The MIDI Association Artist Interview
•Tell us about yourself briefly.
I've been playing music most of my life; I got started in the 70s as a guitar player via a healthy infatuation with progressive rock and fusion. Today I spend most of my time earning a living outside of music, but playing, writing, and recording music are still my obsessions.
•What was your first encounter with MIDI?
My first exposure to MIDI was in the mid-80s when the bass player I played with, a guy named David Garza, got a DX7. So I would say he turned me on to MIDI. A couple more keyboards came through our hands including a Korg DSS-1 and a PolySix. It was incredible that they could be stacked and synced via MIDI; we incorporated sequenced keys into our live performances starting in 1986, which was great for doing Peter Gabriel and David Bowie covers as well as our original tunes. Around 1987 I got an Alesis HR16 and a couple of midiverbs to support my 4-track recordings. By '89 I had a PC with Cakewalk 2 (DOS) and a MIDI interface, which I synced to the 4-track via SMPTE. Next came an MKS-7, Matrix 6R, Peavey SP/SXII (yep, that's right), SY77, ADAT, Yamaha O1V and a MIDI-based guitar rig centered around a Marshall JMP-1 MIDI-controlled preamp plus Quadraverb GT. This is way too much detail I'm sure but writing it makes me realize how central MIDI has been to my musical life.
•How do you use MIDI today?
These days, due to the limitations I have in terms of time, I mostly do improvised music and jamming, and MIDI is as important as ever. I use an iConnect MIDI 4+ in my live rig along with thru boxes to plumb MIDI wherever it needs to go. For my guitar rig, MIDI is used to keep things in sync, but I also have a MIDI pickup that I use to double up guitar lines w/synths. I use MIDI-synced loopers (Pigtronix) and effects on guitar, and keep them in sync with my table-top synths and effects. With this setup I can create solo soundscapes all day long, or fill out a duo or trio to make it sound much bigger and deeper. I have various keyboards, sequencers and controllers as well. I've upgraded to an O1V96i for my main desk. I'd incorporated a laptop into my rig for the last 5 or 6 years, but lately I'm drawn to staying OTB.
•How has MIDI allowed you to do what you do?
Very little of what I do in a live setting would be possible without MIDI. I do like to "just play" whether it's acoustic or electric guitar, but I quickly hear additional parts that I want to add, and it would be frustrating not to be able to do that if I didn't have MIDI.
•Anything else you'd like to add?
I've probably said enough! I don't have a lot of published output but I occasionally put stuff up on SoundCloud as Mothhaven (https://soundcloud.com/mothhaven). I'm glad the MIDI association exists and wish you guys the best.