Archive for the ‘Music News’ Category

Génie Musical Du Jour- Dialogue with Dub Gabriel

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Musical embodiment, to me, is a kind of consistency experience.

On occasion, I get to exchange ideas or experience with folks who are, as Henry Rollins says, “…Sticking to their story.”

No chase of pop; no rockstar identity that gets in the way of the music becoming expressed fully.

One of my favorite artists who consistently exemplifies this sort of constancy is Dub Gabriel.

Dub Gabriel

Dub Gabriel Mexico 2011

Sure, he’s worked in large studios and rubbed shoulders with giants (Michael Stipe, U Roy, Master Musicians of Jajouka, Karsh Kale, …) and can play traditional instruments as well as computer gear…but fundamentally part of what’s so interesting is that he maintains a very compassionate and humble musical identity; which I’m guessing why his music has stayed so consistently kickin’, fresh, powerful, bassive, and good-natured.  Even humorous.

The music: strong, forceful, somewhere between dancehall, chillout, drum and bass, organic dubstep, and dub….

But those are just labels.

Dub Gabriel manages to integrate computer technology, like Ableton and the APC40; and yet the good ear can hear some Moog and Spring Reverb in his work that could have only come from live gear…and, when listening to his music, contrasted with many other artists with some sort of overly-specific style, it’s very clear to me that he has few limits and/or genre-trappings…he just does what he pleases, or maybe more specifically, what the moment requires.  This produces a superior product.

Unafraid of traditional instruments or computerized tech machines, I think he exemplifies the sort of relaxed and yet determined nature that a musician of the future must possess.

J.Coppercat:  There is a really good use of negative space in your music….do you have a ritual or focus that keeps you patient in the studio?

Dub Gabriel:  For me what really makes music groove is not the notes, but the space between them. As a bass player for over 25 years, I’ve been chasing low-end frequencies and the spaces they embody for the majority of my life – whether it was playing in the school jazz band, punk rock shows as a kid, or mashing things up on my APC40 as I do today.

As for my focus in the studio, it’s a place I go to out of necessity and for relaxation. I need to spend dedicated time making music in the studio on a daily basis for my own sanity. I quit my “day job” August 22nd, 2000 and have spent almost every day since then developing my craft.

J.C:   Ai Weiwei was incarcerated recently; you’ve been promoting the awareness of his art on FB…. Which dystopian society does China remind you of most? Feel free to make Sci-Fi mashups.

D.G.:   Well, I’m not sure I need to throw together a dystopian-sci-fi-mashup for this one as my take on the detention of Ai Weiwei is quite literal – it really struck a nerve for me. I’ve been a fan of the writings of Ai Qing, his father, for the past 15 years, and a fan of Ai Weiwei’s work for the past 4 – I really jibe with his concepts and message. In a broader context, China has become a global powerhouse with its cheap manufacturing and international loans and our greedy quest for profit is overshadowing their human rights violations. The people in China are tired of the abuses and hungry for change and, as history has shown, the power of music, art and literature can mobilize the masses and overthrow governments. We MUST be vocal/visible in our support of the rebellion that is beginning to bubble over there, in the hopes that we can penetrate the veil of mass media and bring about real change.

I should also probably mention that I have a deep personal connection with China. My wife is Chinese and moved to San Francisco when she was 4 years old. Her parents recently moved back to China after 25 years in the States and almost all of her extended family lives over there. I have been to China a few times and expect to go back regularly for the rest of my life. I have also gigged over there in some pretty extreme situations like Givenchy’s runway show for Beijing Fashion Week and a “raging” dubstep show on a boat last year – all pretty surreal. The most important thing is that the response from the fans is always incredible. They are so visceral and hungry for new experiences that it makes it a really fascinating and rewarding market to play.

(Subsequent to this interview, Ai Weiwei was tentatively released! Yay for our team!)

J.C.:  You’ve been rocking the “DUB” monaker for some time….can I assume this is a reference to Sly & Robbie era Dub…? How do you feel about the proliferation of Dub, Dubstep, etc.? Helpful or hindrance?

D.G.:  Yes, yes and… yes.

J.C.:   Do you build your waveforms up from scratch/empty space, or are you a sample-wrangler/ editor? Favorite Waveform or LFO shape? Reverb setting? Computer or Gear?

