Transcription: 0309 - Joe Caputo

Released: January 12, 2020

Darwin Grosse: Okay. Today I get a chance to talk to somebody new to me - or mostly new to me. His name's Joe Caputo. Some people know him as 'Computo'. He runs a little show called Voltage Control Lab. I actually first met him a couple of years ago. I told him this story and I'll tell you the story as well - I met him a couple of years ago at the NAMM show, and he had these really cool buttons with this great icon VCL icon. And I loved the button - and I actually put it on the sun visor of my truck. The other day I was driving and the sun was really bright in my eyes. I flipped down the visor on the truck and then there's the VCL button and I'm like, "Oh, I get it. I'm going to reach out and make sure that we get that podcast going."

So, I reached out and he's into it. And thus we get a chance to chat. So with that strangled introduction, let's say hello to Joe. Hey man, how's it going? Going good. How are you? I'm great. Yeah. Thanks for taking a little bit of your holiday time to have this chat. I really appreciate it. Why don't we start off by having you describe, the variety of different things that you do, because I know that you got your fingers in a lot of different pies, so why don't I have you spread the meal out in front of us?

Joe Caputo: Sure. I mean, I think I put the, I try to focus on the music first. Been making music for almost 20 years, making my own music. I've been playing music for a lot longer than that, but I started producing and making music - really writing my own music, and bands in college and through that process was introduced to more contemporary experimental and electronic music. I'd heard all of that electronic music before; I'd been to raves and things like this, but I really got into the experimental side in school and started producing my own work. And that's where Computo came about. Kind of a play on my last name, and to make computer-based music. So Computo has been a project running for nearly 20 years now and it's kind of oscillated around a lot of different styles.

Most recently, [it's] landing on house music, a lot of club-focused house music, trying to put... to use some of the fun sound design skills that I've built up over the last many years for a more entertaining purpose rather than as heavy of a thing as we might find on the education side of things. But, so, Computo has been a big thing and that's led into a lot of other musical projects. But a man's got to live, and we can't always live off of weird experimental music. So I got into the education side of things, really through working support at Native Instruments back in the mid-2000's. It was technical support, so it was part education in terms of teaching people how to properly implement sometimes the tools that they've purchased.

Also, it's a little bit of psychological support and walking people through the fact that they're not going to be able to do exactly what they want to do right this minute - that they're going to do some work and learn something and figure something out. So in that process, and then transitioning out of my role at Native Instruments, I started doing a lot more education initially as a trainer for them. As an artist coach, they would send me to artists' studios and homes to train them on the Native Instruments stuff, try to get them to actually use the Native Instruments products if they weren't. And that turned into actual teaching, through initially Dubspot, then a couple of other schools. And the last few years I've been working at Musician's Institute in Hollywood and for the last year or so, I've also been working at a school in Burbank called Icon Collective, which is a little bit more focused on electronic music production.

I also have been producing with a couple of other artists the last few years. The whole reason I'm making house music right now is I've been producing with a former student of mine, LP Giobbi, who is an incredible performer and DJ and pianist and a producer and sound designer. So we began producing together and that led me into the house music world, which was something that I was largely unfamiliar with before a few years ago. And I've really fallen in love with the focus on fun and it's enjoying of the process as opposed to lamenting the technical specificities of the process, which I find comes sometimes with the more experimental side of things.

Darwin: Sure. That makes a lot of sense. It's a different kind of... the experimental side sometimes has a tendency to feel a little competitive, in not a great way. And, if there's anything that's just built to be fun, that's house music. And so it seems like you, you chose a nice direction there.

