Our good friend, fellow performer, organizer and all around good guy, Noah Boyer is leaving Bloomington to forge new electronic territories in the northwest US. Portland, Oregon will be the new home for ‘Automatic Thoughts’, another vibrant creative melting pot similar to Bloomington, except for it’s size. There’s no doubt that the groovin beats and basslines pounded out from Noah’s selfmade monome controller, along with the modulicious gyrations of his joystick will infect the rain soaked peeps out there in P-Town.
Noah’s contributions to the Bloomington electronic music scene will always be remembered and appreciated. His work ethic and generous attitude will be sorely missed. We love ya Noah and wish you only the best in your new adventure!
In honor of Noah Boyer, aka “Automatic Thoughts” Here is the original article we published back in April of last year. – Mark Kunoff (Founder) July 18, 2011
Original article appeared April 7, 2010. -M<
The second installment of our Speed of Sound event on Wednesday April 14th features 3 new electronic artists. One of them is Noah Boyer, aka “Automatic Thoughts” who will be performing his unique blend of turbulent, hip-hop based beats, formidable noises and euphonious tones. He will be incorporating his own hand-built control device during his performance on Wednesday evening. Get yourself prepared for a cutting edge experience in sonic exploration fueled by some of the most innovative music software available today. Automatic Thoughts music pushes the boundaries of what we can currently imagine musically and take us on a journey to a future place in time.
Having spent his youth in another nurturing music city, San Francisco, his exposure to punk, funk, reggae, new wave and “lots of world music in my house”, Boyer was privy to the emerging hip-hop scene in the Bay Area. New and upcoming producers or performers often “regurgitate” as opposed to “innovate”, but such is not the case for Automatic Thoughts. Armed with revolutionary software tools designed by visionary electronic musicians for visionary electronic musicians, the means by which Noah Boyers produces his live sound is nothing short of brilliant.
Automatic Thoughts came to Bloomington in 06′ to study sociology and psychology, which happens to be the basis for his clever moniker. He cut his musical teeth using virtual studio software to satiate the beats and noises constantly churning in his brain. As a self-admitted musical neophyte, the computer gave him an outlet for producing the music he envisioned. Those purists who decry the use of laptops for music making and performance should be reticent to prejudge without first hearing the result, especially in a live performance context.
As is the tradition of interviewing those artists on the Speed of Sound bill, we posed a list of questions to the 28 year old Mr. Boyer…
Hmmm. Well when I first came to Bloomington I noticed the parallels between here and certain parts of the Bay, namely Berkeley. There is a lot of the same DIY attitude amongst decidedly underground artists of any kind of media. For that matter there are venues that cater to those types in the Bay as well as collectives that congregate and expound on those underground ideas. With the information age in full swing it seems that the knowledge is out there to be found and utilized regardless of what town you are living in, but I will say that there are more beat-heads open to chill and experiment/socialize in the Bay then there are here. Bloomingtonians can be flaky as hell when it’s time get down to noise making. Maybe it’s just me. I have been told that I can seem intimidating at times. Please don’t misunderstand me. I just want to push your buttons.
Considering your west coast hip hop influences, how would the electronic music you’re doing now fit into that bay area scene?
There are quite a few people in SF doing what I do (only better). Namely Edison on the Kid Without Radio label. I’ve always considered hip hop to be electronic music anyway. The work-flow is the same, the tools used to make both genres have always been similar since way back with the vinyl and the reels. If you listen to Bay Area hip hop beats from back in the 90s you hear lots of funky synth lines, drum machines, and samples. Really if you tweak a drum hit here, pan a synth stab there, and crank the BPM up to like 260 you’ve pretty much got some 90’s electronic as well. But I can’t say I was solely influenced by West Coast hip hop. RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan was very important in my musical growth. The major style difference is in the danceability. I tend to make music that you can bob your head to, but you’d be hard-pressed to do anything else to the pace or cadence.
It sounds like you had an incredible childhood and forward thinking parents. What do they think of your music?
