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But How Do We FEEL Bass?

Joe Muggs investigates

Our mission is to have the world feeling sound, from the studio to the street – led by creators

Bringing the feeling of music and sound to the world.

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An immersive match made in heaven

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We recently teamed up with the Immersive theater company Shunt to incorporate our technology into one of their invitation only performances at the Pit in the Barbican. We were honored to be involved with such a forward thinking company at Europe’s largest performing art center.

Shunt’s show ‘The Body’ created an immersive performance that was driven by the audience members themselves. ‘The Body’ is an experience that features a live audio-visual exploration of the body, a profound meditation on being alive using dolls from the 20’s to present day that walk,talk, cry and sleep along with performers and a live sound designer

The performance is created by and respondent to the bodies of the participants, both as individuals and as a group. The participants literally breathe life into the soundscape, action and imagery of the performance.

Sensors placed on the audience pick up sounds and data which drive the soundscape and elements of what we experienced. These elements include the Music, lighting, sound, elements of set and the projected faces of the unsettling dolls placed in and around the stage.

The soundscape ran through the entire performance as the performers explored ideas around each part of the body. It built layer on layer, starting with the audience’s beating hearts and ending with babies, held by the audience, coming to life as their hearts started to beat too.

The data collected by the sensors placed on audience members was translated into signals that were fed back to the audience and live sound designer including the SUBPAC’s placed in the seats, literally making SUBPAC technology the heart of the show.

Working in this manner means Shunt circumvents conventional audience participation. This avoids the self conscious, uncomfortable feeling where the audience feel responsible for the success or failure of what’s happening. In this way audience participation is readable and rich, but anonymous. The main aim seems to be to create a live performance where the audience share an enhanced sense of themselves, alive and present in the moment. They can see themselves as one body next to other bodies. This returns the audience to the fundamentals of theatrical experience and rather than bringing theater into the streets/real life, they bring life into the live event.

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Scan Pro Audio Partner Spotlight

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Scan Pro Audio are a UK-based technology retailer that have been at the frontline of music retail for decades now. Their staff have between them years of experience in studio work, mastering, engineering, production, so if you’re looking for a knowledgeable retailer, then look no further!

With their industry know how and second to none selection of products SUBPAC is proud to be stocking our wares in their store. We recently caught up with Tom Francis, head buyer and producer extraordinaire to talk Pro Audio, his history in the music industry and the appeal of the SUBPAC from a producer’s point of view.

Could you explain what sets Scan apart from other Pro Audio retailers?
Scan are a large, still family-owned company. We’re one of the biggest computer retailers in the country, but the pro audio team is all made up of professionals, so when you deal with us, you’re dealing with someone who has been in the same boat as you have. None of our pro audio team come from a retail background, we still work in the industry so we have that experience of knowing what you want if you’re doing something in a studio setting.

Could you go into your personal background in the music industry?
I’ve made various styles of Bass Music for the last twenty-something years. From Drum and Bass on labels likeFormation, Flex and Emotive. Then we set up The Autobots about twelve years ago and made heavy Breakbeat for people like Supercharge and our own label Broke Recordings, which ran the filthy side of the scene for a few years. We still dabble now and again when we’re not running the shop!

What was your first experience of Bass?
Back in the early nineties there was this tune by Mickey Finn and Aphrodite on Urban Shakedown called ‘Some Justice’. It had this crazy sine-swept bassline that kept going lower and lower in frequency. The first time I heard it out at a rave on a system that could handle it, I definitely remember that! It kept diving down until it got to a point I didn’t realise sound could go to, amazing!

What is it about the SUBPAC that appeals to you?
What I love about the SUBPAC is that it enables you in any environment to get an accurate representation of what’s going on with your sub-bass. When you’re trying to mix or find the balance between your subs and your kicks, to get that kind of accuracy in the bass response you’d have to spend I estimate twenty to thirty thousand pounds on treating a room and getting a sub in it, and you still wouldn’t have the bottom octave that’s there. Even if you don’t use that octave, making sure that nothing is popping or getting in the way, it’s a really useful diagnostic tool.

Ben Vida Interview – Unsound at LEAP Gallery Berlin...

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It’s one of those archetypal expressions that has lost some of its initial weight over time: “Anything and everything can be music.” The kind of saying that nowadays results in a shrug from those who have been subjected to it. Luckily for us, Brooklyn-based composer and experimental producer Ben Vida is lending the expression new significance. His work is quantitative in its uniqueness, its otherworldly weirdness, its experimentalist nature. If his critically acclaimed sound poem Tztztztzt Î Í Í, his 2013 multi-media project Slipping Control, or his performance-based collaborative effort with Sara Magenheimer and Michael Bell Smith, Bloopers #o have anything to say about it, anything and everything really can be music. And where Ben is concerned, we’re so glad that that’s a fact.