Joe: Yeah. And I try to measure that I am constantly battling within myself about not wanting to leave that side behind, not wanting to any point remove myself from the process and the possibility of creating these things. And I think that's been a process of understanding my own limits, my own ability to budget time so that I can do some of those things. I have another project called The Blessed Oscillator with two friends of mine, which is largely an ambient electronic project that melds together the analog hardware modular world and the super-technical new software world through machine learning apps that we engage with the with the the modular systems, kind of like biofeedback controllers coming from plants. I saw you had Mileese on your program a while back. We were using this one module from Instruo that will do that kind of biofeedback type of information gathering, whether it's plugged through a plant, or you put it on somebody's hands or something like that. You get this kind of biofeedback; now, she (Mileese) does much more in depth work with that material, that information. But you know, we try to combine that super-technical side of things with the performance aspect of those things as well. And so, it's an opportunity to get that more experimental sound focused time and to do it with some frnds and make that more enjoyable and less competitive.

Darwin: And also, it's a kind of experimentation that - rather than just experimenting with what you plug your patch cords into - it's also how you're interfacing with the real world, which I think is a curiosity for almost anyone. So it bridges - it buzzes past - that thing of like, "I'm the first person to have this module. That's why you have to look at me!" Instead it maybe gives people the opportunity to say, "Oh, hey, he's doing something really peculiar interacting with flowers." Or something.

Joe: Yeah. And I think there's a freedom in that in terms of, "Okay, well what can we put together out of all of this crazy stuff that we have in front of us?" All of the things in the computer that'd be Max for Live or weird Ableton routings or whatever it might be. Or, how are we going to make that all interface with the system? Amongst us, we have weird stuff that we can throw in there and and it just kind of provides that pallette, that opportunity to nerd out and think a little bit outside that box.

Darwin: Right. Well, I'm going to want to come back to that because there's some interesting touch points there. But before we do, one of the other things you're known for is this Voltage Control Lab, a video channel you've had for a long time. What you did was module introductions or module working processes and stuff, but recently you've pivoted that into being a live show. So far, you've done three episodes. There's three episodes of a live show that where you're talking and showing stuff in action, but also just a riffing on whatever it is that's the news-of-the-day. Right?

Joe: Exactly. And so originally Voltage Control Labs started as a modular synth school online and the YouTube channel was in this process of creating a school, right? I did this out of desperation. The one school I originally worked for had fizzled and I was left with no work other than maybe one class at another school. And I needed to do something and starting Voltage Control Lab seemed like the best marriage of all of the things that I could do. I could make a website, I could do live classes, I could make - hack together, anyway - videos for YouTube to try to build a bit of a following. And, so YouTube became a loss leader, a term that I learned in that process of becoming a businessman, and you try to fight all of that shit when you're doing your music stuff, but it's kind of spilled over into the music now to where I realized the importance of some of these things, some of these ways of thinking.

But the school started in that format as a modular synth school where I was doing classes. I created a curriculum of eight different classes, mostly centered around the modular synthesizer. And we had one class that was dedicated to Maths. We had a Native Instruments Maschine class. So there was all kinds of stuff, but really focused around the synthesizer. And I ran that for four years and we did private lessons in addition - and it was fantastic. And I think I was just making YouTube videos every week, sometimes two or three a week. That's the channel that you mentioned on YouTube: Voltage Control Lab. And then there came a point where I got very busy, after many years of doing this, things changed. I got a couple of teaching jobs at Musician's Institute and Icon Collective.

And so I was getting kind of busy and still doing private lessons, but I didn't really have the time to make the YouTube videos. I got burned out as well. I was hustling to make those videos and I was doing everything in the process. I was managing the website, I was editing and writing scripts and it started to feel stale to me as well. I got tired of doing the scripted thing, which didn't feel like me. And the interactions that I would have with students would always be so much more exciting than what came across in those videos. One common element in online instruction pretty much everywhere you go is this idea of "office hours". I suppose they have it in real schools - at a time when you can just go to the teacher and ask questions.

Online it takes a different format because often in, in a physical school, office hours end up being a one-on-one time where you're asking the teacher a couple of questions that you maybe had prepared, things that you missed in class or something like this. And then bing, bang, boom, you're out, in comes the next person. Online, it's more of a discussion where someone might ask a question but everybody isn't waiting outside - they're all waiting, they're all sitting in the room to discuss the subject together. And so, it's like being in a room full of your fellow violin students or something like that where everybody might have the exact same module and we can all throw in our 2 cents on whatever the topic of discussion is.

