Mazetools is a music creation software brand, focussed on experimental cross-platform audiovisual collaborations and distributed by Ectoplastic. Mazetools’ original software „Soniface” combined synthesizer elements, visual patterns and drum rhythms to make multi-sensual sound on an animated grid.
We asked founders Stephan Kloss and Jakob Gruhl about their journey with Mazetools, the release of their new application „Mutant” and their recommendations for fellow music tech entrepreneurs.
Tell us more about MAZETOOLS, the company’s founding process and what makes your technology so unique.
Mazetools stands for a specific kind of creativity, one that visualizes the connection between the magic of the moment and the conscious reflection of progress. Our focus is to provide a unique and organic musical experience and to enable the exploration of sound, an experience that extends to non-musicians as well.
For this process-based approach, we’re building interactive environments at the intersections of music, audio, game, and experience.
Experimentation is equally important to the development of our applications as well as for creating music in general. It enables creativity across borders and – in our case – to a diverse core of modules for audio, visuals, innovative interaction methods and interfaces.
Last week you released MUTANT, the latest addition to the Mazetools application family. Could you tell us a bit more of the idea behind it and the development process?
Mutant is a complex, yet intuitive visual interface that enables a new way of creating sound and music. The tesseract feature generates multi-facetted variations of a composition to experience it from new perspectives. Mutant also features a collaborative mode, that allows multiple users to engage in live sessions with each other and opens up the possibility of co-creating art / music.
Much of the app’s development is based on Stephan Kloss’ master thesis and his research on real-time collaboration in music and subjective perspectives on music, including the original prototype „Tesseract“.
What are the most immediate uses for the application and on which devices can it be used?
Mutant essentially creates a (virtual) space in which to experiment with sound, individually or with others. The application is an invitation to take intuitive advanced musical actions like switching the musical perspective of a composition; shifting rather fluidly between different tempi or keys. Compared to our first application – Soniface- it’s functionalities are somewhat limited. The limitation, however, was necessary to enable the collaborative mode in addition to just exploring the tool on your own.
Mutant is available for iOS, Android and Windows. The soundscapes and glitch-like beats are somewhat reminiscent of the electronica of the early 2000s…
From the initial idea to getting the company off the ground, what have been the biggest challenges thus far? How did you build your team?
Mazetools was always meant to incorporate a number of different tools since its inception in 2011. Up until this year, we were focussed on building and promoting Soniface, our first application.
Initially, one of our biggest challenges was to properly communicate the functionalities of Soniface. It looks really nice, ensembles great functions, but it’s rather difficult to explain. Instead of minimizing its functions, we decided to work on additional apps and tools.
Time and resources certainly have been restraints in the past: Stephan is developing and designing, Jakob is organizing and representing. Together we’re testing, planning, producing and performing. This limited capacity makes it really difficult to implement such important features like AUv3. Stephan is primarily developing in Unity, so we would love to get in touch with people who have capacities to help us out on iOS development.
What are the current challenges for the company and the Mazetools team?
Currently, a lot of our time goes into working on external projects to make a living, ranging from giving music workshops (Jakob) to the development of VR-Audio (Stephan). That allows us to keep our work with Mazetools to remain experimental and not primarily determined by market shares and ROIs. We’re constantly working on new concepts for unique tools, experimental VR and machine learning, apply for fundings (fortunately there a lot new tools out there) and we’re really motivated to develop the company, work on a few side projects and music and are always interested In collaborations.
You are also active musicians. Describe your music style in 5 words.
#hiphop, #ambient, #techno, #experimental, #indie
Who or what influences your music?
90s hiphop and techno, madlib, bonobo, flying lotus, amon tobin, rodhad, floex, rob booth, merck, mr oizo, flying lotus, patricia, son lux, VRIL, machine drum
What’s your music recommendation for our community?
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
Please name 3 tools, resources, applications etc. you or your team use daily?
- Google Docs
- Mazetools 😉
Do you have a music or music tech podcast recommendation for the community?
Immersive Audio for VR Workflow, Presented by DTS
Finally, as “senior” startup founders who have come quite a way together, what is your tip for our community and entrepreneurs in the making?
Like Gerhard Behles said at ADC conference 2019 about music software business: Music is slow.