Network: My Technology - I feel totally at home on the Net

Dave Stewart tells how he has found new harmony in cyberspace
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The Independent Culture
THE INTERNET is the first place I've ever felt that I really belonged. Unlike lots of people, who will only concentrate on one thing at a time, I take great pleasure in working on a lot of projects at the same time. The Internet brings everything I do to one place.

I have always been interested in new technology. The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" was made on an eight-track synthesiser and it encouraged and showed many people how easy it was to make music in their bedrooms. My current favourite mixing machine is one that you can vary the sound when you move your hand over it. So it has an immediacy. I use it to put sound effects to films I have made because the tension and volume can be adjusted easily. And it costs under pounds 1,000.

Even 10 years ago music technology would have cost so much. As a recording artist you were constantly worrying; if you went over time it was costing x-amount per hour for the studio, then you had to have the instruments, speakers, distribution and record deal.

The most innovative element on my web site, the Mixman "studio", was directed with this in mind. The technology was developed by Res Rocket and is absolutely amazing. What we have here is a virtual studio, where people from all around the world can log on and interact with other people making music.

For instance, I can sign in and decide to work with someone who is in Guernsey. I listen to what they are doing and then add what I would like to that track. We spent ages getting all the samples absolutely right for the studio, they are all taken from the Sly-Fi album and you can remix, rename and remodel to your own desire. Of course, when I listen I can get ideas also. But I keep my signing-in name secret, otherwise the system would get overloaded!

This week I made a record live on the Internet. We enlisted the help of collaborating fans and created the fastest record ever to be released - I think it was downloaded within about six minutes. We did a live set from a church in Crouch End and at eight o'clock we opened the site and within seconds all six streams were completely jammed. It was incredibly successful. We are currently working on the idea of a virtual tour.

The design of the site was very important and I had a lot of input with that. I didn't want it to be like many sites, where the links are flat and unappealing. So I came up with the idea of the rotating cube. It is immediately striking when you get to the home page; the cube sides are the different elements of the website. The video show has people such as Bob Dylan, Sinead O'Connor, Natalie Imbruglia, conceptual pieces and the Mixman page.

I take a digital camera around with me and then all I have to do is plug it in to a machine and download the images on to the Internet. Sly-Fi is like CNN for the underground, but it's more of a personal postcard. Instead of news items it will feature things that people will never see anywhere else.

People are continually introducing me to new pieces of technology. I don't ever feel that technology limits me. I have never looked at it in that way.

Take the camera, for example, I learned how to use that myself through taking photographs and seeing what effects could be achieved. I see computer technology as the same. You can look for what it doesn't do, but I prefer to explore it's possibilities.

Sly-Fi Network (http://www. davestewart.com)

INTERVIEW BY

Jennifer Roger

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