|Travis Emmitt||Yamaha SY55, Korg Triton, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, violin, vocals, talking||music, lyrics|
|(various friends)||see individual album pages|
I am Travis Emmitt. Tripecac is my "serious" solo music. By "serious" I mean I actually bother to edit and mix it. I also do Trex, which is essentially a bunch of unedited practices and improvs.
Here's a brief history of Tripecac:
I've been writing, recording, and performing music since 1980. The earliest recordings were piano and vocals. In 1986 I got a Casio keyboard and started borrowing my dad's acoustic guitar. I recorded with a cheap tape-recorder and dictaphone. Sometimes my sister and friends would contribute vocals, and my dad played keyboard a couple of times.
By 1988, I'd recorded about 40 hours of songs. I mailed most of them to my cousin, gave others to friends, and recorded over a few. I still have lyrics to many of those "lost" songs, but don't remember the music. Oh well; I never had the songs in my posession long enough to get attached to them.
During high school (1987-1991), I played with IPECAC and the Master Anchovies, and concentrated on writing for them. Every once in a while I recorded a song or two by myself under the name "Travis", "Travis Emmitt", "ScatTrav", or "txe"; the name "Tripecac" didn't exist until the 1990s.
All my pre-1990 "keepers" (ha!) are now part of the Trex project.
In 1990 I got my Yamaha SY55 keyboard workstation, which enabled me to record, edit, and mix parts for an entire band (drums, bass, piano, sax). It was great! Now I could control every note of the music and never have to compromise (or wait or communicate).
By the time college started in 1991, I was writing and recording solo more and more frequently, finishing about an album a year and hitting a productivity peak in 1993 (College Collage, The Hermit). I was on a roll... until senior year, when I moved off campus and got a TV, a job, and a new computer, all of which ate into my music time.
It took me 3 years to finish the next album: Where's My Muse? (1994-1997) and then another 2 years to record about two-thirds of the next (South or Southeast) before abandoning it. The new computer had by now taken the place of the SY55 on my desk, and I spent far more time working on web pages than music.
At the same time, I was starting to feel constrained by the SY55's lack of memory and its cumbersome editor. For short pop songs, the SY55 was fine, but I was getting into long, improvisational music (Phish, jazz, krautrock) and wanted to create my own epic jams. Unfortunately, the SY55's memory and editor weren't designed to handle long, sloppy songs. I stopped using the SY55 and turned to the acoustic guitar and piano (neither of which I can play very well), recording many hours of "practice" songs via a dictaphone; these "live" recordings are all included in the Trex project.
In late 1999 I finished graduate school, and then took my second trip to the Pacific Northwest. I tried to find a job in Bellingham, gave up, and returned to Charlottesville in "defeat". By then it was holiday time, so I didn't stay bummed out for long.
I started 2000 living in my parents' basement... Sexy! Then I got a job (and an apartment) and decided to spend a year or two earning money so that I could afford another big trip to the Pacific Northwest (and another shot at moving there).
One day at work, my boss had a musician's catalog on his desk. On a whim I decided to browse through it. I saw a bunch of keyboards and music-making software. Inspired, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought some music-making magazines for myself. I was curious about how other home musicians were making music these days. Were they using PCs? MIDI? Could I find some way to increase the memory in my SY55 (which was by then 10 years old)? I turned to the magazines and web for answer, and kept reading and reading and reading... and got hooked. Gear lust. Rack envy. Big time. All that gear, all those gadgets.
For the next year I spent hundreds of hours and dollars researching gear, buying gear, learning gear, upgrading gear... Gear this, gear that... It was an obsession, but fortunately I made sure I bought only the most popular, respected, bang-for-the-buck items: Korg Triton, Pod Pro, a DAW (music-only PC), Cakewalk, an electric guitar, a new stereo, speakers, headphones, pedals, lots of wires, etc.
My studio overhaul ended up being very expensive (for a hobbyist), but I don't regret it a bit, because with this new gear I was as able to become more musically productive than ever before, recording an average of 5 albums each years since 2002. :)
My new (2000s) music mostly abandons the short pop songs of the early 1990s. Instead, it indulges in long jams, effects-laden vocals and guitar, and all sorts of "looseness" that I could never have used back with the SY55. The computer makes it easy to clean up my (often very sloppy) performances, and I never have to worry about songs being "too long" for the computer's memory. The downside, of course, is that many of the recent songs are long and "aimless", with not much happening. They're great background music, but not as "in your face" as I want.
Fortunately, in 2005 I started writing pop songs again. I created a rule for myself that I'd have to include a certain number of vocal songs in each album. The year ended with the concurrent release of Vegibles (my favorite instrumental album) and Aminals, which was 100% vocal songs and my most "in your face" album since The Hermit. Musically, 2005 was a great year for me. I managed to finish 7 albums and lots of songs which have become favorites. One even became electronic "Track of the Day" on GarageBand.com.
In 2006 I moved and had to setup a new studio (in a closet). The change of environment threw off my creative momentum and routine. I'm still not entirely comfortable with the new setup. The music since then has been hit and miss, with catchy vocals (at times), bad mixing (at times), fun solos (at times), and zero sense of progress... at least to me. Well, I guess that's par for Tripecac. Progress schmrogress!