Tom Fox at Music Tech Fest Slovenia

I don’t often talk much about what I do or why I do it. I’ve tried to avoid any sort of personal theology and let the instruments just talk for themselves. But this past weekend I attended Music Tech Fest in the wonderful city of Ljubljana in Slovenia and it’s made me re-think a lot of things.

Tom Fox, Music Tech Fest Slovenia

Music Tech Fest

The festival itself is such an incredible event, full of open encouraging beyond-talented people on the forefront of music research in every possible perspective of music you can think of. The projects and ideas that are presented on stage are mind-blowing and inspirational but also the bits in-between were just as important.

For example, seeing Hakan Lidbo speak about his work was incredible. But discussing it over a pint at 2 in the morning was even better. Everybody there was so like-minded, that even someone like me with no academic background who tinkers and experiments with instruments can have great, open discussions with giants in the field.

The Hack Camp under the watchful eye of Adam John Williams was a massive highlight, it was essentially one giant problem-solving sleepover. Instead of blanket forts and pillow fights we experimented with what we had available to us. I spent a great deal of time with Elio Icaza brainstorming ideas that hopefully for him would stretch well beyond this weekend, I like to think we’re now bff’s.

Rani Dar, Johannes Lohbihler, Tom Fox

After an entire night of no sleep due to the hackcamp I was asked to run an impromptu workshop with kids. No problem! I ran to what appeared to be the only shop in Slovenia open on a Sunday and bought pringle tubes, chopsticks and string and we made my ‘simplest tuneable instrument’ creation. Which they then went and played on stage.

Rani Dar invited myself and Johannes Lohbihler who invented the incredible DADA Machines to jam onstage during his slot which was so much fun, I’ll hopefully get a better video of it soon but here’s a small snippet.

One other highlight that is a bit surreal was recording samples and loops for Matt Black of NinjaTune and Coldcut, for the NinjaJamm app.

Tom Fox, Matt Black, Obi Blanche - pic Andrew Dubber

So so much happened over the weekend I can’t begin to list off everything, but there were some things that resonated with me quite strongly:

Rolf Gehlaar gave some advice about what Stockhausen taught him, one of those lessons was about not doing anything you’ve done before. He also had an amazing involvement with creating accessible platforms for disabled musicians which got me really thinking.

Andrew Dubber discussed Human Music Interaction on the Monday after the main event and that got more cogs in my head spinning. It was great hearing him talk about what MTF stands for and what MTFResearch hopes to achieve and I’m really excited to feel like I can be a part of that. That I can offer something to the grand scheme of things whereas before I was mostly just tinkering for fun and self-indulgences.

It was really interesting seeing people’s reactions to my instruments, I love making people realise how simple something can be that would still create complex noises and unique sounds. I’ve always enjoyed trying to reduce things to their simplest construct which can be a very challenging thing to do. So being able to show people the simplicity of how to create, and watching their faces for that moment of realisation was a massive joy. I had that same moment of realisation with other people’s projects and ideas maybe a hundred times over the weekend.

I basically now have a lot of thinking to do, I will be re-focusing my efforts into newer directions and changing how I work. I will still continue my Vulpestruments work but expect quite a few variations and more concise and meaningful developments from me in the future.