Inkahoots with Nature

Imagine walking through your environment and capturing the wonderful sounds of human life and nature into song. Jason Grant and Jordan McGuire are proud to introduce Open Song, the new application brought out by longstanding West End design studio, Inkahoots. What a novel idea.

“Open Song started as an idea to create a geo-located user-generated soundscape,” designer Jason Grant of Inkahoots described. It is a way to get people engaged in a deeper creative engagement with the space around them. We are a design studio, so our natural environment is a studio, this is a breakaway from that.

The public sound art project was developed from musician Jordan McGuire, producer Corey Enggist, programmers Bhu Vidya and Mat Johnson, and co designer Ben Mangan all bunkered in at Inkahoots, the well established West End design studio sandwiched into Princhester Street between West End Mosque and Moo Brew craft beer bar on Vulture Street. What started out as a community based screen printing business by Jason Grant 26 years ago, Inkahoots has bloomed into a staple illustrator of the Australian creative arts sector. Open Song is simply the latest installation to come from this local stalwart, as commissioned for the Gold Coast Arts Bleach Festival.

“Open Song is a technology-based installation and it is on for the duration of the festival 24 7. Anyone with a smartphone and headphones can rock up any time day or night and participate in Open Song,” Grant said.

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“It is a bit of a collaboration between the kids at Mudgeeraba State School and the writing of Kev Carmody coming together under this project, Open Song,” said McGuire, who is a former student of Grant at Inkahoots and one third of the local rap group Tailor Made. “We wanted to get the community involved and what we did was we went to these schools and got them to use a bunch of sounds that we could use in the foundational track.”

After listening to some of the music produced from these sessions with grade six students, McGuire explains how the catching beat was built.

“We asked the students to make these sounds in the classroom like pencils on sharpeners or hitting the desk with magnets, squeaking blackboards. The kick drums are the bouncing ball, the shakers are a charm bracelet, the sound of the ring of the snare is someone smashing toys together,” McGuire said. “You work with that you can. The vocals are of some of the kids singing, just chopped up and looped. You tell a kid that anything can be an instrument and they respond well to that. We took them outside and let them hear their own environment and let them think about what they can then make.”

The Open Song app enters new paths of possibilities into the public sphere and makes being aligned with Inkahoots, whose website states that they create for community, culture and ecology, a good fit.

“We are one of the first studios to have a strong social and political focus so that is what we have been known for over the years,” said Grant.

As a multimedia organism, Inkahoots has maintained a working relationship with various community clients on projects with a specific focus in mind that upholds the ethos of the company.

“A lot of our clients are valuable members of the community as well. We see what we do as a way of advocacy and advocate on behalf of those clients,” admitted Grant. “We only work with community based, arts based clients.”

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By Kirk W Wallace
Images supplied by Inkahoots

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