There are many things we take for granted each day. Those of us with hobbies — and proper working extremities — have the ability to work on something we love whenever the feeling arises or time allows. People with disabilities don’t have this luxury – not even close – which makes this project absolutely magical, and hopefully touches music lovers everywhere to their core. Smirnoff has teamed up with DJ Fresh for a world first, a project called Mindtunes, which puts together three disabled dance music fans to create a banging club track using only their minds! The frustration, and ensuing excitement on their faces as they complete the track, make it all worth watching.
This is a story about three disabled music fans: Andy Walker, Jo Portois, & Mark Rowland; who want nothing more than to make music. In order to achieve their goal, they had to work with their only instrument: their mind. Smirnoff and DJ Fresh enlisted the technology talents of Julien Castet, who is one of the world’s leading neurotechnology experts, who devised software which transformed the musicians emotions into brainwaves, those brainwaves into sound waves, and then into music.
The documentary starts off with the musicians learning the new technology, because it has to be calibrated and fixed to work properly. There were many frustrations at first, with Mark explaining, “It was a bit frustrating when I was triggering drum loops, because it was intermittent.” You can tell that they all want this to turn out perfectly, and their optimism to get everything right and succeed is beyond encouraging. You can’t help but root for them to figure it out, and create the, “big, fat, dirty, epic dubstep tune” Mark refers to in the beginning.
One of the coolest aspects of the documentary is when they’re all fitted with head instruments and begin working on the actual track. It takes some time, but you begin to see them work together with DJ Fresh to make the track come to life. When they sit down to record, the goosebumps start to creep up your spine as they realize that the technology is really working. You see the nobs begin to move on their own, and sound waves jump to life on computer screens. When the drums kick in, Mark has one of the biggest and most endearing smiles to have ever been witnessed on a human face, and all the guys are bobbing their heads to music they’re creating — with just their minds.
Watch a short bio for each of the musicians: Mark Rowland, Andy Walker, and Jo Portois; below.