In a search for deeper inspiration, !nertia organised a live audiovisual performance for his full-length album Trascender. Together with the visual artists of V.P.M. and many other musicians that were improvising at its duration, they set up a spectacular, 360-degree immersive and holographic installation. Fusing technology with feelings, organic with digital, this dynamic experience was presented in an audience that wasn’t in its entirety familiar with electronic music. The story, though, behind this creation is the journey of !nertia to his ancestral, Colombian roots in order to discover the source of his existence but also the sounds of his native land. As this was quite an interesting and unique initiative, we were curious to learn more about that and discussed with the producer all about it, from sound, to feelings, and even some technical parts.
Together with the VPM team, you gave a whole new level to your album Trascender by implementing it into a holographic audiovisual installation. Before proceeding into details, would you like to tell us how and when did this collaboration start and what made you choose this album as the right one for this project?
Since I started planning on making this conceptual album, I had the idea in my head that I wanted to have a project instead of only an album that will be released and that’s it. I wanted something that will take time to make and develop, as a well-prepared meal in slow cooking.
I wanted to make something that was timeless and able to present different artistic forms. So I decided that I wanted to research about my roots and from there develop a concept that will tell this story, make a musical album and after transform it into a audiovisual live performance. I have been working on the project for two years already and presenting this video will conclude the final phase of the project. From now on the idea is to show the act and perform it.
After releasing the album the next phase of my original project was to create a video clip for each track. Then to put them together to create a live AV. This was an ambitious idea which turned out to be more difficult from what I first thought it was. In that process I met the VPM Geniuses Joan & Javi who gave me a completely different point of view to my whole idea and another way to approach it. We gathered together and started to work on the performance a year ago.
We can read that this album is about a journey to your spiritual roots in order to establish a connection with both the natural and mental habitat of your ancestry. How exactly did you use this concept to design this experience? Which parts did you take into consideration and what do you want to depict through this installation?
Yes indeed. Before making this album I was going through a tough life situation and I was feeling lost. At some point I didn’t even have the inspiration to create something real, something true to myself. I was confused since I have been making music almost ten years ago and for some reason I wasn’t happy with my sound anymore. I felt the need for a change, a new start in my musical career.
So, I started to play different ethnic instruments not only from Colombia but from around the world. At some point I started to implement this into my music and it was a total surprise. I discovered a whole new world of possibilities and sounds. I understood that I was limiting my creativity previously, by only working with the same tools and process. With this new approach and sounds, I could create something more personal but still make it sound electronic, organic, techno. So my first thought was to go back to my roots and research where all my inspiration came from and what was inspiring me at the moment, without any limits. Through this whole research I discovered that nature was my habitat and connecting with it will open an energy channel that will connect me with my ancestry.
To be more precise this happened once when I was back in Colombia, in Tayrona Park, playing my Gaita next to the sound of the sea. After a few hours I was in a trance and at some point I had the feeling that I wasn’t playing the Gaita myself but that there was a greater force inside of me doing it. Let’s say that I let my soul and all my surroundings at that moment take over me and let all flow, let the inertia do his work.
As you can see the installation is a hexagon with holographic fabrics around it. I realise that I could recreate that moment I experienced in Tayrona Park over and over again by putting myself inside the installation and projecting different nature images that I filmed through the years. I gave some material to VPM and, together with their own algorithms, they were able to blend and create an amazing fusion between the digital and analog world. Creating a full 360-degrees experience as the one happened to me before. This will have again a direct connection as well with the first purpose of the album, the search for the fusion between the organic and electronic world – musically speaking.
So, then, a personal experience and creative approach becomes available for others to explore, collaborate even, and immerse. How did you “move” from a personal perspective to an accessible public engagement and still keep the release’s core and aesthetic relevant?
The personal experience that I had just gave the answer for what I was looking for in music and inspired me to develop the project in different art forms, create the music and later the performance. It was the core but not the whole essence of it. With this album one of my goals was to make something fit for a club or for a living room, too. Always looking for the fusion between the genres I love, but still keeping my own aesthetics without missing the essence of the sound.
So what I do is to use Cumbia drum rhythms in a synthesiser and combine that with a real live-played instrument that will match the frequencies played by the other instruments. As a sound designer creating music, I don’t think a lot in notes. I just imagine the sound in frequencies and match them with the organics ones. The results are something that you wouldn’t expect if I was working in a more traditional way only using electronic sounds or the other way around.
One of the experiences that I had travelling to different parts of the world was that the people from the places that I was from didn’t appreciate the folkloric music from their area. Some of them don’t even know what kind of instruments are typical in their country. Especially young people. Here, I discovered that I didn’t want for the cultural and folkloric sounds to disappear in time. This way was exactly how I could help people connect just by immersing myself into this whole project. Using folkloric instruments and classical ones but giving them a more contemporary jacket to begin a new sound that will transcend in the future and will make even young people engaged and curious about the instruments they see and the sound they hear. Creating a deeper connection is almost subconscious.
What has been your focus to achieve a total immersion and interaction from the crowd through sound and visual design and what can be explored and discovered?
One of the focuses was to play using the Silent system (wireless headphones) in which the public will hear exactly what the musicians and myself are playing. Having the source so close to your ears will give me the possibility to have a huge dynamic range that I can almost whisper something into the public ears and they will experience it as I’m next to them. Or, on the other hand, give them so much power that you feel you need to dance.
