On Sound Shaping, Videogames, and what it's like to be a building...

Taylor makes the music that makes you go hmmm….
Taylor makes the music that makes you think you have an entire set of time-counting devices measuring the rhythms and patterns of audio stimulation right there in your head…(oh that's right, you do have that!)
Well, Taylor makes the music that actually provokes those faculties.

Beatz 4 geekz had the honor of speaking to sound shaper Taylor Deupree about his latest sonic installment, and the influence videogames have had upon his auditory outlook. His latest work Tower of Winds, is collaboration with Savvas Ysatis, a highly diversified sound-artist and long-time cohort. Together they create a panoply of synthetic sounds, inspired by a great big metallic cylindrical tower (no, not a grain elevator); a landmark building called Tower of Winds in Yokohama, Tokyo. Now, you know any building with a name like that has got to be up to something…

Designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito the structure houses a central computer which triggers1280 floodlights to project different colors onto the reflective panels. As if that wasn't dope enuff, the computer is controlled by wind speed, time of day and ambient noises. We thought that sounded so sci-fi that we had to find out… just what does a tall, chameleon-esque metallic tower sound like?

When he is not playing games on his Mac, Taylor Deupree has been sculpting sounds across the electronic music landscape for more than 10 years. Best known for his ambient work as well as his interest in "Microscopic Sounds" Taylor has released work on numerous labels including Instinct, KK Records/Belgium, Shadow and 12K - his own label based in NYC. At MUTEK Taylor performs as part of the Caipirinha Architettura series.

B4G: Who came up with the idea of creating music inspired by a specific architectural work?

TD: It started with Iara Lee's growing interest in architecture shortly after she started the Caipirinha label. Her and I were talking about architecture and music one day, I'm not sure who came up with the specific idea of doing a series, but it all started with Iara and her ceaselessly creative mind.

B4G: How and why did you choose Tower of Winds?

TD: At the time I was pretty uneducated about architects and architecture. I was fascinated by it and loved the aesthetic but didn't know much. So Savvas and I just went through Iara's books looking for buildings that inspired us on a musical level. The computerized and random morphic qualities of the Tower of Winds were very intriguing. It was an easy choice, once we found it.

B4G: Is your music meant to be an audio companion to the building or is it composed following some of the same concepts explored by its architect Toyo Ito?

TD: It is an audio companion. It is us giving the building itself a personality. And exploring what it would be like to be the tower of winds as you sat there and witnessed life around you…with the noise, the silence, the rain, the peacefulness, the disturbances of every day city life.

B4G: How involved would you like people to be with your music? Is it something you would like them to be immersed within?

TD: I design my music to be listened to… carefully… and with aesthetic appreciation. It's definitely an immersion thing… yes.

B4G: The experience of music is emotional and intangible, you can not encounter it physically the way you would a building, yet would you agree that you are nevertheless creating audio spaces and environments?

TD: Well, I don't agree that sound isn't physical. If you ever hear Ryoji Ikeda play live you will hear physical sound. Sound that literally moves you. But, with what you are saying, space and environment do not necessarily have to be physical things. They can exist in the mind as well... they also very much affect your physical environment. It's a very rare occurrence (some say impossible) to witness true silence. With that in mind, every physical space you are in has sound in it…and that sound helps create and identify that space. That same concept can be reverse-engineered where you start with sound and create a space that way. Sound can open up the imagination to a lot of things.

B4G: In some ways, you can refer to the environments created by sound as virtual spaces. Do you see any parallel between these sonic virtual environments and various interactive environments like those of video games?

TD: Yes, physical architecture and virtual architecture attempt to achieve many of the same goals… immersion, a sense of place and space... but until full-sensory immersive virtual reality becomes possible virtual architecture is going to remain rather flat in comparison.

B4G: In terms of creating spaces, do you see any similarity between an architect, a musician and a game designer?

TD: Sure, there are similarities. game designers and architects relate in the way I said above. As far as game design goes, especially well-designed first-person games, these have some excellent, very radical and beautiful architectural design in them. Places that even though you're looking at in 2 dimensions… you wish you could be there... and musicians can build a sonic architecture… one that may take more imagination to perceive… but that is there nonetheless.

B4G: Do you play video games?

TD: Too much, yes.

B4G: What kind of games do you play?

TD: Anything on my Mac. Starcraft, Quake, Fallout, Tomb Raider...Marathon. First person action games… However, Fallout (RPG) is, in my opinion, the best game ever created.

B4G: Did video games have anything to do with inspiring your interest in technology?

TD: I grew up visiting video game arcades most of my childhood and teenage years. My parents bought a computer for the house in the early 80's (a Radioshack TRS-80)… so yes, I directly attribute my love for ultra-synthetic sounds, sinewaves and beeps to my early love for video games and computer programming.

B4G: Do you listen to the in-game music or do you play by your own soundtrack?

TD: Never listen to in-game music. If I were a space marine on some planet wiping out aliens the last thing I'd want to be doing is be distracted by music in my Walkman or something. Listening to in game music detracts from the "reality" of the game, I think...

B4G: What do you think of the music in video games today?

TD: I don't pay much attention to it. I turn it off as soon as I install the game and change my preferences. Most of it sounds like heavy guitar music anyway, or commercial Techno.

B4G: You have created music to accompany this great architectural work, now if we created a video game to complement your kind of sound, how would it play?

TD: It probably wouldn't be a game so much as a puzzle… maybe something that was kind of ongoing… never-ending type of thing. Something that can't be solved.
Taylor Deupree