Projekt Seahorse a.k.a. Aaron Moun10 is known for his analog mixed-media art, which he performs live in real time. We interviewed him about his techniques and process in creating his real time masterpieces.
Lisa Rein: So how do you make your visuals? Is everything analog? Are there any digital components? How does it work?
Projekt Seahorse: I’m like a live band. I’m running everything from 4-6 different VHS players and two DVD players and two laptops, all into a video mixer, and then I’m sequencing all of it live.
LR: So your using that old video mixer?
PS: Yes I’m mixing it all live to the energy of whatever music artist I’m working with.
LR: So it’s still analog mixing then, when you are using that video mixing board?
PS: Yes. Analog mixing in real time….
LR: So Lael Marie will be performing with you for the first time at our Raw Thought show on March 11. I’ve seen you guys perform together during a practice session and she’s absolutely amazing; and the two of you together are quite impressive. How did you ever find her?
PS: We met at a party and she’s always looking for new progressive projects and events where she can dance, so I told her about Raw Thought.
LR: Yes she mentioned she was always looking for interesting collaborations, and said this was a dream come true for her, as she had been looking for a projectionist to collaborate with for a while. (I’ll have an interview with her up later this week!)
To be clear: It’s two events in one – if you get there early enough (between 7-8:30pm) to learn about Police Surveillance and filing public records requests, great! If not, no biggie, just grab a drink and join the party.
All pics below of Mochipet and kitties link to Mochipet songs :-)
Lisa Rein: So you mentioned that you’ve been feeling very experimental lately, and I saw on your instagram that you’ve been messing with a lot of new equipment.
Mochipet: I always do that.
LR: Well what are you playing with recently?
Mochipet: I’m doing a lot of modular synth stuff. I’ll probably be doing some modular synth stuff on Friday.
LR: Is that just a type of synthesizer? What’s “modular synth” exactly?
Mochipet: Modular synth is basically kind of like a synthesizer, with a bunch of parts. You can take separate parts and make a frankenstein thing of whatever you want.
It’s like if you had the ability to take the EQ off of one synthesizer, and then took the amp of another synthesizer, and then put them all together. All the pieces are modular. They’re separate. So you can put them all together and make a brand new thing.
LR: So it allows you to customize your sound?
Mochipet: Yes it’s very customized because everybody can put things together in a very different ways. It’s kind of like LEGOs I guess. That’s a great analogy: yes just like LEGOs. It’s just parts.
LR: Do the parts have to be a certain brand?
Mochipet: No. There are many brands of modules. That’s the cool thing about it is that it’s a very decentralized system. So, basically, there’s a standard.
It’s kind of like the Internet: If people follow the standard their pages will work in a browser. This is kind of like that with modular synths. They all have a certain voltage. They all have a certain voltage range, for notes, and things like that.
There’s kind of a standard that this German company Doepfer made that other people just adopted. So there’s a lot of really small operations, individual people, making modules.
Doepfer made their specs open. There’s a lot of standards now where I think people realize if you make them open then you’re gonna get a lot more use out of it. If it was a closed system, nobody would use it. It would be useless. You need open systems in order for people to be able to participate,, and that really opens the door up for a lot of individuals to do really unique things. Because everybody thinks differently.
Rather than having a big bureaucratic company with standards and rules dictating whatever their idea of what the industry should be like. There’s none of that. Instead, it’s just random people making different things. But they all work together. So you can connect anything to anything and it will work, and you can make unique things out of it that nobody could ever make before.
Mochipet: Yeah yeah. It’s a really cool thing. It’s kind of new. Doepfer came out with it many years ago, but the whole modular synth “scene” kind of thing is pretty new. I mean like five or ten years old. People are doing it just because they love it. They are making really interesting instruments and they like coming up with ideas. Some of these modules, there are only like 50 of them. They’ll make 50. And they’ll sell em, and that’s it.
LR: So some of them are rare and hard to obtain?
Mochipet: Yes. Some of them become rare. Some of them are very hard to find. There’s a lot of them that are made all over the world. There’s this guy in China that makes really cool ones. There’s people in Italy that make really cool modules. There’s this company Make Noise, here in the states that’s very popular. It’s kinda nerdy. It’s kind of like open source programming, but with music. It’s like people can write little programs or functions or whatever and put it into the system. And then people can take it and ya know, do whatever they want with it. Do new things with it.
This one company, Mutable Instruments. They’re in France. All these companies are just like, one guy. There’s like a guy who designs the modules and he tells a guy how many knobs. But it’s just those guys. There’s no team. So he (the guy in France) started doing digital modules, which incorporate computer programming within them. All his stuff is open source too. So, you can take his code and make the module, or add more stuff to it, or change it. There’s an open source community spirit to it, which is really nice.
LR: Does he actually release it under an open source license?
LR: (Lisa looks it up online.) Hey cool it’s a Creative Commons: cc-by-sa 3.0 license.
It’s hard to keep up with the developments on numerous fronts in the Aaron Swartz Day community, so we’re going to start posting little updates about the week before to help keep you informed.
