. If not, here’s your chance. Hope you enjoy.

Triptych Art

The cover art for the three Triptych EPs are paintings by San Francisco Bay Area artists – Eden Gallanter, Elizabeth Tennant and Jessica Wilson. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to offer prints of their work along with the Triptych (I, II, III) CDs.

The cover art for Triptych I (Eight for a Wish) is a painting created by San Francisco artist Eden Gallanter, inspired by the song Supernova, which she heard the first time I performed it live, at DNA Lounge in December 2012. Eden’s fascinating and deeply intuitive exploration of art, science and urban ecology is exquisitely realized in her new Cheimonette Tarot deck, which includes a compilation CD of music inspired by the cards and Eden’s readings – songs from Meredith Yayanos of The Parlour Trick, Jill Tracy, Unwoman, Mark Growden, Star St. Germain, Myrrh Larsen and myself.

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If you like this music, feel free to support it by paying for a download if you can afford to, or just by passing along the album link to your friends. Independent music is a grassroots effort, and your ears and love and participation are the lovely rain that keeps this prarie bloomin’. Thanks so much for looking and listening.

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Photos & Video from House Concert Tour

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I’ll be doing another post soon all about the tour with Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman. In the meantime, I’ve compiled some photos and videos we’ve gotten from our eight shows and NAMM adventure. I’ll be adding to the album as folks send me pics, and there will be more video from the show at Oakland Awaken Cafe coming soon as well, so stay tuned. :)

Here is my Flickr album of photo highlights:

And here are some videos shot by Stephen Harms, a lovely new genius musician friend we met at NAMM, at our second house concert in Foothill Ranch – complete with live drawing by Steve Nakamura (woah, creative convergence of Steves!):

Steve & Daniel duo:

Steve doing a solo rendition of his piece ‘A Year Afloat‘:

Daniel, Steve & Artemis trio:

Were you with us at one of the shows? Did you catch some video or take some photos? Feel free to send them along and I’ll add them to the kit & kaboodle :)

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New release of an old Treasure

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The other day, someone said to me, after hearing a guitar song I wrote for Song-A-Day, “Wow, I never heard you write guitar-y stuff before!”  Well, not to be unexpected.  I have shamefully neglected my poor Baby-J for several long years.  This was a good reminder to put things in perspective and pay a little respect to where things all began…so, we’ve dusted off an old favorite and are very pleased to re-release the song Treasure.  You can listen here while you read, and if you enjoy, please download it for whatever you think it’s worth.  And please, as always, feel free to share.

 

 

Treasure was the title track for the first Artemis EP (1999) – the rest of the material on the EP was formative, but Treasure was a gem that stood out, so we wanted to bring it out again and share it with you, as a reminder of where we began on this journey of music making.  I wrote the song on my Gibson J200, for a friend who was going through a challenging time.  I played and sang on the track, and Daniel Berkman added electric guitar using an Ebow, Korg Pandora, whammy pedal and overdubs. David Earl (aka SFLogicninja) engineered, produced and mastered the song.  It was the beginning of our relationships as collaborators, and of each of our careers as musicians and producers, and was a very rich, potent time.  As things are ripening and blossoming in all our creative lives these days, it seems an appropriate moment to echo back to our roots together.

I asked David to write down some reflections on the making of the song, and he tells the story in such a lovely way, I’m including the whole thing right here:

“I believe the idea for the first song on Artemis’ Treasure EP was hatched as Artemis and I were searching for the perfect tiramisu in San Francisco.

Artemis was living in the Castro at that time, and we were just getting to become friends via Frank Garvey and the Omnicircus, (then known as Theater Concrete). We were hanging out, and both came to the conclusion that the best tiramisu would be found in North Beach. For those not familiar with the layout of San Francisco, North Beach is about 4 miles away from the Castro. Even though public transportation between these locations is plentiful and simple to navigate… well, we decided to walk.

The tiramisu was pretty good! (No Yelp back then, so we kinda winged it). While buzzing on a sugar high Artemis mentioned wanting to put a demo together – would I want to work on it?

‘Sure!’

Treasure took shape in a very different way than any other production I would work on with Artemis. First of all, there was Artemis’ beautiful Gibson J200 guitar. She wrote the song entirely on guitar, and brought the song fully formed to me in my home studio. The song is in compound meter, varying between 5/4 and 6/4. It was not the kind of compound meter that you hear in progressing rock. It flowed naturally, and did not distract at all. I knew that writing a rhythm that would not distract was key. Using Logic and my trusty Ensoniq EPS16+ and MR76, I laid the rhythm and keyboard tracks down in one afternoon.

