Nick Francis: Homemade Jazz Mash

Though he serves as the Music Director at KPLU-FM in Seattle, a radio station that ensures that great jazz music has a place in the broadcast world, Nick Francis spends his free time deconstructing and mashing up some of that same music. Tapping a collection of jazz samples, in addition to reggae, dub, field recordings or any other source that tickles his sonic sensibilities, Nick used the Live Session View - his "musical laboratory" - to create remixes and mashups. After two years of mixing and mashing, however, Nick wanted to get more hands-on with his mixing. His search for new approaches to music production led Nick to create his own MIDI controller so that he could mix in Session View in real time.

Having no prior experience with electronic projects, Nick researched available hardware kits online and mined the DIY MIDI communities for instruction and inspiration. After several months of design work and the completion of the device enclosure by a master woodworker, Nick soldered several hundred joints to create the beautiful Choppertone, a sleek, wooden MIDI controller. Playable as an instrument, the Choppertone has a warm, classic look and lets Nick create his jazz mashups in real time.

With the Choppertone ready to go, so is Nick. The producer wants to hit the road and perform live, taking his new instrument to intimate settings.