D.G.:  I do all of the above and more. As soon as your process becomes fixed you start to limit yourself. Every piece of gear and every program I own gives me a different possible approach to song writing – it all depends on what I pick up first. The vast majority of the sounds I use I have created myself in some way or another. I have a Moog, a Theremin and other analog sound devices that I will mash with my tube tape delay and other outboard gear. But, I also use soft synths – a lot of Native Instruments and heavy processing. That being said, I may find a loop that makes it onto a track from time to time. Things like reverb or any other processing is all about doing what’s best for the song. As the mangled Hassan ibn Sabbah quote goes: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

As for my gear set up at home and on the road, this is what I’m currently running:

DAW: Ableton Live 8, Logic

VST/AU: Waves, Soundtoys, Softube

Soft Synths/Drum Machines: Mostly Native Instruments

Soundcard: RME Fireface800 in the studio, NI Audio DJ for live

Mic Pre: Neve/Amek 9098 w/EQ

Vocal Mic: Neuman TLM103

Analog Synths: Moog Little Phatty, custom made Theremin, custom made analog dub siren with analog delay and fx.

Outboard Processing: Fulltone Tube Tape Echo, DBX-120xp Subharmonic Synth

Monitors: Adams AX7, Event Studio Precision8’s, boombox with RCA in’s

Also, about 80% of the time I am mixing in commercial studios, so I always end up in Protools. I use Mark Pistel’s (Hercules & Love Affair/Meat Beat Manifesto) studio a lot – he has a really nice Neve summing mixer, an API2500 stereo buss compressor and about 20 different analog synths. Mark is a good friend and a great engineer, now that I’m living in SF it has been very cool to start projects at home then take them over to him for the final pass. If I’m not working with Mark I will typically go to Prairie Sun in Cotati and mix down on an SSL with Oz Fritz (Tom Waits/Bill Laswell) or, when I’m in NY I will go to Stratosphere Sound which is James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins‘ studio where I work with Geoff Sanoff (Green Day, Television, Nada Surf) and mix on a nice Neve Board. All 3 engineers are amazing to work with and I learn a lot every time we get together on one of my mixes.

J.C.: Alright,  fill-in-the-blank. Your favorite part of Dancehall is ______ but you would change the _____ and the _______.

D.G.: My favorite part of Dancehall is THE ROOTS but I would change the COCAINE and the AUTO-TUNE.


J.C.:  Okay, on a more serious note: Snares: loose/tight? wet/dry? synthetic/organic?

D.G.:  All of the above and a few combos that might surprise you – it all just comes down to what’s best for the song.

J.C.:  True or False:  Analog gear is virtuous.

D.G.:  TRUE.

J.C.:  True or False: Analog gear is torment with wires and electronic purgatory.

D.G.:  TRUE.

J.C.:  Vinyl: Do you miss it? How cheap will the vinyl cutters need to become to drag us back in time?

D.G.:  Yes and no. I will always love vinyl and will continue to release on it where it makes sense. I love old school record stores…. worked in them for years… I prefer having my personal music collection on vinyl but I don’t miss DJ’ing vinyl at all. Much as I love the tactile nature of wax when DJ’ing, it is so limiting when compared to what I do now in Ableton Live with the Akai APC40 – it’s a whole different beast. From a distribution standpoint digital has also opened a completely different market where I can get certain projects out there almost instantly with little-to-no cost. But even with all of that, a digital file is not nearly as exciting as getting your music on wax – it’s not going anywhere as long as music is being made.

J.C.:  The APC 40, Triggerfinger, Novation Launchpad, MIDI Fighter, and Monome get into a barfight over “some lady’s honor.”  Who wins and why? Be abstract. Extra points for flippancy or weirdness.

D.G.:  The APC40 leans over the bar, grabs a bottle of tequila and proceeds to mash the living shit out of everything in reach. Yes, I am an Akai Pro artist so I may be a bit biased but, there really is no contest – the APC40 is a true slayer.

J.C.:  The live set you posted recently on Soundcloud was mindblowingly good…danceable, groovy, some gnarliness, phat bass, lotsa riddims and space. Almost jazzy in concept…. Do you have a formula or are the performances spontaneous?

