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Reggie Watts admits he's an impulse tech buyer, but it's those digital interfaces that still need work

Mat Smith, @thatmatsmith
November 9, 2013
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When Reggie Watts took to the Expand stage, he was wearing a Pebble. The performer said that he's obsessed with the wearables and picked up multiples of the smartwatch during those early adopter deal days. "If it's something I'm curious about, [something} that provides a service or that I'm interested in," then he makes the purchase. These early adoptions have to survive a very narrow success rate. "About 80 percent of these might not get integrated into my life -- and those go to my friends."

How about Pebble? "It's great to not look at my phone to see SMS messages," Watts said, adding that he hated the disconnect that happens when people are talking and those smartphone notifications pull one half of the conversation away. Touching on what Watts outlined during a recent episode of Peripheral Vision, he said that technology was a means of expressing creativity -- and he's been obsessed with most things tech since he was little.

"I used to lick batteries a lot. I thought licking a 9-volt battery would give me super powers." From there, it went in a safer and arguably more productive direction, as deconstructed X-Wing toys, Casio keyboards and music began to dovetail, quite neatly, into that obsession. Does technology inform his music? To an extent: "It inspires me to add layers, project them in a complex way." Most of the times, as displayed in his quick set at the end of the session, he's layering over himself, adding and enriching his own vocal and beatbox lines.

When it comes to his performances, Watts explained that his equipment has to fit into his bag, and as such he's always looking for ways to shrink that volume down. He's involved himself with littleBits' synth kit collaboration with Korg, -- which seems pretty on target. However, he doesn't expect his equipment to unify into a tablet or smartphone controller any time soon. To begin with, there's a lack of tactile sensation that you can only get from IRL dials and switches. That's not to say he hasn't done a smartphone-only performance in the past -- he has -- but Watts added that now "inputting the information, the interface ... is the problem." "[At the moment] we're still like cavemen."

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