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Calvin Harris and the Humanthesizer

Digital, Music Video / Film

Posted by Patrick Burgoyne, 11 August 2009, 17:12    Permalink    Comments (38)

Calvin Harris performs his latest single, Ready For The Weekend, on a giant human synthesizer made of, er, pretty ladies...

Take 15 bikini-clad lovelies, paint them in special ink and put them in a dance studio with special conductive pads on the floor and, hey presto, you have the Humanthesizer.

To promote Calvin Harris's new single, Sony Music creatives Phil Clandillon and Steve Milbourne (who you may remember were responsible for the AC/DC ASCII Excel video last year) decided to use Bare Conductive, a technology developed by RCA Industrial Design and Engineering masters students Bibi Nelson, Becky Pilditch, Isabel Lizardi and Matt Johnson. Bare Conductive is "skin-safe, conductive ink". When painted on the skin, it allows a current to be passed through the body without causing an electric shock.

"We saw the technology on a blog initially, and then invited the RCA guys in to demo it to us," says Clandillon. "We asked if they would be up for doing a project together, and then it was a matter of waiting for the right artist / idea to come along."

The Humanthesizer consists of 34 pads on the floor which have been painted with the conductive ink and connected to a computer via some custom electronics created by the RCA's Matt Johnson. The performers stand on the pads, and touch each other on the hands or body to complete a circuit and trigger a sound.

Harris, his hands painted with the ink, played the main keyboard line and effects by interacting with a row of eight girls. The rhythmic portions of the track were played by seven dancers performing a carefully choreographed routine.

Clandillon explains how it all works in this video


what a great idea. Shame Calvin Harris is such a misogynistic twat
Calvin Harris' Mum
2009-08-11 21:12:07

Very exciting! They could have painted and few more body parts thou...
2009-08-12 08:04:19

Does wearing a bikini make the ink more conductive?
2009-08-12 09:17:41

Lovely bongos.
Ed Wright
2009-08-12 09:43:55

Shows how easy it is to write/perform a Calvin Harris song.
2009-08-12 10:40:25

This is suposed to be 'creative' now is it?

2009-08-12 11:11:02

Lovely idea — would it not make more sense if Calvin was in his swimming trunks though?
2009-08-12 11:19:44

marginally interesting with an astonishingly weak song.
2009-08-12 18:27:01

I wanna be the Mozart of playing 15 hot girls in bikinis.
2009-08-13 00:39:32

When will we hear his version of 'Air on a G string'?
Neil C
2009-08-13 13:26:53

Love it or hate it - it's innovative PR. Echo the sentiments about the song being garbage, mind.
Karl Baxter
2009-08-13 15:59:04

2009-08-13 17:14:40

Just out of interest, I wonder what the average age is of people who are commenting on this article?

I would imagine too old for this to be aimed at them from the attitude I'm detecting.

I fail to see how this couldn't be categorised as creative. Seems like a pretty cool idea that I've never seen done before to me.
Matt G
2009-08-14 13:17:05

nice technology, whatever's left when you remove that... can be chucked away.
Ilona Gaynor
2009-08-14 14:55:49

nice technology, whatever's left when you remove that... can be chucked away.
Ilona Gaynor
2009-08-14 15:04:21

Matt, as for the age of the commenters here, I doubt the were born in the eighties the eighties.

The song's not great. The idea's new to me. And ladies in bikinis never hurts a campaign.
2009-08-14 16:04:48

WIcked technology... if only it wasn't wasted on a rubbish Calvin Harris tune.
2009-08-14 17:52:52

WIcked technology... if only it wasn't wasted on a rubbish Calvin Harris tune.
2009-08-14 17:53:08

I think it's great good work chaps. to all those moaning about this it is creative in a hands on way.
Scott Robertson
2009-08-14 18:24:59

RT - Matt G

Love this concept.
2009-08-14 21:35:54

Lucky all the 'girls' were smiley mutes. Can imagine the noise if they all started chattering about make up and boys and shopping and stuff half way through. Only on the tiny island of Formerly Great Britain would this blantant mysoginy (I don't know how you spell it) be seen as acceptable and even innovative. Welcome back to the 1950s lads, enjoy it while the smiley mutes in bikinis still let you.
Michael > Linefeed
2009-08-14 23:19:10

