Above: Reggie Watts demonstrates the littleBits SynthKit
For the last week, the internet has been grooving to the video above of Reggie Watts making some funky noise with the newly launched SynthKit — the latest offering from TED Fellow Ayah Bdeir’s littleBits electronic building block company, and the product of a three-way partnership between littleBits, Watts and world-renowned synthmasters KORG. The SynthKit allows users to snap together a modular synth from 12 easy pieces. Or as Watts himself tells us, “Each bit is a creature unto itself that connects to others of its kin to create strange and wondrous sounds.” The SynthKit can be connected to headphones, computers, speakers and other external devices, as well as to other littleBits kits to add music to all manner of inventions.
If you haven’t yet seen the video (in addition to littleBits and his extraordinary talent, Watts used an EHX 45000), check it out above.
Where did the idea for the SynthKit come from, and how did Reggie Watts and KORG get involved?
Our product development manager Paul Rothman, who was the first person to join littleBits, has always wanted to make a synth kit since the day he started. Reggie Watts: Beats that defy boxesThe project was on our long list of to-dos. Then at TED2012, I met Reggie Watts in the hallway and introduced myself. He recognized the littleBits that were in the gift bag, and I asked him if he would be interested in modules that made music. He was so excited by it, it motivated us to move it up in the plan. Then in early 2013, KORG also wrote to us to say they loved what we did and wanted to make a kit together — so we jumped on the opportunity and made this beautiful trio partnership that we’re so excited about.
Ayah Bdeir: Building blocks that blink, beep and teachWho is its intended audience?
The SynthKit is mostly for amateur and professional musicians, or aspiring music fans. But since the modules are really easy to get started with, and work with all our other modules, the target audience is really anyone: designers, artists, engineers, kids.
You really sent it to Brian Eno?
Yes! Reggie said he thought he would like it and proposed we send him some. He loved them and has been giving us feedback. His actual words were: “This will be the birth of a new kind of music.”
Tell us a bit more about the partnership with KORG.
KORG is an incredible partner and a global leader in music technology. We collaborated by taking their designs and translating them to the littleBits system to make this kit. Tadahiko and Tatsuya, who led the project on KORG’s team, are very talented product managers and engineers. They are behind KORG’s Monotron, Monotribe, Volca and MicroKorg synths. If you want to see them in action, Tadahiko and Tatsuya performed live on the SynthKit at the launch party, as did Reggie!