AIAIAI are beloved by DJs and pretty much anyone who wants their tech to have a conscience as well as professional quality. With the release of the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+, the Danish headphone manufacturer aims to give producers and aspiring musicians just what they want: the freedom to move while creating new music.
We sat down with co-founder of AIAIAI Frederik Jørgensen to chat about the company’s history, their new headphones, and what drives the company to be at the forefront of ethical production.
Jørgensen is in some ways a stereotypical Dane. He is laid-back, friendly and matter-of-fact. But after a few minutes of speaking with him, the main takeaway is just how passionate he is about what the company is doing. And, after a few minutes, it’s not hard to see why, as there is really quite a lot to get excited about when it comes to AIAIAI.
The company was founded in 2006 by Jørgensen, and a group of friends who had owned a nightclub in Copenhagen together. The idea was born to create the “perfect DJ headphone” despite none of them having any background in music technology never mind headphone production. Seemingly undeterred by this minor fact, the group pushed forward with the product.
He admits that “we had no clue where it was going to end, we just took one project after another, which probably often is the case.” Where they have always found their most interesting work, however, he says, is “to work with the creators.”
AIAIAI 深受 DJ 和所有希望自己的技术具有道德心和专业品质的人的喜爱。随着 TMA-2 StudioWireless+的发布，这家丹麦耳机制造商旨在为各种制作人和有影响力的音乐家提供他们想要的产品:在创作音乐的同时可以自由移动。我们与联合创始人FrederikJørgensen坐下来聊了聊公司的历史，他们的新耳机产品，以及他们如何让自家的产品走在品德质量生产的最前线。Jørgensen在一些方面是一个刻板的丹麦人。他悠闲、友好、实事求是。在与他交流几分钟后，你会发现在他身上得到最大的收获是他对这个公司和他们所做的事情感知的那股热情。几分钟的谈话能看出他们对这个热情的原因不难，因为AIAIAI真的有很多令人兴奋的事情。该公司由 Jørgensen 和他的一群朋友并且也是哥本哈根夜总会的老板们一起于 2006 年共同创立。这个想法的诞生是为了打造一个“最完美的 DJ 耳机”，尽管他们队伍里没有一个人有音乐和这方面的技术背景，更不用说生产耳机的经验了。他们似乎并没有被这个小的事实吓倒，并且继续推进这个产品项目。Jørgensen坦诚“我们不知道它会在哪里结束，我们只是一个接一个地完成了每一个项目，这种情况在他们的团队里经常发生。”但让他们在这项工程里发现最有趣的事情 他说是“与创作者的合作”。
In order to create the best possible product, they began reaching out to the network of DJs that they had built while running the club, asking for support in developing the ideal professional tool.
Jørgensen explained that the thought was “let’s talk to the people who use it, involving them in the process, hearing what they have to say, sending them samples.
And what happened was that everyone was so excited about being involved.” Despite initial fears that the DJs may not want to be involved, they were pleasantly surprised that the reaction was one of relief, that “finally someone listens, actually listens and wants to create the tool that we need.”
Ever since then, working closely with artists, carrying out an exhaustive testing and collecting and reacting to feedback has been what Jørgensen describes as a “very central part of our way of developing and designing products,” adding with a hint of a smile that “we only have people involved, not because we knock down the door, but because they have shown a really genuine interest in being involved.”
The network of DJs has only grown over the years, with some of the biggest names in the industry wearing AIAIAI s on stage and providing constant feedback on their performance. Among their partner artists are Charlotte de Witte, Marcel Dettmann, Yaeji, and Annie Mac.
以他们在的DJ群体圈多年的增长，业内一些知名音乐人在舞台上穿着AIAIAI的产品并不断提供关于他们表演时使用的反馈。他们的合作艺术家包括Charlotte de Witte、 Marcel Dettmann、Yaeji 和 Annie Mac。
This largely collaborative process is just that, Jørgensen says: a process. “We are getting all this super valuable feedback and really proving that the development process makes sense. We are reacting and kind of editing along the way.”
