If you’ve ever wondered about the real-life impact of technology’s relentless march forward, visit Rochester, New York. Once a thriving home to The Eastman Kodak Company’s head office, the upper state town is hardly a pretty picture these days. The downtown core, still reminiscent of its good old days, is a sad reminder of what happens when a town full of people put too much faith in a single company.
Everyone knows what digital photography did to the venerable film manufacturer. What’s less well known is the role another old industry giant played in its demise. Polaroid Corporation’s success in popularizing instant film photography put the first dent in Kodak’s armour in the 1970s. Kodak’s attempt to develop competitive technology led to a lawsuit that would cost it $925 million in a 1991 payout.
Twenty-six years later, the two companies most associated with helping us remember the past have both been resigned to it.
Which brings us to the rich, nostalgia-packed work of solo electronic music producer Dylan Boyd. Performing under the name Midday Static, Boyd has produced five discs of colourful downtempo work. His latest, named for the aforementioned Polaroid instant film technology, is another step forward for the Tulsa, Oklahoma artist. These 15 tracks, with titles like “’79 Pentax” and “Vibrant Visions,” pack a sentimental punch not often found in the genre.
“I feel like my personal photography and my music go hand in hand as audio and visual aspects of the feelings and stories I’m creating,” Boyd told me in an email interview. Sure enough, his last two discs were titled Ektachrome and Kodachrome.
“I fell in love with Polaroid cameras as a child, and right after high school I picked up an old camera and started shooting instant film again. It’s probably my favourite medium for shooting photography. Most of my album covers were actually shot using a Polaroid camera. I always felt the images I create go with the style and sound of my music.”
That sound is a tidy combination of electronics and electronically-produced acoustic sounds. Boyd told me he uses Maschine to play multiple instruments via a midi keyboard. Some purists will think that a shortcut, but that’s hardly the point. Midday Static is about connecting technology and memories. Boyd is building a fascinating, unique body of work.