Sounds from the Kitchen

My name is Hans Twite, and I’m the audio director for Chefsteps.com.

I have always been drawn in and mesmerized by music and sound. Early on, I thought I wanted to be Louis Armstrong, so when it came time to select an instrument for 5th grade band, I chose the trumpet. My relationship with the horn didn’t last long, but my very encouraging parents bought me a guitar and my first true musical voice was born.

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I obsessed over music, wanting to know the history and influences of my favorite artists. I spent many years playing in bands; developing my skills as a guitarist, and working with incredibly talented people. The more I played in bands, the more interested I became in the mechanics of making music. As I spent more time in the studio, recording albums, I learned that the studio itself could be a living, breathing musical instrument.

To support my growing interest in composition, production, and sound engineering, I started working in restaurants, eventually moving up into bartending. It was a great job for me—I loved the physical nature of creating intricate cocktails, the chance to be creative, and the fun, social environment.

Ryan Matthew Smith and Grant Crilly were regulars at the restaurant where I worked and we would talk at the bar about the various projects we were working on. They shared their vision for ChefSteps with me, and it was easy to see how driven and passionate they were about their project. I explored their work with Modernist Cuisine, and was particularly impressed with Ryan’s photography, which, to me, was remarkable because it conveyed so much of the content in just a single image. Ryan’s creativity and passion as a photographer and Grant’s proficiency and knowledge as a chef were inspiring to me. I also learned about Chris Young and his proficiency not only in the kitchen, but with science and mathematics, as well. The combination of art and science seemed to go comfortably hand in hand with the team they had assembled. I was eager to collaborate with people as creative as this, so I gave them access to my various websites so they could explore my past musical projects, and when they told me they needed someone to handle the music for their online content at ChefSteps, I jumped at the opportunity.

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So here I am, working with an amazing team of dedicated people. I create and record the music to the online modules and high-speed videos for Chefsteps.com, but I also self-produce everything that I create, so the recording, mixing, and mastering is done in my studio. I have collaborated with local musicians on some of our videos, and record and edit the lectures and presentations we make as well.

One of my ongoing challenges is to find a way to musically convey the essence of the content we produce. I’ve created a database of sampled sound recorded around the kitchen at ChefSteps, which I then incorporate into the music I make. The object itself, like a sharpened knife blade, liquid nitrogen gas rushing out of a tank, or a kitchen sink, can become a musical object. We get to experience the essence of the object in a new way and with a different perspective.

What I do at ChefSteps is not a new approach by any means. It originates from the musique concrète concept of the early twentieth century, which was developed into a compositional practice by Pierre Shaeffer in the 1940s. In 1955, Hugh Le Caine—another pioneering composer—made an entire piece of music entitled Dripsody using the sound of a single drop of water hitting a sink, and hand splicing it into extremely intricate rhythms and pitches.

This approach is central to my musical philosophy here at ChefSteps: Both for the historical perspective, and for the appreciation that science and art coexist in wonderful ways that can surprise us and take us into uncharted territory.

I look forward to evolving and refining my approach for you as I continue my journey here at ChefSteps, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to inspire me to do so.

Cheers!
Hans

 

4 thoughts on “Sounds from the Kitchen

  1. Very cool! I always wondered who did the sound because I really find it fits well. Are there contemporary artists that you would name that you find inspiring, Hans? Particularly in electronic music and production? I’m very curious.
    I have a broad appreciation and have playlists that include everything from Cab Calloway and Fats Waller, to Nick Lowe and Lyle Lovett, to Hot Chip, Trentemoller, and Four Tet.
    At work I don’t usually listen to music in the kitchen but at home it’s very much the opposite and for our special event dinners, I love to carefully choose a playlist that reflects the motives of the evenings menu.

    • Thanks Marc!
      I also listen to pretty much every genre under the sun.
      In terms of electronic musicians/producers: I would start out with mentioning classics like Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Richard D. James, Philip Glass, Harold Budd, Robin Guthrie, Tangerine Dream, and late 70′s David Bowie. More recent examples of what I have been into is Shabazz Palaces, Mount Kimbie, Matmos, Four Tet, Amon Tobin, Murcof, The Soft Moon, Boards Of Canada, Luke Abbott, Arca, John Talabot, and Flying Lotus.
      I used to be in charge of the music playlists in my bars as well. I always find if you throw on some Fela Kuti, Django, Ali Farka Touré, or Astor Piazzolla during dinner hour, you are going to have a good, relaxing time!

  2. […] ChefSteps resident musician Hans Twite also happens to be a killer bartender. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we asked him to come up […]

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