Live at the Pickle Factory 2017

by Jo Johnson

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Performed and recorded live in November 2017 at the Pickle Factory. I used a Juno 106, Korg Minilogue, Ableton, Korg Legacy VSTs and an Arturia Minilab controller.

Thanks to the awesome Jane Fitz for inviting me to play at the Pickle Factory during her residency.


Like most artists, I improvise a lot in the studio but until the Pickle Factory event, I'd never improvised in front of an audience and I had no idea how much the environment and inevitable self-consciousness would affect me. As someone who can fall into the trap of perfectionism, improvising in front of an audience can be pretty terrifying but it’s often worth it. It’s exhilarating when it comes together.

My preparation was completely different to previous live sets. Instead of writing new material and linking it together to form a continuous set, I created a set of instruments (sounds, arpeggios, effects), prepared mentally, hit record and just began… I did this maybe a dozen times before the event and while some phrases, chords and ideas did end up recurring, for the first time, nothing was sequenced or recorded in advance.

Improvised live performance is a work in progress for me and I can only really practice in front of an audience – not something anyone’s had much opportunity to do recently. One thing I’ve realised is that it’s not a case of wondering if I’ll make mistakes – or, more accurately, do something I didn’t consciously intend to do – it’s about when and how I make them and then how I react. Whether I can “make the mistake right”, as Herbie Hancock said. And it’s about “sharing the risk with the audience”, as Duke Ellington said.

Listening back to this set four years later, after going through the experience a few more times, I think it sounds way more confident and bold than I was expecting and there are moments I’m proud of. For that reason I wanted to move it over from Soundcloud to Bandcamp so that people can download the full-length set in high quality and, if they like, support me by naming their price.


released July 9, 2021
Photo of Knole Park by Jo Johnson (2020)


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