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New A/V Piece “Meditations” – Live

July 19th, 2015

"Meditations" – Live from Will Copps on Vimeo.

 

Meditations is an audio/visual work created for the PRISM 16 event in Sheffield, England. The piece was recorded via live performance in the artist’s studio in July 2015.

The piece focuses on the attempt to distance oneself from the world via meditation while the sounds of the outside world seep in–at first distracting, but eventually becoming a part of the experience. The piece uses a hybrid greenery/abstract aesthetic to reflect on Sheffield’s art scene and abundance of parks.

Watch the live performance here and see the full piece premiere at PRISM 16 on 24 July.

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New Band

May 31st, 2015

Brittany Jean and I are now Wall of Trophies. Follow along at walloftrophies.com

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All Gone!

April 3rd, 2015

The Circles woodprints have now sold out. Thank you to everyone for your interest!

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Circles Launches; Woodprints for Sale

March 28th, 2015

My audio/visual installation Circles debuts today at the Georgia Museum of Art during Athens Slingshot Festival. To celebrate, I’m releasing a series of 8 woodprints of the piece out into the world for sale.

Each print is a custom digital image hand-transferred onto wildwood from Minnesota, then finished with a matte gel with strong, impressionistic-brushstrokes. Each is the culmination of about a month of on-and-off work.

The idea of the prints comes from the audio/visual installation, which is designed for viewers to interact with and create their own digital images. These images on the woodprints are my own interactions with the piece–generative and random.

I wanted to contrast the beauty and perfection of digital art with something tangible from nature, which is why I hand-transferred the pieces onto the wood. The spontaneity of the image breaks and tears from the process echoes the randomness in the piece. You can learn more about the audio/visual aspects here: https://vimeo.com/100022468

$100 per piece, including shipping. Each is about 16″ x 11″ and is preinstalled with a wire hanger.

Find the pieces for sale on my Facebook page.

(Already sold: Circles #2; Circles #3.)

 

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Finnish Strip & Soviets Stealing Records in Bushes

March 21st, 2015

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Much like my honeymoon (thanks Emily!) to the Sunset Strip in LA to see the sacred ground of The Doors, Guns N’ Roses, and others, I was excited for my cold trek to Tavastia Klub in Helsinki. As a big fan of the Finnish rock music scene (Murmansk, Mesmer, etc), it was as inspirational as I’d hoped to see the club where these bands cut their teeth. Unlike the Strip, Tavastia is still grimy and lively and energetic and beautiful and everything you’d expect from an important modern music venue. Seeing and meeting Say Lou Lou there was a treat (and a great reason to move our trip one day earlier)–their set was energetic, lush and positively Scandinavian. I highly recommend them if you like dreamy pop music.

Finland, by the way, is incredible–the coffee is amazing and the people are warm. There were four concerts I wanted to see in our three nights there, plus a coffee festival and a street food festival. A solid #2 on my “I Could Live Here–Europe” list behind Berlin. But Finland was not the extent of the trip’s inspiration–I found just as much across the water in a country younger than I am.

Harjumägi park in Tallinn, Estonia has a great story behind it– the citizens used to trade Western music there (it was forbidden by the Soviets) and the police would pop out from behind the bushes and steal the music from them. Apparently one vinyl back then cost about half of a month’s wages, so the Soviet police were really just stealing it to sell for themselves and get rich. I can’t imagine having to risk so much to hear what I can so easily download or grab from a record store now. People talk frequently about what music’s worth, as have I–thinking only monetarily. It’s wonderful we don’t need to factor jailtime into that discussion.

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This is what old Tallinn looks like. There was also a Depeche Mode bar. Yep.

Combining that park story with the local crafts and some record store purchases of incredible Estonian electronic music, I have driven off the cliff of inspiration. I’m a bit worried that our next album will be clearly pre- and post-Estonia–with the songs in the latter category being cold, driving, shoegaze, electronic Euro. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

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Me doing a hyperlapse of the cruise for my videoart while working on our new song “Crown.”