Here are last week’s media & developments:
1. Q & A Event – January 11th at the DNA Lounge, 7:30pm – This is the sixth anniversary of Aaron’s death. We are having an event to discuss what exactly happened to him with an opportunity for lots of Q & A for those with specific questions at the DNA Lounge from 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Vegan pizza will be served and Lisa Rein and others will be answering some questions to help folks gain a better understanding about what actually happened.
Raw Thought was the name of Aaron Swartz’ blog, and his writings and life hath inspired a monthly gathering of music, life & looking beneath the surface, also named “Raw Thought.”
Mind bending visuals, generated live by Projekt Seahorse will be projected on four screens in two rooms. Our crew of seasoned DJs and experimental upstarts (both human and alien) will combine to keep your heart pumping in two rooms!
Many of the volunteers and attendees at last year’s Aaron Swartz Day event asked us to provide a smaller get together for discussion. This is us trying to do that :-)
We will be discussing and learning about Aaron’s life & history, including some Q & A time that I’ve been promising for a while.
We will also discuss some of the new things we have learned over the past year about the bizarre situation around Aaron’s court case.
Vegan pizza will be served! (It’s really yummy! :-) (Gluten-free crust available upon request – email email@example.com)
Besides myself, Ryan Shapiro, who headed up the recent FOIA case where he discovered Aaron was on the FBI’s radar as early back as 2007, will be there in person to tell us about his FOIA lawsuit – where he was able to obtain parts of Aaron’s FBI file that were previously unavailable.
If “Raw Thought” sounds familiar, it should. It was the name of Aaron’s prolific blog – and one of the main goals of these events – besides providing a great place to meet people and dance – is to continue to spread Aaron’s knowledge and ideas to a larger audience.
Tha Spyryt: Creating music? Music is more of a translation or interpretation of creation.
Four years off and on learning production seriously, my friend Moda Graphik taught me Ableton in 15 minutes which got me into it, however stopped for awhile and now refocused on it as a means to harness all mediums of art I work on, or “create” / translate. Before that spent many years in the underground, club, and festival scene performing live visuals with major headliners, participating in tour life, or creating new media content and being immersed in music production/event culture…
LR: What’s your favorite new piece of equipment?
TS: My friends :). Making noise with people seems to be one of the best parts about performing or playing instruments music what have you. Lately I have been learning to understand that we are all the best machines we will ever need.
Technology is just an extension, but implementing our strengths can be a place that new possibilities arise. + Along with new friends is new studios, new instruments, and new spaces to travel to. Experience, vision, & inspiration: equipment that is intangible yet crucial to the construction of any piece. Bliss random answers always serve hot meals, though a miracle is often the luck of decisive reaction.
***Remembering Aaron – A thoughtful Dinner Party***
Come to the Raw Thought dinner party on Friday, January 11th, at the DNA Lounge at 7:30 pm (before the music performances start at 10pm). We will be discussing and learning about Aaron’s life & history, including some Q & A time that I’ve been promising for a while. We will also discuss some of the new things we have learned over the past year about the bizarre situation around Aaron’s court case.
Please do RSVP by writing: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Space is limited.)
We will move forward together and make the world better!
No one can stop us <3
Yes, January 11th is the anniversary of Aaron’s death, but rather than to just say a few words and be sad, as is often the case on this blog every year, we are going to use the opportunity to raise awareness about his case and build out our community a bit, while everyone is paying attention. Our discussion will be from 7:30-9pm at the DNA Lounge – vegan pizza will be served. Email us at email@example.com or tweet/DM @AaronSwartzDay if you are interested in coming to our little info-filled dinner session from 7:30-9pm. RSVP required.
During our Aaron Swartz Day weekend in November (and around the world), many people came to meet others who care about helping the world and to learn from each other *even though they don’t know a lot about Aaron himself*.
Folks often learn more details about Aaron, what happened to him, and all of his various cool projects and causes *after they get there* – and I ended up wishing I had provided some introductory material to them before the conference.
So, this year, more than ever, it seemed important to bring his messages to a larger audience, with something positive to offer – even on this saddest of days coming up (January 11).
We hope no one is offended by our having a dance night on this day; and felt it best to explain our reasoning, just in case: We have a lot of work to do and it’s best to keep up our momentum from November’s event.
****original post below from December 12, 2018***
Raw Thought is a monthly dance event at the Above DNA Lounge – with a big room in front and a Psychedelic Chill Room in back, and DJs going, simultaneously, in both, from 10pm-2am.
Raw Thoughtwas the name of Aaron’s prolific blog, and one of the main goals of these events – besides providing a great place to meet people and dance – is to continue to spread Aaron’s knowledge and ideas to a larger audience.
In the fall of 2018, a group of Aaron Swartz-inspired DJs circling Noisebridge convinced us to have a dance night at the DNA Lounge in celebration of Aaron as an “Opening Night Party” to our Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day.
As a result, November 9, 2018 became the historic date of the very first “Raw Thought at the DNA Lounge.” (Here’s Tha Spyryt’s set from that night!) It was so awesome we all decided to keep doing it, once a month, in 2019.