When Cameron McGuffie took the stage Tuesday night at MSU University Activity Board’s Open Mic Night, he took not a guitar or sheet of poetry, but a peculiar gray box.
McGuffie, an interdisciplinary studies in social science freshman, started producing his own electronic music last year and is poised to release his first extended play soon.
McGuffie produces and performs his music through his Groovebox, an instrument that combines drums machines, synthesizers and sampling elements with a physical interface to allow for live performance.
“I can make any sound I’d really want out of a synth and program in drums over (a) four-bar pattern, and you just switch between the patterns,” McGuffie said. “A lot of it’s just live, messing with the sound set.”
McGuffie took his first step toward producing his own electronic music his senior year of high school, when he decided to learn how to use his brother’s neglected drum machine.
He upgraded to his Groovebox during the summer and has been playing for about eight to nine months, he said.
“I really got serious when I came up here,” McGuffie said.
In addition to the open mic, the aspiring artist has played a gig at the Union and at Mac’s Bar’s For Funk’s Sake II event in Lansing.
Unlike a lot of modern electronic music, McGuffie’s is made through the Groovebox, without the assistance of a computer. McGuffie said he’s noticed a resurgence in producers rejecting “DAWs,” or digital audio workstations, in favor of mechanically-produced music, a trend he calls the “beat scene.”
“When I’m looking for gigs on Craigslist, I’ve definitely seen people asking for specifically ‘no DAWs,’” McGuffie said. “A lot of people are using just drum machines, synthesizers (and) performing it live. I think it’s a lot more fun that way.”
A lot of McGuffie’s life is currently undecided.
He’s considering switching his major and potentially changing his stage name — he might name his CD “The Big Whoop EP,” but isn’t certain.
“Right now (my stage name is) ‘KONG,’” McGuffie said. “I’ve been looking around and some other people are performing under that name, I may change it in the future.”
Despite his uncertainties, McGuffie has his eyes toward the sky and big plans for the future.
“I’m still planning on getting my degree and everything, but best case I can make this my career, live off of it, go around, get gigs, travel the country, maybe the world,” McGuffie said. “Right now it’s just fun, but I would like to make it my career, you know?”
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