For the second year running, Catalyst joined forces with fellow renowned audio production school, Spirit Studios, to facilitate an exciting multidisciplinary collaboration between four pairs of our students. Learn all about Interface 2.0 and the resulting projects, one of which will be presented at Signals Festival this October.
Two of Europe’s most progressive musical cities. Two renowned audio production institutes. Two unique creative perspectives. Connect these things and not only do you get a convergence of ideas, but an explosion of creative possibilities.
Catalyst and Manchester’s Spirit Studios joined forces to launch the Interface Project in 2020. We gave a group of students from each of our schools the opportunity to pair up and remotely collaborate for 12 weeks on a project of their choice – be that creating a film score or shooting a music video. The goal: to creatively cross-pollinate and mutually push for innovation, despite the limitations of the COVID lockdown situation.
The project was such a success that this summer, we went for another round: Interface 2.0. This year’s point of creative exploration was the dichotomy between the utopia and the dystopia, which as you’ll soon find out, resulted in some absolutely stunning work.
Just like last year, the four selected pairs were competing for a slot to exhibit their work at our annual community showcase, Signals Festival – taking place on the 15th to the 16th of October, 2021 – plus additional support to realise their project in the real world. The two students who won second prize would each receive a piece of tech relevant to their course. Catalyst’s Charlie Baldwin and Spirit Studios’ Damion O’Brien, both electronic music production tutors, mentored the students throughout the project.
First-year VFX and Digital Arts student Ethan Ho brought his 3D skills to his collaboration with chiptune extraordinaire Matthew Creighton, aka Copilot Claude, to create a deep sea-inspired audiovisual piece. Second-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering student Olívia Mamberti, whose talents include singing and songwriting, film composing and video making, teamed up with vocalist, composer and sound designer Maya Rain on an immersive audiovisual experience. First-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering student Freddy Corazzini collaborated with fellow musician David Pani on a ‘90s inspired, percussive synth track and accompanying skateboarding video which, in keeping with their pre-internet concept, were processed and recorded on cassette. First-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering student Anton Líni Hreiðarsson combined his soulful vocals with Ana-Maria Chipaila's EDM elements to create an upbeat pop song, accompanied by nostalgic video clips from their journey together.
Above: Spirit Studios team at Interface 2.0 Zoom presentation
“Everyone really impressed us,” says Catalyst events and student experience lead and Signals Festival co-creator Hannah Deans. “They all had quite amazing learning curves and seem to have gotten a lot out of it, not to mention future collaborative partners.”
Keri and Nyree, who coordinated the project at Spirit Studios say that being a part of Interface 2.0 was fantastic: “Each student brought something unique and memorable to the table, and the final projects were all astounding! Thank you to every student who put their heart and soul into this project, you have made this year one to remember!” Keep an eye out on the Spirit Studios blog for their upcoming podcast with the participants.
Interface 2.0 Winners
All four pairs created such a high standard of work that it was tough to choose a winner. In the end, one of the deciding factors was a crystal-clear communication and execution of the brief and vision, making Olívia and Maya’s piece a brilliant fit for an installation at Signals Festival. Ethan and Matthew came a close second and were awarded with a Leap Motion Controller and an Arturia MiniLab MKII respectively.
Ready to be amazed? Watch all of the pieces below and find out more about the students’ creative processes.
Olívia and Maya
“The project that I worked on with Maya for this year’s Interface edition was inspired by our intent to originate an art piece that would depict the dichotomy between utopia and dystopia, which are the themes for Signals Festival this year,” Olívia explains. “The summer months we spent working together completely remotely on Oneiro-Hiraeth consisted of a lot of meetings and sending material back and forth to each other. I’d go to the studios one day and record short ideas with improvised vocal harmonies and melodies and then Maya would develop them into longer songs with sampling and vocal processing, which were essential to evoke the whole audio identity of our project.
The name is a combination of the Greek word Oneiro (meaning “relating to dreams or dreaming”) and the Welsh word Hiraeth (meaning “homesickness for a home which you can’t return to or never was”). Therefore, putting those words together it translates to Oneiro Hiraeth: “Dreaming of a home that never was,” which is the main nostalgic feeling we wanted to encapsulate with the installation.
Regarding the visuals, I got my younger brother, Joaquim Mamberti, involved in the project to do the graphic design, illustration and visual character development for the videos we did for each chapter of the narrative, which then were used by me to be animated and distorted through experimental video editing, syncopated with the music for each chapter of the story.
Winning Interface 2.0. means a lot for both of us and having the opportunity to present our work on Signals made all the effort and hard work we both put into it feel beyond worth it.”
Ethan & Matthew
An Apocalypse Humdrum Among Long-Dead Cetacea
“Matthew, my partner for the project, and I decided very early on that we wanted to dive deep into the weird stuff and create something special,” Ethan tells us. “And we quite literally dove deep by deciding to revolve our project around whale fall and other creatures at the bottom of the ocean.
Personally, this was a huge challenge as I had to create a 3D environment, model sea creatures, animate them etc. all in a couple of months. This pushed me to come up with new ways to streamline my production pipeline and achieve something that would normally take me at least half a year to do. We broke down our idea into sections and tackled them one at a time with Matthew leading the way with music and me following up soon after with accompanying visuals. We took it one step at a time and gathered all the pieces we needed before putting them together and the result is something we are very proud of.
From this collaboration, I learned that just because I’ve been doing something a certain way for so long, doesn’t mean I have to stick with it, I can push myself to grow still and step out of my comfort zone.”
Freddy & David
Scanning with My Eyes Closed
“From the beginning of the project, me and David really hit it off. We realised we were into the same music and shared a lot of similar references,” Freddy explained during the project presentation. “So we started throwing ideas back and forth and, once a week, we would call each other and see what we were up to. Then, at one point, I got a grasp of this idea on the road and recorded that. So the whole thing started progressing from there. I did a drum track and then David added drum machines to it and bassline, then we did effects with synths and a bunch of other stuff. It was really nice and smooth. I’m super happy with the final project and I think David is too.”
Anton & Ana-Maria
Anniverse feat. Anton Líni - Feel
“We decided to go for a pop song and make a video that shows behind the scenes,” Anton said during the project presentation. “We started with Ana making a house beat and then we thought how we could make the vocals explain the utopia and dystopia theme. The vocals are composed to be more uplifting and happy. Midway through, it’s like ‘don’t change your mind.’ It’s trying to stay positive through hard times… [For the video] we decided to film the whole process about how we made the song. We could also translate it to utopia/dystopia with the idea of performing from inside the studio. And by recording our Zoom sessions, we could show that we were working from different countries in these hard times.”
See the Winning Project at Signals!
On Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th of October, join our annual showcase of Catalyst’s emerging and diverse creative communities, packed with live performances, audio and visual installations – including our Interface 2.0 winners – film screenings, workshops and in-depth dialogue.