Lest anyone think that Mr. Vig inhabits Second Life only to ridicule Linden Lab when not navel-gazing, let me take inspiration from the finale of “American Idol” and share a little about perhaps my favorite aspect of Second Life – the music scene. Someone said that live music is Second Life’s “killer app,” and I would tend to agree thus far. Let the corporate types meet and ponder their game-changing paradigms, I’ll go to a show. And I go just about every night that I’m inworld. The old DJ in me comes out at night…
I was introduced to the music scene by Breeze Winnfield, one of the great sim-builders…who might not be inworld any longer. I haven’t heard from her in months. Anyway, she invited me to explore the music world with her. Breeze is a rootsy-bluesy music fan, so her initial tour played to those strengths. Learn all about my music voyage after the fold… My first live show was Nance Brody (homepage, MySpace, thesixtyone.com, YouTube), who’s the one with the guitar in the photo. Nance has an awesome, stripped-back sound that I swear sounds like Melissa Etheridge without the strident tone. Nance has this sultry voice, a guitar and….sigh. Always a great show. And – get this – Nance only plays in Second Life. You can buy her music, but you’ll never see her play live.
Next up was what now is one of my all-time favorite inworld performers, Komuso Tokugawa (homepage). An Aussie living in Tokyo, Komuso plays the blues in all of its forms – boogie blues, roots blues, grungy blues, dirty blues…all fine forms indeed, played with more than adequate backup by his percussion machines, Beato-San and Basso-San. Komuso’s a renaissance man/cyborg, delving into ambient music with a decidedly Asian flair, creating one of the all-time great machinimas for his “Poor Boy” song and delving into collaborative, online performance technology with the likes of MoShang Zhao (who was playing in Taiwan) and Hathead Rickenbacker (Canada). Komuso was the first live performer at Oyster Bay, and he played many, many shows. Each time was great, and I always look to see if he’s playing when I get a free minute. Breeze swore by Komuso. But why does he not sell his music online?
The other notable performer that Breeze introduced me to was Cylindrian Rutabaga, who often goes by her RL name, Grace Buford, when inworld (homepage, blog, MySpace, thesixtyone.com). It’s not really fair to make comparisons of these talents to other musicians, but it helps me offer you a quick frame of reference. So if Nance gets the Melissa Etheridge comparison, I’ll say that Cylindrian has a lot of Jewel in her voice. Grace also is a talented guitarist and pianist…singing with a passion that comes from that special place that all the great ones find. I said that if any SL artists were going to land big-label recording contracts, Cylindrian would be one, along with…
Smily Raymaker (MySpace, YouTube), who I actually introduced Breeze to! Smily is a British singer/guitarist with what one avatar called “the voice of an angel.” Yeah, it’s THAT moving to listen to her sing. Smily quickly became one of SL’s more popular acts on the Euro hours. Her style is so accessible, and she’s not afraid to cover songs that the crowd loves while inserting the occasional piece of her own. (Nance and Cylindrian sing originals, and I really don’t know what Komuso’s songs are!)
And that brings us to another performer, one who opened up a whole new genre to me. MoShang Zhao (homepage, MySpace, YouTube, CDBaby) plays a style of music called chill (or chill out – MoShang calls his variation on this “Chinese Chill”), something of which I had no experience before entering the SL grid. A South African living in Taiwan, MoShang plays his Yamaha electric wind instrument – think of a clarinet that can sound like just about anything – over some lush beats that come from his fantastic audio production work using audio “gems” that he records in the streets of Taiwan. The guy is a “sound jeweler,” after all. He’s also a real nice guy. His open sourced (read free) CD, Asian Variations, features his reworking of Doubledown Tandino’s “Cruising ’round Second Life” and…
My enjoyment of chillout music led me to explore MoShang’s website, where I learned about Anji Bee, Ryan Lum and Lovespirals (homepage, Myspace, thesixtyone.com, flickr photostream, Amazon.com downloads, emusic, Wikipedia, Download.com Music, Last.fm, Amie Street music). This Southern California duo plays a wonderful brand of their own chill music which they call downtempo, electroacoustic and folk rock. As I’ve blogged in the past, Lovespirals have played inworld…but I’ve never been lucky enough to catch them.
Also, Anji has a blog of her own hosting both video and an audio podcasts called “The Chillcast.” I think it was the Chillcast where I started actively listening to chill music and purchasing music developed through this SL trail. I’ve downloaded a handful of Chillcasts, purchased Lovespirals’ entire set of 3 CDs from their CD store (Windblown Kiss, Free and Easy and Long Way from Home, all signed by Anji and Ryan – cool!), and also downloaded two other Chillcast-played CDs:
- Bitter:Sweet – The Remix Game – a great group of remixes of their songs, including “The Mating Game” – a song I swear I heard on TV before.
- Science for Girls‘ self-titled CD – “a Moby-style electronica compilation featuring different guest singers on nearly every track” (per the review highlighted in the link).
Then, Chouchou (Myspace, YouTube, blog, Amie St. music). I’m a bit of a late arrival on this group, which I just blogged about (and that posting probably served as the inspiration to write this blog entry). I grabbed their CD on Amie St., which is remarkably inexpensive for those who are the first to buy. (My copy cost right around seven bucks – not shabby for 16 songs!)
So I’ve purchased a handful of CDs (mostly in MP3 format, but the Lovespirals CDs were the real deal). What’s the verdict on what I’ve heard? In a nutshell, there’s a lot of great music out there. And I think that David Byrne was on to something when he talked about the different ways that musicians can make it financially in the Internet age. You don’t need a record deal any more. You can make your own recordings and just sell them online – no manufacturing needed!
That’s not to say that I love every song on every album. In fact, I might even suggest that the CDs I’ve purchased may have been a little more inconsistent than the major label CDs I’ve accumulated over the years. I mean that in the best and worst senses of the word. Each CD has some incredible music on it, creative work that I would put up against just about anything I’ve heard. The melodies of Lovespirals, the beats from The Remix Game and the aural expanse of Chouchou are just wonderful. And, yes, there are songs – especially from the newer artists who only have a single CD to their name – that are bad/dreadful.
But you know, I don’t regret a purchase…or a minute spent watching live music in Second Life. What a great way to expose yourself to new influences! So go attend a show (SL viewer: Search>>Events>>Live Music) or check out any of the links that I put together for this post. The avenues are waiting for you to explore!