Interview with the Creators of Tasteful Turntable
Recently I caught up with the Danish brothers Nikolaj and Lars Kynde on the development of their ongoing project entitled ‘Tasteful Turntable’. If you have not yet heard of it, you will get a chance to experience it this year in some upcoming European locations.
Tasteful Turntable is a sensuous performance that explores the sense-interference between music and gastronomy. An intimate setting at a mysterious table takes place with four individuals in a delightful 30 minute meeting between the audio and culinary. A specially engineered table rotates peculiar looking bites of food on handcrafted plateware while the participants privately listen to the same programmed soundscape. While wearing headphones, the participants simultaneously take an item and put it into their mouth when cued by the lights. The cohesive experience joins everyone together, but the internal experience taking place in the mouth and ears transports the participant to another setting within the mind’s eye.
Tasteful Turntable has previously been presented at Copenhagen Cooking, Wundergrund Festival and been on tour in the Netherlands in The Hague (Studio Loos) and Amsterdam (STEIM).
Do you consider yourselves artists or composers?
You can call me a sound artist if you like.
I consider myself an artist using sound, or a composer using things other than sound. Everything I do is composed and put on a timeline.
How did you initially develop this concept?
We both started with an interest in combining food and sound in order for one of them to change/influence the other in a cross modal way, and we were developing projects parallel to this independently.
The idea started with Lars in 2011 from another project called ‘Tasteful Sounds’ involving a chef, artist and a percussion player from the Hague. It was the building blocks of what would become Tasteful Turntable. In this version the guest on hearing a sound would try to imagine what they would eat, as the instrument was chosen for the ‘flavor’. In 2012 Nikolaj was improvising with a project called ‘Jazz Sandwiches, where music and food would build upon each other, just like making a sandwich. For example, the bass goes with the bread of course!
The first table was made in 2012, and we decided that since music and food is structured in time, there needed to be a necessity for a score, which is the table design on which the food is laid out on the rotating table. Also, since food is eaten actively while music is listened to passively, we had to figure out a way to signal the meeting of the two so that the participant would know when the time came to eat the ingredient in relation to the sound. We didn’t want the guest to be a passive eater either, and we wanted to make it flow so that’s when we installed lights on the table as a signal to refine the experience.
Much of the aesthetic of table came from the chefs as well as telling a ‘story’ with the food items. They are also acclaimed artists/performers in addition to their culinary skills.
Where do you think the artistic exchange is occurring during this experience?
The combination of the sound and food is consequential on an analytical level but at the same time poetic and image provoking. The composer (us in this case) has an analytic approach, and the audience translates the experience into meaning. Often the most beautiful art is both analytic, yet consequentially poetic, like a fractal. For this project we are not really interested in results, because people are so different. Something happens which differs from person to person as a sound to taste phenomenon, rather than a ‘music’ piece. They are subjective experiences within a set of variables. Due to the headphones, the sound feels private and inside your head combined with placing the food in your mouth so its a really introverted experience, even with four other people at the table.
What’s your ideal situation for Tasteful Turntable?
We would like to see a whole room full of bigger tasteful turntables with a bigger audience! For now since it’s a small platform, we can experiment with different things. One of the first versions used taste powders. Since they were visually anonymous, the element of surprise was much stronger, but there was no texture.
Also there is so much of food which is not taste, such as texture, temperature, color, juiciness, crispness, crunch etc. There is really still a lot to play with in this department. We had many ideas in the beginning, but because of funding we had to trim it down a little, but we think some of these ideas are still valid. We would also like to add more ‘courses’ and try out all sorts of different food combinations.
Aside from music festival bookings, how will this project be able to continue?
Since we no longer have any grant money after building the initial tables, it’s a bit of a tough question. We don’t want to be only concerned about how Tasteful Turntable can generate income in order to progress. For us it’s important not to compromise the project. However we won’t be able to expand or innovate without proper funding! Its not something which is easy to commercialize or patent because it’s not a product. And also its easier to play music for a thousand people rather than cooking, so there are interesting deviations there in terms of maximum audience size. Also more people are willing to pay for a food or ‘physical’ experience and less for a music experience, so we are also trying to understand the value of the performance for the audience. We have to be able to work on it continuously, so grants and funding in order to use a ‘tour’ format are the best approaches; kickstarter could also be a good idea.
What are your upcoming dates this year?
We are definitely booked for Nordic Music Days in Copenhagen this September and the November Music Festival in Den Bosch. Gaudeamus Music Week in Utrecht has also shown some interest in booking us! We would also really like to go to Iceland. An international tour would be a dream!
Check out their video here:
If you have any good ideas for Lars and Nikolaj, or want to book them for an event, or help fund their project contact them at larskynde(at)hotmail.com or nikolajkynde(at)gmail.com.
Lars and Nikolaj Kynde (Concept, Composition and design)
Mette Martinussen and Augusta Sørensen (Chef, Food composition)
Giulia Crispiani (Porcelain design)