It has also aided the company in expanding globally. The mode in which they operate – through building personal relationships in each market – brings its own challenges, but it allows for an organic and authentic approach to each region. While the headphones are mostly produced in China, the company has no qualms about admitting the limitations of their own first-hand knowledge of the media and cultural landscapes in Asia. That’s where their approach comes in.”
Jørgensen 说，这种很大程度上协作团队的过程就是: 在这个过程。 “我们收获到了我们产品使用者非常有价值的反馈，并真正证明了开发过程是有意义的。我们正在不停的在过程中进行产品改良。”
“We are actually working with and have a partnership with Yeti Out (collective and streetwear brand) in China, who we’re working with out there to curate local artists and understand the media landscape. A lot of what we do is so organic, and it’s pretty hard for us to do stuff organically from Copenhagen in Hong Kong or Shanghai, so one approach is to partner with people who are already our friends, who we can work with and help start something in that region. We are not just going in and buying five influencers or whatever. That’s not how we are doing it. Our aim is to collaborate with people who love our products as much as we do.”
“我们正在与中国的艺术团体 Yeti Out(街头服饰品牌)合作并且策划与当地艺术家创作新的作品和同时了解中国的媒体结构。我们所做的很多事情都是以自然形成方式，但是却又很难以这种形式顺畅的跨国合作例如从哥本哈根到遥远的香港和上海，所以最好的方法是与已经是我们认识的朋友的基础上或者已经在亚洲地区扎根的团队们合作。我们不会去购买五个有影响力的网红人脉来宣传。这不是我们的做法。我们的目标是与像我们一样热爱我们产品的人合作。”
The new TMA-2 Wireless+ cans were designed in close collaboration with Richie Hawtin. These are the first ever wireless headphones created for the studio. Hawtin’s input was invaluable then, Jørgensen confides, as “he had ideas and also had the studio perspective.” But as with previous projects, this creation went beyond just one artist.
This step forward in technology for music professionals is a reply to a need and a request from the professionals themselves. It is targeted at the people who create the music that Jørgensen says is so inspiring for him. And the result is a powerful combination of functionality and flexibility.
新型 TMA-2 Wireless+ 是与 Richie Hawtin 密切合作设计的。这是为录音室特别设计的第一款无线耳机。 Jørgensen 坦言，“Hawtin 的给出了非常重要和宝贵的建议，他出了点子而且又有录音室的经验和观点。”但在这个项目之前，这个创作已经跟了很多位艺术家合作。
“[It] seamlessly gives you the solution wherever you are in your music creative process, whether you want to use the Bluetooth version, because you are just casually listening or starting to draft some ideas, you have the latency mode when you want things to be precise, and then you even have a cable if you would desire that at some point along the way.”
The latency mode is particularly striking, reducing the lag between the source and the playback to the point of being negligible. This gets over the biggest hurdle to using wireless technology for music creation. And all of this hasn’t raised the price beyond that of the flagships from major brands in the industry.
Making sure that the technology is useful and accessible for as many people as possible is a massive driving factor for AIAIAI. As Jørgensen explains:
“What really inspires us lately is how this is such a much more dynamic process and community because it is so much more collaborative, people are making music anytime and anywhere with lower entry barriers. And what I really love is that it feels like music is becoming less of a restricted art form to more of a lifestyle. The entry barriers are lower than ever. Of course, it is as hard as ever to excel in it, but it is always great that it is easy for people to get into it.
“When I was a kid, it was a little bit like, either you were musically gifted and then you play an instrument, or you play soccer. And you don’t necessarily play soccer because you have a talent, you play soccer because everyone can play soccer. And I really like that I see from my kids that they have a completely different approach, and they don’t have that feeling of ‘I don’t know anything about it so I’m going to stay away from it.’