And to me that's a very valuable thing, and I think it's one of the most valuable parts for the student. I think it's an opportunity for a lot more sharing thing usually happens in a traditional classroom setting. And that's where the real repartee happens, that's where the interesting discoveries happen. And everybody... working in technical support for Native Instruments was in many ways a hell job, because it was constant barrage of complaints, the only calls you got were people complaining. They weren't people calling to tell you how great you are. So the real benefit of that job - aside from working for Native Instruments - was the fact that it was in a room full of insane minds. I was in a room with Drum Cell and John von Seggern, who worked with John Hassell on his last record.

Victor Carrillo, who is on our show, and the creative director for Voltage Control Lab, Vangelis Vargas who is from Droid Behavior, from the techno scene, techno group. There's a bunch of just crazy cats in that room and that's not all of them Gabe Ferrer was one, Paris Minzer, a great mastering engineer, the number of really crazy people. It made it like, it felt like a boiler room. It felt like it was like being in college again because everybody came in with something to impress everyone else the next day. Every day somebody, like, went home and was doing something with the software that they were going to bring in the next day to blow everybody away. And so it was just a constant learning process and that's what I loved about the office hours. And so that's how I structured this live show at this point, two years ago I burned out on YouTube.

I got busy with other things. I also refocused in my own mind. I refocused on making music and this was all after trying to start a physical school in LA. I was trying to actually turn VCL into physical space. I worked for a number of months and put a lot of money into building a physical space and then ran into some serious real-life complications with that. Again, life lessons that business people are kind of expecting, but musicians and people who don't really know anything about business might not. Things like: issues with the landlord, issues with the space itself, "fun" money issues, all of these things, right? It's all real life stuff that, when you have the vision early on, you don't necessarily see all of those potential stumbling.

Darwin: I always think of it or like when, when you imagine the business, you never really have to think about buying rolls of toilet paper.

Joe: What's funny is that when those types of things came up, it was almost a relief because it was like, "Okay, this is just a list of stuff I could steps that I can take." As opposed to maybe the more stress-inducing issues that come with having what might you might consider an unsecure space, or a place in bad part of town. And some of it is just that voice in the back of your head that's just generally completely insane and says a lot of stuff. It doesn't really help you. And there's just a lot of things that went into that process where everything just stopped.

And, in the last few years, I've also lamented that and wanted to figure out some way to get it going again. And so the live show really felt like a way to do that. I also wanted a platform that I could bring on friends, artists, people who I think the world should know and maybe they already know. But, I'd love to have an excuse to get them to come to my studio in some cases. And, talk about the things that are happening in our sector of the world.

Darwin: And our sector of the world is a pretty interesting place. One of the things I like doing in my podcast is I like talking to people about how they got where they are - and you described the moving from Native Instruments support to more of a consulting role and then the educational role. But it seems to me you've always been a music producer first, right? That was the thing that was the anchor for you, but you still ended up having to have a lot of other skills in the mix. I think back to the Voltage Control Lab video series, the way that you open the doors for people, especially with modules like Ornament and Crime.

They are very popular on your channel for a reason. And it swung the door open for people who might not have been able to juice the idea of what was going on there themselves. The way that you describe, the work with Native Instruments is that, a lot of times, it was helping people crack the door on how to do something or it helped him realize that their dream scenario wasn't necessarily going to happen, but maybe there's an alternative way of trying. It seems like this kind of mentality is something that is something that comes from a unique background. I'm curious where are you coming from? Where did you come from? The music was important. I mean, and something that you felt deeply, but also where this ability to describe technical issues in a understandable way. Where did those things come from? I'm curious...

Joe: Yeah, I think a lot of it came from my parents to be honest. I basically spent a great portion of my childhood in a music conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio. My parents were both educators, at the Cleveland Institute of Music, which is a classical music conservatory. My dad, I believe he was originally a music history teacher and then he did a great deal of administrative work and was the Dean and did a number of different, different roles, helping to run the school. And then my mom was a music theory teacher who wrote and graded the GRE and AP music theory exams. And so they were both just incredible educators. And in a school that was a really one of the top five in the world, in its capacity, it's associated with the Cleveland Orchestra.

