TIM EXILE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF FLESH

"The concept for FLESH came to me a few years ago. I’d been touring with the Flow Machine – my custom looping, beat making, and improvising instrument, which I built in REAKTOR. It already included THE FINGER and THE MOUTH, which gave me plenty of power for live FX mangling and vocal synthesis but I was missing a way to create harmonic and melodic material in a live, improvised scenario. I wanted something that would empower me to create expressive and dynamic sounds which fitted in perfectly with whatever was going on at the time.

I wondered if I could create intelligent melodies that responded to the rhythmic feel of a track – or intelligent synths that dynamically based their tone on the track’s shifting tone over time. I set to work designing new methods for analysis, sequencing, and synthesis that would allow me to do this. It’s taken a few years to get it right but now I’m very proud to share the results of my work. I’ve been blown away by what these new techniques have made possible. Even one year later, I still hum some of the melodies that have emerged. During the development process, I’ve sometimes been moved to tears by how creative a computer can be if you give it the power.

FLESH is a composition tool and a performance instrument rolled into one. It allows you to create tracks as possibilities which you can combine and manipulate with physical controls. It liberates you from the tyranny of the timeline. I hope you and I both manage to have our sonic horizons augmented."

BEING A MUSICIAN AND A DEVELOPER

"I started out as a musician straight after university – producing and releasing tracks on various record labels. I was already messing around developing my own software tools on the side but it was only a peripheral hobby that fed my inspiration for writing tracks.

Eventually I got better at programming and came up with more ambitious ideas for tools. These tools then became central to my workflow. Over the last few years, I’ve spent my time developing software such as FLESH and my custom performance instrument the Flow Machine. Now that FLESH is out, I’m looking forward to spending a bit more time being a musician again."

THE FLOW MACHINE AND PLAYING LIVE WITH REAKTOR

"I started work on the Flow Machine 12 years ago, long before it was known as the Flow Machine. It consists of a lot of different MIDI controllers controlling a single REAKTOR ensemble. I wanted an instrument that would allow me to perform and improvise electronic music physically and in the moment. I started out building it in REAKTOR and I’ve stuck with REAKTOR as my only development platform ever since. You could say REAKTOR and I have grown up together.

The Flow Machine I use today is a complete live studio in a box including live sequencing, audio looping, drum machines, synths, sample players, a huge FX chain, and loads of different methods for resampling and manipulating sounds on the fly. Being able to create a fully-featured application like this is a testament to how powerful REAKTOR is as a platform."

ON THE FUTURE OF CONTROLLER INTEGRATION

"The future of music and musical instrument technology is very bright indeed. A decade ago when I started out with this improvised performative approach, I felt like a lone voice in an empty space.

Now there are more and more musicians engaging in music creation in a spontaneous hands-on way, and the music technology industry is changing quickly alongside. The emphasis is shifting away from tools for designing music on a timeline to tools for performing music in real time.

The division between hardware and software is dissolving and the self-contained instrument is on the rise. I think we’re on the cusp of Musical Instruments 2.0."

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