There's no argument - it is creative. I think if this had been done by Radiohead or someone similar it would have received a different reaction on here. I've never heard of Calvin Harris, but he seems like a bit of a dick, so it does seem this great technology was wasted.
Paul Herron
2009-08-15 12:05:36

It's not actually a synthesizer, though. Just a midi controller. Shame his music's so boring.
2009-08-17 03:12:15

"and decided it should be done with attractive girls"

all that matters is that they're attractive to me, and to him. so he is my friend, in that at least.

i didn't listen to the song, the intro was enough.
2009-08-17 14:09:37

he came across a bit of a dick. shame a good idea like this was given to someone intelligent and charismatic. dull plank.
2009-08-17 15:20:19

Being a teenage boy, with a strong interest in graphic design, this is the ideal combination for me! Pretty girls and a brilliantly creative idea - could you ask for more?
Ollie N
2009-08-17 17:34:07

To say nothing of a rather nice technology and possibly average application -

For all the people offended by the women wearing bikinis - I'd advise you not to go to the beach, there are hundreds of them.

Besides which, they're quite clearly enjoying themselves. While wearing bikinis.

The shame.
2009-08-17 17:56:17

You know what, the real stars of this show are the people who invented that paint along with the hardworking folks who put the whole thing together.
2009-08-17 19:46:51

watch "lucky dragons" on youtube.

you'll realise how much of a twat calvin harris is
2009-08-18 10:59:26

Clever paint. Stupid idea. would a female/gay artist be able to get away with a similar concept if it involved buff male dancers in hot pants? Jesus, what was the point of the vote if this is the outcome?
Gemma Mercy
2009-08-18 17:07:31

Who is that idiot that said it 'shows how easy it is to write a calvin harris song'!? if it's so easy why don't you write one. then you'd have better things to do with your time than sit on your computer and slag off good song writers
2009-08-19 14:57:36

If you think the 'Humanthesizer' is new, interesting, or innovative, then you should check out what a company
called OptiMusic are doing - playing music with light!! There are a few videos of OptiMusic on youtube, or look at some of their videos on their website: Personally, I think OptiMusic is much better, and they were doing it first!
2009-08-19 19:00:44

@ Gemma Mercy.

In answer to your question... er... yes they would.
2009-08-20 17:59:36

I'm sure the models all had a perfect sense of time.
However crap elements of this are, the idea's there and useable in other better, more creative ways - what about people running, drumming with their fingers or doing the worm on a big trigger pad?!
Adam Smith
2009-08-24 01:20:56

the new album is absolutely incredible you can download "true stories" for free with this widget also, and feel free to share it
2009-09-14 08:47:27

yeah i think this is pretty cool, i think calvin harris is absolutly brilliant !
i dont know why people are being so harsh about it, saying it was easy, i dont see anyone else doing it ?
2009-09-20 14:20:57

the cool points about this video
a-the sweet concept and application of technology/innovation, nothing to do with calvin harris

the bad points about this video
a-the song, i am a fan of most genres of electronic dance, but what i hear of his is boring, pure unadulterated shite. everything to do with calvin harris

b-the bikini clad hotties. why are they in bikinis? does it make it sound better? i don't have a problem with women wearing bikinis. But in the the case of a music video where they have to make music by dancing on conductive circles, it is completly unnecessary, it totally objectifies women. for those of you don't know what misogyny is, try looking it up. and whose idea was this...calvin harris

in conclusion, calvin harris, you are everything that is wrong with this video, you massive douche
2009-09-22 17:15:58


Do you not think that the occasional use of attractive females in his videos (and there are, if you look, sme attarctive males, too) is not a more knowing jab at the establishment of dance music?
As (it would seem) is some of his music, too?

A lot of it does seem like the 'in joke' that most of us just aren't in on.

I really think that if this were properly mysogynystic (sp?) and keeping up with the normal bloody dance videos, then they'd barely be wearing any clothes at all. As it is, the girls (see 'Girls') that he uses in his videos do seem to be indicative of modern day indie/indie-dance circles (not in their clothing, necessarily, but the rest of what can be taken from their general make-up). If you really want to analyse the models in use (and this is starting to feel more wrong than what's being accused) they would surely be deemed 'too short' to be conventionally attractive, by 'model' standards, at any rate.

The cries of mysogyny and sexism seem a little small minded, to me. But, OK, I understand where it's coming from.
2010-04-18 14:20:56

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