As is the longstanding tradition for DigInt, the About section is written in the form of an interview.
What, exactly, is DigInt?
DigInt is an online netlabel which releases Creative Commons-licensed music available for free download. DigInt primarily releases the music of David Kibrick, the author of this site. It has also provided recording and limited music release for the Fiat Musica choral ensemble, a women’s interest group of the University of California, Santa Cruz. It may feature music from other artists in the future.
(If you’re looking for the Fiat Musica recordings, you can find them here.)
About the artist, David Kibrick
What is your music background/how did you get started making music?
I’ve been interested in music from early childhood, when I was introduced to music via my father’s vast collection of classical music on vinyl LPs. Growing up, I had some piano lessons here and there, and an FM/cassette boombox where I listened to various stations (pop, jazz, and eventually KZSC, where I would eventually have my own music show), and used the combination of the cassette recorder and the manual tuner dial to embark on my very first foray into experimental music.
I didn’t get serious about recording music, though, until I was in my senior year of high school, when I was designing an audio documentary with a couple of college students. One of them, an exchange student from England, introduced me to the wide world of electronic music – which, unbeknownst to me, was flourishing in Europe, while keeping a decidedly low profile in the states (even in its heyday, trance music was a bit of an “underground” genre, briefly peaking in popularity with the rave culture, and going back underground now that the new genres of hip-hop, dubstep and other tepid excuses for “dance” music flood the club scene). Inspired, I began to listen to DJ sets off of the BBC’s Radio 1, as well as internet radio stations that carried similar material (foremost among them DJ Tornado’s mixed station, which is regrettably no longer online).
A few key points influenced my journey into musical composition. I had become proficient at picking out basic melodies on an old Yamaha keyboard, but had no real way to turn them into a permanent composition. Then, one day, I came across the program Melody Assistant, and discovered in it a powerful music-sequencing engine. True, the sound quality wasn’t on par with the likes of Rebirth or others, but it was a start.
The other key point was discovering mp3.com. I first heard about it, I believe, when the site made the news by being sued for copyright infringement. When I visited the site, though, I was amazed at the huge variety of independent artists exhibiting their tracks for all to listen. I quickly found a number of excellent electronic artists, and the thought began to simmer in the back of my own head – that I should become an artist on mp3.com. At this point, I was in college, and doing an electronic music show for KZSC radio, and mp3.com quickly became my primary source of finding new music and introducing it to my listeners (along with a few other sites that were specifically dedicated to video game remixes).
Then, one day, it happened. I was working on creating station IDs for my then-intensive project of shoutcast-based internet radio, when I ended up with what became known as Project – Modified. On a whim, I decided to create an artist and post this short bit of audio to mp3.com.
Since then, I’ve produced dozens of tracks of music spanning several albums, and progressed from Melody Assistant to Harmony Assistant with a higher-quality sound base; and from there to Logic Express, and then Logic Pro with a huge selection of digital instruments. I’ve been doing this as a hobby for quite a number of years now, and it’s been quite a lot of fun to experiment with electronic music, while at the same time creating some very unique and distinctive, something that I can listen to and immediately recognize “I made this.”
What do you like about producing electronic music?
One thing that I’ve really enjoyed since getting the new setup is the ability to actually do some improvised and “live” pieces and playing. Before this, the closest I could come to this was picking out a melody on my Yamaha keyboard or the house piano, scribbiling down the attendant pattern of notes on a piece of paper, and then manually entering them into the notation program, basically guessing as to the note lengths, durations, and effects, and getting the desired effect through a lot of trial and error. With this setup, however, I have both a realtime recording program and and actual keyboard controller, meaning that I can play virtually all of the instruments that I have live. Some of my more recent pieces reflect this – while they end up having more mistakes on occasion (it’s true that I can go back and clean up some of the notes later on, but sometimes this affects the way the piece sounds – and with one of my setups, it records straight to audio, so you either live with a minor error or do the piece all over again… and as a lot of my pieces are done on the fly, creating the exact piece over again is a bit of a feat), in certain contexts, I like the sound of some of the finished pieces more. Being able to improvise in this fashion means that instead of just sitting down and plugging a way at a project, I can really experiment with different sounds – once I’ve found what I’m looking for, I can either build a piece around it, or use different phrases played live in conjunction with quantization and other sources to build into a song. The new technology surrounding music is incredible in what you can do with it, especially for the price – I can’t admit to having a hugely expensive studio setup (albeit it is a bit more of an investment compared to what it originally was), but for what I do have, I’ve been able to create some incredible sounds, and I’ll probably get my hands on more in the future, as the technology continues to improve and expand (at this point, I would hesitantly conclude that I can recreate close to any sound in contemporary music outside of vocals with creative enough use of my current setup).
