Thom Murphy from menswear label New Power Studio talks about the soundboard project he and an array of internationally acclaimed musicians and producers have created, exclusively for i-D online.
In early 2011, I had a conversation with Jack, the producer and DJ otherwise known as Untold. He is someone whose work I have long admired and after he created the music for my last two shows, we have developed an easy rapport. I am involved with clothing, and he is involved with sound, but we both sort-of effortlessly have various interests and references in common. We talked about how we could expand and explore working together and came up with the idea of making an interactive soundboard, on which people could access different sound samples to manipulate, experiment, and play around with. I then decided to broaden out this idea and invite not just Jack but a whole lot of different electronic musicians and producers to create and donate specific sound samples which could then be collected together in one place, an animated soundboard, on i-D’s website.
The idea is that anyone visiting the soundboard on the site can play around with and create their own pieces of music using these sounds. As regards the design of the soundboard, I, along with my friend Kevin who created the programme, decided on it looking like a Yahoo e-mail page. I really liked the idea of it being almost non-design, an everyday sort of design you don’t even really notice. So, when you visit the soundboard, first of all you select the specific artist… and then the page starts to fall apart in front of your eyes, rather like a bad day at the office. You click on the floating bits and there you find the selection of sounds and loops, which you can then play about with and create your own music.
What I love about a lot of electronic music that I have been listening to during the past few years is that it is almost impossible to define or categorise into obvious genres, or put the various artists making it into a particular bracket. Although a lot comes from a garage and dubstep lineage, each artist has their own story to tell, as you see from the accompanying interviews with those who have participated in this project. I think it was important not to try and define it, because I feel like that seems more relevant to now.
The wealth of references that many of these musicians draw from is so far reaching and ultra-eclectic – from dubstep, garage, grime, old Chicago house as well as juke and Detroit techno, just for starters – and because of that their work mutates and changes at an insanely rapid pace. Also, we are a generation that walks around with thousands of songs on our iPods, so listening and flicking through tons of different sounds is really normal to us. In the past the media always used to quickly try and define and package any newly emerging direction or movement in electronic music. Yet none of the people actually involved in and passionate about those scenes really cared what the media thought, anyway! Now, it is almost impossible for the media to keep up with the rapid pace of what is happening in electronic music, which is great, as it makes things more ambiguous and confusing. I am sure some of the sounds and styles will fall and form into categories at some point. But hopefully not.
Text: Thom Murphy
Experimental Programme Developer: Kevin Howbrook