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MAKING KINETIC TOYS

KINETIC TOYS is the second full collaboration between Native Instruments and sound designer Jeremiah Savage. Jeremiah previously contributed sounds and patches to NI instruments such as ABSYNTH 5, FM8, MASSIVE, KONTAKT 5, and many REAKTOR instruments, and co-developed the acclaimed KINETIC METAL.

In these two videos, Jeremiah explains the design philosophy behind KINETIC TOYS, from his early days as a child (and sound-designer in waiting) to the present day, and the technical challenges of realizing a sonic project, a lifetime in the making.

DREAMCHILD

“There’s something about long-forgotten toys that have resurfaced in antique shops or the attics of grandparent's houses,” begins Jeremiah. “It’s the rusty gears and rundown mechanisms combined with their forgotten history that sparks my imagination.”

Jeremiah’s love of sound has always gone hand in hand with play. “I would go to my grandparents’ house to mess around with their early 1980s Texas Instruments TI-99/4A,” he explains. “I found creating and controlling sound from typed commands something magical.”

But it was not until 2007 that Jeremiah came upon “the idea of turning objects that typically, one wouldn’t associate with musical sound, into playable, dynamic instruments.”

And it would be a few more years – enough to hear the sounds of childhood with mature ears – before the idea of KINETIC TOYS was born.

The goal was to build “something that sounds physically real and pushes the limits of imagination,” Jeremiah explains. “Certain unfamiliar things can be scary and strange – Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ comes to mind.

“For KINETIC TOYS I wanted to create a world that borders on the real and the imaginary.”

CHILD’S PLAY

"Having a clear mission concept is a vital first step, but when trying to create dynamic, playable instruments out of vintage toys, the real challenges are technical," says Jeremiah.

“With non-musical objects, the recording process is always an experimental one,” he continues. “I’m playing, and teasing out the most interesting sounds from the most useful mic placements.”

Then, to create playable tones, you must “create waveforms and extract harmonic data so that the tones mesh with the sampled content.

“As this entire process is happening the ideas for the interface start to take shape – simple to use while respecting the complexity of the sounds is the best of both worlds.

“For KINETIC TOYS the interface really extends from the original concept. You are literally playing with toys when you use it. In the end, a successful instrument is one that satisfies the concept while surpassing the idea in unexpected ways.”

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