Introduction

One of the main reasons why we launched MNTN was to help foster circumstances that allow this 3D / immersive sound format not only to develop creatively, but also to spread. Over the years, while handling all types of immersive media projects with our TAUCHER studio, we saw so many endeavors that didn’t see the light of day simply because there weren’t sufficient budgets for either studio time or the play-back hardware. This was heartbreaking. And we all know, damn well, that a big budget doesn’t necessarily mean a high level of creativity, and more often than not, the reverse is actually true. So, ultimately what we’re trying to achieve is what Ableton did for the DJ and producer community: make technology accessible (i.e. affordable and easy to use). 

We believe in community and the open, intense exchange of ideas. In our eyes, two heads are always better than one – we’re old school like that. We love to see inspiration at work, even if it’s in a mildly competitive spirit. And since we often meet people who do interesting things and who work hard to evolve this sonic idiom, we decided to start an interview series to open the forum. To kick off we sat down for a quick chat with the hyper-cerebral and extremely talented DEKJ from the Berlin-based oqko collective.

DEKJ

You can download the Ableton Live project file to see how DEKJ worked with MNTN, and play around with his session. DEKJ created this session as a binaural mix, but you could easily switch to a multichannel loudspeaker setup and then listen to the piece. Make sure to install MNTN first. Watch this short video to learn how to setup MNTN with Ableton Live.

Lukasz
Maybe we could start with a short intro? 

DE KJ
I could say that my position is constantly reconfigured, but it's focused on research/practice/interaction/phenomenology/interfacing of sound and other instances, with digital objects –  how they can exceed and/or affect experience or the empirical, by this I mean how they can, through their nature, not only inhabit the not yet audible-visible, but redefine how we actually encounter such phenomena.  

Lukasz
And what is oqko?

DE KJ
oqko is the interdisciplinary collective I am part of. The rest of the members are astvaldur, Lvis Mejía and smog.

Lukasz
When did you first discover the use of immersive or 3D sound? 

DE KJ
More than it being 3D per-se, as it’s presented now, it had more to do with the multi-channel composition – it was Kontakte by Stockhausen.

Lukasz
Was there any particular piece, or perhaps it was the one you just mentioned, that really blew your mind and made you aware of the possibilities of this format? 

DE KJ
Last October I had a chance to experience Javier Álvarez’s “Mejor morir en la selva,”  at this festival in Mexico where I was also presenting my work. It was a very interesting and intense composition. Again, not precisely 3D audio, but rather multi-channel based, and with a great feeling for and an awareness of the auditorium it was presented in.

Lukasz
I remember we had this conversation around the time of the IZZJAZZ performance and you had said that artists don’t really exhaust the possibilities of the medium – can you explain?

DE KJ
I personally feel it’s at times too focused on playing with the location of elements that are pre-arranged and then placed according to intuitive criteria of what could make the listener sort of "instrumentalized" for awe.  They don’t explore the actual space that they inhabit sonically. Perhaps by extremely violating the space through constant high density or by interacting with its actual defined volume (m3) and its materials (and how they behave regarding absorption, reflection, diffraction etc.) and messing with that, would be something much more interesting.

Lukasz
Why do you think that there aren’t that many projects taking this route?

DE KJ
Because like most tools, this one remains in the realm of functionality, as in it's something made for a specific cause. Sometimes the actual potential of a tool is not definitive or definitory.

Lukasz
What would you like to see happening in this field in the next couple of years? 

DE KJ
Room composition or some sort of artificial architecture. Presenting a space that is not there really, aside from its acoustic characteristics. Of course, this would require real-time considerations and accuracy in the measurements, as well as extremely low latency, etc.

Lukasz
I missed your presentation at Ableton's LOOP conference - can you tell me about what you did there?

DE KJ
It was an exercise with the software itself as an analogy to the idea of references, through assigning multiple channels via SPDIF to MNTN, an interactive selection of reactive patterns was the result.  Meaning that for every movement I was doing with MNTN modulations, and variations in the control of the synthesis process were taking place in the patch (which I had done in pure data). Every gesture was relating both entities (in this case the software), but the space was being altered sonically as another reference to this interaction. More than controlling the sound via specific parameters I was interested in what this exchange could say for itself.

Lukasz
… and what are we presenting here? 

DE KJ
It’s a binaural interaction with MNTN, of an evolving decomposition from a similar programming and patch to the one I played at the Loop festival. Although that performance was based on the actual space it took place in, for this one I defined a fictional one.

Lukasz
Any other immersive sound projects that you have in mind, or that you have been working on recently? 

DE KJ
I presented an octophonic piece last December, in Italy, which was based on a fictional morphing barrier surrounding a space. It addressed the inconsistency of concepts such as limits, borders, and how those are applied by external circumstances.

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