Sound & Narratives With The Orkestrate
It was probably 105 degrees farenheit when I arrived in Orange County to interview our first featured musical artist. Stepping into the space, I realized why one would never leave this studio – it's a large creative space (with air-conditioning) tucked away with humble white brick exterior. I would have never have guessed a state of the art recording studio run by Render & Monk, a.k.a. The Orkestrate, existed behind these walls.
"I feel like I rarely leave this place... I'm always in here designing everything from the music to the visuals. It's all just part of the story we're conveying," Render says as he hooks up several midi controllers. Both of the musicians are hovering over a Pioneer DJM 900 NXS mixer, juggling beats being fed into large speakers from their laptop. Across the room, a motion capture device is setup that is triggering a 3D render of "Ghostkick", a character part of The Orkestrate narrative, mirroring the rhythmic movements of Render as he freely dances to the beat and shimmery synth glitches.
I begin to feel awestruck as I begin to make sense of the narrative that is constantly being created within these walls. Everything from the 3D visuals, to the cinematic moments within the music, explain The Orkestrate narrative of a dystopian future set in the year 2044 A.D, where technology and life on earth have reached a point of singularity, or rather an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological, and way more powerful than it is today.
"I feel like I rarely leave this place... I'm always in here designing everything from the music to the visuals. It's all just part of the story we're conveying." — Render, The Orkestrate
From my short description of their story, It's safe to say that Render and Monk are technologists as well as musicians, and their utilization of technology is a reflection of the future described within their narrative.
Monk begins sound checking his laptop as he explains how he got his start in the music industry. "I started recording music on tape. This is when I was interning at recording studios. There was no undo button. You would have to punch in at the right spot, or you would have to re-record over and over for the right take. Now people mix and master entirely on their laptops so it's a different world." The advance in technology is a definite reflection of The Orkestrate's continued success within an industry so saturated with talent.
I notice Monk as he adjusts a toy box on top of his NS-10 monitors, containing a Daft Punk figurine. I proceed to ask if he likes Daft Punk. Both Render & Monk's eyes glow when I mention the name. Render, now sitting forward in one of the comfy studio chairs, says, "Daft Punk wasn't just music, everything from visuals, sounds, and performance was all in one package. That's essentially our goal. We grew up in the electronic music scene and realized it had become a throw-away one track industry. We said to each other, 'Let's try to make something timeless.'"
So how does one begin to make something timeless? What is the process of piecing together an all in one package, from visuals, to sound, to story? Before I could ask these questions, Monk started sharing his production secrets. "We usually start with beats and musical elements, but with this particular project, We started with the theme, the concept, the narrative. We locked ourselves in the studio for 6 months to come up with this story. With music you use your ears. It's an art, so you don't have to overthink it. Technology is changing everything and all aspects of art. It's a more accessible, affordable, and creative era for artists. It's great that through websites like Soundcloud, thousands and thousands of songs come out every day. Back in the day you needed hundreds of thousands of dollars to put out music."
"I started recording music on tape. This is when I was interning at recording studios. There was no undo button."
— Monk, The Orkestrate
Technology is evolving and further connecting us in a world that seems to grow smaller and smaller day by day. Artists and musicians are continuing to collaborate on projects at an exponential rate. This has a profound impact on The Orkestrate, giving them a broader perspective of the industry. "We're a bigger team, it's not a duo like many people think. It consists of 3D animators, creative directors, film animators, musicians, collaborators. We decided through our journey and the people that we meet, we are bringing them into the Orkestrate narrative," Monk says with a confident smile. But with millions of artists that are out there, one might find that's it's difficult to stand out. I ask Render if he has any advice for aspiring artists/musicians.
"You find your niche or the thing that you like and just go with it. But that's gotta be your thing, don't follow what everyone else is doing."