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:
Earlier in the year I posted Braille’s EP now we fast forward to today as we premiere a new single from his “Mute Swan” LP, enjoy the single “The Cats Gone Nuts ft. Seafloor” and the interview below.
2. The Cat’s Gone Nuts (feat. Seafloor)
3. Better Than Nothing (feat. Angelica Bess)
4. Insider Out
5. Ports (feat. Angelica Bess)
6. Ended Up In NY
7. It’s All Right (feat. Angelica Bess)
8. I Assume (feat. Jesse Boykins III & Throwing Snow)
9. Stop Drop & Roll
10. Everyone’s Crazy
12. An Oceanic Escape (feat. Olivia Sholler)
13. Gee Whiz
Braille Current city:
Ro aka Chunkers the Cat
ISO50: Dream gear set up:
Braille: What I’ve got right now works pretty well. Highlights are my Prophet 12, Rhodes, Laptop and Apollo Sound Card. I guess if I dream of anything, its having a proper piano around again.
ISO50: Dream gig line up to play with:
Braille: A Piano, Guitar and Vocal Mic
Granular Sampler with a pedal system triggering recording of each of the instruments individually
Controller to control the sampler’s playhead on each individual track
I’m gonna make this happen some day…
ISO50: Share a childhood memory that might relate to your music?
Braille: Every nightmare I ever had as a child where I was frozen by an unseen evil and couldn’t scream
ISO50: If the world lost electricity tomorrow, would you continue to make music and how?
Braille: I’d break out the acoustic guitar, find a piano and go to town
ISO50: How do you and Seafloor know each other?
Braille: We’ve known each other since our first releases during the good old IDM days. Seafloor was in a group on Merck called Landau which progressed through Landau Orchestra and Murray Flexor to its current incarnation as Body Language. He lives a block away from me in Brooklyn and has become one of my closest friends over the past 10 years or so. We’ve been working together more often the past few years, you can check out our first collaborative EP as “Rights” on Infinite Machine.
ISO50: Tell us about the album art for the EP and LP?
Braille: Anthony Ciannamea did an amazing job tying the EP and LP art together while still staying true to the vibe of the individual releases. The cover and back of the LP ties together everything from subject matter (a girl, swan feather) to instruments used (texture from a cardboard box I used for some of the percussion) without feeling too busy. Its been a pleasure to work with him and I’m looking forward to the stuff he’s still cooking up for the album release.
ISO50: Can you list off a 4 song playlist of what you listen to while
you head out for errands?
Braille: It varies but recently these four tracks have been on repeat lately:
Tim Hecker – Virginal I Kendrick Lamar – Institutionalized (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg) Sufjan Stevens – Fourth of July Flying Lotus – Coronus, The Terminator
Photo by Sean Maung
ISO50: Something your fans might not know about you?
Braille: I’m Indorican?
ISO50: Do you collect anything?
Braille: Not really. Music and Instruments I suppose, though I know thats a very boring, expected answer.
ISO50: What is your favourite sound and why?
Braille: The sound of a minor 7th guitar chord run through a granular sampler at a very slow speed with the density and duration maxed out. There’s something so beautiful about both the concept and the resulting sound. On one hand, its a beautiful, epic textural sound and on the other its a statement about the temporal nature of sound since you are exploding a single instant of audio into an endless, living soundscape.
ISO50: Is there any sort of emotional subtext, or something that inspires you to write your solo music?
Braille: Melancholic optimism
ISO50: Any tour dates lining up?
Braille: Some upcoming dates with label mate Different Sleep as well as my release party next month in Brooklyn!
15-Apr – Los Angeles, CA – Low End Theory w Different Sleep
16-Apr – San Francisco, CA – California Academy of Sciences Night Life w Different Sleep
22-Apr – Austin, TX – Empire Control Room w Different Sleep
23-Apr – Chicago, IL – East Room w Different Sleep
8-May – NYC – Mute Swan Release Party at Cameo Gallery w Seafloor & L-Vis 1990
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:
With Tycho’s Awake, out March 18th via Ghostly, the Sacramento-based audiovisual project helmed by Scott Hansen has reached a certain maturity, growing into a three-piece band and achieving, on the new record, an even more refined sense of clarity. Awake takes the evocative, pop-ambient synth work that made 2011′s Dive feel so oddly spiritual (and drew countless comparisons to Boards of Canada) and refocuses it into a cleaner, sharper post-rock context; it feels like an album that should be broadcast at night over the Grand Canyon. I spoke to Hansen about growing out of “the Instagram approach” to music producing, making headphone music work live and why he considers this “the first true Tycho record.”