After the whirlwind session in the home studio, it was off to the Icehouse, where I was working as the studio manager/in house composer/producer/janitor and recording engineer. We had a pretty nice selection of mics, but we ended up using a matched pair of AKG 414ULS mics to record the guitar, (which was quite a feat – that guitar was notoriously hard to record), and then used one of the 414ULS for Artemis’ vocal tracks as well. It just worked.

The console was an Amek M1000, and if I remember correctly, the preamps were all Massenberg. We tracked into Pro Tools. I laid back all of the keyboard parts through the console into Pro Tools, and then it was on to Daniel Berkman’s genius guitar work.

Daniel brought his own processing, and we didn’t reamp anything. He played a sunburst Fender Stratocaster through his Korg Pandora. All of the effects were his vision alone, and he actually tracked the parts sitting in the control room. The way he drops those electric guitar parts into the chorus is genius. Little licks here and there on the verses… and then the alien atmosphere of the bridge! The bridge is actually mostly Daniel. We just kept overdubbing and overdubbing his guitar being played with an Ebow. The Ebow is a magnetic device that excites the guitar string in a way that is very smooth and lap-steel like. I believe he was also using a whammy pedal. It was genius.

Once the tracking was done, it was on to mixing. All of the channels were sent from Pro Tools to the console via submixes. I still automated the mix via Pro Tools and used mostly Waves plugins for mixing. We also used honest to goodness Silverface 1176 compressors, a Lexicon 480XL, and other various hardware goodies. I love the bridge of the song, where the compression on Artemis’ voice is just ludicrous, but still works perfectly.

The mix went fairly quickly, and when we were done, I can actually remember sitting in the control room listening back thinking ‘this is the best production I have ever done’. I have been extremely happy to revisit this song years later… it is like revisiting an old friend. It’s one of the only pieces of music that I had a hand in from those days that I consider ‘canon’. It still stands up today with my other productions… Maybe I’m just waxing nostalgic, but damn if I don’t just love this song. Artemis had something succinct to say, and we were all there to be in service to this song. It is what I consider the beginning of my life as a producer.”

We originally released Treasure on mp3.com during its heyday, and the song did very well, rising to the top of the Alternative charts for a few weeks in 1999.  Mp3.com soon faded into memory, but the licensing deals the song landed during that time continue to reap rewards. We didn’t realize this until Keith Crusher was on his way to Iceland to meet Artemis for some video shoots in 2008.  He had a particularly bleary-eyed layover in Boston Logan airport, where he thought he had hallucinated hearing his name over the loudspeaker, followed by hearing Treasure over that same system.  Both things actually happened.  Artemis was stuck in Bahrain after a delayed flight from India and was trying to page Keith to let him know she’d be a day late, and according to the guy in the bar where Keith went to check his head, Treasure was actually being played throughout the airport.  We later discovered this was due to the deal mp3.com brokered with a company called Trusonic (now Mood Media), with whom we continue to work.

Here’s some shamlessly self-congratulatory memorabilia (please forgive) – just in case you think we might be making this stuff up ;)

There may be a few other hidden gems from the distant past we may yet release…but Treasure is certainly a nice example of some of our best early work.  Hope you enjoy it.

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Rehearsal #1

hip hip hooray, we’re officially making noise…getting ready for the CD release party at Harlot on March 25 with RTFM Records, Groovera and WomensRadio – as well as our show at Swig on April 1 with Below Zero Beats…happy hours are so nice, we prefer to throw them twice…

so…tonite we had our first real rehearsal of 2010 – woo hoo!  in the past, we’ve used Logic during our live shows…we’re in the process of moving over to Ableton Live which gives us soooooo much more flexibility with each song – we can loop & effect sections, stretch out and generally amuse ourselves much more thoroughly within this new paradigm…

also terribly exciting is the fact that we have a new band member, Daniel Durrett, on Live & KP3 looping + fx.  Daniel is also a solo artist and i’m sure you’ve heard the RTFM gang tooting our horns about his gorgeous new release ‘Hello, Inner Sunset‘.  and of course, it wouldn’t be a proper party without our trusty wunderkind Daniel Berkman…he’s still hovering a few inches above the ground with his plethora of toys – well, actually, he’s currently experimenting with pretending he is just a guitarist.  we’re quite happy to have him play whatever he pleases, frankly.  anyhoo, D squared & myself had a fabulous time dipping our toes in the pond together for the first time tonite.  lovely chemistry and lots of snickering & giggles, and of course endless hugs from the wonderful fuzzmeistress Nala.

here are a couple video samples, straight from the living room on Cole and Haight…

just getting warmed up with a little improv:

(Daniel D was clever enough to record a live stereo mix…here’s an mp3 just for you)

and a sneak peak at the curly tail-end of Auralei:

onward and upward, my friends…

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