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Fischerspooner: Rocking Mac Geeks On Music & Technology

From The Show Floor - Fischerspooner: Rocking Mac Geeks On Music & Technology

by , 10:00 AM EDT, July 18th, 2003

We are always hearing about music and video professionals using Macs in their production process, but it's a more rare occurrence for the artist to use only a computer in the creative process. This is the case with the urban-hipster (or "no wave" or "electroclash") group Fischerspooner.

Macworld Creative Pro Conference and Expo allowed some of us to get up close and personal with the brains behind Fischerspooner, where they led a panel discussion for an hour, discussing "inspiration, creativity and the music production process that they employ to create their critically acclaimed songs and stage show."

Turnout to the discussion was healthy, with at least fifty people in the audience. Many music and Mac fans came out to hear what Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner had to say about the music and the machines. Sitting on stage with the guys were a 14" iBook and a new 12" Aluminum Powerbook.

Warren Fischer did most of the speaking, and opened the presentation with the idea that technology has specifically changed the way in which they, as a group, work. Rather than call themselves a band (though ostensibly they are), Fischer describes them as a "music based project based on pop culture and spectacle that encompasses lots of different mediums." Their music has, up to this point, all been created on Macs, and their stage shows are thus more performance art than concert.

Using a 12" Aluminum Powerbook on the road and a G4 933 in the studio, Fischerspooner creates music exclusively on a Mac. Fischer creates and lays down beats, which have lyrics added to them post-composition by Spooner. Fischer, who does the computer work for the duo, has said that the laptop has affected his workflow for the better, allowing him to work even while on vacation with his family.

Macs have affected the direction of Fischerspooner since the beginning. When Spooner first got an iMac in his bedroom, he considers that the pivotal moment where Fischerspooner was able to get a handle on a growing non-traditional music movement that wasn't tied to a geographical location. They were able to populate shows in Berlin and London based upon online word of mouth, with Denver, Colorado fans even showing up in Berlin. Fans who didn't have access to album releases (Spooner was pressing them in batches of 50 from his home) were downloading music and band information, and creating an online movement toward both critical and mass appeal.

They found that their Macs and the internet became an organizational and communication tool that allowed them to set up tours and eventually sign with a small German label. Fischer said that having their own website early on was "instrumental in their success." The internet allowed for correspondence and idea exchange. It wasn't a financially prosperous exchange at first, but they felt that it really built the fan base and enthusiasm that they needed. Initially, using their Macs and the internet, they were able to create the "illusion of success using the creative tools we [sic] had access to." These days, the illusion is much more self-conscious, as they are definitely successful.

Fischer, who does the computer composition (Spooner handles lyrics and performance ideas), gave the audience a brief look at his creative process, demonstrating his latest song using Propellerhead's Reason software. He's been using Reason for a while now, and said that it "always works seamlessly on my laptop...and has never crashed once." Bringing in a song that is not yet finished, Fischer showed us the new direction Fischerspooner is going--now using live analog sounds, and not strictly digital sounds. After assembling the sounds and music in Reason, they're moved to the studio, where they use ReWire and emagic's Logic to mix in vocals.

Overall, the presentation was a great one. The guys were interesting, and the mix of music, Macs, and the internet that has informed their lives was a great statement on technology and art in the computer age. From Fischer's start on an Apple ][ at age thirteen, to the iMac that Spooner credits with their then-burgeoning success, and capped with Fischer's current 12" Aluminum Powerbook, the Macs in their lives have shaped their career and given the world the Fischerspooner we see today.

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