The Fader: Where am I talking to you now?
Tycho: We’re in the studio, working on the live show. I’m working with the engineer who helped mix the record to translate the recorded stuff live. Last album, we struck the balance between having the live show sound more like the record, but over time, we decided we wanted a more ability to go off the beaten path, and we’re trying to skew the balance back to the performance end of things. It’s kind of headphone music at the end of the day, especially the older stuff, so we’re always trying to punch it up.
The Fader: You’ve called this “the first true Tycho record.” Why do you feel that way, even though you’ve been at it for a little while?
Tycho: I look at it from a career perspective, like what I was doing in my life when I made those other albums. My life revolved mostly around freelance graphic design work, and I wasn’t truly focused on music in the way that I am now. And back then, I hadn’t met musicians that I really resonated with in a songwriting context. Meeting Zac, meeting Rory and meeting Count, the engineer—forming relationships with them where we were comfortable enough to start creating together is what facilitated making this record the way I wanted. It was always my dream for Tycho to get to that point, it just took me 10 years to get there. This is what I wanted Tycho to be all along.
The Fader: So it’s a proper band now.
Tycho: Now I kind of look at at is: I’m in a band, and I play keyboards and guitar and bass, and I also produce that band. You put on two different hats. Working with Zac in particular, we came up with basic ideas and then spent time in different places for a couple weeks at a time working through them, developing songs. Then I went back and produced them out, and we spent a few weeks at the end flashing and burning and doing the hard decisions I wasn’t objective enough to make in the past. From songwriting to arrangement, we worked really closely. Rory, the drummer—I always hear these drum patterns and swells in the music, but I’ve never had the ability or energy to achieve that with electronic programming. He was able to just sit down, hear the music and go.
A very inspiring and truly calming short interview by Milton Glaser, might help you slow down and not focus on the finishing line on your own personal work, I wish I spent more time with ink and watercolor, comes out very attractive.
Le Révélateur and Sabrina Ratté are my favorite audio and visual collaborators since we first saw them on the blog via Beamer. The proper way to see this though is live, they played in Brooklyn and I still wish I brought my camera with me to videotape it and share it with you. Data Daze is forthcoming on cassette on NNA Tapes via the Horizon Fears EP.
Michael Cina and Matthew Dear team up to show some amazing ways to introduce art and an upcoming album to their audience. You just have to watch it yourself.
TEEN on Carpark Records is a 5 piece girl band that has the outlook of bringing back where Stereolab left off with more of a pop sense.
I have no information about this video, absolutely none, and that’s completely fine with me.
If you haven’t seen any Nardwuar interviews then i’d suggest having a few hours to watch a handful, its great seeing the musician reactions to the gifts he gives them.
Name: Cole Rise. Current City: San Francisco, CA Website:coleri.se
Instagram: @colerise Pets: A piano named Eleanor. I feed her and she makes music. Dream vehicle: Piper Super Cub with Tundra tires (it’s a bush plane)
ISO50: Tell me about your first memory?
Cole: The first thing I remember is an insect in my bed. Maybe it was a millipede? It’s not like the house was gross or anything… we were in a wooded area so i think it was just lost. We moved out of that house when i turned 2, so I must have been about one and half years old, as crazy early as that sounds. I remember waking up and being rather startled by it, but not having the words to express it. I wasn’t the most verbose one and a half year old. I probably just stared, wide-eyed. I vaguely remember mom coming in a few minutes later, but by then it had crawled out of sight. I hope it found it’s way.
ISO50: I see that you’re a pilot, do you ever let go of the wheel and get a photo off like some of the instagram car drivers I see sometimes on the road?
