Test Your Assumptions
My biggest learning while working on Psykers is that you just can’t assume how an interface will be used. Now matter how neatly you envision a system in your head, on paper, or on a screen – everything will change once it’s put into use.
Mental Model is Key
Your mental model of the system is not the same as the users. This has sometimes led to some wonderful mistakes and new, unexpected features, as misunderstood feature requests became new, exciting features that added to the possibilities of the instrument. It has also lead to some dead-end work, where I ploughed hours of work into features that actually weren’t what was asked for, and were basically never used.
The Roadmap is not the ‘use-map’
It’s happened a few times that I’ve thought of some cool new idea, and worked hard to make it a reality, only to find that in practice, it just didn’t work, or wasn’t really necessary
User control over remote-control
It was initially tempting to view a drummer playing as an ongoing stream of events, that I could use to ‘play’ patterns that I was controlling (say for instance, switching between parts of a song) — what actually made the most sense in the end was to hand all control over to the drummer, the real ‘user’ of the system. I’ve learnt that the closer you can get the system to being a real, ‘interactive’ instrument, the better – this opens up more creative possibilities, more room for improvisation, and more room to actually ‘play’, and interact with other musicians. Which is after all, the whole point really of doing music live in the first place!
Collaboration over Ego
I’ve learnt that the project always produces the best results when there is a fair and balanced collaboration between me and my creative partners. That the more I was able to see Psykers as ‘our system’, ‘our instrument’ – the more I was able to get exciting, amazing results. As I was able to progressively drop my guard, and drop my ego, I was able to work more closely with other musicians to produce something that was much better than I was able to plan for. It really is true that 1+1=3 in creative work.
Beyond the Youtube views – the connections I’ve made with other musicians and fans around the world have been amazing. They’ve lead into collaboration on other projects (my solo electronic project, Spudboy) – and have really opened my eyes up to the incredible amount of talent round the world in places you might not expect it. I have high hopes for the future of the project and believe that we will, one day, take it out live on tour.
Video Demo Playlist