It’s with this mindset that we embark upon Damaged Particulates, Ben’s latest venture that balances performance art with immersive music listening. An eleven-movement solo composition for fixed and live electronics presented in four channel expanded stereo, Damaged Particulates explores the space between musical representation and sonic abstraction through speech, music, and body. Presented in collaboration with SUBPAC, Ben’s audience will not only hear the music, they’ll feel it too,  benefitting from his performance on three levels: mind, body, soul. Ahead of the Damaged Particulates’ show in Berlin this weekend, we caught up with Ben to talk sound poetry, experimentalism, SUBPAC, and the story behind this project.
Ben, some people might call your music “noise” (in the “Get off my lawn!” kind of way). What would you say to that?

[Laughs] Oh, that’s okay. I am not interested in thinking of what I do as noise or music or anything other than just sound. I mean really, I feel like what I am up to these days has more to do with problem solving or staging little experiments, setting up systems of conceptualizing processes.  The materials that I use to create a piece are usually just the materials that I feel best represent the idea. Often the sound is a byproduct of a process – that can get noisy.  But I like really gross sounds, sounds that read as organic but unwell – I think sometimes they are more humorous than offensive.
In that respect, is it challenging to be a part of the “experimental” genre?

Well, simply keeping the process truly experimental is what’s challenging… Not falling into familiar forms or methodologies. I think there is a sonic aesthetic that people associate with “experimental” work but that is just a surface. Something truly experimental shouldn’t have any one fixed aesthetic language and to continue to re-problematize what one does without things becoming sonically codified is the real challenge.
On that note, you’ve been a part of the music scene for over two decades now but your music is consistently fresh. How do you keep people guessing?

I just keep changing up the way I do things and try to ask new questions. I move around and meet people and access new collaborators who I am always learning from.
I read that your last LP, Slipping Control was written originally as a score or a sound piece, based on something you call concrete poetry. From what I understand, you created the album by running your initial texts through different systems and seeing how they morphed. Can you share a bit about how that works?

Slipping Control is an on going project that is focused on examining the morphing of a material as it goes through different systems on its way to being outputted in a number of unique mediums. I use text as the starting input to be outputted as electronic music, video, books, objects, prints and performances.  The text functions as sound poetry when it is spoken, and concrete poetry when it is printed. It does not keep a fixed form. For the LP version of Slipping Control I took the vocalizations of the text and through a process of extracting control commands from it used those vocalizations as the control source to run an analog synthesizer.
That sounds like an incredible process. What about for Damaged Particulates, what was the creation process like?

For Damaged Particulates I used other methods to control the synths…  My intention with that piece was to create organic sonic gestures but keeping the control sources in the machine realm. I wanted sounds to be almost opaque and to feel as if they might manifest as a physical object and not just as a sound event.
You mentioned the term “sound poetry” earlier…

I am using that term to refer to a tradition in poetry where phonetic aspects of speech are the focus of a composition (as opposed to semantic). In regards to Slipping Control I wanted to compose a score to be vocalized that would create pattern and rhythm – that was all I needed the language to communicate. The text has a specific function and communicates this function but not in a traditional linguistic manner.
Moving away from the aural and visual aspects, why is physicality important to music? How do you think feeling bass with something like the SUBPAC changes how we interact with or understand your music?

Well… All music is physical – I mean, we receive sound through physical events in our ears. The SUBPACs help to foreground this physicality by redirecting the physical place of reception. Direct bass is understood by touch first – it reorders the senses: touch before hearing.
One thing you talk also talk about often is the idea of “recalibrating our ears.” Does a device like the SUBPAC recalibrate our bodies?

This idea of recalibration has to do with presenting sound materials that challenge and engage a listener, with the intention of reminding them of how well they are able to receive and decode complex sonic materials. The recalibration that might occur in a performance space or gallery is brought back out into the everyday world.  The SUBPACs can add another layer to this.  After experiencing Damaged Particulates with the SUBPACs I can imagine that a ride on the subway could become an aestheticized experience.
Has it been difficult to cultivate a language between your music and the SUBPACs, or has the experience been a relatively natural one?

No, no – I just think of the SUBPACs as another voice within the composition. An independent voice that runs parallel to the sonic materials coming out of the PA. This was a totally fun and interesting way to work.
What about the space you’ll be performing in? How will you be using it to your advantage (or not) as a performer?

