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Web: We chat to the brains behind beautiful animated music procrastination site Patatap

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

If you haven’t yet found yourself clicking waywardly through to Patatap only to while away several hours idly composing beautiful melodies and weirdly syncopated rhythms when you were meant to be working towards that deadline, then frankly I don’t know what you’ve been doing. We found the website a little while back, but little did we know at the time that it was created by the spectacular mind of Jono Brandel who was also responsible for Anitype, or that it would swiftly be used to create some incredibly elaborate pieces which spread like wildfire online.

Intrigued by the brain behind our new musical, animated procrastination tool, we caught up with Jono to find out a bit more. Watch the film above for an insight into how the program works!

What do you consider Patatap’s role to be?

Up to the point of making the film I had been modelling Patatap similarly to a musical instrument, and now I think of it like an acoustic guitar, in that it enables a person to become a musician. It won’t inherently make you a rockstar, but the potential is there; it’s a catalyst to perform. Like the acoustic guitar, Patatap is a potential piece in the corpus of expression, but it’s not the entire suite. There isn’t the ability to loop or record, though other developers have built on top of the code in order to achieve this. But in spite of this, here are people expressing themselves through Patatap.

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    Jono Brandel: Patatap, directed by Gabriel Gomez & Julien Melendez

What made you decide to make Patatap available on iOS?

In addition to the public reception I’ve received hundreds of emails, ranging from I.T. help to get Patatap running on their machine, through to feature requests like the record and loop functionality, to “where can I buy the samples?” and “how can I support you guys?” Up until today we would direct people to Lullatone’s other albums, and previous posters I had made as a means to support us, but we’re interested in exploring more frictionless ways to support this collaboration. If people are emailing us asking to send money, then we’ve done something wrong.

Based on the analytics, less than 20% of people visit on a tablet or smartphone, so in the interest of our own sustainability and exploring new avenues I decided to port Patatap to iOS. We set the price for 99¢ to enable people to support us. For this donation you receive an offline version of the project that runs faster than the online version on iOS devices.

It’s been a lot of fun for us messing around, because you can also play Patatap over your iTunes library or other audio, which adds a different dynamic to the interaction. You can still play on the website for free though, and we think this is an honest trade for what we believe is art in the digital age.

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    Jono Brandel: Patatap, directed by Gabriel Gomez & Julien Melendez

How did the film about Patatap come about?

Shortly after the public release I got in contact with Crooked Letter Films. They were inspired by the site and wanted to contextualize Patatap in real life situations through a short film. After figuring out logistics we came up with a simple script and reference imagery. As someone who works primarily with digital goods seeing a project enter the real world is really appealing and foreign.

Through these initial discussions it occurred to me that this is an opportunity to share some more personal tidbits about the project and my background. I immediately thought of Gray Area, an Arts + Technology non-profit, who gave me the first opportunity to showcase a very early version of Patatap in July 2012. Gray Area continued their generosity by offering up their new home, an historic theatre in San Francisco’s Mission District to work. In the film this is the empty space that Patatap fills.

When I saw the first edit the fleeting nature of digital became apparent. Discouraging as it may sound, the video actually lifted my spirits, because it’s a humbling interpretation of the project. In a time where technologies change so rapidly, the film is its own artefact and has the potential to endure much longer than the website.

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    Jono Brandel: Patatap, directed by Gabriel Gomez & Julien Melendez

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    Jono Brandel: Patatap, directed by Gabriel Gomez & Julien Melendez

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    Jono Brandel: Patatap, directed by Gabriel Gomez & Julien Melendez

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    Jono Brandel: Patatap, directed by Gabriel Gomez & Julien Melendez

Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

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