Whatever your opinions of twerking are, it’s ingrained itself pretty firmly into pop culture at the moment. Rather than fight back, Danish headphone manufacturer AiAiAi brought together a crew to make music made “by the booty, for the booty.” As such, AiAiA set out to create a device that could follow the movement of a dancer’s backside to trigger samples and lay down a beat. But in order to make this dream a reality, Aiaiai’s engineers knew they would need some help.
For the samples and beats, Portuguese beatmaker Branko from Buraka Som Sistema brings in deep cuts and a rooted background in dance and club music. A prolific producer, Branko is skilled in collaborating with other artists and seeking outside influence. While he’s responsible for creating a healthy share of the beats people dance to, this may have been his first experience in which the dancing was responsible for creating the beats. (The advisory warning on those skin tight pants above is probably no coincidence — kids, close your eyes.)
The dancer’s motion needed to be tracked, so AiAiAi reached out to design crew Omnipresent World of Wizkids, an innovative entity responsible for everything from futuristic handheld MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers to benches that disrupt your cell signal. Armed with an Arduino open-sourced sensor board and some accelerometers, OWOW was charged with tracking the dancer’s movements and interpreting the data for Branko.
But of course, they still needed someone to do the twerking. For that task, there was no better choice than Twerk Queen Louise, a Copenhagen-based dancer whose twerking skill knows no bounds. She’s performed with a number of prominent artists, including Major Lazer, and is the self-proclaimed Danish monarch of the dance style.
OWOW’s “Booty Drum” mounted a pair of accelerometers on the dancer to track the velocity and timing of her booty gyrations. This data was collected by an Arduino microcontroller, where it was translated into MIDI data to trigger samples and drum hits that followed specific directions and movements. In real time, Twerk Queen Louise can pop and lock to hear the results of her dancing alongside Branko’s production process. The result is a track that you can definitely shake it to, with unique rhythms and a big bass line.
But the experiment is about more than just dancing. For AiAiAi it was an opportunity to change the perception of twerking by matching it up with technology, and aligning it with the creative forces behind the music. The Real Booty Music project takes dancing as a tradition and uses it as an instrument, so the dancer is a part of the creation of the track. Not too serious, and a lot of fun, Real Booty Music brings together technology, music, and dancing — twerking out dance club hits is just the beginning.