The teaching staff was, was pulled from the orchestra. And growing up in this environment I think had a great deal to do with getting into music at an early age - that was critical. I started playing violin at four because my mom was a violinist. I have to credit her. She sat with me and practiced with me, it wasn't someone brow beating me about it or something like that. But she was very patient and strong-willed about the insistence that I practice every day. And my my rebellion was deciding to take up percussion - or insisting to take up percussion at the age of eight. So I think being raised in the classical music world has a certain, what's the right word, a pressure-cooker type of, experience.

And you see how other people are hustling and practicing and how hard they're working and if you're studying those types of things, you're hearing those types of things. And, I eventually went to college at Carnegie Mellon for classical percussion while I was there. That's really when I was starting to experience things outside of the very cloistered world of classical music. And, of course, I liked other music. I always listen to other music. But you get into college and it's like you have all that freedom and it's a whole other thing. I went through my punk music stage in high school and now I was ready for some eye-opening experiences. And so that's where I was introduced to electronic music. I had a roommate who had a large record collection and so I learned to beat match and do those types of things.

And I started finding other other musical things that I could do besides just playing orchestral percussion - besides just reading the score. I decided that I didn't want to do classical music, got into a playing drum set rather than the traditional orchestral percussion. So I went to Berklee. That was really where I started to experience all the experimental sides of things. I had a band there called Somatose, with a great guitar player named Tim Leman, bass player named James Curl. We were like a fusion band, but Tim was really into the Warp Records scene, the Aphex Twin/Squarepusher/IDM scene. And that kind of blew my mind open about what was possible with electronic music. I had heard Daft Punk and I had a Ronnie Size CD back in the 90's, and I liked electronic music quite a bit, but it wasn't until I heard that stuff that really coalesced in my brain like, "Oh, now that is the next level."

And so I pieced together an old computer I had lying around and I bought a really crappy version of Cakewalk back in the day. It wasn't even the full version of Cakewalk, it was just a piece of it that came with a collection of sounds: they're probably like stuff for making Trance Music. But those are the sounds that I had. So I started learning to make electronic music that way. Got into Propellerheads at Berklee. I started as a percussionist and then got into drum set. And then as a drum set player, I realized... I think being a percussionist helped because I realized I need a lot of stuff for this to work, right? You can't just have a snare drum and be a percussionist. And so I realized pretty quickly, "Okay, if I'm going to play drum set and I want to be with it today, I need an electronic kit to build into the kit."

I need to use electronic sounds that everyone associates with drums today. That's kind of what ended up leading into, I think, the live connection between making some beats on the computer and feeling like, "Okay, I can actually make this into a whole artistic pursuit." And yeah, it was around this time that the laptop started to become an attainable thing for people who weren't rich businessmen. I had a number of colleagues in Berklee who were also focused around their laptop and getting that thing to be an instrument more than just a tool for writing papers on gadi Sassoon, who's been doing a lot of great work in the UK and Europe with Ninja tune. He was in school with us, his roommate, Rob Baker, watching those guys produce was an incredible lesson for me.

I had great teachers at Berklee. I snuck my way into the music synth department, even though I was not really a music synth major. I had classes with Tom Ray who wrote a number of the Moog manuals and the early days of Moog, Chris Noise, Dr. Boulanger, a lot of great fellow students at the time that were really inspiring as well. We just had ENCANTI on the live show two weeks ago and he's an educator at Berklee. We were in Boston around the same time. He was, I think, the year after me at school, but ENCANTI is a really inspiring cat. Somebody who really rode that line between performer/artist and educator very well.

And so he was another character back in the day that I found just to be very inspiring person. His visual guys, Zebbler, I was in a band in college and Zebbler did all the visuals for the band. Seeing all these guys do their own thing. Seeing how dedicated they were to it without any guarantees of success or money or anything. it was about the artistry. And that's an education in and of itself.

