ANI (Amy Lee), a San Francisco Bay Area native, has been doing improvised music since early childhood. Who knew that piano lessons and jazz band would have gotten crossed with her second love: computer technology. But she’s left the comfort of Cubase and Renoise in her home studio to play live sets with ultra-portable iPads, iPhones, and synths. Her music is a blend of beats, chord progressions, and wild synth solos. Every performance is unique and never to be repeated again. She is NOT a DJ.
Additionally, she works as a software engineer and created a pretty rockin’ iPad app: sBASSdrum Drum and Groove Machine
- Do people call you “DJ ANI”? No. I’m not a DJ. So it’s just “ANI”.
- Is this your job? No, I have a day job.
- When did you start doing improvised music? In high school. Probably before that technically…
- Why an iPad? I like the ultra portability compared to all other synthesizers or using the laptop. Also, everyone else uses a laptop.
- Why NanoStudio? I need something that has a drum machine, a synthesizer, and a sequencer all in one. I also need high reliability and a clear interface. I’ve found I can record, edit, and switch instruments with lightning speed without the iPad freezing up or crashing. Also, I have a soft spot for sample-based instruments, which the Eden Synthesizer supports.
- Why not Ableton Live? Because everyone else is using Ableton and it requires a laptop.
- Why not a big, powered keyboard controller like a Novation or an M-Audio? I want my entire gig rig to fit in a backpack. Yes, the iPad, KP3, mixer, cables, power strip, and business cards all fit. I’ve played lots of gigs with an 88-key weighted keyboard, 50 lbs. speaker, and hefty power cables. I’m not doing that again if I can help it.
- What do you use for amplification? When I’m mobile, I have a kick-ass JVC boombox (RV-NB70). I thought it would have been gimmicky, but man this thing puts out serious volume without distortion. Otherwise, I just use whatever club system is available.
- What kind of music do you play? Whatever I feel like. By myself it’s usually something spacey and jazzy. For a performance however it’s minimum 130 bpm with a four-on-the-floor.
- Do you plan your music ahead of time? Nope. It’s 100% improv. I might practice a technique beforehand, but that’s just practice.
- What is the longest set you can play? Probably about 1.5 hours. Honestly, I start running out of ideas after about 45 minutes and I have to change up styles.