Thursday, July 10, 2008

Electronically Induced Ideas

It was love at first flight. After packing all my belongings and moving my music studio into a re-designed retro RV, it only took the first hundred miles of highway to have me hooked. As I crossed the Massachusetts state line in the snow, leaving behind all semblance of "home", all i could do was laugh to myself about what i had just done, having taken the plunge; i was welcoming an unknown number of months of mysteries that surely lay ahead. The year was 1999, and with the help of a revolutionary new laptop, I was an electronic musician whose bedroom studio had suddenly gone mobile! I was heading west. I was going to make music and maybe start a new band; and at first, that was about the extent of my agenda.

And soon, with the addition of solar panels and the advent of wireless internet, my new mobile lifestyle had become super-charged (year 2000), with exciting new prospects. Now that the RV's power supply and communications link were all self-contained, it seemed less like a motor-home, and more like a space ship (yet still super-low budget, thanks to no rent payments)! So wow i thought, considering how electronic artists could specifically benefit from such a liberating experience (oftentimes tied to their bedroom studios), why don't i try to inspire more arts-oriented people do this? And that's when the never-ending flood of brainstorms first began. It almost seemed my "duty" that I should utilize these new technologies to their fullest, in a quest to do something new, vital, different... solar-sonic... but exactly what? I decided that the ultimate goal would be to launch some sort of mobile broadcasting initiative for artists and musicians (2001)... a little ahead of its time??... regardless, I was getting ready to take the jump.
9-11 was all the prodding i needed. Now it was surely time to change gears, put aside personal musical aspirations, and start concentrating on mobile media!

I needed collaborators, band members, a crew of techie friends perhaps; and so i bought a 2nd identical RV to serve as a complimentary jam station, the staging ground, in conjunction with my own mobile domicile, the main RV "studio". TechTV caught wind of my project, and so i assembled a small crew to do a cross-country caravan, doing street jams and working towards starting a "broadcasting band" of tech-nomadic artists. Tech-nomadic artists? Talk about a couple far-reaching terms, even on their own, let alone juxtaposed! I knew that demonstration would be the best way to promote such concepts which had become second-nature to me, and was looking to expand through collaboration. So I started blogging web-video (2002)... long before there was such a thing as YouTube... and we kicked off Project Eklektro, and I launched

And so to find that particular combination of artist, adventurer and entrepreneur, I approached "recruitment" as a long-term project (resolved to keep this project free of any entanglements to corporate sponsorships). I built a mailing list, organized road trips and continued blogging inspirational video tracks of the process. I met some amazing artists (2003, 2004, 2005), with whom there were countless upstarts, adventures, and collaborations that seemed to be made in heaven; yet ultimately none which could actually follow through, none firing on all cylinders together long enough to actually be starting a band, damn! On top of the usual set of variables: time, place, money, artistic intent... there were the rigors of RV living to circumvent.

And so after 7 years of living mobile, gas topped $2.50, then $3 a gallon... and without any other artist willing or able to take on the quest, I started to wonder if my ideal Eklektro Karavan-tech visions would ever be fully realized. And just how long could i remain dedicated to the task, without the contributions of at least one other full-time kick-ass accomplice? This was to be a "band" after all, set up to travel and broadcast; but in addition to the obvious need for music/media talent, i realized that mobile self-sufficiency was a tall order to ask.

Still, I was fascinated with the challenge, the cyber-punk aspects, and the love/hate relationship i came to feel for my favorite city in the world: Los Angeles (2006). And so spring/summer/fall, beach/desert/mountains, I'd mostly orbit the metropolis; and when the weather turned grim, i'd treat myself to months-long winter trips (still spoiled by no rent payments). I'd video-blog the tech-nomadic bliss i'd encounter with each tropical exodus. I suppose I was seeking to inspire simple thrill-seekers to something more specific... and demonstrate each technological update which made life more magic.... laptops, solar, wireless, and electronic music... not only would "we" start a band; but we'd be ready to broadcast! I now had 8 years of hands-on research put into this project, 8 big solar panels on top of 2 RVs, mobile streaming capability and a sound system, waiting for the moment (2007). Of course machines required maintenance. Mechanical breakdowns were to be expected, and i'd always find ways to circumvent them. But physical well-being was another thing (maybe i was "in orbit" too long?), and when i rushed back from Central America in sudden need of a hospital, summer 2008 found me unpredictably Off The Road, and reflecting... (and waiting out the $4.50/gallon gas!!)

Tech-nomads (still) wanted! Stay tuned!