Passion Pit Releases An "App EP" For Gossamer
The creator of Passion Pit’s app, Scott Snibbe, is doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) from 3-5pm EST today, Thursday July 19. Head over now to ask Scott anything you like about his practice as an interactive artist, working with people like Bjork, James Cameron, and Passion Pit, and how to make top selling mobile apps.
Passion Pit released a new “app EP” yesterday, the Passion Pit Gossamer app, which features four different interactive experiences for the songs “Take A Walk” and “Carried Away.” Developed by interactive artist Scott Snibbe and his studio (whose work you may remember from Björk’s Biophilia app album), the project serves as further proof that mobile apps are gaining traction in the music world as the kind of album supplement artsy limited-edition CD packages and high budget music videos used to dominate.
“I think more bands will be doing a lot more creative things to release their music,” said Passion Pit’s bassist Jeff Apruzzese over email. “As the old ‘traditional’ model of the music industry and selling records continues to change, bands will need to adapt to keep up. As a musician, this is a great opportunity to collaborate with artists to create a whole different aspect of your music and create a living brand.”
The app allows fans to experience Passion Pit’s tracks in two different ways. The first is as a generative music video that’s different each time, serving up a unique combination of graphics, animations and photographs by Mark Borthwick, who did the album art for Gossamer. Additionally, users are able to affect the visuals using the touch screen to alter the look of videos. The second mode allows fans to remix the stems from Passion Pit’s tracks to create new versions of the songs. For “Take A Walk,” users create new melodies on top of a backing track using a kind of harp-string spider web interface. For “Carried Away,” the song’s various stems can be turned on and off to compose new versions of the track, or “play” the original track live.
Snibbe first teamed up with the band to create background visuals for their performance at the Webby awards earlier this spring. The imagery used for that show and, subsequently, for the app itself is all based on a bubble-like diagram called a Voronoi Diagram, which Snibbe previously used in his Bubble Harp app, a minimalist musical instrument.
“I learned about [the Voronoi] in school and it always fascinated me because it relates to everything from the structure of cells to the gravitational influence of stars,” says Snibbe. “I chose it for this app because the first song, ‘Take A Walk’ is about the financial bubble, and a kind of hangover healing process coming out of it, so I thought this fragmented bubble imagery fit both metaphorically and psychologically.”
Interactive experiences around music and art are increasingly becoming the norm, breaking down the traditional barriers between creators and fans as the latter finds new ways of making the content their own. YouTube is littered with cover songs, mash-ups, remixes and super cuts of songs, music videos, movies and TV shows. Today’s generation doesn’t want to sit back and watch, they want to be a part of the creative process.
“I think that it’s really cool to allow fans to be able to dissect your music,” says Apruzzese. “Especially with Passion Pit, there are so many layers in every track. Some things are so deep in the mix that you may not even realize it’s there. By allowing people to take everything apart, it may change their listening experience of the song as they find new parts that they may have not noticed before.”
This deeper relationship with artistic content is what’s driving more and more creators to team up with interactive artists and developers like Snibbe and his team, who can dream up novel ways to engage fans and create new ways for them to experience their favorite music, movie, or visual art work. Snibbe says that initially, the old vanguard (in this case, music labels) was skeptical of this new way of working, fearing that apps might cannibalize already floundering album sales. But apparently, that’s not at all the case.
“What we found is that there are separate markets for this stuff. The core fans will get both, but there is a separate market that will get the apps but wouldn’t normally buy the music,” explains Snibbe. “In fact, there’s generally a boost in the recorded music sales because we put links to buy the album in the app. An app is demanding all your senses and that’s what’s special about it, but we listen to music as the soundtrack to our lives. We take it for a walk while listening to ‘Take A Walk’—the music goes into the background and our senses are filled up with what’s around us. That’s when recorded music is the best way to experience it, that’s why recorded music sales won’t die, because people want to experience music they love as the soundtrack to their lives.”
You can download the Passion Pit Gossamer app here. Watch our video for Passion Pit’s “Take A Walk” below, directed by David Wilson, and find out more about how they imitated the vantage point of a bouncing ball using camera-equipped mini helicopters in our exclusive making of video.