Music & Sound Retailer September 2020, Vol 37 No 9

Page 40


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help others make better music. That is noble and inspires most of us. Plus, it’s way more satisfying than corporate computer sales where you know everything you sell is going to be garbage within five years. (I did that job to pay my bills after college, so I call it out for the soul-sucking digital snake oil that it was.) But the MI industry is real people making the world more musical.


(continued from page 46) tra and special guests Bjork, Joni Mitchell, Jorge Pardo and Michael Brecker. Vince’s music is so lush and immersive that I feel I’m waking from a dream when the music stops. His collaborations with these other artists are exquisite.

The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future (post-pandemic)? Brown: Primus — “Tribute To Kings” Tour. My best friend from childhood is a Primus megafan — he literally owns basses played by Les Claypool — and he’s flying down from Alaska so we can meet up with friends in Bend, Ore., in 2021 to catch the postponed Primus tour. My first experience crowd surfing was at a Primus concert, so I’m excited to see them again and feel that energy. The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod? Brown: Right now, I’ve got 40

a sugar-pop energy playlist that includes Katy Perry, Bomba Eseterio, Ingrid Michaelson and AJR mashed next to Rage Against The Machine, Trombone Shorty, Louis Armstrong and Bob Reynolds.

The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? Brown: Winning the “Best In Show” and the “Tools For Schools” award in the same year for our Key Leaves, my flagship product. That was a high like nothing else and really helped turn heads toward what Key Leaves is doing. The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industr y? Brown: The fact the MI industry is ultimately driven by makers and music geeks. Some industries don’t make or do anything. They just move paper, market schemes or prey on people’s fear. But the MI industry is a bunch of craftsmen, band geeks and gear heads trying to make better music or

The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Brown: The greatest change agents in our industry are always the musicians, particularly those who bust up our gear and break our rules. Look backward, and we see every new genre includes a new instrument or radically unconventional use of an instrument. Look back at the fringe “non-musician” DJ geeks with their laptop battles and touchpads disregarding traditional chordal tech instruments like piano and guitar. They managed to craft genre after genre of EDM, which now makes a goliath portion of the MI industry. I look at Imogen Heap’s gloves. They are amazing. Average people would love to sculpt music from the air with their hands, but most folks don’t know Imogen, and she doesn’t command the audience to warrant that change. But I wonder how quickly shelves could be stocked with gloves if someone like Taylor Swift began using them. And I really marvel

at saxophonist Derek Brown, who literally cut and bent and fused parts onto his saxophone to make it as radically percussive an instrument as the percussive mouth techniques he pioneered. Derek’s a self-produced YouTube artist inspiring the next generation of sax players who will likely cross over to yet another genre as saxophone is so apt to do. I am not seeing sax makers adapt to this movement yet, but I think they should. Radical changes in our industry happen when musicians find a new way to touch the sound. That’s where tinkering musicians and indie gear makers do their magic to really change things up. I like to keep an eye out for the weirdos who don’t play their instruments correctly and use what seem like parlor tricks to make music I don’t understand. They are probably pioneering powerful new genres while I struggle with the trappings of tradition.

The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Brown: I am wildly fascinated by compliant machines (a mechanism that gains at least some of its mobility from the deflection of flexible members rather than from movable joints) and generative design (an iterative design process that involves a computer program to generate a certain number of outputs that meet certain constraints). I would love to study these seriously and see where it led me. SEPTEMBER 2020

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