Existence130 is Dora Day, a Minnesotan multi-instrumentalist live looper and improv artist who streams three days a week on Twitch for 6-9 hours. She has been a regular music streamer for two years, honing her improvisation skills in front of her Twitch community. Dora Day “live learns” songs on stream and jams over other streamers’ tracks with guitar, ukulele, violin, bass, harmonium, and vocals. She exudes positivity, curiosity, appreciation, and always makes everyone who joins her stream feel at home. Her streams feel like the closest thing to having a friend playing live music for you in your living room. Plus, she just started freestyle rapping!
Although she has no official releases yet, you can find her collection of experimental, funk and ambient tracks on Soundcloud to give you an idea of what she’s cooking up. You can catch her streaming on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at midnight ET on Twitch. We chatted with Dora Day about her electric violin journey, connecting with her favorite artists online, and how she keeps her energy up during her marathon length streams.
AF: What are some of your inspirations that got you into live looping, improv and music in general?
DD: I have always been fond of live looping and a huge fan of artists like DubFX and Grimes who often use live looping in their performances. I have deeply admired musicians who have an experimental flair when creating and you can see the joy when they are in the zone producing their creation. When I joined twitch and started playing music, I noticed there were several twitch musicians starting to get into live looping and I admired all of them! I saw the endless possibilities of being able to live loop and deeply contemplated on what route I should go and was going between Ableton or getting a Boss RC-300 live loop station. One musician who I deeply admire is Echo Locations. He live-loops and has his sound so refined for his live performance. He came into my stream one day and encouraged me to get Ableton and showed support straight from the beginning, offering his guidance, which was incredibly encouraging, so I jumped ship and went the Ableton route when it was on sale during Black Friday. I like to create/produce music as well, so figured why not get a DAW that I can get experimental with and then turn my live looped performance into a song I can produce. The possibilities are endless! I got into improv because I want to be able to jam out with other musicians and connect with others on another level! I think improvising with others is a profound experience and it nourishes my soul. I knew if I took the time to just focus on improvisation, I would reap the benefits for the rest of my life by having a skill that can connect with others in this way. It’s a way to deeply connect with another’s essence in my opinion.
AF: How many different instruments do you play and what are you favorite instruments to improvise with?
DD: I love getting experimental and live looping with all of my instruments. The instruments I generally live loop with are the guitar, violin, bass, ukulele and keyboard. Lately I’ve been having loads of fun turning my own vocals into an instrument and either pitching it up or down, which is something I learned recently how to do in Ableton. I also have a harmonium which I love to play and want to start incorporating that into my live looped performances as well. It’s an instrument used quite a bit in India and I love the beautiful tone that comes out of it. It puts me into a lull state. My favorite instruments to improvise with are the guitar and violin. I also love improvising with cool sounding synths/sounds that I find in Ableton. I feel like a little kid in a candy store feasting off what’s created and there are always more sweets that I haven’t discovered yet.
AF: How long have you been playing the violin and is there a story about the electric violin you play on stream?
DD: I played violin in 8th and 9th grade. It was one of my favorite sounding instruments. I practiced all summer long to get into the 8th grade orchestra, and was shocked when they accepted me. I was so excited. I grew up in a family that didn’t have money to afford a violin, so I got a loaner violin from the school temporarily and then my aunt bought me one. However, in ninth grade, someone broke my violin that my aunt gifted me. It was a tragedy to me when it happened and I had to stop playing violin cause there was no way my family could afford another one. About two years ago I decided to buy an electric violin since they were ones that were decently priced – I think I got mine for 130.00 at the time. I bought it two years ago, but didn’t end up really playing it cause I couldn’t remember how since it had been over 15 years since I touched a violin. About a year and a half ago, I decided to pull it up on stream and played around with it since I had bought it. It was hilarious and embarrassing, haha. However, putting myself out there allowed some viewers who were violinists themselves to offer some suggestions that helped me grow. The knowledge started to slowly come back and I started looking up videos and reading books on how to improvise with violin and it spiraled from there. Some of the theory started to click intuitively! I was already learning how to improvise with guitar, so I knew that blues/pentatonic scales played in the same key is amazing for improvising, so I started practicing those scales with the violin too, and BAM it all started to click. I ended up jamming out over people’s requests with the violin and guitar and it sharpened my ear. It was crazy. Can’t even believe I can improvise for the most part with the violin by ear now. It was a skill I always dreamt of having and I knew that the more I practice the violin by trying to figure out the key of a song by ear, it will be ingrained in me to naturally jam out with others. Really grateful I got back into it again cause it’s one of my favorite sounding instruments.
AF: How long have you been streaming on Twitch? How has the platform changed since you first started?
DD: I’ve been streaming on Twitch for close to two years now. The platform has had some major changes especially with some recent DMCA strikes on users’ accounts which has caused streamers to change the way they do things. Many streamers used to jam over a song that a viewer requested and they would layer drums, bass, etc. over it. I used to do this as well, but have moved away from that and will jam over only royalty free music now to prevent getting a strike on my account. One thing that I have noticed on the platform is how refined these streamers are getting with their skills. It’s amazing to see their growth. I kind of look at it like a hive mind. We are all inspiring one another to grow and we also help and learn off of each other. It’s truly amazing.