Cole: Oh sure… but within reason. It’s not as dangerous as you might think. When you’re learning to fly, they teach you to scan your horizon every few minutes, so you’re always aware of where you are, who and what’s around, and what’s ahead. Plus most planes have auto-pilot, which is basically 3-dimensional cruise control. With little air traffic, it’s reasonably safe to snap a photo or two. On the other hand, I recently tried it while hang gliding and almost dropped the phone from 800 feet. I’d say that was more dangerous.
ISO50: Can you list off a 4 song playlist of what you listen to while you’re tinkering with a photo?
Cole: In no particular order, i give you…
“Aegina Airlines” by The Dead Texan
“Indian Summer” by Jónsi & Alex
“Don’t Worry” by Zoe Keating
“Foreground” by Grizzly Bear (Note: this song works in all regions of a photo.)
ISO50: If there could be a new filter added on instagram describe it the best you can:
Cole: If you combine Inkwell (the current b&w filter) with say, the soft tones of Sierra, it produces some lovely results. I think there may be something to that.
ISO50: Do you find there being pressure of getting a certain kind of shot to post on instagram? Do you ever hesitate to post?
Cole: Sure i’d say there’s an incentive to keep it interesting and meaningful, so you tend to become more selective with what you post. I definitely feel some pressure to keep traveling, to keep it consistent with the landscapes that i usually post. Twist my arm. As for hesitation, once in a while i’ll think twice about posting some the crazy experimental stuff. I have fun trying to push the medium in new & weird ways, and then sharing the process so everyone take part and push it further. Take for instance, shooting through a sweater stretched over the lens. Sometimes you have to look at the photo, turn your head to one side and ask yourself “… really?” So, you share what works, and you bury the rest. Like an iceberg, most people only see the little bit that’s above water.
ISO50: I’m moving to SF next week, can you list your favorite bar, venue, restaurant, and a place to relax at?
Cole: On a Thursday night when it’s not too crowded, grab a couple of friends for drinks in an old pirate ship themed bar called Smuggler’s Cove in Hayes Valley. There’s even a flaming skull drink! Nuff said. Then, when you’re good and toasty, mozy on down the block to Absinthe for one of the best burgers in the city. While you’re there, have them bring over the St. George absinthe, the only variety any sane person should bother to try. You’ll be feeling pretty good at this point, and maybe a bit full, but i promise you won’t care. When it’s time, sign your check and stroll a few blocks further to the more relaxed appeal of Hotel Biron, for a glass of wine you’ll in the short term love & then soon regret as you wait for your Uber cab before crawling into bed.
ISO50: What do you think about the popular page on instagram? What would you change about it to make it something you’d visit more frequent?
Cole: It’s very honest and very human. Algorithmically, it’s doing some really smart things to bring you photos that are getting a lot of attention. Attention, however doesn’t guarantee that every photo will be amazing, so that’s where i think the honesty comes in. Right now, the popular page is a perfect snapshot of what’s on people’s minds at a given point in time. It’s Freud meets Ansel Adams, with some teenage angst and a few cute puppies thrown in. I love it for what it is, but as with anything, it’ll evolve. Down the line I would love to see it become more curated, or influenced by more tastemakers on Instagram. Imagine giving more weight to a photo if it’s liked by other influential users who have had a few of their own photos featured on the popular page. An “artists supporting upcoming artists” metric.
ISO50: If you weren’t working on photography or being a pilot what would you be doing for a living?
Cole: Well, I have a web company called Particle that pays the bills, but that aside, i’d probably sell tripods or hang gliders online and travel. Build a water well for a community that needs it. Maybe grow some rice.
ISO50: What are your feelings on Facebook buying Instagram? Any updates that what would make you sad to see added?
Cole: I think from the beginning it was obvious that the app was going to be huge. Even before they launched, the hundred or so beta testers were using the app all day everyday. It was exactly what was missing, and i’m damn thrilled to see it make its mark in history. Their team and inner culture is incredible, so i have faith in the people and the smarts they bring behind scenes. I can’t really imagine them adding a feature that wasn’t great or without the user in mind. I’m actually looking forward to the much needed updates to Facebook that Instagram will bring.