Slinging Beats with Darsha Hewitt – A Side Man 5000 Interview

From orchestrating derelict CRT television monitors to organizing arrays of baby monitors, Darsha Hewitt mobilizes old technology towards novel ends. Her latest project, A Sideman 5000 Adventure sees the Berlin-based Canuck digging into the innards of an obscure drum machine and using that opportunity to not only conduct research, but stage an electronics history lesson for the internet. After discovering a semi-operational Wurlitzer ‘Side Man’ drum machine from 1959 (the world’s first drum machine, in fact) Hewitt decided to make her exploration of this eccentric electro-mechanical device public and launched an extended video tutorial series. Equal parts irreverent and educational, Hewitt demonstrates through disassembly to highlight the Side Man’s major components, and uses them to discuss electronics fundamentals and talk through other related topics such as how vacuum tubes work, and how sound is transformed into electrical signals. After seeing her engage in a fascinating conversation about the project at the recent MUTEK_IMG event in Montréal with sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne, CAN reached out to Hewitt to learn a bit more about her predilection for vintage drum machines.

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