Dissecting Art & Sound at ADE 2022

10 Minute Read
Art & Culture

We explore the overlap between music and art ahead of Amsterdam Dance Event which launches this week.

The synergy which exists between music, art and design has always been an interesting subject. The two are intrinsically linked but which informs the other?

Do visual cues guide our approach to sound? Can a piece of art inspire a piece of music? Does sound inform our creative approach to design? Is music art? Is art music?

It’s likely that each of these questions would lead to a variety of responses depending on who’s perspective you are probing…


This week will see Amsterdam Dance Event return for its annual edition – the celebrated event has become a staple of the creative arts calendar showcasing a variety of talks, exhibitions, performances, parties, club nights and beyond. It is a chance for industry professionals to gather and reflect on the notion of progress within the creative sector, challenging boundaries and creating networks which might inspire collaboration in the future.

This year the event has placed significant prominence on the integration of the art and design community as part of the events’ programme. A wide variety of multi disciplinary artists and musicians will collaborate to showcase innovative new projects and discuss key areas of growth.

Key topics being explored include the integration of AI in music and art, audio visual collaboration and the fluidity between sectors in an exhibitory space.

Ahead of the week, we discussed some key views with participants, artists and contributors to this extensive programme including Portrait XO, Lyzza, Natasha Greenhalgh and Thomas Haferlach.

So, why do you feel it is important to integrate art and design into a festival predominantly focussed on music?

Portrait XO: “Although I started as an artist in music (from classical piano training to teaching myself how to produce), visuals have always been just as important to me to achieve full expression of whatever it is that I want to communicate to enhance my music. I think the future of creative expression is becoming more transdisciplinary especially with the boom of creative AI tools that’s opening all kinds of multimodal approaches to expressing ourselves in new ways. Everything is moving so insanely fast with new methods and approaches constantly being published, too fast to keep up. Open source culture of creative coders and artists are pushing boundaries to new heights by challenging whatever it is that we ever thought was possible at this intersection of human-machine co-creation. From synthesizing audio created from text prompts to visuals being converted to audio (and vice versa), the possibilities and combinations to create are not just limitless, but with each new approach that is born, the options available to create from a single new tool offer billions of unique outputs. We are witnessing the most fascinating and overwhelming movement of creative AI art that’s impacting every field of creativity. Things are wild now and it’s just going to keep getting wilder. By the time you finish reading this, there will most likely be hundreds if not thousands of new AI generated art and music with new methods and processes.”

Lyzza: “As music is one of the only art forms that is intangible, I feel it’s important to invest into creating visual languages and visual worlds to go alongside it as it might help lower the barrier of entry for people who might not be used to alternative or electronic music. Our eyes are the door to our soul as they say so I feel integrating design or art into a musical festival can leave a bigger impact.”

Natasha Greenhalgh: “I think ultimately when you bring different types of creators, thinkers and makers together that’s when you can really push creative, intellectual and political boundaries. I think it really creates an opportunity to drive innovation. You can create new forms of connectivity through new ways of being and new modes of expression. Yes ADE is focused predominantly on music but it’s also focused on technology and art – when they come together and are given space to kind of bubble and brew you can really create something new, something fresh.

Thomas Haferlach: “I like having a mix of different art forms at a festival because it creates a more immersive experience and attracts a more diverse crowd. I get bored if I’m just listening to music all day. In our digital times, we are consuming and producing all kinds of mixed media. Music is accompanied by visuals, art exhibitions by music, hiphop and street art are connected. The question is how much you want to prioritize the different forms. With the Voodoohop parties in Brazil I was involved in organising we always tried our best to give similar priorities to performance, visual art, and music.”


"Our eyes are the door to our soul as they say so I feel integrating design or art into a musical festival can leave a bigger impact." - Lyzza


Electronic music is often at the forefront of tech and improvisation, what similarities do you pair between it and art in the present?

