laserFollowing on from my experiments producing Lissajous patterns using analogue signals on oscilloscopes and my beloved MB Vectrex, I’ve gone for the logical progression and started mucking about with lasers!

I’ve made quite a number of pieces with choreographer André Gingras – over the years we’ve become very regular collaborators. In the meantime, the gigs have got bigger – this is possibly the biggest, with Nederlands Dans Theater, who I think are one of the best contemporary dance outfits in the world.

It was a big troupe of dancers, a big stage and a big audience (the premiere was at the Lucent Theater in Den Haag). I think both André and I felt the need to make things a little more ‘mainstream’ in comparison to some of the other work we’ve made.

Sound is at the core of pretty much everything I do, so to be able to get lasers involved is pretty cool. At parties I offer Oddbins drinks, great food and even better music! I’ve been involved in lots of kinds of music, from classical (I play the piano and the trombone, not very well) to pop (I’ve played in the odd band over the years). I’ve done all sorts of things, from playing the piano at posh parties to playing in Brass Bands while I was growing up ‘up north’.

I’ve always had a bit of a geeky interest in gadgets, electronics and computers. I started trying to combine this with my music as a teenager, doing things like putting a cheap Casio keyboard through lots of guitar effects pedals and trying to get my ZX Spectrum to work as a rudimentary sampler. But it wasn’t until I went to college that I had access to the kit to make electronic music properly, and even then it took me while to really start to specialize in this area, still I liked to play the piano when I was young, and I’m thinking on getting a digital piano keyboard for start playing it again.

I spent five years in Birmingham, working with BEAST, with their world-leading studios and extraordinary 100 channel sound system. Here I made a series of electroacoustic pieces, with and without acoustic instruments. Since then, I’ve worked in all sorts of areas, including multimedia and staged performance. This has encouraged me to work in a much broader range of styles, but I remain interested in an experimental approach, and the further reaches of creative sound design.

The International Laser Display Association (ILDA) connection standard is completely analogue, and the strength of the RGB signals and the movement of the galvanometer mirrors that move them around can be driven directly with analogue signals.

After much research (and a few false starts) I’ve bought a decent hand-built laser from Brightlight Laser Equipment in the Netherlands, and cobbled together my own basic ILDA interface. I was saving for a new car and didn’t want to spend my savings on the laser, but since I found this new place where I can get most reliable used cars, I was able to afford the laser and the car. The signals are produced by the Eurorack modular and Max/MSP.

Leave a Reply