Perez Art Museum features unique electronic music performance

Photo: Timothy Saccenti

Love the crisp precision and innovation that electronic music can offer, but can’t stand the wild crowds of Miami Music Week? The Perez Art Museum Miami has the perfect show for you, as electronic musician and composer Daniel Lopatin, who goes by the stage name “Oneohtrix Point Never,” will perform an intimate set with improvised visuals by video artist Nate Boyce.

Lopatin, whose most recent release “R Plus Seven” recalls the circular repetitions of modern minimal composers including Steve Reich, finds inspiration in the sounds of corporate design, such as background music and instructional videos, and scrambled phrases from common text-to-speech software.

This performance will mark the Miami debut of the Brooklyn-based artist, whose 2010 album “Chuck Persons Ecco Jams Vol. 1” helped create the “vaporwave” electronic music genre.

Will your show mostly feature music from the new album?
Yeah, it’s reworked material from “R Plus Seven,” and a few new pieces that I’m working on, plus one really old piece of mine that maybe three people in the audience will recognize.

Other than the modern composers, what has influenced your sound?
A lot of the things I was encountering that really excited me were more or less throwaway, cut-out bin synth music and New Age tapes and stuff like that. I like that trashy stuff, and listening to really bad TV shows. And stuff that’s not necessarily music as well – I’m gaining appreciation for sculpture recently that helps me a lot. I think I’m more interested in hearing a sculptor or artist talk about form or whatever gestural qualities happen to be in their work that I am a musician, just because it’s too self-contained otherwise, you know? I feel it’s kind of dried-up to talk about music.

Is there one common theme that you’re trying to convey?
No, I don’t think so. I think each piece is its own kind of weird bouquet of ideas. Album to album I’ll have thematic things that are mostly embedded in process, but they’re less important in terms of what they mean than more formally what’s happening in them. Like I use a lot of textural material from text-adventure games, old games where you basically have to figure out how to navigate through a story by inputting second-person text. So with all this stuff I was finding, I’d have text-as-speech voice read it back, and then record that and play them as instruments. But it’s not often that I’m setting out with a really specific goal. It’s more like I like to be in a mode of operating, and then I stick to it and make an album.

What makes the interplay between you and Nate work?
I think our friendship, because I think we really fundamentally can communicate about music, because we grew up with the same weird appreciation. We’re just really close, so nothing’s ever that weird to talk about – we can really get to the bottom of things. I think of Nate as being in Oneohtrix Point Never as a band. He’s as much a part of it as I am in a way. He really helps me think about ways to be more ambitious about my ideas.

Does he do what he does completely manually?
Yeah. He’s a sculptor and video artist, and what he brings to video is intrinsically fed back into his sculpture and vice versa. He’s using [software] like Max, MSP and Jitter to manipulate these three-dimensional layers and structures that he built.
We kind of purposely go against what you’ll probably see a lot of at Winter Music Conference – DJs paired to some kind of synchronized visual, and it’s all about this pseudo-educational thing where visuals revolve about rhythm. We’ve always been really weary of that: Our ideas shouldn’t depend on each other in such a one-to-one, pedantic way. You’re helping people read it too much. So we try purposely to create a lot of chaos between visual, rhythm and, inversely, metered ideas of image. It’s pretty abstract and pretty weird. The best way to describe what we’re into is some kind of combination of Steve Vai and H.P. Lovecraft.

Steve Vai, the guitarist?
Yeah. We’re really into flashy, jazz harmony and kind of distasteful textures and surfaces. And there’s a lot of interplay of like, “What would Steve Vai be if he was just a texture and a sculpture?” or something like that. And that inspires me to bring a certain kind of musical affect to it as well.

What does Oneohtrix Point Never mean?
I really had no idea anyone would care about my project when I called it that, so I was just being a jackass. But there was a soft-rock radio station in Boston called Magic 106.7, so it was kind of a play on that.

This is your debut performance down here. Have you ever been to Miami?
No, this will be my first time, so I’m pretty stoked.

What kind of expectations do you have?
Well, as a basketball fan, I grew up fearing the Miami Heat, because you have some good teams. But you also had some really bad teams when I was a kid, I guess. Nowadays, I just think of the beach, Pat Riley, and the gallery scene down there is interesting. If I have some extra time I’d like to walk around and see some art.