Dub Gabriel Live at the Hi-Fi Club 3.23.11 Calgary (Free Download) by Destroy All Concepts

D.G.:  Glad you dug on the set, it was recorded at a great party I played last month in Calgary! I am all about the spontaneity that comes from live performance; you feel the energy of it. Even when I fuck up, I usually leave it in when I’m posting a set to the net – it’s all part of the vibe And I do appreciate the Jazz reference! it’s a really good metaphor for what I am trying to do when I play out. I do spend quite a bit of time setting up my sets in Ableton in such a way so that I can take things ANYWHERE I want to go. What I end up performing is a hybrid DJ set with a lot of studio dub tricks and performance-driven live electronics. Hopefully you end up with something that is more engaging for the audience then a guy on Serato… Just Recently I saw a video of some big-name DJ’s; basically they would hit play and their whole shtick was to just jump up and down to the music, which really is quite silly. If I am going to be up on stage feeling the music I need to be actually doing something, not just going through the motions… Maybe that comes from my live band background – I am up there to PLAY music, not just be a clown.

J.C. :Alright, one last query: The key signature you somehow seem to invariably pick is _____________.

D.G.:  Whatever key my hand lands on…


For more information regarding Dub Gabriel:



10 years of Coppercat Videos

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

It’s wild how 10 years of art-making can just slip on by.
Here’s a collection of the Coppercat music videos; the earliest is from 2001.

Most are pretty trippy. You might want to find a comfortable chair.

Chris Ursitti and The Coppercat- Leviathaniel HD

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

After much feverish editing, compressing, re-compressing, and general wrangling, I have successfully uploaded one of the songs from the forthcoming album, “Doubly,” to the YouTube TheCoppercat Channel!

I am very excited…this video might be one of the trippiest things I’ve ever seen.

SUPER stoked that it’s the video element to one of our best new songs.

Chris Ursitti is one of my favorite collaborative partners; his style is intense, and yet refined; often he uses shamanic/mandala themes recurring amidst torrents of color and awash with psychedelic twinkles.

When I watch this, I feel the benevolent blue Jedi apparition of M.C. Escher, floating overhead, smiling.

TheCoppercat Versus Kenabis-Bunny And Rooster(CoppercatMix)

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The first result of some collaboration projects between The Coppercat and  Kenabis, in which we collectively made samples and each went back to our studios to make final mixes…Kenabis, aka Kenji Aragaki, besides being known for gravity-defying bicycle skills, is an infamous DJ and producer, and has been an excellent influence on my work as of late….his style is severe and yet gentle, a bit like a master swordsman. “Measure Twice, Cut Once!”
Oh yeah, he is a swordsman.
No wonder. TheCoppercat.Versus.Kenabis-Bunny.And.Rooster(CoppercatMix) by theCoppercat

Chris Ursitti, a.k.a. Kit Chaos, and The Coppercat Video Collaboration- SpaceGirl

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Kit Chaos, aka Chris Ursitti, Blur Mandala 2006

Since working with one of Electric Sheep‘s most infamous Shepherds, fractal artist and painter  Chris Ursitti, on an independent full-length forthcoming DVD (SpaceWalker), ideas had proliferated about a secondary collaboration….Chris and I had enjoyed working together, and are enjoying the benefits of internet-based collaboration; he’s working from Woodstock, NY, whilst I’ve been able to telecommute to the project from Alameda, CA.  (And Dr. Moses Wolfenstein, PhD, aka Moses Operandi, chimes in from Madison, WI, as our star keyboardist/percussionist/accordionist/vibrophonist)

After some considerable conceptual tennis, we’re proud to show you the first public release of this secondary, twelve-minute-long new video collaboration, entitled and themed “Spacegirl.”

SPACEGIRL from Kit Chaos on Vimeo.

It is a mix of genres and styles, old and new– with classic early 1990′s Rave culture being a locus for the project’s intention.  The Spacegirl song is from an uptempo Podcast, entitled Spaceship Green, of years past…It was originally a transition between two other Coppercat songs in an hour-long, continually mixed set.

I love making music, and find it deeply satisfying to create new and exciting material, but nothing is as exciting as accidentally making something so interesting that it self-evolves.  This song just kept reifying itself until it had its own identity…

Very biological, if you ask me.

