We turned the tables on Jeremy dePrisco: Musician, Producer, Technologist, our Music Director and podcast co-host and put him in the hot seat. Listen to the podcast here and scroll down for his answers to our Q&A.
I create recordings – music, soundscapes – and produce music and audio for others. Sometimes I make electronic gadgets and noise makers. I also produce events from time to time, or help others produce events, both live and virtual.
Anyone really. I’ve worked with a number of bands and solo artists, but I also do voice over work. I once did a project for a hospital system that needed material for a training module. A friend of ours was doing a project on dialects and pronunciation, so I recorded material for her.
A lot of my background involves theatre, either from a sound design/foley perspective for composition. That has transitioned well into podcast stuff.
I tend to be “sub-industrial”, meaning I operate under the radar a lot of the time. This is partly by choice, but also because I look for specific projects that interest me. The commercial music industry has never held much interest for me.
When it comes to my own creative output, I still look at things every much as “before 2010” and “post 2010”. Up to 2010, I still considered myself a singer-songwriter, performing mostly guitar/vocal pieces. After 2010, I moved much further into the electronic and experimental realm. The two audiences rarely overlap.
I’m currently in the Norristown area, west of Philadelphia.
Back when the first series of Star Wars movies were coming out, I would make ships and displays for them out of whatever was around. Somewhere I have pictures of all this stuff, including an old console TV cabinet that had a Jabba the Hutt throne room on top and a Rancor pit in the bottom – complete with trap door.
Later when I got into Dungeons & Dragons, I would make castles and pirate ships out of boxes and cardboard that my dad would bring home from the factory where he worked. At one point I was also creating my own games too.
My dad was a big influence on making, since he was usually experimenting with electronics and ham radio. So sometimes we’d make things together or he’d help me with ideas (like drilling out the trap door for that Rancor pit). There was always an endless supply of boxes.
I’ve been making music in some form since about the age of 12. In high school I got a 4-track cassette recorder, and that spawned my love of recording and experimenting. As I learned to play guitar and bass more, I also started writing songs. I always looked at recording as an integral part of the writing process. To this day I find it difficult to separate them.
Lately, I think it’s been the exploration of the unknown and the unusual. I don’t think it was always that way though. I think early on, music was something I did to try to replicate a song or an artist’s style. I think lately it’s a lot more about creating something different.
I’ve seen a notable shift in the type of music I’m creating. With Americana, Folk, or Blues forms, I would usually create to express something on my mind. That material would be shaped further by live performance, and being around other musicians in a community.
In the past couple years, my focused has moved – consciously or otherwise – to much more instrumental and abstract work. Part of this was a reaction to my last two moves, and later to the pandemic.
There are some prolific Kickstarter makers out there that inspire me, and I’ve tried to get involved when possible.
My musical influences tend to be schizophrenic. Some favorites include Tom Waits, Ian Anderson, Jai Uttal, Beck, Ry Cooder, Bjork. East Asian and West African music… particularly groups like Tinariwen and old Afrobeat from Fela Kuti. I’m also inspired by mavericks like Harry Partch and Ken Nordine.
Omri Cohen is a German electronic music artist who specializes in VCV Rack, a virtual modular music application. He’s actually been instrumental in teaching the community at large about the application through his tutorials. He’s very knowledgable and inspiring in what he shares.
Ryan Earnhardt from the YouTube channel Creative Sound Lab comes to mind. He focuses on recording tutorials and techniques, but in a very low-key and non-hyped way. I actually got to meet him during a trip to a festival in NC a few years back. He thought it was funny, but it was kind of like meeting a celebrity.
Steve Mokris, is a multimedia artist from Ohio. I met him via the electro-music community. He created Project Ruori with some other musicians and multimedia artists, and I think they had an impact on how I’ve approached visuals since 2010. I particularly liked their way of using humor to address the mundane and bureaucracy.
Tanner Serpa from SerpaDesign has been very inspiring to me lately, but not because of anything musical. He runs a YouTube channel that specializes in terrarium and aquarium builds, and the stuff he does is just amazing. I’ve learned a lot from him as I’ve tried to bring my love of plants indoors. We can’t have a large garden right now, so this scratches the itch.
We also watch too much Netflix… Abstract: The Art of Design, and PBS series about Craft in America come to mind. We’re also big fans of Forged in Fire, the blacksmithing show.
I’ve also been inspired by many of our guests on the podcasts, particularly the educators working with multimedia.
I feel like I am just settling down after relocating in 2019 and again in 2020. Combined with the pandemic, that’s made it very difficult to establish roots and get into a groove. But things are looking up, with some new STEAM offerings I’ve put together for programs like VCV Rack and Touchdesigner. I just scheduled a two-part Touchdesigner workshop with an arts center in Columbus, OH for January and February 2022. I’m also scheduled to do a digital media workshop with the Crefeld School in Philly this spring.
I’m playing bass and mixing a project for Paul Loomis, a folk singer out of Central PA. I’m also editing content for some audio books, and have started a new collab with a sax player.
Of course, there’s the Philly Maker Faire Podcast. That’s been a good experience. There’s been some discussion of a music-focused event for people we’ve interviewed on the podcast, and I am excited about those possibilities. The idea is still coming together. We just need to find the right crew to pull off a quality hybrid event.
I’ve got enough material for a couple different solo releases, but I am also my worst critic in terms of letting stuff out into the wild. I have a set of unreleased tracks for “Government Inspector” a satirical play by Russian-Ukrainian dramatist and novelist, Nikolai Gogol. So maybe that will be released. In addition, I’ve been working on a collection of pieces that include manipulated spoken word performances. It’s turning into a full hour of sonic madness, and I am really having fun with it.
I continue to learn about electronics from time to time. A few years back I started exploring Brain Computer Interfaces, and have recently been getting deeper into that via the OpenBCI platform. Most of this is just for personal learning, but I’ve also found some collaborators who are willing to explore together in their spare time.
How do we bridge the gap between academic makers and amateur or self-taught makers? It seems to me there’s still a huge divide there, and often people that aren’t working at the academic or PhD level don’t have access to the same resources or get left behind.
Also, how can I get more involved as a collaborator or educator to share what I’m doing or combine resources?
How are folks tackling hybrid events? Do they need help?
I always come back to the Mid-Atlantic Droid Builders and especially the life-sized R2-D2. I was like a giddy little kid when I saw that up close!
Prior to moving to Philadelphia, my wife and I were involved in the Bloomsburg Mini Maker Faire in Central PA. It was organized there by the local Children’s Museum.
In 2016 and 2017, my recording studio sponsored entertainment. My wife and I also had a table selling pepper jelly and some other things from our garden. In 2018, I mixed things up a bit and took a contraption that I called the SCI-FI-LOPHONE, which was based on the dadamachines project on Kickstarter. Their device consisted of MIDI controlled solenoids that can be used to play music or create an installation.
I couldn’t participate in the Central PA event in 2019 due to our move to Philly, so I was itching to meet some people in the community there. I went to an event at Tiny WPA, on Lancaster Ave, and then later found the folks at NEXTFAB who were planning the Fall maker event at Pennovation.
The 2019 Maker Faire was a blast. I was playing in two bands, had a solo set, and helped coordinate the two stages. I continue to stay in touch with many of those artists and the folks I met there, including Jono from Plynth.
At the 2019 Maker Faire, seeing the stages come together, and knowing that we added something special to the event with the music/sound.
Teensy Audio Project https://www.jeremydeprisco.com/teensy-audio-project-demo/