I was first introduced to Whitestone via my involvement with Italian electronic musician and producer Indian Wells’ sophomore release, Pause, for whom I did the album art for. Whitestone had contacted his label, Bad Panda Records, expressing interest about collaborating in creating an “interactive experience” for the release as part of a new platform they were developing. Naturally, as a designer (and musician myself) I was intrigued, specially after watching the video above, so I asked Roey Tsemah, founder and creative director of Whitestone, if I could pick his brain for a bit:
ISO50: What is Whitestone exactly, and who is behind it?
Roey: Good question, Whitestone is a platform for interactive music. It is a place for artists and fans who want more than just pressing play.
I am a musician, and as most musicians I’m also one of those die-hard music fans who still buy vinyl. About 4 years ago I set myself a goal to take album artwork to the next level, help artists make use of the browser as means of expression and create music for the internet.
I’m always comparing it to MTV. MTV created a place for artists to release music for TV and by doing that they inspired a different kind of creation. Conceptual artists like Peter Gabriel used the medium creatively and made history with videoclips like Sledge Hammer. We would like to do the same with interactive music.
At the moment we are a team of 4 people and we want to keep the platform independent so artists like us can gain the most off of it. We are raising funds on Kickstarter to help us build the platform and community. We hope that artists and fans who read this will help us bring Whitestone to life.
When MTV actually played music videos
Roey Tsemah’s Sketchbook
ISO50: What inspired you start a platform like this?
Roey: Artists like Bjork, Radiohead and Arcade Fire, who have made interactive apps and videos before. I just want to see more artists make stuff like this. Also, I think interactive experiences are a great way to add value to music online. Fans want to support artists but at the moment the only reward artists give them are MP3 downloads… Personally I don’t have anything to do with MP3s, they just take up space on my drive. I think there are better ways to reward supporting fans.
ISO50: How will people collect this new form of “interactive album art”?
Roey: Members accounts (both fans and artists) are built out of two main components – The Timeline and the Library. The Timeline (pictured above) is similar to other social networks, while the Library (pictured below) works similarly to Pinterest. Both fans and artist can add albums, mixtape, interactive experiences etc to their library, regardless of where they are online. Other fans can then follow them based on their curation. The whole idea is inspired by the way we used to discover music before streaming – we used to check our friends music collections, go through their CDs, bootlegs and mixtapes – our music collection says a lot about us and I believe it’s the best way to discover music.
Whitestone doesn’t distinct artists from fans in that sense, all artists I know are first of all music fans. At the moment there is no place we can explore, for instance, The Gaslamp Killer’s music collection, imagine how cool that would be…
Music fans (me included) spend hours, days and nights learning everything about albums we love, many of us contribute our knowledge on music forums and Facebook groups. Whitestone has a ranking system to reward such fans, encouraging them to participate and share their knowledge. The higher fans are ranked among the community they become influential and the platform rewards them with badges and coins to buy content on the platform. Also,they get the attention of their favourite artists who can then reward them with merch, gig tickets etc.
ISO50: What artists, both musicians and visual, would you like to see adopt your platform?
Roey: The general rule is everyone who gets inspired by the medium, the internet, the screen, code and data. Artists who see the possibilities in creative code, generative art etc. I love what Random Studio are doing and also Resn. They create rad interactive experiences. Musicians like Flying Lotus of course, Cold Cut and any Ninja Tune artists. Warp also, but that’s just because I’m into this kind of music at the moment. I also think it may benefit many ambient and minimal techno artists like Claudio PRC, for example
ISO50: So you’re a designer as well, what would you say is your favorite album cover and why?
Roey: Ow… there are so many… I love Ghostpoet’sSome Say I So I Say Light, the newFKA Twigs and Currents by Tame Impala (which I think would make for a sick interactive experience). Everything Bjork makes. Same with Radiohead (I love the process they go through with their longtime collaborator Stanley Donwood) Flying Lotus, Moderat, there are many, many more. I guess I can’t really name a favorite because I love different kinds of stuff. I think what attracts me most is the process and how the result reflects on the music.
Tame Impala – Currents (Design by Robert Beatty)
ISO50: Where do you see Whitestone in the future?
Roey: Basically I want Whitestone to be a hub for true music fans and artists online. A place where they can connect and support each other. A place not owned by a huge corporation but a small independent group of artists. I truly believe that together we can pull this off, I hope the readers will join us and help make it happen. We made a special website to honor all our backers, it’s an interactive credits page where every backer becomes part of a “Stone” -The bigger the stone is, the stronger we become as a community, the closer we get to our goal.
If you wish to support Whitestone, visit their Kickstarter campaign and pledge to get one of these amazing art/research books designed by Roey himself, among other rewards:
We have a very limited quantity of special-edition covers available featuring ISO50 on the limited edition (100 copies) cover. Check them out here. We could only get our hands on 40 of the 100 printed with this limited cover.
Modern Hieroglyphics is an exploration into art and design from all over the world. Every edition contains interviews with a diverse range of artists, each with their own unique influences, stories, and backgrounds. The visually-rich biannual publication provides an in-depth look into the life and creative process of each artist.
