As part of the ‘Matthew Herbert Quartet’ I was part of the recording of the new album “The End of Silence“, made entirely out of the sound of a bomb. This is getting released in June, and we have started playing live shows, starting in Italy, Germany, and Australia.
Which reminds me, I went to Australia with Mr Herbert + co. to perform One Pig, The End of Silence, and a one-off piece called “One Room” at the Melbourne Recital Hall. Some interesting reviews here.
On a similar theme, I was in the group to perform “One Day” at the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg.
I spent four days in Aldeburgh and Snape as part of a Faster Than Sound residency with Peter Gregson, Pekka Kuusisto, and Reactify. I wrote a piece for Violin, Cello, and Electronics which was performed at Aldeburgh Music.
Our game “Bad Hotel” was nominated for an Independent Game Festival award in San Francisco, so the whole Lucky Frame crew went out there for a week to shmooze. We didn’t win, but it was great.
This Saturday is very exciting for me, as it marks the first time that I’ll get to perform with Matthew Herbert’s One Pig show in my adopted home nation of Scotland.
In fact, we’ll be touring around the whole country in what is sure to be a crazy adventure. We will be documenting extensively with audio and video recordings (and some old school filming, which should be brilliant), and we’re especially lucky to be able to fly to Shetland to play in the brand new concert hall in Lerwick – Mareel.
The tour will debut at Tramway in Glasgow, before visiting Dundee, Inverness, Shetland, Edinburgh, Dunfermline, and Banchory. Food partners will include The Bungo Bar and Kitchen in Glasgow and The Gardener’s Cottage & Black Bo’s in Edinburgh. This is a Lucky Frame production and is supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland.
My involvement was in the last part of that, since the festival was timed to coincide with a meteor shower – the Perseid Shower, to be precise. I designed an audio/musical performance for the Mills Observatory which would react the the visible meteors. A camera pointed at the sky would see the meteors, triggering different sounds.
Unfortunately, it was cloudy (in Scotland?!) and no meteors were visible at all on the evening! It was too bad, but the sold-out audience did not let that get in the way of having a brilliant time, enjoying a dance performance by Small Petit Klein, a “guerrilla rainbow” installation by Alistair McClymont, and a lecture on the Perseids by astronomer Brian Kelly, before my performance.
Despite the missing meteors I was still able to perform my piece, which I did in two parts (I was in the observatory itself, in the photo above, with the speakers and the the audience). The first section is entitled “Strange and Wonderfull Apparitions” after a beautiful broadside poster that you can see on the National Library of Scotland website, which describes a meteor shower in the 18th century that was witnessed around Scotland and Europe.
In the leadup to the show I got people from around DCA and Mills Observatory to read sections of the broadsheet out loud, which I then edited together, mixing it along with recordings I made of the previous events (the dance piece, the rainbow machine, the sound of the observatory structure, the crowd mingling, chatting and applauding…).
The second section, “Good, occasionally poor” was constructed out of the shipping forecast from BBC Radio 4. I find the rhythms, vocal melodies, and structure of the shipping forecast fascinating, and it certainly seemed to match well with the theme of the night!
I’ve now finally gotten around to rendering a shortened version of this piece, which you can listen to now. Enjoy! I’d like to thank Clive Gillman at DCA for inviting me to do this performance, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and of course the whole team (Annette Davison, Kristina Johansen, and many others) who worked so hard to make Blue Skies such a success.
It will come as no surprise to followers of this blog that I have been touring with the incredible Matthew Herbert on the amazing One Pig show. It has been one of the most rewarding artistic and professional experiences of my career – we’ve played at venues from London to Tokyo, and the rest of the group (Tom Skinner, Hugh Jones, Sam Beste, and Dilip Harris) are out of this world.
So it’s with great pleasure that I can announce that One Pig is coming to my (adopted) home of Scotland for a seven-date tour. We will be starting in Glasgow, working our way up to Shetland, and finishing off in Aberdeenshire.
Spread the word, and come to a show near you! I will of course be playing my bizarre and intriguing “Sty Harp“, and every show will be accompanied by local chefs cooking delicious pork. What’s not to like?
In August of this year my company Lucky Frame released Bad Hotel, an “insane hybrid of a tower defense game and a procedural music toy, with beautiful art and tons of bullets.”
Bad Hotel is another example of what I’ve been working on over the past few years, both on my own and with Lucky Frame. It is looking at interactions with sound, and seeing what other things can be used to expand our experiences with sound in general (and vice versa – how can music generation be enriched by other interactions?).