Darwin: It's interesting to me that having these parents that were deeply embedded in the classical musical world, you would have grown up seeing the career arc of classical musicians: they go through a conservatory, they come out with a certain amount of performance skill. They get into a small local orchestra, work their way into regional orchestra, maybe build their way into a more respected orchestra. You know, there are these career paths that are very well-defined... Or in terms of a composers in that world. Also, there's different mechanisms that are very clear career paths - [but] electronic music, or even percussion for that matter, doesn't have anything like that. It's sorta like, "I can make tracks and hopefully something hits or maybe I, as a drummer I can be in a band and maybe something hits...", but there's not really this kind of career tracking. To what extent was that something that you wish existed or you were trying to make with some of the business efforts that you were putting together?

Joe: I mean, that's absolutely true. You know, I think in a lot of career paths there's a path, right? But, in the electronic music world, it's not so much like that. And when I got out of school, I think probably not unlike a lot of people my age, there's this desperation in terms of "What now?" I've learned I got all of these skills that I've built up, but how are any of them applicable in any way, shape or form to real life? I spent four years in an academic institution where my every thought was being challenged and I was forced to the test and now I'm in the real world where no one wants that at all.

And nobody, there seems to be that where I am, when I am, no one appreciates what I do. And I think that is a common struggle for artists - for probably a lot of people who aren't even artists. But, this is something that we have to deal with. I dealt with it. I think there's a matter of redefining what's important in your life at that point. What makes you want to do this thing? What makes you want to do the thing that you're doing? And if we're not asking ourselves that, what are we doing to begin with, to be questioning ourselves and wondering what are my motivations? What's the point of this? Because we only get one chance to do this stuff and we need to get that time in now. Now I say this, after spending years learning, hacking together skills like website building and video maker.

Darwin: Yeah. Video development alone - you got really skilled at that.

Joe: Yeah. And that was never really my main goal, right? Like, I've gotten really good at using Photoshop and some of these other programs that are creative tools, certainly. But that's my excuse for doing it; at the end of the day, "Okay, well this is a creative thing at least, right?" Learning After Effects to make some dumb ad video might be worth it at some point. And, maybe it was, I think those are all extremely valuable skills and there's value added. Knowing those things, you as an artist, to whatever label you're working with, you might be value-added because you're not going to cost them an arm and a leg for marketing. You could make it yourself. Maybe - if you've got a vision for those things.

I think that these are very important skills to have, but we have to weigh what it is that's important to us. And at a certain point, for me, I think creating things was part of that. I think, we have to both deal with the the music industry as it is, and and also come to terms with the fact that there might never be any real financial results from that, from that process. You know, if no one catches on and if we have something miscalibrated in the process, then people might never find out that we've made all this great music. So, there's a lot of things that can go wrong, but we have to get comfortable with that and we have to create regardless. I think a lot of people find that that leads them to do other things in the music world, like making other styles of music.

It has certainly influenced me, the fact that you're a product of your settings and your surroundings and these types of things. So I think for me, working on other styles of music outside of my particular area of expertise has opened my eyes to create possibilities with other styles of music. And you know, maybe this is another benefit of coming from a classical background that every piece is kind of a little bit different. A lot of people get stuck into a genre or a certain specific realm of music. I dunno, for some people that works really well - for me, I tend to hop around and need to do many different things at once.

Darwin: So this is one of the things I'm always curious about because... whenever I've been in a position to teach, I find that the process of teaching and preparing for teaching and all this kind of stuff actually has a negative impact on a sort of the creative energy I can bring to my own work, right? It's almost like I get focused on the educational side of it and that somehow saps the energy of doing music making for myself, or for sound design for myself. Do you find that? And if so, then how do you combat it?

