Karl Pestka, a composer, video artist, and violinist out of East Lansing, Michigan, strives to create a pointedly visual kind of music. His quadridextrous performances as The Airelectric, however- in which he manipulates live electronics with his toes, while both hands engage the electric violin- are not the only draw for the eye. It is also the narrative of the sound itself, like the cinematic music of Clint Mansell or Philip Glass, which encourages the listener to aurally plant the imagination in a fertile bed of orchestral layers, sown with evolving, danceable beats. Live performances often encompass improvised video, generated from toe-operated homebrewed software, or spun from collaborations with Airelectric VJs Colleen Lynne Cox and Andrea Steves.
The aural and visual works of The Airelectric won first prizes in 2008 from both the Telly and Aegis Film and Video awards, as well as prizes from the 2008 Lake Michigan Film Competition, the 2006 Lightworks Film Festival, and the 2006 Drunken Boat Panliterary Awards as judged by Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky). In 2004, the piece Devastation Sandwich (featured on the album X.I.), for solo electric violin with toe-operated electronics, won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award special mention, the first of its kind to receive such recognition.
The Airelectric have been featured at a wide range of diverse venues ranging from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to NYC's Richard Rodgers Theatre and the Tank, as well as Detroit's 555 and Zeitgeist galleries, the 700IS Experimental Film and Video Festival in Iceland, the Norwich Arts Centre, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Klappei Filmhouse in Belgium, and the CMMAS center in Morelia, Mexico, where Karl was a resident composer in the summer of 2008. The Airelectric have performed with Ólafur Arnalds in a series of conerts both as support and as a part of Ólafur's neoclassical string ensemble, and have toured the US East Coast with other artists of the collective Thinktank Media. Past collaborations also include Amiina, Steintryggur, Celestine, Momentum, and the Sexual Pantalones. Influences include Michael Gordon, Steve Reich, Jóhann Jóhannson, and Richard D. James, as well as mentors Mary Simoni, Virgil Moorefield, Evan Chambers, William Bolcom, Susan Botti, Erik Santos, Karen Tanaka, and Yehonatan Berick.