5.5 Questions for Stephanie Cheng Smith

1. What led you to the kind of work you make now?
Musically, I grew up a violinist, but I was always interested in technology and programming. I studied experimental sound practices at CalArts, and that gave me the time and space to experiment with combining my musical and technical interests. It’s taken shape in two branches: making installations and instruments (i.e. the bell controller) and improvising with a combination of violin, laptop, and synthesizer. The instrument-making arose from building installations–I found that I enjoyed using the prototypes as instruments, so I started building performance-focused interfaces for them.


2. Who are some other musicians and/or artists you admire and why?
Mark Trayle. He was my mentor and I performed in a few of his pieces. Seeing him work taught me that mistakes, technical mishaps and unplanned happenings are all a part of the process of art-making, yet Trayle’s work would still come out pristine and calculated. This had a profound effect on my own creative practice–to embrace mistakes, integrate problem solving into the piece, and to find new creative avenues through the cracks that are inevitable when creating new work.


3. What are you listening to these days?
Usually whatever concert I’ve just attended. The latest one was Tim Feeney performing his record Burrow and later joined by Laura Steenberge, Mustafa Walker, and Jessika Kenney.


4. What is the strangest gig you’ve performed?
I’m part of the Order of the Good Death, and we were featured in an Obscura Society event at the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena, CA a few years ago. I spent the  evening performing a solo violin/synth set in a lovely hall of crypts, creating a soundscape that filled my corner of the mausoleum.


5. What is next for you?
I’ll be performing with the bell controller, or something like it, as a part of PIE’s concert series on March 27th at Live Arts L.A. I’m also working toward a record release which will feature my work on violin and modular synthesizer scheduled for mid to late 2019 with A Wave Press.


5.5 Please pick a favorite or stand out clip/track from our archives and tell us why you chose it.


Yoshi and Tashi Wada‘s Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook concert. I attended this one in person, and the Overlook concerts are always a memorable experience. I’ve been a fan of bagpipes since I was kid, and I enjoy hearing and seeing them in less traditional settings, which doesn’t happen very often!


1. What led you to the kind of work you make now?

Like most singers I got my start as a young musician in chorus and musical theater, which was very much in line with my own interests in literature and story-telling. Most of my work for the last few years has been focused on creating narrative pieces for vocal ensembles, but recently I’ve turned my attention to voice and electronics. Mostly it started as a practical choice. I…

5.5 Questions for Laura Steenberge

1. What led you to the work you’re making now?

My current output is usually some reinvention of whatever my input was from a few years back. At that time, I was learning about medieval Byzantine chant and Japanese papermaking.

2. Who are some other musicians and/or artists you admire and why?

The Roches for their harmonies. Laurence Crane and Powerdove (Annie Lewandowski) for their austerity. Jerry Hunt for his commitment.

3. What are you listening to these days?


1. A relationship between the body and voice is very present in your performances, but you also produce audio recordings. When conceiving new work, is there a point where you decide “this is going to be a performance” or “this is going exist solely as audio”, and how do you make that decision?

My earlier audio recordings were field recording collages, mainly. For a while I spent a lot of time fascinated by the sounds around me and tried…

Office Playlist 05-24-18

Sounds heard in the SASSAS office this week leading up to Memorial Day Weekend 🙂

Ajay w/guest Ben VinceEndless Digital Window (05.07.18)

Anna Homler and Natsuko KonoUMI

Hiroshi Yoshimura ‎– Music For Nine Post Cards

Betty Davis – The Columbia Years

Office Playlist 05-17-18

Sounds heard in the SASSAS office this week.

Nels Cline – Rod Poole’s Gradual Ascent to Heaven Badlands – Slow Growth Ennio MorriconeMondo Morricone ’68 – ’75 Glenn BrancaSymphony Number 13 (Hallucination City) Suzanne Ciani ‎– Buchla Concerts 1975 Duo Irène Schweizer und Pierre FavreSchaffhauser Jazzfestival 2011 Hiroshi Yoshimura (吉村弘)Soft Wave For Automatic Music Box

Links to online media are below.

Nels Cline – Rod Poole’s Gradual Ascent to Heaven

Badlands – Slow Growth


Office Playlist 05-11-18

Here’s some of what’s spinning in the SASSAS office this week as we prep for Blast! [15] (tickets available now!).

Kamala KeilaMuslims and Christians Pegasus Warning – PwEP2 Wajatta – Casual High Technology SheKahn – SheKahn MeyersNegative Artist Mix Holly HerndonHome (acappella) djynxx bootleg Sam Gendel – Pure Imagination Alarm Will Sound – Cliffs (Aphex Twin) Paloma Colombe – OUÏ {North African & Middle Eastern grooves} NTS radio 6/9/17

Links to online media are below.

Kamala KeilaMuslims and…

The Potts Report: March 2018

For a real learning experience you just can’t beat a failure (but it sure does suck at the time.)

 I like to use my time at soundShoppe to try out new stuff. Quite often by halfway through I get frustrated and just use my time tested equipment to jam for the rest of the session. That was the case at the last soundShoppe. I have been trying to find some “stomp boxes” to replace some ancient…

The Potts Report: May 2017

My friend Danny Gromfin just gave me a stack of vintage Grateful Dead LPs that he inherited from his “hippie aunt.” He asked me if I had ever seen the Dead in concert. I remarked that I had seen them several times at The Shrine when I was about the same age as his fourteen year old daughter. It got me thinking of how and when I first became aware of improvised music, and I think these concerts may just…

The Potts Report: August 2016

I am a member of the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), as is artist/musician Paul McCarthy. Whenever Paul speaks about the music of the LAFMS he refers to it as “porch music.” I think Paul is trying to link the unrehearsed improvised music that we produce with the traditions of folk music. This form invites all comers to participate in a communal exercise of joining together to create a musical experience that is greater than the sum…