We talk to Richie Hawtin About Deeper Focus,
his Collaborative Soundscape with Endel AI to get you Focused
We talk to Richie Hawtin About Deeper Focus, April 15, 2021
his Collaborative Soundscape with Endel AI to get you Focused
Deeper Focus is the amazing new soundscape in the Endel app. Featuring original sounds created by Richie Hawtin under his Plastikman guise, this 2020 Apple Watch App of the Year winner uses AI to deliver a personalized experience for each user based on location, weather, natural light, and heart rate and more, and aims to help keep you stress-free and focused while you work, play or whatever else.
To get more information on this breakthrough collaboration and how Plastikman’s sounds will help you get focused, we spoke to the Endel team and Richie Hawtin himself.
Can you explain a little bit more about how Deeper Focus works? What does the AI do? I understand the Deeper Focus experience is personalized and adapted for each individual. Impressive! How is that possible?
Endel: Deeper Focus is an endless soundscape that is generated in real-time using AI. The AI takes inputs like location, weather, natural light, and heart rate, then creates the optimum personalized sound environment based on this information, and using audio stems created by Plastikman. All of this happens on-the-fly and changes in real-time according to these inputs, meaning the soundscape you’re hearing is just for you.
Is Endel free or a paid app?
Endel is a subscription based service that offers monthly, yearly, or lifetime plans. It comes with a seven-day free trial.
The app is available on desktop, phone and Apple Watch — and it actually won Apple Watch App of the Year 2020. Is the Apple Watch the best way to use Endel?
Endel is designed to be experienced anywhere and is available across mobile, desktop, wearables, and voice assistants. The Endel Apple Watch app offers the full Endel experience, with audio generated directly from the device, meaning it doesn’t need to be paired with your iPhone. This is great if you want some phone-free focus time, or are using Endel as part of your activity, workout, or mediation.
Richie, is Deeper a product that you’ve been thinking about for a while? Or did the pandemic motivate you to work on this?
Richie Hawtin: All my projects are a culmination of life experiences and how they inspire new experiments in the combination of music and technology. The pandemic has changed the fabric of social life and of work/life conditions and balance and probably increased the amount of people using music in their work process. Many friends of mine enjoy music as a way to help them relax while working and some of them to actually find that sweet spot in concentration to help focus and attain the goal they are searching for. During the past year many people spoke to me about my Plastikman work, especially the Consumed album, and the space “inside” my albums felt open and welcoming in strange times like this. One of these conversations was with Endel CEO Oleg Stavitsky, and as we sat alone on a park bench on one of the busiest streets in Berlin (then completely empty) we realized that there was an incredible creative opportunity for us to explore together. The “Deeper Focus” mode is where that conversation naturally took us.
Deeper features original music by you producing as Plastikman. First, why produce as Plastikman instead of Richie? And secondly, what was the creative process like for something like this?
Although Plastikman is known for dance-floor slammers like “Spastik,” “Helikopter,” “Krakpot” etc… I’ve always felt the true spirit of Plastikman lies in the full album length explorations of Sheet One, Musik, Consumed etc. These long-form cerebral experiences are like hypnotic journeys that focus you into a world of my creation and therefore it was obvious to me that Plastikman needed to be the sonic architect of this experience too.
The creative process was extremely similar to how I would have worked on a complete new album. First finding a set of sounds and effect chains that could be combined in different ways to build its own structure or ambience to then be filled in to create a long-form experience. Usually the shorter the album making process is, the more cohesive it ends up feeling, however to start that process there’s a lot of time-consuming experiments looking for the “groove” of that album. Once things start to coalesce, then the real writing begins. Then it’s iteration after iteration where one song blends into another as you find yourself moving freely around the new environment you have set up.
Usually at one point you find yourself outside looking in, and you start re-listening and putting different pieces together and forming a longer narrative. Normally at this point I would start to finesse arrangements, which tracks make the cut, which order they would end up in, but this time I took the best parts of all the songs and we started to feed them into the Endel system, giving all sounds, stems and effects certain attributes in how they might play, which things worked with what (or not) and rough basic level frameworks of tracks. That was just the beginning of the then long process of back and forth iterations of the Endel system creating, then us (the Endel team and I) listening to the results and refining samples, rules and assumptions to have a generative real-time version of the work that had its own life and freedom, but still within a framework of what constitutes a Plastikman experience.
Finally, who is Deeper for?
Everyone. Deeper Focus is not only for those who want to find an introverted state to complete a task, it’s also a way to relax, let go and journey into an ever-evolving sonic landscape, just like you would with a normal Plastikman album or any other long form immersive listening experience. However, it is also there to be plugged into a large speaker system and be pumped up to the maximum volume! Yes, behind every album or release that I do, or any artist does, there’s always an artistic intention, but once you release something to the world, you hope that as many people find their own place within the experience you have delivered… whether that’s to dance, to focus, to contemplate, to cry or to just enjoy living in-between those sounds that I’ve laid out for you!