I was very proud of Bad Hotel when it came out, because I felt that we really managed to make something unusual and wonderful whilst still being an iPhone and iPad game (with all of the associations that comes with that world). We put a lot of love and work into it, and we were very pleased with the reception it received. A few choice quotes from reviews:
“…an unlikely work of minimalist art.” – Nick Gillett, The Guardian
“… endearingly bizarre.” – Shane Richmond, telegraph.co.uk
“Bad Hotel is, in short, the stuff of wonderful nightmares: an eerie soundtrack, a menacing palette and an all-pervading sense of inescapable doom. Yet it’s also one of the most original and atmospheric tower-defense games we’ve played all year…” – John Bedford, modojo.com
“…to understand how excellent Bad Hotel is, you need to play it. And you need to hear it…I like Bad Hotel so much I’d buy it for you. Get it. It’s for iPhone and iPad. It’s wonderful. ” – Stephen Totilo, kotaku.com
Our extremely positive reviews resulted in a mini storm of interest on the internet, which drove sales! It was great.
In the end, we’ve sold nearly 10,000 copies to date, which is wonderful. On the other hand, it’s a lot less than people think. To try and educate people and help out other small companies, I decided to be very open about our sales figures. You can read my full analysis and statistic on the Lucky Frame blog.
Through some terrible organisation and forward planning on my part, I somehow managed to neglect posting here about the now nearly-complete Seznec Bros tour. Over the past week my brother and I have played shows in Bath, Torquay, Oxford, London, Penryn, and more. We are finishing it all off tomorrow night in Fulham at Brook’s Blues Bar. It’s been a brilliant little batch of shows, especially since we were joined for several of them by the incredible Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Amadou Diagne.
Our show in Oxford was organised by our amazing friend Malachy, who then put us up in his gorgeous home in the countryside. He has in his possession a lovely Wurlitzer electric piano, which I completely fell in love with. Cory and I made a few videos with it, here’s the first one for you:
Be sure to check the Seznec Bros website, where you can buy our new album, watch more videos, and get details on our activities!
This was an official Music Hack Day, which means it had 24 hours of creative tinkering and exploration with as much support as possible (in terms of equipment, software, data, and food). Sponsors included global companies such as Spotify, Last.fm, The Echo Nest, Raspberry Pi, EMI, and many others, as well as brilliant locals such as Camel Audio, Artisan Roast, Harviestoun Beer, Blonde, and more.
The turnout, participation, and outcome of the whole event was amazing. We started out with a fantastic opening with Matthew Herbert, FOUND, Marco Donnarumma, Patrick Bergel, and myself giving talks and performances about music and technology. By the end of the 24 hours of hacking there were some truly amazing projects, we couldn’t have asked for more enthusiastic participation. One of my favorite projects was this gorgeous paper digital metronome by Anny Deery…
For my part, I was too involved in the organisation to make much myself, but I did manage to find a few minutes to make a ridiculous synthesizer or two for the amazing Puffersphere…someone took a video, have a look for yourself.
As I write this, I’m listening to some sounds that I’m rendering for my performance tomorrow night at the Mills Observatory in Dundee. I’m really excited to be a part of the wonderful Blue Skies Festival, an event led by DCA which started last night with a brilliant Zoë Irvine piece in the Olympia Pool last night and continues today and tomorrow.
My performance is called Perseid Nocturne, and is inspired by the Perseid meteor shower, which is happening this weekend. If the weather complies, I’ll be pointing a camera at the sky to look for meteors, which will trigger and control my sound performance – the majority of the audio will be recorded on the day, using the sounds of the observatory, the crowd, and the other events happening for Blue Skies.
Hopefully the clouds will stay away! In any case, I’m really looking forward to using the Observatory as a stage, it’s an amazing place for a performance. The event is sold out, I’m afraid, but I’ll be posting documentation here of course. Maybe see you there…details can be found on the Blue Skies website.
Phew, lots of traveling these days…I’m now back in lovely Amsterdam, where it finally feels like summer. I’m here for the very exciting ‘second opening’ for the Paddestoelen Paradijs show, which includes my Secret Sounds of Spores installation among many other amazing fungi-based artworks.
The event will feature a concert by the DNK Ensemble, who will be playing music along with my installation, which is very exciting indeed! I’m really looking forward to hearing what Koen Nutters has arranged. I’ll also be giving a short talk about the work, and it sounds like there will be loads of other amazing things going on.
So if you happen to be in Amsterdam, do come along!
The Amazing Rolo is Yann Seznec, an artist, sound designer, musician, and entrepreneur in Edinburgh, Scotland. He specializes in making fun and intriguing musical instruments, software, and installations. He is founder of creative studio Lucky Frame , releases music with The Seznec Bros and is currently on touring as part of Matthew Herbert's band.