Computer music is a brave new world, and I would encourage anyone with any aptititude for music whatsoever to give it a try. For no, or very little money, anyone with a PC can get their hands on an incredible array of technology, and create near professional-quality sounds from the comfort of their own home. Just as digital photography has brought high-level technology to the masses, computer music setups bring the same thing to anyone who wants to create music, and once people really start taking advantage of it, I have a feeling that it has the potential to revolutionize both the music industry itself, as well as how we think of music and our relationship to it.
What is your music philosophy?
I originally named my “band” Digital Dissonance, as a sort of in-joke about my philosophy towards music. I’m the kind of person who loves experimenting with music, and I invariably love listening to the results that I get, as they’re tailor-made to my musical taste (I created them, after all). However, my musical taste probably differs for that of other people, and I would not generally predict that the type of music I create has much in the way of mass-market popularity (and, honestly, I’m more than fine with that). As a result, I invariably take on the stance that I’m going to promote my music, regardless of what anyone things of it. Perhaps that’s the stubbornness in me speaking, but I’m going to make music my own way, and I’m not going to compromise what I do to satisfy popular tastes or the whims of a random critic. If you like my music, great – I love working on these experiments with sound and music, and I’m glad that you are able to enjoy them along with me. And if you don’t like it – well, no one’s cramming it down your throat, and there’s a whole world of music out there that might better suit your taste. Overall, my philosophy is, if I create a track that I like and that is interesting to me to make and listen to, even if I’m the only person in the world who likes it, that’s good enough for me – and if other people listen and enjoy it as well, that’s icing on the cake.
What’s your studio setup like?
All production is done in a small-to-medium-sized room, with no acoustic treatment whatsoever. The music is primarily EQed on studio headphones, and later tested out on whatever sets of speakers I can get my hands on (my crappy mp3 player earbuds, my car stereo, people’s home stereo setups, etc.). While some songs have been “mastered” to an extent using various compressors/limiters, I am a long way from being a mastering expert. So, that being said, be aware that the tracks are not all uniform, and are all produced differently, according to the way I hear them on my setup. As a result, some tracks may have different volume levels, or sound different on your own setup. Personally, I’ve had pretty good luck listening to my tracks on everything from the mostly shot speakers in a twenty-year-old car to a reasonable-quality home stereo system, so I would say that my music generally sounds okay on most setups – you just might have to adjust the volume a bit.
Current Studio Setup: Mac Pro (2.8Ghz Quad Xeon, 4GB RAM), PC (Windows 7), Laptop, Edirol PCR-30 USB keyboard controller, Altec Lansing MX5021 speakers, Sennheiser HD 380 Pro monitor headphones, Zoom H4n/Olympus VN-702PC field recorders
Software/DAW: Logic Pro X, Harmony Assistant, Reaper, Sonar X3 (PC)
Primarily Used Plugins: Reaktor, Filterscape, Tantra, Alchemy, MicroTonic, Permut8, NLogPoly, Logic Plugins (EFM1, ES1, ES2, Ultrabeat, effects)
Additional Plugins: NI Komplete 7, Garritan Personal Orchestra, Crazy Ivan, Destroy FX, Bitsmacker, EVE, SynthMaster, Synplant, The Mangle, Dune 2, Sunrizer and much, much more…
iOS Studio Setup: iPad Mini, iPhone, Isle of Tune, Alchemy Mobile, Synthmaster Player, Beatwave, sequence, Caustic, Earhoof, Figure, PixiTracker, iKaosscilator, Rhythm Studio, Quincy, Fieldscaper, BitWiz, Grain Science, Sir Sampleton, Intermorphics and many more
Original Studio Setup: Powermac G4 400Mhz, Yamaha PSR-420, Apple Microphone, Midiland 2.1 Speakers, Harmony Assistant, Melody Assistant, Sound Maker
Intermediate Studio Setup: Power Mac G5 Dual 2Ghz, Edirol PCR-30 Keyboard Controller, Altec Lansing MX5021 2.1 Speakers, Arturia Storm Music Studio, GarageBand, Logic Express 7, Harmony Assistant 8.5 w/ Gold Sound Base, various synths/effects (Vanguard, Reaktor Session, Filterscape, too many other plugs to list)
Why isn’t your music on (insert distribution site here)?
I used to have most of my music on mp3.com – I liked the interface, the submission process was easy, and you could just, well, upload MP3s (unlike certain other sites, which require a full, uncompressed sound file, something that is a considerable challenge to do given my rather unimpressive internet speed). Since its demise, I haven’t really found a site I like enough to consider replacing it.
On my own site, I have a very streamlined and customizable workflow for getting my music online, and since I’ve got plenty of hosting capacity to support my current volume of downloads (and quite a lot more), there’s no real incentive aside from some redundancy. That being said, I have been experimenting with SoundCloud for a couple of my songs, and so you may occasionally see a widget on a song page that will allow to play directly from that service (however, given its storage limitations, I don’t anticipate using it all that much). Until a site comes along that is a paradigm-changing improvement over my current site, though, I anticipate primarily releasing my music here.