I actually haven’t been to the spaces (in Berlin or Krakow) so I can’t say for sure… But I do try to create very resilient sounds that can activate and withstand all kinds of different settings and PA’s.

Of course. I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’ve come up with this weekend. You’ve previously said that what matters is not the tools, but how you use them. What’s one tool you’re using in a new or special way?

[Laughs] Jeez, I’m not sure I am using any tools in a special manner! Right now, though, I am enjoying using a hybridized analog/digital synthesizing system where control sources are generated in both the analog and digital realm, creating a strange and imperfect circuit of translations.
Very cool. And finally, what is your favourite non-musical sound?

Hmm… Really loud sounds from a great distance so that they sound soft!

Flying Lotus

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On Tuesday September 23, multi-genre music producer and rapper  Flying Lotus treated fans and friends to an intimate performance and record release show at Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles. His new album You’re Dead  will be released on Oct 7 via Warp Records as a follow up to his 2012 offering ‘Until The Quiet Comes’.

DJ-PP-IMG_6195Inside the multi room historic warehouse a series of unique visual experiences were brought to life by Timeboy and StrangSubPac-Occulus-V_Moda-IMG_6204eloop creating an “after-future” visual experience. SUBPAC was in the mix providing the physical dimension of sound for Brainfeeder VJ ‘Strangeloop’s Oculus Rift based Virtual Reality experience based on the music from Flying Lotus’ new album and the bespoke artwork of Japanese comic book artist Shintaro Kago. Kago’s art has been described as “fashionable paranoia” and the artist was commissioned to create the visual elements for the album including an original illustration for each track on You’re Dead, two of which were also on display on the night in striking large panel sized formats.

The Brainfeeder DJ’s opened the night with an impeccably curated set of left field ambient, rock, disco and juke. Being a Flying Lotus event we shouldn’t have been surprised to see a 20 minute long performance by a string-quartet up next. It was an unusual but effective ploy and settled the excited crowd allowing them to begin the evening immersed in virtuoso live instrumentation, a theme that was emphasized throughout the night. The Gaslamp Killer then played a brief set of ambient bass-heavy beats followed by Flying Lotus himself who introduced the new album to an intrigued audience of fans and friends including Jazz legend Herbie Hancock, and Little Dragon singer Yukimi Nagano

As expected the album was a jazz fuelled, bass heavy journey thru 60’s avant-garde jazz via 2000-and-teen’s electronic music culture. FlyLo had hand-selected a band of virtuoso jazz musicians, some of whom were present, to play many of the complex and hard-hitting original jazz licks sampled on the record. As a nod to his genre eschewing aesthetic the evening closed with a live performance from the band – a perfect complement to the jazz heavy and leftfield tone of the album.

Tumblr hosted the event at Mack Sennett Studios as part of their Tumblr IRL series of interactive events that provide a window into the musician’s creative mind by teaming up a Musician/Producer with a visual artist to tell the story of their music in an immersive space.

Images by: SUBPAC team

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DJ Tech Tools – Partner Spotlight

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UPDATE: DJ Tech Tools are hosting a Producer “Speed Dating”  Meetup at their SF pop up store tonight, Thursday September 25th, where we will have a number of SUBPACs in the mix for you to test out your tracks. More details on the event and RSVP here. DJ Tech Tools are also offering a free Chroma Cable with any SUBPAC purchase, only at this event!

‘Are you a DJ?’ This is a question many of us who show more than a passing interest in music and its creation and performance are asked from time to time, although a rather more pertinent question would be ‘What is a DJ’?

With the advent of controller technology, a myriad of intuitive and innovative hardware and software have infused the DJ’ing experience with a wealth of new possibilities and more creative freedom that allows DJ’s to transcend the traditional constraints of playing vinyl or CD’s. Remixes are spontaneously created, grooves morphed and extended and samples layered seamlessly, but it wasn’t always this way.

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DJ Tech Tools was started in 2007 by prolific DJ, promoter and designer Ean Golden, after years of pioneering and popularizing digital DJ’ing through his DJ sets, writing for the sadly now-defunct Remix Magazine, designing products and showing off the power of this new technology by creating a number of well-received remixes and mash-ups. The fledgling website was now the voice for a new movement in DJ’ing, and fast became the number one destination for this tech-savvy group utilizing controllers to blur the line between DJ’ing and performance.

Golden calls this new movement Controllerism: “Controllerism is using modern DJ controllers and software to remix or mashup songs on the fly. It’s the non-linear equivalent to turntablism but on different tech.” With this in mind, he went on to create a number of well-received products for companies such as Vestax, Native Instruments and Novation, including the infamous Midi Fighter.

