Written By Sean Stillmaker
Photographed By James D. Kelly
Rare sounds and kalediscopic visuals set the atmosphere in the Ace Hotel’s Miranda Bar for the immersive Cosmic Code event produced by Something in the Attic. Cedric Bardawil and Nick Hadfield gave me a little hint of this sensory spectacle they were working on when I last talked with them for the Collaboration Generation story in issue two. The culmination of their superb artistic vision was delivered by DJ/Producer Psychemagik and video artist Ari Russo.
Nearly three hundred people poured into the space on the brisk London night. They readily settled in as Psychemagik’s casual beach-like sound soothed the ears and Ari’s eclectic visual compilation was projected on the screen dazzling the eyes with the colorful juxtaposition.
For those not in London to attend, we have an exclusive package highlighting the night, the entire audio mix set and some thoughts from the artists:
What were your guiding inspirations for the sound and vibe for Cosmic Code?
It’s mostly a collection of all the new records I’ve found around the world, some Private Presses, some Euro Gems, Islands Jams, African stuff, rare Folk 45s and anything I’ve found and loved over recent years. It’s always tempting to only put new discoveries in for the nerds, but so many people that aren’t trainspotters listen to these mixes also. I’ll always want to put tracks that flow nicely in the mix together; even if they’re tracks I’ve had for a while. One of the new records I’d found was from a record about depression taken from a TV series in the 70s. The music is haunting and beautiful at the same time and felt like the perfect choice in that moment.
The visuals you put together were a collection of footage from VHS tapes, laserdiscs, records and cassettes. Where did you source all of this?
My video collection comes from a wide variety of sources: video rental store liquidations, thrift shops, stoop sales, the garbage, etc. One time I pried a tape from the inside of an air conditioner unit that someone was throwing away. For this show, the records/music were handled entirely by Danny from Psychemagik. I’ve acquired a lot of unique videos over the years, anything from private weddings to unclassified NSA training.
What was the creative balance like working together such as dictating pace and playing off the audio then visual and vicer versa?
I loved meeting and playing with Ari, he’s the real deal. I just played from the heart and he interpreted it live. It was a really special atmosphere and it lent itself to going deeper than usual, which from a DJ perspective is such a dream. It’s my favorite DJ scenario, and I wish I could do more gigs like that. Such a shame so many places abroad don’t really have a scene for a small low key beach vibes playing mellow jams any more. I played at Sunset Ashram with Jon Sa Trinxa a few years back and that was pure bliss; I wish there were more places like that around the world. Doing a beach set at night with Ari would be a trip.
The music always dictates the pace; I approach it as though I’m a musician sitting in with a band. The software that I created for these performances is mostly controlled using a music instrument interface. I rely a lot on intuition and chase a kind of moment where the particular images and visual rhythm resonate very deeply with the music. This is very often achieved by presenting images that contradict the music rather than match up to it.
In your experience do you have a preference playing music at an event purely to enrich people’s ears with music they may never heard of, or do you like getting everyone involved on the dance floor?
I love to play stuff people haven’t heard before and turn them on to new stuff. The trick is to find those tracks that no one knows but they feel like they’ve heard before. At Cosmic Code I started out super slow and over the 2 hours it naturally picked up. People threw away the tables and started dancing like frenzied dervishes, I loved the spontaneity of that.
What were your thoughts on the initial brief of creating this immersive experience?
I was immediately excited about the event; I knew Psychemagik would come up with excellent choice of material that would give me a ton of room to play. I’m first and foremost a musician and live visual performance is a new experiment for me. It’s unusual and exciting to be able to affect the way an audience connects with an entire arrangement of music without making sounds.