An identity, almost like an organism, which is formulated by two different entities sharing common code….Jeez, this is getting Sci-Fi in a hurry.

And now it has a video?

Go Spacegirl, Go!

And yes, we’ve already received so many requests for a follow up video, Spaceboy, that it’s already under production.

-Jeremy Richardson, Caterwaul: the Coppercat blog, October 8, 2010

The Coppercat at Dragon Dubs Steppas Club at Oasis in Oakland, July 29

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Dragon Dubs Steppas Club

Come see The Coppercat perform at Dragon Dubs Steppas Club at Oasis in Oakland, July 29, 2010.

It’s a low-cost ($6 after 10pm, free before) high-quality Dub, Dubstep, and Reggae-vibed show,

at the Oasis in Oakland, put on by the Dragon Dubs folks.

Oasis is open-air and chill…You’ll be able to smoke a Swisher under the stars and listen to underground dub,

dubstep, ambient, and reggae-influenced hip-hop;

whilst you sip your mojito and contemplate the finer things in life.

I’ll be choosing selections from my latest albums,

including excerpts from the forthcoming Dub Side of Mars double-album from the Crypticon Label!

(so new that nobody outside the Coppercat Labs has heard them…fresh, fresh, fresh!)


Oakland’s #1 Outdoor Venue

135 12th Street, Oakland

Musical Genius of the Day: George Cochrane (Origami)

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Musical Genius of the Day

I’ve started a new feature on the Caterwaul blog:  interviews with fascinating musicians, artists, writers, dancers, and visionaries…from an artist’s point of view.

My intention is to furnish the audience with a conversation that would transpire inside an artist’s studio, without the trappings of pop-culture or paparazzi.

The first interview is with one of the Bay Area’s absolute best underground producers, George Cochrane.  George produces consistently fantastic music of all genres and styles.  He plays drums, bass, keys, synthesizers, button-and-knob machines, and sings…and he’s a studio engineer, too.

George Cochrane

July 9, 2010

Jeremy Richardson, the Coppercat, interviews George Cochrane (Origami, of DJ2 and Cubik & Origami, Andrew Phelan and Origami, The Fingermonsters, and The White Pinecone)

Q: When you write, do you manifest lyrics or melody first?
Do you coalesce them with effort or serendipity?

A: Lyrics tend to come to me in little snatches that float into my head while I’m making a sandwich as the raw loop blares in the other room. I often find myself running back into the studio to jot things down before I forget them. The vocal melody tends to get improvised on the first take, and refined in subsequent takes.

Q: Uptempo or Downtempo, BPM, Key Signature, Major/Minor…how do you decide from track to track?
What’s your method or madness?  Logic or whimsy?

A: If I get to choose, (I.E. it’s not a specifically commissioned track/remix) the tempo and tonality is typically dictated by my mood, the music I’ve been listening to, or the recent trajectory of the stuff I’ve been making.
This means I make a lot of widely-varied stuff, which is a blessing and a curse, I guess. It makes marketing/promo a pain but hey, you’ve got to do what makes you happy.

Q: If you were on Permanent Vacation on a desert island, and could only have one,
which would you pick: AutoTune or a Vocoder, and Why?

A: Vocoder, for sure, because most of them can be used as a cool little fixed filterbank, and I think that it’d be more entertaining as I while away the hours in my bamboo chaise lounge. Plus, I could say “Pin-a Cola-da” through it, to the tune of “Around The World“, when I got thirsty.
On the serious, I prefer Melodyne over Autotune nine times out of ten. I only use Autotune when I’m lazy or I WANT messed-up audio.

Q: A BPM  you’re obsessed with and a story that pertains to it is:

A: When I made a lot of tech-house (I guess I still do), I enjoyed the beautiful shape of 126 BPM. The numbers themselves, and the pace- Just fast enough to get you up and dancing, but not TOO fast. I have an unnatural affinity for even numbers, too.
These days, most of my housier stuff lives around 115-122 BPM. There just seems to be more room for expression when you’re not tripping over the next beat so fast.

