January 31, 2022 § Leave a comment

I am adoring how a single patch can lead you to a myriad of possibilities, and the Cyclical Patterns patch from the Grandmother manual is doing just that for me. I intend to work through all available patches in the manual and the other free PDFs Moog have made available, but I haven’t moved on since coming across this one, as I have become obsessed with it. In this patch you take the output from the Oscillators, feed it into the Hi Pass Filter, then feed that back to the Noise Oscillator In. The interaction that then ensues from moving all those parameters (the 2 Oscillators with all their characteristics, the Noise Osc, the Hi Pass Filter, and of course everything else) is just mindblowing in its endless possibilities.
Another thing that has kept me busy is trying to find a way of playing this synth in a way that feels personal and like I’m actually *playing* an instrument, ie making conscious (although sometimes spontaneous and/or semi-improvised in origin) interpretation choices and decisions – not entering random notes on a keyboard for arpeggiating or sequencing, which seems to be a recurrent feature in a lot of gear demos. I sometimes play the keyboard as if it were just that, a keyboard instrument, with no Arp on, the challenge being its monophonic nature, which is pushing me to work extra hard on bass lines, chord inversions, and a kind of “stuttering” way of playing to get a chord-like feel.
But I find the interaction between Arp mode, Hold button and actual playing particularly interesting: it really makes a difference how you play, and with my favorite addition to the Grandmother being a delay – in this case the MF-104M – the way the Grandmother gets “caught” – or not – by the delay is really dependent on that. For the first two repeats I am using my right hand in a mallet-like way, then on the 3rd repeat I’m leaving my fingers on, which is kind of killing the delay, then on the 4th I manage to get a bit more delay by slightly lifting them. I think I prefer the “mallet” style.

IMPLOSION-EXPLOSION – extended ending for live shows.

January 25, 2022 § Leave a comment

This is what it sounds like when I keep playing “Implosion-Explosion” with the settings as they are at the end of the song: extreme delay on the Moog MF-104M Delay (the Feedback pot is at 7) means the MF-101 filter sounds even crazier that way, reminding me of the way the wind sounds in harbours against sails or flags. This is just the Yamaha Reface YC in its Ace organ setting sent into the Filter, itself bussed to the Delay, and this ending can truly sound amazing in a live context, and varies every time, as the way the 2 pedals interact is so subtle and depends so much on how much drive there is in each one of them. To me this is truly where the magic of analog lies. 
Drum machine: Elka Drummer One into Roland RE201 Space Echo, both @soundgasltd
NEXT SHOWS in Barcelona @elpumarejo 11th March and London @kingsplacelondon 19th March – details in LIVE section


January 12, 2022 § Leave a comment

This year I’ll be sharing thoughts and stories on my 20 years of activity under the Colleen moniker.

Yesterday I showed this list of shows from my website to a friend who only met me a couple of years ago, when I nearly stopped playing live shows because an untreated and then not-adequately-treated health condition (Hashimoto’s, aka autoimmune hypothyroidism) left me totally exhausted and unable to live a normal life for more than 2 years.
At the time, she was under the impression that I wasn’t “doing much” and had no clue about the amount of live shows I’d already played worldwide. Showing this to her yesterday, even I could barely believe the sheer amount of work this represents. Strong memories of people and places immediately came to mind for some shows, while others elicited a complete blank.
Time passes and it is weird how sometimes our own past life seems to belong or to have been lived by another person, or even several different people. I don’t really feel I’m the person who did all this traveling and playing, nor do I feel I am the person who then was not able to do *any* of this. 
In any case, I’m laughing at myself now for any feeling of guilt / laziness I felt last year when I decided to stop playing live shows. And I’m smiling at the thought of reversing that decision, even though the pandemic makes everything seem remote and unlikely. 
If you want to catch me live, your best bet is Barcelona 11 March @elpumarejo and London 19 March @kingsplacelondon where I’ll be playing not 1 but 2 full albums: Captain of None and The Tunnel and the Clearing.


January 9, 2022 § Leave a comment

In the fall of 2002 I released my first record ever, a 7’’ on tiny French label Active Suspension. Around the same time, I sent a CDr of my just-completed first album to various labels: I got a couple of replies, but only one was interested, The Leaf Label, and this is how this whole journey truly started. I had *absolutely* no clue it would lead to this. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined all that would happen, and even less that it would last this long. And fingers crossed in the hope that this is still a long way off, but I now truly think this project will die only when I die.

7 albums: 3 made in Paris (2003-2007), 3 in Donosti, Spain (2013-2017), and so far 1 in Barcelona, last year’s The Tunnel and the Clearing, with LP8 well under way. The 3rd record on the table is 2006’s (nearly album-length) EP Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique.

It is my hope (and a plan) that little by little, the albums that have been out of print on vinyl will be reissued in a coherent manner (sadly the last represses of my early albums are now largely unavailable due to a legal dispute with The Leaf Label that led to these albums having to be put out of distribution).

In 19 years, with a large gap between 2009 and 2013, I played 232 shows in 23 different countries, with the US being by far the country I’ve played the most (38 shows) followed by the UK (24) – which makes sense considering I was first on a UK label that also had good US distribution, and my current home is the mighty Chicago-based Thrill Jockey. The full list is on this page.

I did not go as far as counting the number of instruments I’ve played on those albums, but I reckon that would probably be around 20 perhaps? If you are fairly new to my music, you may not know that I’ve changed setup/instrumentation on almost every single album, and that this was once a purely instrumental project. A great place to start if you’re curious is the wonderful retrospective that Bandcamp Daily so kindly wrote last year, which was conducted with my input.

No Oscar-style thanks to end this post, since I regularly thank online and offline the people who have helped me the most. But a massive acknowledgement of the importance of YOU the listeners, both new and old. Some of you have been listening to my music for 20 years now, and what a privilege it is to go through life with the knowledge of this shared journey. And I feel just as happy about all the newcomers. THANK YOU.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for January, 2022 at colleen.