It’s probably a bad thing.

We shall see.

Out with some Mesmer:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/17493759″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

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Storm Shadow

January 10th, 2015

The build is complete–enter Storm Shadow (yes, my computer names all have a G.I. Joe theme). I’m still mid-cleanup, but I took the opportunity to re-organize the studio a bit.

Solid-state hard drives really are amazing.

But be wary of buying the Corsair H80i cooling fan. I’ve had a terrible experience with it. I had to RMA one because the screw threads broke; then they broke on the next one also, so I had to do some weird replacement screw/electrical tape fix that will probably backfire.

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Attack Penguin Rocks Wedding Processional

November 23rd, 2014

Some of you may be familiar with my former band Attack Penguin, comprising me on drums and synth and Terry King (rest in peace, friend) on guitar and vocals. Well, Terry’s best friend growing up, Lauren Libera, got married this past weekend and wanted to incorporate his music into the wedding to honor him. So she asked me to adapt the Attack Penguin song “Keanu Reeves” to organ to use for her wedding processional.


Attack Penguin play “Keanu Reeves” live at the Black Cat in DC, 2006

…um…

ABSOLUTELY.

Lauren specifically liked the intro to the song and was able to get an exception from the Catholic priest to use it for the procession. All cleared to go, except that:

    • I don’t have an organ
    • I can’t really write sheet music
    • The intro needed to become a 4-minute piece
    • Organists only have two hands and two feet

All surmountable things for Attack Penguin, of course. I used a virtual organ and started off by writing the main melody line and layering Terry’s beautiful, simple guitar intro. This got a little boring over four minutes, and wasn’t really utilizing the best part of an organ (the low drones you can wrangle out of sustained chords), so I added some deep, low chords in a few spots to really fill up the church. Building off those things made it easy—I finished it off with a couple of section changes and some melodies that were inspired by Terry—what I thought he would’ve written for the organ.

Writing the music always seems to be the easy part. I exported the song to some sheet music software and, well, it resembled Black MIDI (perfectly great digression: if you don’t know Black MIDI, you must. It’s like really fast metal music where musicians cram as many extremely fast notes as possible into a song, making the sheet almost black. But it’s all digital and with virtual instruments. We are talking THOUSANDS of notes per minute).


A great example of Black MIDI

Figuring the organist miiiiiight not want to figure that out, I spent quite a long time quantizing (moving every little note into exactly the right spot so that it would look right on the music staff) and getting my sheet music ready to go. I was really happy with the result, because I really think it captured Attack Penguin and Terry.

I’m very happy to share the full song, “March of the Attack Penguin,” here:



Here’s a page of what the final sheet music looked like (much more doable than Black MIDI):

sheet

And most importantly, here’s the video of the result:

March of the Attack Penguin from Will Copps on Vimeo.

Congratulations Lauren, and ACK ACK ATTACK!

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Binaural Recordings and Documentary Video of 4DSOUND

November 15th, 2014

Binaural recording is a special method of recording audio involving placing microphones in one’s ears or using fake “heads” with ears that hold the microphones. This specialized technique allows the microphones to capture sound just as human ears hear it. A listener, wearing headphones only, can then hear the sounds played back as if their own ears were in the space–allowing them to hear which things were in front of the listener, behind the listener, etc. It’s an imperfect science but artist Sero gave it a go at the 4DSOUND event. CDM has hosted the playlist–my performance with Ana and Shaun is track 4 “4D Will Bin.” Sero was not walking around the space, only in one place, but with a nice pair of headphones you can hopefully get a bit of the spaciality of the piece.



Also, Fiber has put out an excellent documentary of the piece. You can get a great idea of the system and the different performances that we gave during Amsterdam Dance Event. Check it out here:

4DSOUND Spatial Sound Hack Lab at ADE 2014 from FIBER on Vimeo.

