I've spent the holiday weeks rediscovering the joys of the internet: browsing clips on YouTube, and rediscovering the radio station functions on last.fm (hat tip to James Hale). One site in particular has really piqued my interest, though - Indaba Music. After many years of attempts for musicians to jam together, whether in real-time or not, Indaba seems to have married some of the better concepts of Music/Web-2.0 of the past couple of years. I first read about the site in October when they were running a remix competition with The Roots, one of many contests they have held. Similar to Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Dave Douglas and of course the Biennale project, The Roots put the stems of "Criminal" (from Rising Down) up on Indaba for anyone to remix; the contest part of it entailed that the top 10 would proceed to a second round, and the winner would be invited to work on a session live with The Roots. I signed up to participate but never got around to it.
The latest project goes one further: K-Os has put up stems of his entire forthcoming record, and will release a companion remix record drawn exclusively from Indaba submissions. I've remixed three of the songs.
Now lest anyone think that Indaba is geared strictly to the hip-hop or electronica communities, previous competitions have featured Yo-Yo Ma and Joe Lovano. In addition to the competition, members can upload their own sessions, private or public, and collaborate with others. I find it a highly organized system: when browsing sessions, the genre of the project and what the leader is looking for come up as tags. While the membership can be skewed towards hip-hop and electronica, I've seen that some forward-thinking jazz musicians such as Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Greg Osby and Meilana Gillard have profiles up; I've even discovered the profile of Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, a choral director with whom I worked in Toronto. Indaba looks truly promising in finding new collaborators and seems to be an efficient method of sharing ideas. I still love recording live-off-the-floor, as evidenced by the Indigone Trio album. I prefer, if at all possible, to work shoulder-to-shoulder with collaborators, as Heliponto and I did at the Red Bull Music Academy. Failing that, swapping files via e-mail, or in a streamlined session, may lead to new creative avenues.