Q: The Secret Recording Technique you probably shouldn’t share is:

A: My favorite thing of late- if you’re making crunchy, square-wavey music (Electro House, Dubstep, etc) and you’re valuing slam and attitude over fidelity, try cascading a gluey compressor and couple of mastering limiters on the mix bus, each set to a few dBs of gain reduction. Put some “character” plugins between them, and if your DAW does it well, push the signal into a little (digital!) distortion at a couple of points in the chain, making sure to get the signal back out of the red with the final mastering limiter.
I cannot believe how huge I’ve gotten things to sound that way. It’s all a matter of harnessing chaos. A lot of the work we engineers normally do to retain clarity is counterproductive in those styles. You just want to CRUSH it and CRUSH it again, and give it a good kick in the cojones for good measure.

Q: Care to predict the date of the RIAA fall? Obvious extra points for specificity.

A: Not soon enough. ;) I think it’s going to take quite a few older folks retiring and taking their inflexibility with them, as seems to be the case in many other media-oriented governing bodies. I think everyone going out and making a living through smaller entities instead of the majors is going to help hasten that transition.

Q: iTunes: love, hate, or indifference?

A: I like the iTunes store a lot. They charge artists less per sale than most other online sales outlets, and it’s a nice place to preview albums before you download them illegally (KIDDING!). They do have a distressing habit of omitting songs from records, especially back catalog stuff, which is weird, and the DRM is a pain.
Then again, most days I “pay” an artist by buying their album on iTunes, and then I grab a high-quality, unrestricted copy from a download site. It’s pretty stupid that we need to do that, but I’m glad the conduit to give money to artists is there.

Q: Frets or fretless?

A: Frets, these days. My intonation is in terrible shape from lack of fretless practice.

Q: What is the analog gear you “wish they’d remake?”  What is your current favorite DSP plugin?

A: I wish there was a smaller, lighter replica of the Sequential Circuits Pro-One. Same control layout, routing options and sound, but the size of, say, a thick laptop. COME ON DSI! I can get the sounds I want so much faster on that box than anything else, and it’s all about that layout and the logic of it. I spend every day shaking in terror that it’s going to catch fire and my career will be over. ;)
My favorite processing plugins at the moment are the Softube stuff. The Amp Room plugins are incredible, I often use them on a return in my sessions and just send stuff there to add touches of grit to different things. The Trident A-Range EQ and FET Compressor are golden, too.
My favorite plug-in instrument is probably U-He’s Zebra. It just sounds incredible and the modular structure is fun. With Live 8′s ability to only include certain synth parameters in the automation lists, it’s really nicely controllable, too.

Q: I remember that you had a bunch of interesting basses. Is there any way you’d
give us a list of all or some of the bass guitars, amps, and synths you’ve had?

A: Haha damn, this is going to be quite the list:


Hohner P-Bass
Charvel Eliminator
Gibson Grabber
Mexican Fender Fretless Jazz Bass
Crazy custom 6-string fretless (wish I still had this!)
Ibanez ATK 5-String

Eko Fiddle Bass
Warwick Streamer 5-string
Fender Precision (1974, love it)
D’Armond Ashbory


Peavey Minx
Peavey DataBass (AWFFFFULL)
SWR Redhead (devoid of character)
Ampeg B25 (tube, awesome, way too quiet)
Eden Traveller (quite nice, stolen)

Traynor Bassmaster (tube, just loud enough)
Ashdown combo (lovely tone, a bit fragile)

Keyboards/Synths: (sticking to keyboards because modules would make this list way too long)

Ensoniq ESQ-1 (died catastrophically… sad)
Roland MC-202
Emu Emax
Octave Cat (died catastrophically… really sad)

Sequential Circuits Pro-One
Roland Juno 106
Roland SH-101
Fender Rhodes 73
Hohner Pianet

Q: The strangest sound
Matthew Kent-Stoll (Cubik) ever converted into a phat beat was:

A: Probably the various sounds one can make with a gas cartridge in a soda siphon. Clink! PSSSSHHHHHHH

Q: Your Intergalactic Space Cruiser, if/when you have one, will be shaped like:

A: I think it’d look like that crazy warp ship in Mass Effect. The spinning part in the center would be an amazing dance club/gourmet restaurant. (what a view! :)

-Jeremy Richardson, Caterwaul: The Coppercat blog