For the “Hors Série” edition of Nuits Sonores in Lyon on 20th of July, xl.iks created a 360 audio-visual live experience with visual artist Adrien Bardet. We took the opportunity to ask them some questions about the creation of this experimental live.

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Author: Laurent Bigarella

Photo Credit: Brice Robert

Hello! In a couple of days, you will perform in Nuits Sonores with an audio visual live. Can you tell us about this project which seems to integrate some sort of cinematographic dimension?

Adrien: The objective is not to make a short film, even though that’s what we started out with. We told ourselves that we were going to write a script, etc. But it is actually very complicated. Here, the idea was to make a visual piece that reacts live to sound. J-B (editor’s note – xl.iks) sends me tracks which I use to create a video mapping that adapts to those tracks and images.

J-B: Those are some tracks that I had already done, but I adapted them a bit for this live. They are still well separated and sequenced through this live.

It’s true that for each track we’ll define a sound element, or two, or three, that will stand out from the rest. Adrien will map that out on one of the visual components in real time according to what I do. It will interact. 

Adrien: We don’t get any MIDI information. It’s really audio that we use to use to extract information and map them into videos. We have a general idea, a guideline, to avoid making a video for each track and try to manage transitions between each part.

It’s a video that is more immersive, in 3D. And so, we can actually control the movements of the camera to go from one place to another, vertically or horizontally.

J-B: We didn’t want it to be “Scene 1, scene 2, scene 3” and have them all disconnected from each other. So, we imagined a sort of global movement for the camera that goes from point A to point B. And they are linked with relative fluidity.

Right now you are doing a residency in Le Sucre to work on this live, which will eventually be performed in an even bigger scenario: the walls/screens of the Fagor-Brandt factories. Which is where Nuits sonores will take place this year. How does the question of scale come into play in the creation of the project?

J-B: It’s a bet. You go from your room to Le Sucre, and then to a 30-meters-wide screen.

Adrien: The biggest problem is the idea of having four walls, four screens. It is impossible to replicate in your house to see if it works. To make up for it, we created a sort of virtual space with the dimensions of the place where we project our video.

We put a camera inside and move it to see what it looks like; it is like having someone inside an emulator. It could be better with a virtual reality headset, because you can move like you are really in that space. In our case, we have to use a button to move the camera.

J-B: At the beginning, I recorded my live with all the tracks separated. So that, Adrien can play it on his side and know exactly what I play to test the mappings. We then send four tracks.

It is more practical than sending two tracks if, for example, there’s a kick that will cover the whole sound. So, it’s a good idea to send the kick in a separated track, so that we can work on the kick and do other things in other tracks.

In general, JB, how do you approach to the creation of EP or fragments?

J-B: I mainly use my PC. I don’t have as much hardware. And I really like using the last generations of VST to find the latest sounds, the really overproduced sounds.

I love voices. In almost every fragment I make sure to introduce pure voices together or waveforms that are voice-like. I tried to make the form less recognizable. It’s done especially to the rhythm, or the tempo.

There’s something of Lanark Artefax in some of your productions, using the voices like that…

J-B: Yes, totally, but it is done by chance. I push the buttons, I try things. When I notice it is taking the form of something I’ve already listened to, I stop. That’s the barrier I use, in a way.

I don’t have the maturity to make an EP where there is one directive line from A to Z. The first EP released in Comic Sans Records was a compilation of five cool fragments that I had done the last two years.

Similarly, Adrien, where do you start making your videos to launch the creative process? Do you create everything by yourself, or do you have some elements that you use as a base?

Adrien: I prefer to start with already existing material. The problem is having that existing material! When you are home, you can make videos and do whatever you want with them, but it’s true that if it is for a presentation, it is more difficult. So, I prefer to start with nothing, do something really generative.

I am actually through a phase where I do things and learn a lot. It is very random. Sometimes it turns out to be very good and I say “Yeah, this is cool, it’s very nice” but I don’t really know why, I don’t think I control the tool I used. What I am becoming very good at is to work with is to convert the audio parameters and make something that reacts well with the sound. Regarding video, I learn on the job.

J-B, is there a relationship between your job as sound designer and the job of producers? I know you worked for a long time in Arturia creating pre-sets.

J-B: It’s pretty much uncorrelated. In production, I don’t hesitate to use pre-sets. You will always tweak a bit your pre-set to make it fit the way you want. When I work as sound designer, I spend a lot of time on synthesizers. Sometimes, I do pre-sets and think “oh yes, I can I use this”. I probably won’t need a cute pad later in production.

You also share explicative videos about how to use synthesizers on your Instagram.

It’s true that many people follow me on Instagram because they were also in Arturia and I know they also love synthesizers. I love sharing, it’s something interesting to me. Talking about synthesizers it’s something I also like. People who like synthesizers like to see that from time to time. Short videos of 30 seconds with “Do this now, you see? it’s cool”.

What direction would you like your projects to take? Who inspires you?

Adrien: Something I would like to do is glitch videos, (data moshing) but very well done, with an aesthetic finish. I watched a short film from a guy,  Ismaël Joffroy-Chandoutis, who does it and I liked it.

J-B: There’s a lot of people on SoundCloud that I think are better than me and slap me around because it is really well produced, because it sounds strong, because there are sounds that I would have never thought of, or even arrangements that I don’t dare to do. 

All the electronic music scene, contemporary, experimental, who are not afraid of EDM and draw from big “trancy” synthesizers. They are not afraid of entering into the limiter and putting a lot of saturation…Things very emo. I have no words to describe their music, but I like it a lot.

On the author

Laurent Bigarella is the editor in chief of We are Europe and is also one of the curator of European Lab.

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