My childhood was pretty cool for the most part, but the shit hit the fan towards adolescence. My parents are very open minded people, but were maybe a little too forward a little too fast in those days either of them are lucky to still be walking around today, as am I. Still my younger days, though at times trifling, had a pretty eclectic soundtrack. My father doesn’t really get my music, but he is certainly supportive. I’m not sure if my mother has ever heard any of my stuff (?). I should send her a CD or something… maybe a cassette.
Like so many new producers coming into electronic music, you were a computer user first and then later discovered music software. The concept of the “virtual studio” continues to be the subject of furious debate. If you had an unlimited budget for purchasing new gear, would you continue to work with digital or “virtual” tools?
Oh yeah, for studio use I see it as a no-brainer. Computer and software technology is growing at a scary pace to the point where I’ll be able to mix and master an album on an iphone here in a few years. My experience with audio hardware, limited as it has been, still proved to me the value of having one piece of gear that does one “thing” well as opposed to a thousand things “good enough”, but for my buck, I dunno, a good mic, a decent audio interface/soundcard, and the most computing power I can get, and I’m good to go. The rest can go to charity… actually it’ll go to my wife.
You have a radio show on WFHB which focuses on electronic music. What’s your process for choosing what listeners will hear?
Yeah! ‘Carryout or Delivery’ WFHB every Friday night from 11:00pm to 1:00am (http://www.WFHB.org/listen). I started off playing whatever I felt like (back then it was even later and only bi-weekly) then I decided I wanted to do a show that showcased electronic and experimental music (the two genres I played most anyway) just to make it a better, more attainable program. I am always looking for local people to play like ‘Othership’, but it’s slim pickens’ these days. I play a lot of tracks from the L.A. beat scene, like Daedelus, Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing and the like, but I also sleuth around the different electronic music forums and websites looking for gems. I play a lot of free music by unsigned producer/musicians as well downloaded from places like soundcloud, bandcamp or their personal site. I’m hoping to start doing in-studio performances once a month on my show just to be another outlet for electronic.
You hand built the device you use to control software on your laptop. Was it difficult? Could someone who isn’t savvy with electronics build such a device without too much trouble? Any future plans to build other tools for music making?
Anybody with a soldering iron and outlet can do it. The hard part was housing the stuff. My monome knock-off (monome.org) is a sad looking lot compared to some builds you see on the forums. People get real creative/inventive with it.
Since you appreciate DIY electronic devices, what unique advice could you offer to commercial manufacturers?
Only that there is still a market for DIY products. It was a common thing a generation ago with the Heath Kits and such. I grew up with Lego’s. I think there is a rise in interest today, at least among the kids on the scene today, but there are still more of those that would rather buy something ready-made and fully functional and spend that time actually putting the contraption to use which is totally understandable. There is also something to be said for price. while most of these DIY projects are very affordable there are also those that are a bit pricey for what they are. The question then becomes “Who is my money going to?” and “How does this purchase effect the WORLD?” I am hoping to receive my ‘Where’s The Party At?’ (http://www.narrat1ve.com) 8 bit digital sampler PCB before the 14th. I sourced and salvaged most of the components last night.
Are there any local artists (not necessarily electronic) that you admire?
The first guy I met here who was even interested in electronic music much less an electronic musician was Lone Logician (ambient/experimental). I don’t even know if he is doing that act anymore, he started playing bass in a local indie rock band and moved on to other things, but he’s still around town. I really like E.P. Hall’s music. I consider her to be a friend even though we never hang out or anything (she has no buttons to push). I dunno, Bloomington has had a lot of truly inspiring act come and go. I really hope projects like Speed of Sound help to keep the momentum going for electronic acts.
What was your favorite electronic music album in the last year?
Flying Lotus’ ‘Los Angeles’ album (2009) was intense, insane, and totally put him on the map globally. It’s one of those albums you can listen to all the way through, no skipping. I’ve more recently found myself listening to lots of free independent albums downloaded from host sites and one stupendous piece of work is ‘Cognitives’ by % (owner/operator). It’s a smooth ride. Road trip music (http://soundcloud.com/owneroperator/cognitives-longform).
~Written by Mark Kunoff
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