It is important in this part to highlight that a huge part of this experience is that the musicians that I invited were fully improvising on top of the song. We didn’t have any kind of rehearsal and everything that was recorded was made in one take with no edits. I gave them instructions during the concert and ideas from what I was looking for before the concert, as a band director. What I wanted to achieve with this is giving them more freedom to move around the music and get into the flow, so they could feel what I did before, back in Tayrona Park, and put their soul into each track.
Having this gave me the idea that the crowd will be more engaged as they don’t know what to expect. They don’t know what was coming after, so surprise factor was a huge win in each track. New things came out and the love with which those tracks were performed made them different than the original version but they still had the same essence. I want to make every live show special and different from the one before. I don’t want the shows to sound the same as the album, because going to this kind of performance is pointless. You could just buy the album and listen to it at home.
Much more could be explored in matters of technology for example. We could use more sensors around the structure and let the audience have an influence on what is happening on the visuals. Or we could have a combination in sound with silent system and subwoofers that will make you feel the bass instead of hearing it.
There is this electronic and natural world fusion, a combination of technology and organic aspects. For the first part you use software and hardware and for the second field recordings which provide a real-time output through different instruments. How did you achieve the balance there and how each “world” can be used for the best of the other?
When I first made the album I recorded a few instruments for each different track which already gave me an insight on what kind of instrument and in which frequencies it could be played in order to fit together between the organic world and the electronic one. So, what I basically did was to use my mixdown chain for the ones I already had and for the ones that weren’t in the album but were in the live I had to make a completely new mix from zero based on location itself.
All the instruments were connected to my sound card so I could mix them down inside my ableton project. Besides that, I had the possibility to add some effect on top of the original sound of the instruments. This would allow me to merge the two worlds into one and approach it wholly. It was quite a challenge but I always love to challenge myself further and further to develop more ways to create new sounds and find the right fusion between organic sounds and electronic ones.
If we were about to go into a little bit on the technical side, would you like to explain the process from sound to visual? How are each combined, what forms are being seen and how they generate them? From what I understand, this is an evolving and ever-changing pattern producing different moments per time sample.
So, the process to generate the visuals was a big deal. We decided with VPM to use different possibilities in order to have more options and controls during the transformation of the visual part. Visuals are:
- Sound reactive: I was sending through my sound card all the tracks in audio and midi so VPM could choose which signal to use for the graphics in a determined song. Meaning that kick was having a reactive effect on the visual to generate real time patterns, on the algorithm that VPM designed with touchdesigner.
- Realtime generators: Some of the algorithms created by VPM were creating real time patterns and, with some midi controllers, they could play with them for an endless journey through visuals. This creates a real synesthesia and a conversation between the musician, myself and VPM.
- Leap motion: For some moments I was able to control the blue laser with hand gestures. Making it move, turn , open , etc. Something similar with what we did in our other installation Intersection.
- Kinect: For one of the tracks in which I’m reciting a piece of a poem, we came up with the idea of generating live visuals using the camera and transforming my face into different textures. Giving us the possibility to generate this piece completely on the moment and improvised more to have the surprise factor.
As for the final question, what were your expectations or target when you started this and how it turned out? Are you satisfied with the outcome and how you made people feel through it?
I had no expectations because everything started with a dream, then an idea, and then we experimented with VPM until we had the results. As all the tracks we were playing and the musicians were improvising under my direction it was hard to imagine how all of this would turn out. I had the feeling it was going to be great but I wasn’t having any expectations. I was merely more open to the experimentation.
I’m more than satisfied with the outcome and the few people that had the opportunity to listen to. It received great feedback. Even people that normally don’t listen to techno or electronic music were amused. Unfortunately, I haven’t presented it yet to the public or a big crowd, so I’m looking forward to doing so this year and I will be able to answer this question or maybe the people who experienced it.
Erol Ileri: Director
Tyler Franta: Photography Director
Joan Nieto: Visuals and Concept Developer
Javier Cañal: Visuals and Concept Developer
Raül Vinyau : Graphic Design
Maria Guillermina Peracca: Photography
Katherine Mesa Pazo: Photography & Graphic Design
Xavi Puig: Live Technician
Pedro Gall: Production
Leo Peñaloza: Production
Josep M Vives: Runner
Jhon Christian Cardenas: !nertia
Gennis Navarro: Trumpe
Xavi Puig: Bateria
Albert Puig: Congas
Erol Ileri: Piano
Andres Mejia: Djembe
Jordi Marin: Cajon
Bea Andres: Cello
Ertugrul Coruk: Saxophone
Jamil Masror : Voice
Nando Muñoz Sanchez: Colombian Gaita
Maria Victoria Garcia: Maracon
Javier Farre: Colombian Gaita
Juancho Arenas: Colombian Gaita
Ciro j. Salamanca: Colombian Gaita
Juan Andres Bermeo Mejia: Colombian Gaita
Melissa Adriana Torres Grado: Colombian Gaita & Maracon
Sonic Arts: Sound Design & Music Composition
Bonobo: Film Production
Hermana: Film Production
Teatre la Passio: Location
Telemorph: Record Label
Kemicult: Silent System Rental
Escuela Lumbalu: Music School
El Sotanu: Live audio