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Composing 4D Sound in Amsterdam

October 20th, 2014

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Performance with spatialization running on screen. Photo courtesy of the awesome Rosa Menkman

Your first question is, very likely, “What is 4D Sound?” So let’s start there. “4DSOUND” is actually the name of a sound system that was built in Amsterdam by a team of four (very cool and helpful) guys. The system consists of a raised floor (containing 9 subwoofers) and 15 pillars (each containing 3 omnidirectional speakers). There’s a ton of code behind the system, too, allowing you to spatially locate each of your sounds (either at the speakers or anywhere else in the room) and control their size and movement. So, three dimensional spatialization (3D) + the ability to control the sounds over time (1D) = 4D.

This past week, as part of Amsterdam Dance Event (a festival monstrous beyond any explanation I could accurately give), a team of musicians/hackers/coders/visualists were invited to a “Hack Lab” to explore new possibilities on the system. The event was hosted at Compagnietheater by a bunch of cool companies: Liine (behind the excellent Lemur software I use constantly), Ableton, FIBER Space, and CDM (my favorite website). Throughout the week there were some excellent performances and workshops from the Raster Noton label, Peter Kirn + Robert Lippok, Stimming, Max Cooper, and Vladislav Delay. On Sunday the Hack Lab gave their performances.

I was lucky enough to be in a trio with Ana Rincon (Hyperaktivist) and Shaun Crook (of Imprints). While we had a ton of ideas for how to use the system, we settled on a creating a spacey, drone-like piece that explored using subtle spatial movements and composition to create a listening experience that people may not have quite had before.

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View to the floor

While the system is pre-loaded with custom movement patterns and live movement controls, we wanted to script some slow and complex movements to fit our music. The piece we made started with “The Onion,” which was a script we made to feed one sound source (Shaun’s custom-built distortion rack/oscillator, played live) into four different spatial objects that expanded from the center of the floor over the listeners. You can visualize it sort of like a pulsing onion—four layers of sound, each effected slightly differently and cascading at different times and rates.

Next we brought in a dark synthesizer sound that originated below the onion (beneath the floor). It expanded slowly into a stereo track that flooded beneath the floor and then rose up over the audience, drowning them in bass sounds. We then launched field recordings of fireworks, programmed to sound very distant in all four directions–it had a cool enveloping effect as if the fireworks were all around the building.

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My Friday workspace

From there, we brought in an ambient piece I wrote on Friday evening with the sound system in mind. I wrote the piece in two octaves and spatially put the higher octave on top of the lower octave (looked like an “=” sign). We then slowly descended the entire thing, so that the music seemingly shifted into a higher octave as it played. After that, we took 8 stereo recordings Shaun made of a pedal steel guitar and placed them through the space, drastically splitting the stereo images. It created some interesting phasing relationships before we slowly pushed the sounds out of the room. Lastly we experimented with two stereo drum tracks playing on each far side of the space while Ana rocked out her Roland TB-03 “in the middle” and Shaun generated some interesting sine waves.

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The descending “=” sign… the white lines are the speakers and the red and green boxes are the two ambient music parts

A bit confusing maybe (sorry!), but unfortunately it’s impossible to accurately document something like this yet. I wish I could share all the performances with you: interesting harmonic fields you had to walk through to hear changes, cool data sonifications, and even sonic Pong. I do believe there may be a recording or two out there of the performances, so I’ll see what I can get my hands on. I’ve been completely immersed in this system for a week, so please let me know if I skipped anything or if you have any questions about it!

A huge thank you to Peter Kirn for organizing the Hack Lab, and also to Nick from Liine, Celine and the rest of the Ableton team, the Fiiber crew, and every single person on the 4DSOUND team for their help in making this happen! As always, the best part of an event like this is meeting so many fantastic people. Now back to mixing in stereo, I suppose. Although this has given me some ideas…

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