So what next? It seems accessibility is the buzzword when it comes to controller design today, from the huge range of iPhone and tablet interfaces, to DJ’ing directly from Spotify. How does Ean see the direction of controllerism going in the next five years? “Less computers, more screens. hopefully a focus on creativity, but don’t hold your breath.” 

But regardless of what direction the market goes rest assured that you’ll be able to feel everything with the SUBPAC. We are proud to be able to say that we stock our wares at DJTT, for Ean “it fills the bass gap left by in-ear monitors” and allows him to focus more on the mix. He has been using the M1 to great effect at his residency at Richie Hawtin’s ENTER night at Space in Ibiza this year.

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So whether you’re just starting out in the world of DJ’ing, a dab hand that needs some tips or a seasoned pro looking for a new set up, DJ Tech Tools is your one stop shop.

Outlook 2014 Picks

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It’s nearly that time of year again, when the global Bass Music cognoscenti descend upon the ancient fort of Punta Christo, nestled amidst the mountains and verdant Croatian coastline to celebrate soundsystem culture in all its forms. That’s right, its the Outlook Festival!

SUBPAC is proud to be hosting our own demo area at the festival this year, we’ll be holding court at the Knowledge Arena. So if you are lucky enough to be jetting off to Pula next week, we’ll see you there!

In the meantime, if like us you’re in a bind over who to catch at this year’s festival, we have compiled a list of our personal picks from the extensive, multi-genre line up. Have we missed your favourite? Got any tips for us? Let us know in the comments.

Moodymann

“Do you like it when the DJ plays good vibes? Do you like it when the DJ plays 45’s?” If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you really owe it to yourself to go see Kenny Dixon Jr. AKA Moodymann when he plays a rare festival set at the fort this year. Vital to the progression of the house sound that is so ubiquitous today, Moody pioneered a cut n paste sampling style that owes as much to fellow Detroiter J Dilla as it does Ron Hardy.

Zed Bias

One of the premier producers and DJs of our time, Zed Bias AKA Maddslinky is sadly hanging up his headphones this year, so this is one of the last chances you will get to see the maestro at work, please make sure you do.

Skeptical

With releases on some of the most forward thinking labels around, London’s Ashley Tindall AKA Skeptical has spent the last few years exploring the outer reaches of Drum and Bass his new release on Youngsta’s Tempa Records sees him moving into 140 territory with devastating results.

Truth

With all of the recent press about Dubstep’s untimely demise, it is encouraging to see producers such as New Zealand’s Truth both keeping the faith, and prospering. Producers of glacial and  truly seismic slow-burners this year’s set is going to be deeper than that trench in the Pacific.

Eddie Seven

Continuing with producers with a storied history in the lore of UK dance music, Eddie Seven has had a hand in some of the biggest Drum & Bass and Dubstep tracks of the last ten years, his Uprise Audio camp will be in full effect at this year’s event.

SAE Institute Tech Expo

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SUBPAC recently participated in the annual SAE Tech Expo/Alumni Convention held on August 22 & 23 in Los Angeles. Each year, this free, two day event aims to bridge the gap between the Pro Audio World and the ever expanding network of students and recording enthusiasts. The expo featured seminars, panels and interactive product demos from over 20 vendors of professional audio equipment, including Audeze Headphones, Apogee, Blue Microphones, Mojave and Slate Pro Audio.

Participants were able to learn from industry professionals, increase their knowledge and gain a broader perspective of the many skills that go into the production side of the music business.

A big thank you goes out to the SAE Institute for hosting this awesome, knowledge infused event!

SUBPAC teams up with The Muse Seek Project...

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The Muse Seek Project fosters inclusion and aims to open up the world of music to Deaf children across the Dominican Republic and the world.

Through Participatory Action Research methods, Maria Batlle, founder of The Muse Seek Project helps children in the Deaf community experience music.

In August 2013, she attended the Arts and Passion Driven Learning workshop held by Harvard University and Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, where she met two Silk Road Ensemble’s musicians (Hadi Eldebek and Cristina Pato) that are now also members of The Muse Seek Project.

Soon after, she embarked on a voluntary experiment in which she lived the life of a person that can not hear or speak for 2 months, in order to help her better understand the Hard of Hearing experience.

During this performance, Maria was invited by Microsoft as a speaker at their symposium about Change & Innovation, she presented The Muse Seek Project’s vision -without speaking in order to raise awareness- with techniques that showed the audience the experience of Music Vibrations.

Recently, Silk Road Project granted her a scholarship to return to Harvard University this summer.

The Muse Seek Project has officially partnered with SUBPAC and will continue to make an impact in enhancing the quality of life for the Deaf & Hearing Impaired through the art of inclusion.

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