Livelooping in California

In late October 2023, my The Absurd band colleague Michael Frank and I travelled to California, for fun and especially to perform on the 20th anniversary of Rick Walker’s Y2KLoopfest, an international gathering of musicians who use livelooping as a central element of their music.

San Francisco! We spent three fab days here. They say that the city is not what it used to be but … this short time was enough to make us feel sad when we had to leave.

After this: a week in Santa Cruz, hanging out with the crazy livelooping tribe. Rick Walker was the organizing hero again. The private accommodation he found for us was amazing (big thanks to Philippe and Ruth for having us !!!).

Intense three festival days – very diverse half hour sets of almost 40 musicians from the US, Europe, and Japan. What an incredible collection of talent, and all just for the love of it – not for money! This is a nonprofit thing and nobody got paid.

Liveloopers Tim Thompson and David Tristram created the psychedelic video backdrops during the festival, and several of us worked hard to create a good sound and to keep the festival running.

On the evening of the first day, Rick Walker (drums + percussion) jammed with Michael Frank and me under the name of „Third Wave“. I wasn’t quite convinced of my own contributions, but it was fun anyway, and the audience seemed to like it. (The second video contains a shorter remix by Michael Frank focussing on the psychedelic animation backdrop.)

I started the evening of the final festival day with my solo set. (Sorry for the video quality – the main view was taken from the live stream which was great to have – thx to Bob Amstadt – but for some reason the images stuttered and didn’t run as smoothly as the sound, the other view is from a little camera in front of my feet.)

The music is mostly sonically demanding (with harmonious interludes) and experimental. Listen loud if you love experimental music!
I used my old Hohner GT2 guitar with a midi pickup, just an iPad as guitar processor, running virtual instruments, sound processors, and loopers (such as Loopy Pro with four unsynced loops this time, and Hainbach’s Gauss).

Michael Frank performed after me. He played a combination of his compositions for The Absurd, rearranged as solo pieces, plus loop sound improvisations. I loved his set and many other people did as well.

It rained on the Monday after the festival, and it was sad to say farewell to everyone, old and new friends. The livelooping community feels so much like family, and who knows when we can meet again !

After Santa Cruz, I went north to Santa Rosa to meet John Tarrant, my favorite Zen master, then south to La Jolla (near San Diego) where I stayed with my old friend Doris, her husband David, and their cat Buster for a few days. A hike up a mountain with spectacular views. Beach walks. The Pacific Ocean. Pelicans. It was warm and sunny, in mid-November.

I still felt California sun in me when I came home to cold Germany.