WSCC to sponsor drummer at Friday Night Live

July 7, 2015

kevin_depree_bioLUDINGTON – Kevin DePree, of SoundIsRed, will bring his distinctive talent and his custom drum driven electronic music show to Ludington’s Friday Night Live for two performances on July 17, in downtown Ludington. The show will be staged near the Sandcastles Children’s Museum at 6 and 8 p.m.

DePree has been hinting, on several social media channels, that he is working on an entirely new set of music for the Friday Night Live performances and he will be joined by a percussionist from Grand Valley State University.

Last winter, DePree visited Ludington Area School’s Foster Elementary School where he promoted STEAM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) to the students.

“STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) leaves out the arts and you can’t design anything without the creativity and imagination that art teaches,” says DePree. “I’ve been able to use SoundIsRed as an example of these skills by developing the SoundIsRed STEAM presentation.”

This past spring, he performed to over 4,000 students in West Michigan demonstrating why STEAM skills are important and how they have affected his job as a musician. DePree says, “My favorite part of these presentations are listening to the student’s questions. I know they are engaged in the assembly when they ask good questions.”

DePree explains that SoundIsRed started as an idea in a game of laser tag. He imagined what it would be like to have a live electronic band in a laser tag arena performing the soundtrack for the duration of each game with futuristic suits, high energy music, and excessive amounts of lights and lasers.

About a month later, he saw the movie “Tron Legacy” and was immediately reminded of that laser tag band idea.

“While watching the movie I thought to myself, ‘The only reason I’m watching this movie is because someone had an idea and made it a reality. What’s to stop me from doing the same?’”

Throughout 2010, DePree spent any extra cash on the gear that would allow him to develop his idea.  It took him most of the year to realize that trial and error wasn’t the best system to use with money especially when he didn’t have much of it. “Another problem was my inability to use some of the recording gear I was purchasing. Luckily, I had friends willing to coach me on the basics like MIDI, sequencing, and mixing.”

With a basic understanding of recording, DePree began spending three to four hours a day writing music. “Every morning I would begin a new song no matter how good or bad the previous one turned out. These early songs never made it further than demos but some of the melodies have stuck with me and show up now and again.”

“Talking to friends about this grand project was fun, but most of the time I would ramble on and find myself talking about another idea entirely. This was an unexpected side effect of not having a plan. At this time I had no plan. I just had an idea. If you’ve worked on any projects like this you know that it just isn’t that easy.”

In late 2010, the most demanding challenge for DePree was how to perform electronic music while still playing the drums.  He created a hybrid setup of acoustic drums and electronic triggers.

“I had a great set up for the drum aspect, but I still needed control over the backing tracks; at least more control than pressing play on an I-pod or buttons on a sampler. First and foremost I’m an entertainer. I can’t entertain while staring down at a sampler.  I wanted to engage the people dancing. I wanted to give them a visual show with drumsticks and lasers spinning across the stage. I wanted to break the limits of the traditional drummer.”

In 2012, DePree incorporated the music program Ableton live and also began using four electronic kick drum pads or “triggers.” He says an electronic drum/pad is called a trigger because the pad is triggering an audio clip in the computer. The recording is being “triggered” by the electronic pad.

“These triggers allowed me to play any recorded sound with my feet and it didn’t take long to find foot patterns that covered the bulk of a house beat. It took some practice, but eventually I had transferred hand patterns to my feet. This opened up a lot of new ideas to experiment with.”

“Now it’s 2015, and I’m really looking forward to Friday Night Live. I’ve been working on an entirely new set of music and plan to try out a bunch of new performance bits. I will bring something to Ludington that no one has ever seen before.”

The SoundIsRed performance is being sponsored by West Shore Community College, Walk the Beat, and the Michigan Center for the Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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