Joe: Yeah, I think that's a challenge, right? Like, I think we're all faced with this question of knowing, going into this discussion, knowing that it's not very easy to make a living selling tracks, right? Selling music - I mean, licensing and things aside, we all have to make a living. Some people choose to do that through a means that keeps them engaged with the tools that they use for creation all day long. Right? Some people like to be working with Ableton all day long and then go home and work on Ableton a lot more. And some people do that the other way. If I'm going to be going home and working on Ableton for six hours tonight, I don't want to be looking at it all day long. I'd rather be flipping burgers or doing something else other than looking at that so that when I get back to it, I'm ready.

So I see there being value in both of those things. I've had jobs certainly that were taking me away from the things that I want it to be doing and my current role in terms of teaching at Musician's Institute and Icon Collective, I'm talking all day long about Ableton and production and this, that and the other. And there is definitely a challenge there. I think we have to try to remain motivated. We have to question ourselves in that process, I take a lot of inspiration from the students that I work with. I think that teaching has so many rewards that having to juice myself up at the end of the day to work on some more music seems a minor inconvenience. That's its own problem for all of us as well.

We have to figure out whatever we do all day long for eight hours a day or however we have long we have to work to survive. How do I then find the energy at the end of that process to work more? And that itself is a motivation that we have to build in ourselves. That is a muscle that we have to practice. Some days it's a battle. So I think there is going to be a little bit of this regardless of what you do. If you're working, doing accounting all day, you're looking at spreadsheets and then you get home and you look at Ableton or you look at a timeline and it's not all that different, right? Yeah, yeah. But, your eyes might still cross at that point after 10 hours of looking at vertical lines and a horizontal rows and columns and things like this.

So this is another challenge that we have to tackle and we have to be a little bit forgiving with ourselves. We can't let ourselves get so stressed out that we freak out. And I'm saying this and needing to take my own advice, but this is a battle. It's a struggle, and we all face that. We all have to motivate ourselves somehow and maybe it's a nap. I think we all have to have some sort of recreation, if we're really feeling stuck, we need to be able to go out and throw a Frisbee or kick a ball or whatever it is. Go bowling, I don't know, whatever it is that gets you out of that headspace being physical helps I think, but it helps me - just a brisk walk can do it.

Or a bike ride. Staying motivated as is definitely a challenge. Sometimes though, when I'm working with a student, if we're talking about something and it strikes a chord in my head, I'll take the time maybe between class to put together a quick project, whatever that thing is and save it for later. If, as I mentioned with LP Giobbi, I've worked with a number of students. Ari Luck, is another one. We have a track together on Spotify and all the services and such; I have another student next term, King Corona. We have another track coming out. So, I take a great deal of joy from working with students and I discover new things daily. So I still face those problems at the end of the day that I think universally we all struggle with, but I think there's a benefit there and where you teach, it really depends on the quality of students that they are attracting to the institution.

I've been really lucky in that respect and there's frustrating factors working with college students too. So, there's all the tropes of about young people and the millennials and all this stuff and you see all of it. Then you sometimes have these crazy successes and Musician's Institute is one of these places, Icon as well, being located on Hollywood. It's a very surreal experience because sometimes, we'd talk all day about there's no guarantee you're going to make even a living making music. And then I have a student go out, walks into over to Hollywood and Highland gets picked up by some YouTubers, turned into a viral rapper overnight. Literally like, his name is Salim The Dream. You can go find him on YouTube. They've picked him up at the Foot Locker and they took him back to the studio and made a video. And it's got the most vivid, the most views of any music video on the biggest hip hop YouTube channel. And so, you know, so this kid blew up overnight just like...

Darwin: yeah. Well it makes me wonder though. You've actually dropped some interesting nuggets about this self-motivation stuff in and a lot of it is that you seem to get a lot out of working with people, whether it's working with students or you mentioned before, with the biofeedback thing and stuff. You're working with other people, with friends to do these tracks. Even in the experimental realm, you're working with friends. I can see where that can, that can really be a debt can help motivate you even if you're kind of dragging.

Joe: I can't speak highly enough for collaboration. table that's the thing that'll break you out of your funk. I mean, if anybody has that writer's block or this thing that especially us lonely, singular, at-home producers have, we always end up in this same funk where we don't know what to do. Or, we've been working all day and now we're tired and we loaf around on the couch. Well, if you have a collaborator, you don't have the luxury of lounging around, you have to do some more.

