Music Saturday: Emily McVicker and Leon Bratt

Leon Bratt and Emily McVicker

As I’ve mentioned on previous “Music Saturday” posts, I’ve been spending a lot of time watching music artists performing online, “streaming” concerts on platforms like Twitch, Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live.

These performances are very intimate. Most of the artists are performing from their homes, sometimes from their bedrooms, where they’ve set up their microphones, mixing boards, lighting, and instruments. Most play keyboards or guitar, but there are others playing drums, harp, violin, bass guitar, and many more. All styles of music are available as well as multiple languages. (As a current learner of French, I appreciate the streams where the artist is bilingual, switching from English to French, which helps me understand them in context.)

They’re also intimate because of the interaction with their audience, which is done mostly through a chat window. It’s so different from watching someone play in a bar, where the vibe is often “here it is, pay attention if you want – or don’t.” Some performers stick mostly to playing music, others spend quite a bit of time between songs talking about what they did that day, telling jokes, or discussing their equipment setup with their viewers.

Some of the performers use technology to allow them to give their virtual audiences the feeling of a whole band performance with the use of loop pedals. Layering drums and percussion (either with actual instruments or by beat-boxing) with piano, bass, or guitar parts, they then perform the song over that rhythm track. If they’re good at it, it’s magical to watch them put it all together.

Two of my favorites in this category are Emily McVicker and Leon Bratt. Both are magicians when it comes to looping. They’re both singer-songwriters as well. Emily lives in Seattle and Leon is from Bedford in the U.K. Both are on Twitch regularly (Emily’s channel | Leon’s channel) and I highly recommend them for their musical talent, skills with the loop pedal, and their overall friendliness and energy. They obviously love making music and being able to share it with audiences all over the world, thanks to the internet. It’s a small silver lining that’s resulted from COVID-19, but I appreciate it.