Longtime local ambient-electronic artist My Boyfriend The Pilot -- a.k.a. Minmei Decelis -- is leaving our fair city for Chicago, but not before holding one last fling this Tuesday.
Minmei's been performing and producing electronic music "as a general product of insomnia" since she moved here in 2000. She cites influences by The Residents, '70s kosmische, '80s industrial, '90s IDM, Stereolab, and especially David and Jad Fair of Half Japanese. "Those guys were banging out a tune on whatever they had at hand," she says, "only [they] had guitars and pianos, and what I had was an iMac."
Being one of Pittsburgh's very few female electronic musicians was a distinction, not a drawback. "Boys come at it from the perspective of playing with wires and building things, [but] I pursued abstract sound as a way to communicate emotions when I didn't feel like I had permission to use the words. ... I put on a cocktail dress and stopped trying to appeal to the same audience as the guys in black T-shirts."
Her approach changed in 2004 when she upgraded to a Powerbook coupled with GarageBand. "It greatly enabled me to adjust synth parameters and effects on the fly, and I've tapped into my joy [of] getting wrapped up in the microtonal. My sets are a blend of ambient and shoegazey downbeat peppered with noisy elements, though older albums are dark[er] ambient."
And by "albums," Minmei means limited CD-Rs sold at shows or via www.myboyfriendthepilot.com. Her only distributed tracks appeared on two Circuits of Steel compilation CDs (released by yours truly, in the interest of full disclosure), and a double-CD tribute to the Legendary Pink Dots.
Minmei found that her performance opportunities increased when she organized her own concerts: the all-ages "Electric Larryville" series at Lawrenceville's eclectic world-beat lounge, Your Inner Vagabond. "There's a relaxed atmosphere, and it's good to see friends coming out. The audience I'm looking for are connoisseurs of sound."
Such connoisseurs and co-conspirators include the duo Bureau of Nonstandards and 8-bit wizard 8 Cylinder, who'll be bleeping at Minmei's farewell party, 8 p.m. Tue., Oct 21, at Your Inner Vagabond. At 10 p.m., the performers will join forces -- and Minmei will fire up the theremin -- to improvise a live score for the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, similar to "when Pere Ubu did Man with the X-Ray Eyes" three years ago at the Regent Square Theater.
Although she's moving to Chicago for career prospects, Minmei promises to keep in touch. "I will be swapping files back and forth, but also looking forward to see how new people and experiences shape the sound I make," she says. "I don't know when in my life I've ever felt so happy and at peace."