Their name is easy to remember: Tokyo-based d.v.d is a trio with two drum players, Itoken and Jimanica and visualiser Takashi Yamaguchi (ymg) on the hardware front. So while the two are furiously beating two drum kits in front of a huge screen, their sounds trigger geometrical shapes with processing, Pong-style game settings or bizarre drop landscapes that interact, transform or collapse. As a pure live act, their fun visualisations are cheering up folks at the Transmediale in Berlin and lots of other international media art festivals and they just got a honorary mention at this year’s ARS Electronica, by the way. After having played at a recent Tenori-on concert night in Harajuku, Jimanica and Takashi explained their concept to PingMag.
Written by Verena
d.v.d started in 2006, how did you all meet?
Jimanica: I, Jimanica, have been friends with Takashi for more than 10 years. Then I met Itoken when we participated in an event as a drum duo through an introduction of a common musician friend. Initially, Takashi and I were wondering if there was anything we could do together and when we were approached by that event, it seemed like a great opportunity.
For folks who aren’t too familiar with techy stuff — please explain how you connect the two drum sets with the computer to generate visuals.
Jimanica: An audio generating computer and a second one that generates the visuals exchange signals through LAN using OSC. The tracks are played with max/msp. The drum sets are attached with a sensor called trigger and that transmits the vibration of the drums as signals to the midi interface. Those signals are then converted into midi note numbers. That midi data is then sent to the visual PC and creates the actions in the animations generated by processing software.
What sounds determine which patterns? You use all kinds of other sounds apart from the drums…
Jimanica: Basically, we as the two drummers perform on top of an audio track and sometimes we follow the score depending on the tracks. The tracks all have set duration so we never improvise the ending sounds and patterns — we just have a grasp of the finishing point from the composition and the monitor. Sometimes we add sound effects by hitting the drums during the tracks so that’s why you can hear all kinds of organic sounds as well.
Ah! And how did you come up with these video game-like visualisations?
Takashi: First, we usually come up with a Flash idea based on the texture of the drums, the movement of the drummer when he plays the instrument and the movement of the instrument itself. And I have ideas about video game-like visuals. The pop visuals partly come from our efforts to make the final result simple and easy-to-understand.
What about, for example, the grid pattern? [below]
Takashi: After doing a track that generates images to the drum beat and after the track with the pinball graphics, we wanted something that would generate images while playing a game. First, we took up the classic Pong game that is simple and well-known and tried to make graphics with the trajectories of the ball. We experimented over and over with ideas such as simply drawing the lines and changing colours in a turf war style. In the end, we decided to turn over the panels and change their colours after the trajectories – hence trajectories become visible. Then, we wanted the panels to crumble apart with the vibration of the bass drum so we added another sequence of the panels dropping to the back of the screen in the second half.
And the visual that looks like a pinball wizard and uses the drum beats to trigger the balls? So funny!
Jimanica: Actually, we as the drummers are controlling the flips at the bottom of the screen and Takashi creates the balls with a Wii controller.
You had a fun installation last year at Mori Art Museum’s Roppongi Crossing exhibition: Please explain how the visitors would use it interactively!
Jimanica: Basically, it was the same concept as always with two drum kits and a visual screen between them. We made two tracks for the visitors which had a visible “drum score” like subtitle for playing the right pattern. The songs were always ready when someone sat behind the drum kit and started hitting the drums.
Would you position yourself more as an experimental music band or as an art project?
Jimanica: We like to entertain the audience while having fun. Of course, this is often included in interactive art too. However, the interpretation of our genre will follow naturally in time.
Are there any other interactive sound projects you like?
Jimanica: I am interested in the Particle Music concept by Koichiro Eto and curious about what he does next.
Any future developments?
Jimanica: It would be great to get the audience involved, like a whole interactive concert.
Now we are curious! Thank you, Jimanica and Takashi of d.v.d and hope to see you soon at your next funky performance in Tokyo!