Darwin: Well now, how much is that, in your case, is even furthered by the fact that you're in LA, which is one of the real hot hotbeds of musical talent. You're going to run nto people at the Footlocker that are amazing talents.

Joe: That's true. I mean, you go to the coffee shop and you meet people. You know, I met Kanye West's executive producer at the coffee shop and there's a benefit to going out and about and being on the street, so to speak. Just certain dangers to that, too. There's just the story about a woman getting a bucket of poop dumped on her by a bum on the street in LA. So there's hazards at every turn, too, but the amount of talent is great. But it doesn't matter where you are at the end of the day. If we're stuck in our own thing, and we're not basically trying to build a community effectively, if we're not actively engaging in the community around us, especially the ones that we want to be a part of, then we're isolating ourselves in ways that can be counterproductive for other aspects of the thing that we're trying to do, right?

Like who's going to care about what we're doing musically if we're not out there engaging with the people around us and supporting what they're doing, right? So we have to build this thing. And, I also think just collaborating. I mean, look - I'm not the most jovial, just able to spark it up out of thin air, excitement and energy type of person by default. In fact, I'm quite the opposite of that. And I think through working with teaching for a number of years, working with other collaborators who do have that energy, I feed off of that. You know, and I don't mean that to sound like I'm some sort of energy vampire stuck to them, free of their light. It's not like that. It's more like these people who have this energy, unless you're bringing that type of negativity to the process, they spill over with it and they willfully, they gladly share that energy.

And those are the people who we all need to find in our lives. It's somebody who makes you feel like you have a purpose in terms of that creative process. And this isn't about some something other than musical creative validation, it's the thing that makes us feel okay. Yeah, there is a purpose for this, right? And it's doesn't just have to be a something made out of success, out of cash or gold. It can be something that is just fulfilling for the practice of doing it and enjoying it and it being a process that is enjoyable. And at the end of the day, that's what people care about in their music. They might not know it, but it's that thing that happens at the point of creation that is burned into the music. It's blended in there with the sound is the energy that was happening in the studio.

And if that energy is one of frustration and singular angst, then it doesn't really help. If it's one of joy and excitement and fun, then that's something that people can feel and the music doesn't even have to be fun. It's just more about this essence, this undefinable energy that goes into it. And if that isn't there in the studio, if there isn't an excitement, it doesn't have to be, happiness or joy per se just has to be like, an energy of excitement about what you're making at the core of it. And for me, that really is fired up by the collaborative process. You're having to do less because someone else is taking some of the responsibility. You're having to step up and show up because no one wants to work with a shlub who just sits there.

And things come from a collaborative process, right? It's not an accident that bands and ensembles were so prominent in the 20th century. Great, different things happen when minds come together to create things. So it's a recursive thing and then more people are supporting the project. More people have more interest in the actual project being successful. [There were] so many reasons to collaborate.

Darwin: So, right, so true. Well, Joel, I can't believe it, but our time is already gone. Before we go though, why don't we tell people where to go to find some of you work, both your education work, but also your musical work as well.

Joe: Thank you for having me again. This is a great time. You can check out my music at You can find me on pretty much every social media - that I care about anyway at Computo, C. O. M. P. U. T. O. There are links through all of my projects, different musical projects on that website. So if you want to, you know, here's some of my music, check that out. or Voltage Control Lab on YouTube that will take you to our YouTube channel. And that's where we're doing our live show every Saturday at noon Pacific standard time; this weekend we have Trovarsi on, a great local artists from LA. She is incredibly talented with the modular and hardware performance, and great producer as well. So, really excited to have her in. And yeah, those are the main ones you can find most of my other stuff. Yeah, it's like around in there.

Darwin: All right, sounds great. Well, Joe, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to have a discussion. It was really great to get caught up, to hear more about your vision for how this all gets done as well. Thank you.

Copyright 2020 by Darwin Grosse. All right reserved.

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