Remote exists at the intersection of design and music
As one arm of the many-limbed Numbers collective, Adam Rodgers is part of the team who’ve unleashed some of the most adventurous club anthems of the last decade from the likes of Hudson Mohawke, ￼SOPHIE and Mosca. As REMOTE, he’s responsible for bringing these creations into the visual domain with a vivid potency. We got in touch with Rodgers to gain a little insight into the techniques, practices and intuitions that glue together this vivid audio-￼visual bond.
What got things rolling for you in terms of visual work? Were you doing design before ￼that all kicked off?
I was definitely working on stuff before Numbers started, but nothing major, just fun stuff with friends. I was interested in music graphics from a very early age, so my involvement in club culture stemmed from that interest I guess. Numbers has allowed me freedom to explore different approaches and techniques over the years and also collaborate with many different types of artists and designers. That’s definitely influenced the direction of my visual work in other areas.
It’s well-known that Numbers is a collective of Glasgow-based promoters, label- owners, DJs etc. What’s your role within the group, and how did you end up getting involved?
I cofounded the original club with 10 friends. Before that I co-ran Stuff Records with Richard. Stuff is one of the labels, alongside Wireblock & Dress 2 Sweat, which eventually combined to form Numbers the label.
My role is varied, primarily focusing on the creative and forward-facing side of the business. As a team, we’re all actively involved in the direction of Numbers musically and visually. It’s always a group effort. Now we have a core team of seven: myself, Neil Morton, Calum Morton, Richard Chater, Jack Revill, Rob Mordue and more recently Sean Revill. I work closely with all these guys online every day. Together, we have quite a broad range of skills and experience, but we all have really similar tastes which helps when making creative decisions. But that’s not to say we don’t disagree now and then!
Numbers seemed to help define that neon, glossy sound associated with artists like Rustie and Hudson Mohawke as well as Night Slugs’ older output. Was that a conscious thing, to visualise the sound through the artwork?
Yeah for sure, the sound is always a major factor when I begin to work on a visual. I also like to explore the identity of the artist and how they would like to be perceived through their album art. I like to approach each design differently and I try not to tie myself down to a particular piece of software or technique. A good example would be the first sleeve I created for Numbers, which was the Golden Handshake EP for Lazer Sword. I loved the fact that the group was comprised of two guys making music from opposite sides of the US (New York & LA) and the title of the record was the perfect starting point. We shot the handshake in LA and I collaborated on the art direction with my friend Thomas Traum, who created the dripping gold liquid covering their hands. The end result was a confident, tongue-in-cheek image which visualised the collaborative nature of the project, and also the bright, vibrant and metallic sounds in the music.
I’m also really into working with emerging technologies to visualise sound in new ways. The real-time, sound-reactive live visuals we made for the Numbers x Sónar showcase in 2010 is a good example.
How do you approach collaborative projects like that? Do you take on the role of art / creative director, and bring in people to realise your vision?
For our commercial projects at REMOTE I assume the role of creative director and work with a variety of specialists – coders, art-directors, writers etcetera – to achieve the end result.
For that particular project the process was very organic. Thomas (Traum) and I were discussing our aim to create large-scale live visuals which we could manipulate in real- time. We worked together bouncing ideas around and researched the various tools available to create what we wanted. We discovered the ‘Unity’ software (which was relatively new at the time in 2010) and asked Mike Tucker of Universal Everything to get involved and collaborate with us. Thomas and I worked on the concepts and direction then worked closely with Mike to realise them in real-time 3D until we had a large enough tool-kit to play live for the six hour showcase at Sónar in Barcelona. At this point, we contacted Adam Finlay (who works for Novak Collective). He used his expertise to make the technical setup come to life on the night.
Recently, I’ve started working together with my interactive director Tomomitsu Kanai on Numbers projects, including a series of real-time sound toys we are creating for SOPHIE (in collaboration with MSMSMSM), and a large-scale installation and music video for Redinho.
What do you mean by sound toys?
SOPHIE is really interested in how his sounds are created, and has very specific ideas about how his music is represented visually. Is it hard? Is it metallic? Is it rubbery? Is it cute? So we’re creating a series of interactive online visuals which represent the concept and sounds surrounding each track. Something for users to play in the browser which conveys the essence of each track’s characteristics. We’re also following the same approach for the covers.
How do you approach website construction as a creative act? The Chapman Brothers site in particular makes navigating such a vast amount of material a really enjoyable prospect.
I’ve always been a fan of websites which are very simple and easy to navigate but also feel unique and different. With the Chapman Brothers site I wanted to create an experience which felt familiar for the user and allowed them freedom to explore, so each time they visit they could disappear down the rabbit hole and discover something different, but at the same time they could access this chronological navigation system and go straight to what they are looking for.
As much as I like intuitive navigation, I also like to make the user think for themselves and discover hidden navigational elements which will take them somewhere else.
Finally, what projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently we’re working on a sound visualisation iPad app for the composer Craig Armstrong, a new website for Hudson Mohawke, an online music channel for a high street fashion brand and lots of Numbers projects, including forthcoming album campaigns for SOPHIE, Redinho and newcomer Kool Clap.
Adam Rodgers continues to build the Numbers aesthetic