Really excited to announce our SXSW party along with Unholy Rhythms for Hype Hotel’s Feed The Beat series. 5 days of music curated by music bloggers, celebrating 10 years of Hype Machine. Our day is the 21st from 12pm – 5pm, come say Hi!
The master of tone is back with another album on Kranky. Loscil has been a blog favorite since the beginning, we are proud to be debuting this album stream, as always, ENJOY.
Sea Island is a collection of new material composed and recorded over the past two years. While many of these compositions were performed live extensively prior to recording, others were constructed in the studio and are being heard for the first time here. Musically, the album represents a range of compositional approaches. Murky, densely textured depths of sound are explored with subtle pulses and pings woven within, contrasted with composed or improvised moments of acoustic instrumentation making a move into the foreground. Certain tracks on Sea Island such as album opener Ahull make rhythm their focus by exploring subtle polyrhythms and investigating colliding moments of repetition and variation.
Though staunchly electronic at its core, instruments such as vibraphone and piano make appearances, and layers of live musicality, improvisation and detail appear in the looped and layered beds of manipulated sound recordings. A varied cast of players appear in the loscil â€œensembleâ€, some familiar collaborators from the past such as Jason Zumpano on rhodes and Josh Lindstrom on vibraphone, and others new to the mix such as Fieldhead’s Elaine Reynolds who provides layered violin on Catalina 1943, and Ashley Pitre contributing vocals on Bleeding Ink. Seattle pianist Kelly Wyse, who collaborated with loscil on his 2013 edition of piano-centric reworks Intervalo, performs on the tracks Sea Island Murders and En Masse.
In a time where the devaluation of music seems to be at it’s peak, fans and audiences expect every release to be either for free or donation based, which forces musicians to tour extensively or resort to day jobs in order to support themselves. Deru, an electronic artist who questions this establishment, explores an innovative release of his latest album, 1979. His approach influences listeners to place themselves in an appropriate listening environment, delivering an entirely new experience.
To help him with his vision, Deru enlisted a team of people including the visual artist, Effixx, who collaborated previously on the Outliers, Iceland: Vol. 1 project.
I sat with Deru & Effixx to discuss the themes and concept behind 1979:
Hey Guys, I’m David. If you’ve ordered anything from the ISO50 store in the last 6 months, it’s been handled by me and my small team based out of S.F. I’ve worked with Scott in various ways over the years, beginning by carrying his prints at my design + electronics store, Dijital Fix in Brooklyn (RIP) and San Francisco since 2009. After I moved to S.F. in 2012, Scott moved his design studio into the store, and we’ve been working together making the store better since. I’ll be bringing you posts on industrial design and other gadgets, as well as other objects interest from my perspective as a design store owner.
For my inaugural post, I’m presenting a little bit of awesome I found nestled in a box filled with old prints, some very limited original pressings of the Dive Single (Black Vinyl). Enjoy!
I’ve collected all the remixes i’ve done and put them in one location and easily downloaded as a WAV or MP3 for everyone. Everything other than the Slowdive remix was a remix swap or a remix for a friend, hope you enjoy in your headphones and share it.
I haven’t felt this privileged since releasing Casino Versus Japan on Moodgadget. Here’s a perfected EP from Pop Ambient legend Markus Guentner. We’ve been sitting with this album for a few months just trying to find the right time to release and work up the right artwork. Would love some feedback to share with Markus, trying to get him to come out to the US for a tour. Also, download the single “Shadows of the City” for free in the Soundcloud player.
It wasn’t until the advent of time-lapse photography that humans were able to perceive slow and subtle processes on a comprehensible scale. New wisdom can be found in being able to perceive clouds flowing like a river, or the way heavy traffic on a city street begins to resemble the circulation of blood vessels through an artery. In many ways, “Shadows of the City,” Markus Guentner’s latest release captures this fleeting sensation of experiencing time and space on a novel but disarmingly-familiar scale, enthralling listeners with deftly-constructed soundscapes that tell a story widely-open to individual interpretation.
Opening with the track “Chromatic Fields,” Guentner envelopes the user in a warm, resonant sphere of energy, gliding over the shimmering surface of a moonlit pond. Continuing with “Ashes,” a stark but uplifting and meditative movement, the listener is prepared for the first of two longer pieces as the sense of anticipation grows. The title track emerges from the shadowy silence before a Voigt-like four-to-the-floor beat takes hold of the listener and carries them through canyon-like resonance separating monolithic structures of percussion, snaps of air and cracks of sunlight flashing through to illuminate the dust. With the following track, “The Run,” Guentner releases the built-up energy, returning the listener to the center, preparing them for what comes next. “The Coral Crowd” is ushered in much like it’s long-playing counterpart (or counterpoint, to some), graceful yet grounded, organic, but orderly. Ending symmetrically with “Eternal,” listeners are gently returned to consciousness, new insights revealed and ready for the next play-through. A wholly satisfying low-levels listening experience from beginning to end, “Shadows of the City” may represent some of Markus Guentner’s finest and most mature work to-date.