Portrait XO: “I’m currently obsessed with a new first of its kind real-time AI synthesis plugin SEMILLA’ (AI audio synthesizer by Moisés Horta Valenzuela/Hexorcismos) MAX/MSP plugin for Ableton. My AI audio experiments I did between 2019-2020 with Dadabots were exciting using recordings of my singing as a dataset for training that generated 10 hrs of wild AI vocals. I’ve been improvising with this ‘other’ versions of my vocals in some parts of my performances lately. For SEMILLA, I decided to have some of my AI vocals used as new training data (AI meets AI). I’m just getting started with it and so far it’s been really exciting cause the sounds are so interesting. This means I’ll get to improvise real-time AI audio synthesis for upcoming shows in a way that’ll be a surprise for both me + the audience. Improv is and will always be a big part of why I love to perform even if my shows are hybrid with pre-produced mixed with some improv. I love doing something that only happens on stage at the time that won’t be repeated again. I used another browser based tool by Birds on Mars for a performance at science festival EFFEKT in 2021 that involved real-time text to speech synthesis that was fun and bizarre because the way my AI voice synthesized spoke strangely and unexpectedly.”

Lyzza: “When we look back at the early beginnings of Electronic music, it was able to further develop itself through new technological developments. So much music through which we connect as humans is created with machines (Beatcomputers, synthesizers but also laptops).
More than ever, especially with the inception of AI generated art, and NFT’s and most art developments that have transpired in the last few years I think at it’s core connection and community is still one of the major connecting threads between electronic music and modern art.”

Natasha Greenhalgh: “This aligns with my answer from above – I think it’s about art and culture in general being the forefront of tech improvisation and then when you bring these different ways of understanding or using these technologies together you can again up the benchmark. Visual artists for example look very differently at a piece of software that they use from sound artists. When both align we can see how each other pushes the boundaries of these technologies so that they can go even further. Last year when we did the show with Sam and Lyzza they were both amazing – they saw the way each other used their tools and it totally changed their perspective and understanding of how they could be used by themselves.”

Thomas Haferlach: “I see a lot of similarities between the two. They are both about creating something new and innovative, whether it is a new sound or a new way of looking at things and a way to connect with people.”


For what are you most looking forward to at ADE?

Portrait XO: “I loved the last time I was at ADE in 2019 when I did a demo + panel for ROLI cause I got to learn about new exciting tools and have so many fun chats nerding out over music, gear, and dancing. I’m looking forward to my two performances, workshop, panels, and a tea listening session I’m really looking forward to engaging with people IRL again so much. This whole body of work I’m publishing this year involved so much isolation that I’ve been so happy to connect with people again. I’m also a mentor for SHESAID.SO and looking forward to meeting my mentee during my time there. I love Amsterdam, can’t wait for pancakes and in real life humans..”

Lyzza: “My A/V Mixtape release at ISO on October 20th, I’m currently touring with my MOSQUITO Mixtape through europe but have developed a very special show for this one as I wanted to show-out for my hometown.”

Natasha Greenhalgh: “I’m afraid I have to be really bias and say our ADE programme. I’ve been in the depths – working on incredible residencies and the collaborations. We have some quite unusual pairings and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this translates to a larger audience.  I think what we’ve been seeing with our ADE programmes is that when you have a level playing field between the musicians and the artists, when everyone is equal you can push the creative boundaries and levels of engagement in ways that I think even the creators are surprised by. I think it’s also important to pair established artists and DJs with those lesser established. This helps to truly open up the space to everyone of all creative abilities.  This way everybody’s visions and creations can be seen and heard”

Thomas Haferlach: “I am most looking forward to meeting new people and seeing new things. I always find it inspiring to see what other people are doing and to get new ideas.”


In what ways would you like to see future collaboration between the musical and art community?

Portrait XO: “Generative art and music are booming and the way artists in this space think and approach how they create have been so inspiring to me. I’d love to see more generative visual artists collaborate with music artists to explore how we can continue exploring new ways of creating sounds and visuals we’ve never heard or seen before as we reflect on what it means to be human in a data-driven society.”

Lyzza: “If anything I would like for musicians to really start incorporating even more artistic expression into their music and for artists to incorporate more music into it as well. Even though it happens, I feel these things are not yet considered to be almost the same thing and I would love for them to be. I find it hard to think of music as something separate than art, and hope we can see this materializing in a physical sense more and more.”