AF: You usually stream for 6 or more hours. How do you keep your energy up and keep improv sets interesting?
DD: I generally stream three days per week and will stream for 6 to 9 hours generally straight. It’s quite a process just to get things set up right for the stream, so once I’m on, I’m like, why not keep going? It’s like a party hanging out with my community. The viewers will throw in sound suggestions, themes, words, etc. and we all create songs together. It’s so much fun and it really inspires creativity. Lately, I’ve been getting into freestyling singing/rapping and it’s super fun when the audience throws in words, themes or rhymes; I’ll try to bounce off of what they say in chat and create a song and it’s such a blast. I really love the creativity exchange that happens on stream and I think that’s what fills me up with a dopamine drive to go all night. I also can save all these projects that we create together and produce a song with it in the future, so it’s a lovely feeling to be able to pump out content like that when I’m in the zone. I also switch up the stream to taking requests at times from my songlist, from improv to playing party games, so I think the variety keeps me going for a long time. I just love music and prior to being a serious musician on my days off I would listen to music as my form of entertainment and try to find amazing artists and create songlists for hours.
AF: Who are your favorite Twitch streamers?
DD: I have so many favs I love to watch, but a few that are coming to mind right now are TheDapperRapper, Sarajazz, Middream_LA, Mamajoevramajoe, Echo_Locations, TheSilenceNoise, AaronGoldberg, Faezaria, Scessions, TheGreekGroover, Bort_, A_Couple_Streams, GuyCoMusic, Alicethelittlealien, MermaidUnicorn, Raquel, Songcojam, Benevolentdick, Seershamusic, Elleterese, Elizavetamusic, CalvinThomasMusic, Plasticjosh, Sharkmuffin_ and so many others! I keep discovering more and more streamers that I’m in love with. Many times when I get raided by a streamer I’ll ask them to send me an original of theirs and jam over it! Recently Sharkmuffin_ raided me haha, so I pulled up their song and was BLOWN away! I love unpacking the box and seeing what flavor is going to jump out at me! In Sharkmuffin’s case, I was so impressed by the creative and experimental punk sound that came of it. It’s not something you hear every day and I love when that happens, cause I love more underground types of sounds! Made my heart jump in excitement. I have discovered the most amazing musicians from being raided by them, so that’s why I always like to pull up their content to check out their flavor. I love the Twitch community. So many talented, creative and entertaining musicians there!
AF: Who are your dream collaborators?
DD: Oh my gosh, there are so many I would love to collaborate with! But recently I discovered that one of my favorite musicians, Phaeleh, joined Twitch and does live streams on there sometimes! I’ve been a HUGE fan of him for over 10 years, it’s amazing he’s on Twitch too. It would be a dream to collaborate with him. My heart palpated when he responded to my comment on Twitter/Instagram, hahahaha. That’s how much I deeply admire these musicians. They impacted my life in such a deep way that it makes my heart skip to even get a response from them. Also, recently, I followed another favorite of mine named Jon Kennedy on Instagram, he’s amazing and I’m obsessed with so much of his content. Now that I’m becoming more of a serious musician, I’ve started to figure out how to use socials, like Instagram and Twitter (just started using these socials a year in half ago). Being a content creator myself, I realized that if you follow others they might check you out as well – especially if you have the same interests. Well, after following him, Jon Kennedy ended up loving tons of my posts on Instagram, including my music! My heart was jumping out of my chest. After I saw he was responding/commenting on my posts, I sent him a message letting him know that I was live on Twitch and jamming out to all his content and he watched me LIVE! So freaking insane. It was an amazing feeling to basically have someone you are in deep admiration of watch you jam out to their content! I would love to collaborate with him on a song.
AF: Are you working on any original music to release in the near future?
DD: Yes! I just got my new computer all set up for streaming last night and I’m excited to start pumping out some production with it! I have hundreds of songs in the works that have been saved using Logic, but now I’m only going to be using Ableton primarily (since I switched from MAC to PC). I’m going to try to see if I can send my stems over and start some production with Ableton. I was going between the two and even using both DAWS at the same time, but I think if I really immerse myself in mastering one, it will really take me a long way. Some of my favorite artists like Grimes use Ableton as well and started using Garageband and Logic initially, so I’m taking the leap and really want to focus on getting some cool content on Spotify this year rather than just posting it up on Soundcloud! I now have the opportunity to do more production streams on twitch, cause with my new computer set up I can share my screen with the viewers!
AF: What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
DD: This year, I plan to really hone in on my creative content and focus more on improv and technique. I really want to create some amazing content and would like to get some songs out on Spotify and really refine my live performance sound as well. Now that I’m using a full-sized desktop with a decent CPU instead of a laptop, I’ll be able to produce content without overloading my computer. I’m really excited to see where this will take me.
RSVP HERE for Existence130 streams Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at midnight ET.
More great livestreams this week…