Blog Entry #1 - Spin Wheel Saturdays

Hey everyone! So I've never made a blog before so I'm gonna try my best to make sure all of this is easily understandable. So we go. 

So, Spin Wheel Saturdays are one of the best things that we've ever had on the channel IMO. It really lets me flex my music muscles and try some ideas that I definitely wouldn't use in IRL gigs because people at restaurants or wineries, for example, wanna hear stuff they like; they may not be as open to this, but I KNOW people on Twitch are - specifically, people in the Twitch Music community. People have been really inviting on the spin wheel idea since this all started - which has been over a year now, insane! - and I think, based on all the reactions I've been getting on my tweaked renditions of songs (and also how I felt making them), that Spin Wheel Saturdays are here to stay.  

But what ARE Spin Wheel Saturdays? 

So, Spin Wheel Saturdays involve using a popular Spin Wheel feature of some kind (I use the Spin Wheel widget from Streamlabs, but I've also used one from and various genres including Bossa Nova, Rock, Ska, and Reggae fill the wheel. (I've also seen that StreamElements has a spin wheel widget, but I haven't used it so I can't say too much about it.) After I spin the wheel and it lands on a genre, I take the current (cover) song in the song queue from StreamerSonglist and tweak its original version to make the new one.  

A key element in making this happen is my loop station, the Boss RC-30. It has two individual stereo loop channels, so I can experiment with the sounds in my head and how they're arranged much more efficiently. I don't have to worry about stacking all of my instruments in one looper (such as my old Boss RC-1 or Ditto Looper Mini); I'd have to delete my entire loop if I mess up instead of half the loop, if that makes any sense. Honestly, I can't see myself going back to a single pedal looper after all the ways I've been using my RC-30. Am I spoiled? No. But also....yeah, still no. This is a perfect loop station for stuff like this.  

You might be like, "cool, but what kind of stuff did you make with this?" Ok, so check this out: on stream, we've had a Chill version of "Eleanor Rigby" (think funky slow jam feel meets The Beatles), a Ska version of "The Man Who Sold The World" (crazy, right?), a Bossa Nova version of "No Rain" (NOICE), and a Reggae version of "A Horse With No Name (double NOICE). I've actually got two of these videos as Twitch highlights if you wanna give em a look:  

No Rain (Bossa Nova Ver.): 

A Horse With No Name (Reggae Ver.): 

It's SUCH a fun thing to do. I remember watching TheComplements (Greg and Aleesha, literally BEST people) use the Streamlabs Spin Wheel to change up their jams on stream and I thought it was such a good idea that I wanted to try it for myself. Honestly, I didn't think it would stick around....but it's been over a year, sooooo looks like I missed the memo haha. But Spin Wheel Saturdays probably wouldn't be around if it weren't for that stream of theirs. (I've seen other streamers use the Spin Wheel in their own way prior to seeing how TheComplements used it but it was when THEY used it that sparked the SWS flames of destiny haha) 

I listen to a lot of genres and often times I'm curious how certain songs would sound in a different genre. One of the many things floating around in my head among the millions of ideas that hop around in my head haha! 

Are you about to ask how I do this? I hope you are because I'm about to tell you right now. (If you weren't about to, then leave. ....just joking, stay. I NEED you.) So, let's say I spin the wheel and it lands on Bossa Nova (which is a genre I've been listening to like a madman over the past few years. I ALWAYS hope it lands on this.) Then I start thinking about all of this stuff at once before I even get into it: what Bossa Nova songs do I know? Do I wanna make a fast song or a slow song? What key do I wanna run with? Also, what Bossa Nova songs do I know? (I often ask myself again because my brain's running a mile a minute at this point.) From time to time, I wonder if the chat can help, so I ask them for a key (I've found that D major is a really cool key to make some Bossa Nova jams in. Not too energetic but also not too tame.) I start playing a bit as if I was doing a test run, so I'll sing silently or play silently until I get it and then I go for it. And then, once I start building it in my RC-30, some random idea comes out of nowhere and I'm like, "oh ho ho, I got an idea" and that gets added to the loop. And then, it happens AGAIN and in my head I'm thinking, "yeah let's add this too" and then it happens AAAAGAIN and I add THAT to the loop until I'm completely satisfied with it. Sometimes, the ideas that pop up that quickly, that easily, that randomly. But I've found in most cases, I'll usually have something to mix in with the loop foundation, you know? And some of the ideas that have popped up on stream have been some of the finest stuff heard on there. And I don't mean that in a boastful, braggadocious kind of way - I mean, it's bringing out the kind of instrumentation that I've either heard musicians that I respect do and do well. And this could be music from Twitch music streamers, music from bands/solo artists I grew up listening to, video game music (which I also really enjoy playing along to more than listening), and so many more influences. It'll take years to mention the kind of stuff that influences my spin wheel streams, it's NUTS. 

One time, I played drums to Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" during one of my practice sessions off-stream and I added double kick, off-time signature fills via ride and hi-hat hits, and played the song fast so I could make it as metal as possible! Maybe one day I'll do this on stream, who knows? But stuff like that is how I approach these Spin Wheel streams. 

Also get this: sometimes, the jams will go for 5 minutes, but other times, it'll go for 20. Haha! It all depends on what the feel is and how lost in the jams I am. And what's really cool about all of this is that viewers stick around for all of it because they love seeing how the loop builds and what it'll build into. Sometimes they have an idea of what it'll be, and sometimes they won't. And that's the fun of it. As of Jan 22nd of this year, I have the following genres on there: Acapella, Reggae, Classical, Blues, Ska, Rock, Pop, Bossa Nova, Theatre (yeah, that's right - Theatre),  Dance, Chill (aka guitar with LOTS of reverb, flowy bass, and echoey vocals), and Unchanged (just in case the song requester wants to hear the tune the normal way). I wanna add more stuff to the wheel in the future, including City Pop (I've been ALL ABOUT City Pop over the past year and a half), Lo-Fi, and maybe some Cinematic stuff. Just gotta make sure my gear's up to par, including my recording software. I use Cubase 11 LE so I CAN pull it off but I wanna approach this as perfectly as possible because I'm a perfectionist so it's gotta be perfectly perfect with a hint of perfection, you know? 

All in all, these Spin Wheel jams have really changed the way I've been playing music on stream, writing music, building ideas, and sharing my love for music. And of all the ways it could change it, it's made everything so dynamic, fresh, and highly creative. I've gotta come up with different jams for every stream, so it's a different experience for anyone watching EVERY TIME they tune in on Saturday. It's also sparked so many conversations in my chat about how they feel about the original tunes, the tweaked ones we make on Saturday, and how much they're digging the tweaked versions, and it's really refreshing to see how these conversations differ every week. IDK how long we're gonna have these Spin Wheel streams....until then, we might see a Metal version of "Tiptoe Through The Tulips". 

.....nah, just joking. A. my voice couldn't handle the screaming and then going to cleans and then back to screaming, and B. that song is creepy enough as is. Doesn't need a different genre to stack on top of that weirdness. 

Thanks for reading everyone. See you all on a Spin Wheel Saturday soon. Or whenever we see each other next. We've got jams to jam to.

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