Live Light Show

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on figuring out a way to control lights via MIDI. That means I want to be able to control lights with Ableton Live, the music program I use to create and play. Most lights are controlled via DMX, not MIDI, so it was a tricky situation. Of course there are some conversion modules I could have purchased to handle this, but it would have run me into the thousands of dollars to do so. As a person that makes basically no money off of my music so far, I wasn’t about to invest that much into something that MIGHT work…maybe.

Being a bit of a DIYer, I decided there had to be a simpler way to make this happen. I decided to give Arduino a try. Granted, I’ve never worked with Arduino, nor did I know C++ at all, but I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard. So I picked up an Arduino UNO, wired it to an 8-relay module, then messed around with code for too many days until I got the Arduino triggering the relays via MIDI notes from the MIDI interface I made.

Arduino Uno and SainSmart 8-relay Module

wiring for just the relays

Once that was done, I had to decide what I actually wanted the light show to look like. I settled on 8 panels. 4 blue, 4 pink. I made those out of some wood, those plastic sheets that go over fluorescent lights, some aluminum foil, and a bunch of Christmas lights.

Making light panels

Frames of the panels with black paint on the front.

Now I know this post isn’t terribly detailed, but since I don’t have many readers, and the ones that probably read it probably don’t care about the specifics, I didn’t write it all up.

And what you’ve all been waiting for: A test of the final product.

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Something Interesting That Happened

In the last post I talked a bit about how I needed to be more narcissistic and cram elements in my life down your throat, and about how I had created a 5-song EP. Well what better thing to write about than the making of that 5-song EP?

Really it’s a thing that happened over the course of 3 years or so, but when I finally decided I needed to do something official, I sifted through everything I had made back in Illinois, and then made a couple more songs here in Arizona. I wanted to put some time and money behind it more to motivate myself to do something with it than anything. Having a big box of 300 pressed, unsold CDs staring at you everyday can work wonders.

Black Esther - Television EP

Look at it. Staring at me. Shaming me.

So there it is. An EP. Written and recorded on my own, then I took it to Larry Elyea at Digital Mind’s Eye to get mixed and mastered, because a one-bedroom apartment isn’t exactly ideal for doing that sort of thing.

Mixing and mastering

The mixing and mastering desk at Digital Mind’s Eye during our mixing session.

So if you’re interested in slipping me a little cash and buying the EP, you can do that on Bandcamp. If you prefer to get your music for free and don’t want to support my dreams, then you can get it for free on Soundcloud. It should also be available on iTunes and Amazon and those things soon. Thank you, and enjoy.

Posted in December 2012 | Leave a comment

Let’s Get it Started

It’s been a long and confusing journey up to this point, and I think that says something about me as an artist and as a person: I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve made some music over the past few years. Some of it I’ve shared with people, some I haven’t. None of it is up to the standards of what I want to achieve, but that’s what keeps artists evolving and growing.

Obviously I still hold on to that high school dream I had of being a rock star. It feels silly to tell people that, as I am now a 26-(almost 27) year-old man (child). Since I still hold on to these dreams and aspirations, I figured it was time to actually start doing something about it. I suppose that’s why I’m writing this today. I’ve released a 5-track EP called Television that you can listen to on Soundcloud or Bandcamp or wherever you prefer to listen to or buy music.

This whole social media thing is supposed to be a way for artists to connect to their fans and promote themselves without the use of a major label. A way to DIY our way into the public psyche. I’m not great about documenting my every move, which is detrimental to my rock star goals. I’m an introvert, and I’m fairly certain that my life isn’t interesting enough for anyone to want to read about it. I share my thoughts with people in person, and they aren’t typically well-received, so why would I want to share those thoughts on Twitter or Facebook or this blog?

One thing I know for sure is that I need to step up my narcissism if this is going to go anywhere. If not that, then at least start making up interesting stories about my life and my art. Who ever heard of a rock star that hung out in his apartment for days on end without talking to anyone, watching Louie on Netflix and eating pretzels? Not exactly the makings of an Oscar-nominated biopic created postmortem in my honor.

Anyway, keep in touch with me on twitter (black_esther) or on Facebook ( and let’s see how this all unfolds.

Posted in December 2012 | Leave a comment