by Acacia Carr / April 1st, 2022
Chiptune in Outer Space
From the Blog / April 2022 - Issue 1 of 1
interstellar intelligence and style
From a small, square planetoid deep in the void of space comes a hypnotic new sound. The sound is called Nyokeë. Digital creatures gather together in an 8-bit land to wobble in unison to this unique, otherworldly energy. Inspired by retro video games, singer and producer Nyokeë presents an energetic mix of synth heavy Kawaii Bass and retro game sounds – wrapped in electrifying 3D visuals and Harajuku street fashion. It’s like meeting your favorite computer game character and spending a few minutes together in a digital forest of light and pixels.
Nyokeë is fascinated by ways in which creativity and technology can support each other. Her journey began in a small town in Germany, where she recorded her first song on a tape cassette at the age of four. Her fascination with creativity and technology eventually led her to complete a PhD in music mixing and sound perception in the UK. She is also currently writing a Routledge book on performing electronic music live. Inspired by artists such as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Kero Kero Bonito, Porter Robinson, BT, Bjork and Unicorn Kid, Nyokeë creates music on retro games consoles, accompanied by her own 3D graphics. Nyokeë’s work is heavily influenced by her Synaesthesia. She has performed internationally at anime and games conventions (e.g. JCon Derby, Leicester/London Anime and Gaming Con, Women in Games conference at the Ministry of Sound, Develop Brighton, and also many streaming gigs online, for example an event organised by UKIE and the game Fuzor).
Who is the woman behind Nyokeë?
Dr. Kirsten Hermes is an interdisciplinary researcher, book author, senior lecturer, singer, violinist and audio-visual artist, bridging scientific and creative domains in her work. She tours internationally under the moniker Nyokeë, integrating the iconic sound of retro games consoles into high-energy electropop tracks, accompanied by moving graphics. Together with Joe Smith, she is also in a hybrid neoclassical and electronic band called Emb:re. Kirsten holds a PhD in sound perception from the University of Surrey (UK), which was funded by the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Council. She also holds a Masters Degree in Audio Production from the University of Westminster. Kirsten regularly publishes interdisciplinary book chapters and academic papers, combining scientific and technical knowledge with creative practice. She recently published the book Performing Electronic Music Live. Kirsten also works as a freelance sound designer and video creator, for example for ROLI.
Kirsten was born in Hamburg, Germany, and now lives in the UK near London though she sees herself as more of a moon person.
“Reality is a Game” Single and Video
Nyokeë has created several fantasy and video game drenched singles and videos in the last few years including her most recent release “Reality is a Game” with a Blender based surreal world within a world visualizer to match.
“With all the recent events happening in the world, I sometimes wonder what is real, and what is imagined. Some believe that we live in a simulation, but even if we don’t, our minds tell us highly subjective stories about who we are, with no grounds for an objective reality. New forms of technological expression make the distinction between dream and truth yet more complex.
The rise of the Metaverse, AR and VR, and the re-emergence of retrofuturistic themes seem to indicate the rise of some kind of techno-utopia, or techno-dystopia, depending your view point. While wars, climate change and diseases wreak havoc in the real world, we escape into our minds. In the end, we have no choice but to create our own reality.
I decided to express this idea in this production and visualiser made in Blender. To me, surrealism is the most honest for of expression, precisely because it is illogical, twisted and dream-like – just like us.
I produced this song in Logic, mainly using a Mutable Instruments Shruthi synth, an OB-6 synth and a Roland JD-XA. Mixed by Electric Himalaya.”
On her new book Performing Electronic Music Live
This comprehensive book lays out the conceptual approaches, tools and techniques for performing electronic music, from DJing, DAWs, MIDI controllers, traditional instruments, live sound design, hardware setups, custom software and hardware to live visuals, venue acoustics and live show promotion. Via the companion website, performingelectronicmusic.live, readers can expand on their knowledge with hands-on video tutorials for each chapter.
Live music is exhilarating – it creates life-changing experiences and powerful emotions. Technology can make us feel empowered, enable us to overcome limiting beliefs and allow us to achieve a high level of creative expression, no matter our background or skillset. The options are virtually endless, ranging from laptop setups to new instruments built from scratch. Through case studies and contrasting tutorials by successful artists, Kirsten Hermes guides us through many different ways in which you can create memorable experiences on stage. This is backed up with historic and scientific facts ranging from psychology to marketing. The book also features interviews with highly accomplished musicians and practitioners, including superstar trance DJ Alex M.O.R.P.H., BBC Audio R&D and live show designer Laura Escudé, who has worked with Kanye West, Missy Elliot and Herby Hancock.
The book is not a dogmatic to-do list, but rather, it explores many contrasting examples of successful approaches, to help you turn overwhelm into inspiration. Whether you are a student, hobby producer or a more advanced performer, this book gives you a comprehensive overview over your options. Students of music production courses, particularly at postgraduate level, but also researchers in the field of creative-focused performance technology will find this to be a useful, all-encompassing resource, with many starting points and resources for a deeper creative exploration.
In addition to the artists she mentioned, Nyokeë cites her main inspiration as coming from surrealism, video games, anime, the highly biased ways in which humans create their own realities, spirituality, and perception.
– Being a DIY artist and doing everything for yourself including production, promotion, artwork, performance…
– Having way too many ideas and never enough time
– Reaching a wider audience
Nyokeë has a home studio where she mainly uses
– Logic Pro X for Studio work, Ableton for live performances
– Analogue hardware synths (Roland JDXA, Moog Sirin, OB-6, Prophet Rev 2, Mutable
– Soft synths (Spire, Serum, UVI Vintage Vault, EastWest Composers Complete)
– U87 vocal mic / DPI 4099 violin mic
– Genelec speakers
– Gameboy Color and Plogue Chipsounds for chiptune elements
Nyokeë enjoys trying new music setups and has a video tutorial series on electronic music performance which you can check out on YouTube:
Nyokeë is currently working on some ideas with an NFT company and will be entering that space soon. She also envisions performing in the Metaverse, for example on a VR / 360 camera or in a video game. You can catch a performance of her in VR earlier this week:
She also cites improving her 3D graphics skills, and being able to motion track her characters so they can follow her movement in real life.
Nyokeë is currently developing 9 anime characters with different magical powers. The protagonist of the character set is an arcane magical with a crow familiar. She plans to launch them as a separate brand, accompanied with a Complextro album.
Nyokeë is thrilled to play at London’s big anime convention Hyper Japan later this year.
Please show some support for Nyokeë by following her accounts, and listening to her music. She would also love it if you bought her book! Independent artists rely on the support of the music community. You can actually make a difference in an artist’s life and career by showing your support in these ways!
For more cool new music and artists from around the world, stay tuned to this Blog!