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Why I produce LOOPING FESTIVALS: is looping a valid musical artform?
Dear Fellow Loopers (and fellow artists who don't consider themselves
loopers but use looping tools in their music).
I've been reading with increasing interest about potential Looping
in places as far flung as Emeryville, California,
Seattle Washington and somewhere, mysteriously, in Germany.
I've also noticed that the debate keeps coming up about whether LOOPING
should be considered a separate musical artform
or whether such festivals are "legitimate" or not. Indeed, in the past, I
have spiritedly debated this with our list coordinator (but
NOT leader) the esteemed and talented, Kim Flint.
I can't answer that question for anybody. Each person needs to have their
own take on it and figure out where they stand,
but I have produced 14 Looping specific Festivals in Northern California in
the last three years (with several festivals in the works for later this
summer and next year) and I thought it might be good to let everybody know
why I am working as hard as I am to promote the cause of LOOPING. I am
making NO MONEY doing any of it directly (although more on that subject
With regards to the debate about Looping as an artform or Looping as merely
a tool that individual artists use in their works:
Music is music and obviously with the diversity of styles and types of
musics on this looping site alone (from Tom Heasley's gorgeous Tuba
mantras to Richard Zvonar's sample manipulations to Andre LaFosse's
brilliant abstract guitar excursions to my wacky 'found sound' aesthetic
Stan Card's surf rock grooves
to Steve Lawson's wonderfully melodic and crazy electric bass mantras, we
Looping to be a 'form' of music.
Why then, for god's sake, do I produce Looping Festivals?
Here's the answer:
1) I want to foster community.................something sadly lacking in
Calling ourselves loopers creates a sense of family and belonging.
This feeling was very palpable, as I'm sure anyone who was there would
Hans LIndauers' LOOPSTOCK in San Luis Obispo.................enough so
Larry O graciously wrote us up in Electronic Musician last month.
2) Journalists and Radio DJs are sick of the status quo................we
have not been in such a horrible static slump in mainstream
pop music in almost 30 years. Calling attention to the new technology,
Looping, both educates and gives journalists and radio/televison dj/vjs a
handle................it makes them feel like they are part of the cutting
edge.............it gets great publicity:
I'm performed on air to a million people for a total of about 3 1/2 hours
the last three years because of my efforts to promote
You just can't get that kind of exposure any
other way as someone who is 'out of the box' (the dominant, major label
paradigm that has strangled creativity for so long).
3) I'm so invested, personally (and I think we should all be as
artists) in exiting that box (lawyers, contracts, distributors, labels and
usury in general). Being part of a new 'movement', such as it is, is
a way of identifying with something that doesn't have a strong
precedent..........It's a way of getting people's attention that something
'new' is coming. People are starved for new creativity. Mark my words,
the next 3-5 years will see a new musical explosion even in major label
because people are so starved for something outside of the Major Label
4) Just having something tangible (the label LOOPING) to identify with has
gotten me offers to do musuem gigs, festivals, tours,
soundtracks, modern dance commissions and resulted in several artistic
Two cases in point:
A) The World's First Bass Looping Tour featuring bassists Michael
Manring, Steve Lawson, Max Valentino
and myself (as the only bass playing non-bass player on the tour enabled us
play a 30 minute set on KPIG, the worlds' largest internet radio
station.......2 weeks later, the head of TALKBASS.com
e-mailed me and told me that mentioning his website and the tour diary that
we posted every night after each cities' performance
had caused 20% raise in the hits to his site and that his website traffic
had stayed up consitently for at least the next two weeks.
He was very appreciative and I felt very proud of all the artists who
participate in that.
B) The success of this tour's performance so excited the director of the
San Jose Museum of Art that they have subsequently
hired me to curate a whole series of shows that showcase emerging trends
technologies in both Music and Live Video
Animation. This has already resulted in the planning of the 1ST WOMAN's
LOOPING FESTIVAL on Friday, October 4th,
the FESTIVAL of LIVE COMPUTER ANIMATION, where top artists in this field
will be 'jamming' visually with the loop based music
of WALKERS (my duet project with my brother, Bill Walker) and subsequent
BASS LOOPING festivals and festivals of Experimental Guitar.
5) This new technology is allowing certain kinds of
music to be made that has never been possible before
and , certainly, never by one human being.................I can do really
'outside' timbral things and suddenly incorporate them into
a pop song in real time, if I want.................Some of the work being
with Repeaters, EDPs, MAX/Dsp and !LIVE computer looping software
is unlike any other music that I have heard from one or two performers.
For the first time ever, I can sample or loop a found object right in front
audiences face and then 'play' that sample like a melodic instrument with
my wind synthesizer (or any other midi controller: guitarists,
take note). Heretofore, audiences have not been able to
connect strongly with how much the sampling world has effected modern
6) I learn like a m*therf*cker every time I do a festival with other
loopers. I get my creative juices
stimulated incredibly. I produce better 'art' when I perform at a
That's why I produce Looping Festivals..................in what other way
would I successfully be able to
promote a concert with myself and , say, a genius like Tom
Heasley..........what do we have in common:
We are in the baby stages of learning this technology (or at least, I am)
and in learning how
to 'put it out' to the world in a viable way.
Vis a viz, making money with Looping, as far as I can see, it cannot be
done much yet, but it is only a matter
So what I shoot for is:
1) not losing too much money with a tour (I have a 12 country solo looping
tour scheduled for Europe and the British Isles for
next summer (2003). I
2) making as big a splash as possible by aggresively connecting to
indedpendent, pirate and college radio DJs and journalists
3) Always roping in one to several other artists (usually loopers in my
particular case) to
a) double or quadruple our draw and
b) create a sense of community
c) save expense money by scoring 'floors' to sleep on :-)
d) meet and collaborate with new artists (I'm an improviser, so I
to do two solo sets and then a set of imrpov at nights' end)
Those are my thoughts on the subject. To anyone who is remotely
considering putting on a looping festival
in their locale, please consider me a source for moral support and/or
advice/information about what I"ve learned
to make these events have maximum impact.
To those of you who grumble and say "I don't care what he says, Looping is
not a musical form" I say,
so be it................no need to compromise your values and
aesthetics..............but it is o.k. to let
us naive ones' have our fun, right? Also, I would invite you to come
the after performance dinner
(or breakfast as in the case of Loopstock) and soak up a little of the
wonderful and exciting artistic
giddiness and vibes that happen there. After Loopstock, I was brimming
with so many ideas for
new things to do that I'm afraid I wore my poor brothers ear off on the 3
hour trip home...........I was high for
weeks.........I'll bet others were as well (thanks so much Hans).
Do I reveal myself for the idealistic, communalist, aging hippy that I am?
Loop on my friends and go get 'em Emeryville, Seattle, Chicago, New York,
Germany, Wales, London, Paris and anyother
place that is considering having a looping festival.
yours, Rick Walker (loop.pool)