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W’burg electronic musician throws her voice across Atlantic

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Keyboards: Electronica musician Abigail Press releases her music and finds collaborators through the SoundCloud community, and now she is going on tour to meet the far-flung artists she worked with.

This musician’s active online presence is about to translate into some serious frequent flyer miles.

Williamsburg electronic music artist Abigail Press has been using the internet music platform SoundCloud to put out her music and find collaborators for the past four years. Now, thanks to a successful Kickstarter fund-raising campaign, she is prepping for her first tour — across Europe. There she plans to meet and perform with some of the far-flung instrumentalists she has worked closely with but never met face-to-face. The whirlwind itinerary shows how her online exchanges laid the groundwork for playing distant stages, Press said.

“The internet is a real place, a place you can explore and where you can meet people,” she said.

The tour kicks off on Sept. 18 and is set to include shows in England, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and elsewhere. Each stop is home to an artist she has traded tracks with online. She plans to not only meet and perform with her far-flung peers, but to team up on some new tracks in person.

Press didn’t arrive at this point overnight, but she did get here faster than most pre-internet artists’ wildest dreams.

Press is a singer whose music layers her atmospheric vocals over other people’s dreamy instrumentation. She finds creative partners through the network of more-and-less professional musicians and producers who populate SoundCloud. People either reach out to her, or she seeks them out. She has worked with British dream pop band Yusif, German producer Peekaboo, and Dutch producer Tev Woods, among others.

“It’s really organic,” she said. “I’m immersed in a social network of support.”

Once she finds someone to make music with, Press said she typically exchanges e-mails hammering out a shared vision. Then the producer will send her a beat, and she will record some vocals over it and send it back. She and her collaborator will then clean things up on either end, trading notes until the track is done.

Her first brush with transatlantic fame came when a Slovakian record label picked up her song “Drifting Dawn” for an online compilation album. The song took off, garnering 35,000 downloads, she said. That planted the seed for the tour she is about to begin.

“Getting that amount of support from a different country was amazing,” she said. “It gave me the inkling of an idea — like, ‘Will I ever meet these people?’ ”

She kept working and, as her network of distant collaborators continued to grow, she began compiling a list of people she hoped she could one day meet. She wasn’t sure if it would ever happen, but she threw a Hail Mary pass on Kickstarter and, to her surprise, scored big.

“I put my faith into the internet, and my friends and family,” Press said. “Before the Kickstarter it was a dream.”

Press moved from her native Portland, Ore. to Williamsburg earlier this year. Despite her blossoming online work life and her upcoming international escapades, she came in search of a cohesive geographical music scene.

“I’m hoping to find more of my niche here,” she said. “I thought I’d enter a big city and see where it brings me.”

Techno Files

Raspberry Pi is no delicious pastry — it is a credit-card sized computer. The pocket-sized device runs an operating system, usually some variety of Linux, and can turn out high-definition video and control electronics projects — such as light-emitting diode arrays or robots. Reverse, a multidisciplinary workspace in Williamsburg, is holding a workshop to get artists, developers, and teachers started using the tiny machines on Sept. 20.

•••

A Downtown team has been named a finalist in the Big Apps NYC contest. Emrals is an online system aimed at making users care more about their city. The system allows users to report problems on their block such as graffiti or dog poop. Users who address the issues get rewards in an online currency specific to the project. The app is one of 20 finalists in the competition, which is run by the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Top prize is $20,000.

•••

A team of New York City College of Technology students who we suspect have read their share of comics won an international hardware design competition in Shanghai earlier this summer. Eugene Babkin, Bijan Mokhtari, and Angjelo Kuka developed TOBiAS, or Tele-Operated Bi-Manual Augmented System, which controls a robotic torso by mimicking the movements of the person sitting inside it. Y’know, a lot like Iron Man.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Working from home: Musician Abigail Press records music in her Williamsburg apartment, but her reach stretches around the world through collaborations with European artists.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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