The first ever Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly I got my grubby little hands on was the DVD special edition, comprised of 17 music videos for my audio and visual pleasure. First up was Plan B’s superb “Double Crossing Little Rat” – a beautiful video portraying the uprising of an unhappy worker whose revolution is crushed by an evil “Boss” who coerces his co-workers back to work through an interlude of sex, glamor, and debauchery. From then, James van Leuven (aka Plan B) has been a permanent fixture in my playlists, with two albums, an EP, two more Ball of Wax appearances (volumes 5 and 21), and a brand spanking new single to keep me entertained.
Since the early live shows back in Seattle in 2001, a laptop has been a central fixture in the set of van Leuven, while his love of laptop experimentation is evident in his extracurricular activities outside the moniker Plan B (most notably setting up a laptop big band in 2005, known as the Laptop Orchestra). Nowadays, however, the laptop lies lonely at home, with van Leuven performing his new experiment at gigs: Loop Jockeying.
“If you’ve ever seen a laptop musician perform than you can probably relate that it often looks like they are checking their email,” van Leuven writes on his website, “there is so much sound coming out of a laptop that there is no real ‘playing’ going on, it is just re-sequencing or DJing, or presenting music.” Loop Jockeying is designed to put the thrill back into playing live for the laptop artists (and the excitement of real performance for the audience) by capturing all loops live and working them together simultaneously. The 2011 Plan B live show has no computers, no software, and no pre-built sequences of pre-made loops.
“Today my instrument is an analog looper using an mpc500, mixer, and several aux effects,” writes the Loop Jockey pioneer, “I can play songs live, as immediate as playing the guitar.”