If you’ve seen a recent show of mine, you’ve probably got a taste of live-looping. People always ask how I got stared doing it. And like all good inventions, I had a necessity – I needed a show! When I moved back to Seattle after cruise ship life, I needed a way to perform without a whole band. My beat-boxing and harmony skills have been such an asset to me after all! And I probably wouldn’t be where I am now, without the weird hobby I invented in college during a very solitary time.
After my first couple a cappella shows, I started recording multi-track a cappella arrangements on my computer for fun. It was not a very social activity because it took a lot of time alone in my room exploring and figuring it out (…that’s what she said). My first ones were silly “Happy Birthday” messages to friends. Then I graduated to whole songs arranged in my own a cappella way. Recording all the harmonies took forever to get right and in tune. But I loved the arranging process and I spent so many hours alone in my room singing and recording music with just the basic software that came with my computer. I’d listen carefully to each instrument and tried to reproduce it with my voice: drums, guitar, horns, bass (there was an “octavising” setting to make my voice low). That year, I even put out a (now kind of embarrassing) CD of my creations for Xmas that year. I was covering songs by Rihanna, TLC, Maroon 5, Ricki Lee Jones, N*SYNC and a few others. It wasn’t the best CD but you can hear how these recordings influence what I do now with my loop machine.
Fast forward to after the theme park shows and cruise ship contracts, I moved back to Seattle and had to figure out what I to do with no bandmates and no budget and no gigs. I had to think critically. How was I going to pay my rent, AND sustain my career in music on land?
My first solo gig was rough. Two full sets of me solo felt like a lot of material with just me and a ukulele. I brought an old one track looper I had from college that I used to play on – but I had never actually gigged with it. My “arrangements” were basically just beat-box and shaker. I was just really new at playing by myself and I was nervous and the show was basic. People could definitely tell because I never heard again from that venue about future dates – which pretty much says it: I was not good enough yet. But I was still inspired! And now I had a direction to navigate. I could make this gig work and perform as a soloist. I just had to put my energy into making my live-looping show work for me.
I bought the “The Big Daddy” of loop pedals: the BOSS RC-300, which I still use today. It has three channels so I could bring instruments in and out with one click of my foot. I practiced the looping process day and night to get my timing and harmonies just right on my first take, every time. Half of the performance is me creating each components of the song from scratch, live! I love getting to play my favorite popular tunes, original music with my small library of instruments. I am proud to share my process creating it so people can see how I built the song from the ground up. I love and appreciate entertainment that is interactive and makes the audience part of the whole experience – so it is my aim with the music I choose to play.
One of my favorite a cappella covers I recorded back in the day was “Mercy” by Duffy. I had already made the CDs so his particular track never got heard, but I like it! Completely a cappella, but with some vocal effects, and a kazoo 😉
As a THANK YOU for being one of my subscribers, I wanted to offer a download of one of my early a cappella creations I produced!
Free download of my a cappella version of “Mercy” by Duffy, here!
If you like that and haven’t obtained my Acoustic Demo of my original song, you can also check that out here.