“It’s accessible now. And I think that’s so amazing because I think it means that people have better understanding of music, more people will pursue it as a creative expression and hopefully, music becomes more diverse, maybe even the quality enhances because we have a more in-depth knowledge about it, and more people just use this creative expression. That is really the big inspiration for us, that change that we are seeing in the process and in the music community. And that’s exactly why we’re doing the wireless product because that’s exactly a product that feeds into that new demand of being more free.”
As massive an inspiration as this is, and as much as it may be the best reason to do just about anything in life, there are other motivations behind what AIAIAI is doing with the constant evolution of their products.
From the beginning, certain Scandinavian design principles have been at the heart of AIAIAI’s approach. “When we started with the first TMA, we were focused on the aesthetics being long,” says Jørgensen.
“We have all grown up with the chairs that we inherited from our great-grandparents and we see all these classic pieces of furniture. We have a big respect for and know how attached you can be to things that you keep for a long time. Completely different from the stuff you buy and six months after you buy something new. So that was always there subconsciously. We want to make a product that people can keep for a long, long time. And that was very much the aesthetic to begin with.”
To this outlook, the company added the concept of modularity, massively increasing the flexibility, desirability, and longevity of the product. When you order a pair of AIAIAI headphones, you can select each individual component from the list of options, building your ideal set. The end goal here is for these to be the last headphones that you ever buy.
从一开始，斯堪的纳维亚设计原则一直是 AIAIAI 方法的核心。 “当我们从第一个
使用寿命。当您订购一副 AIAIAI 耳机时，您可以从选项列表中m每个单独的组件要求和项目，
This was a response to feedback asking for a slightly longer cable, bigger cushions, or other minor changes. As Jørgensen explains, “we can’t do new headphones with 60cm longer cable,
it’s not feasible.” So, instead, the modularity was introduced, allowing lots of small releases to become possible.
Modularity is also one part of their concept of responsible design. It is a conscious move towards creating products that will last a long time and reduce the amount of human consumption:
“One of the best things we can do to be more sustainable is to buy less products and
to buy smarter products that we can keep for a long time. I think that is much more important than buying T-shirts that are made of organic cotton and all of that. Of course, all of those things are also important, but it does not compare at all to consuming less, I think.”
The products don’t need to be replaced entirely if one part is broken by the user, or once it wears out after years of use. Instead, each component can be replaced. The team is also careful to make sure that everything newly released is backwards compatible, making these some of the smartest products on the market.
The Danes are also constantly working on
improving the repairability of each product, with the emphasis again being on the reduction of overall consumption and the priority being on long-lasting quality items that can be loved and treasured by their owners.
The last prong on AIAIAI’s approach to responsible design is the eco-friendliness of the materials used. This has, like much of their work, been a process of improving things over the years.
丹麦人还不断致力于提高每件产品的可修复性，再次强调减少物质消耗品，并优先考虑能够被主人喜爱和珍惜的经久耐用的商品。AIAIAI 负责任设计方法的最后一个方面是所用材料的环保性。就像他们的工作性质一 样，是多年来不断更进的过程。
Jørgensen reiterated that this is all a “baby step,” when compared with the impact that longevity can have. He admitted that this requires a pretty major change, however, which other brands may not wish to go for, which makes looking at sustainable materials an easier option for many.
On a more positive note, he described the snowball effect that small changes can have on the wider industry. While he is not a self-proclaimed expert, he talked about how AIAIAI has experimented with “various things like cactus leather and yeah apple leather as you say, and now that we have sort of put our mark out there as a company that has this focus, of course we have a lot of in-bound traffic from all of these amazing initiatives.”
When companies are active in their search for improvements on every part of their production, packaging, shipping and consumption, then there is a need for innovation created through that search, Jørgensen notes.
“We are only just getting started. But the small things lead to another small thing and lead to another small thing, and then some guys start working in a basement somewhere start working on an innovative solution. That’s how it works, and I think we shouldn’t all just sit and wait and then want to break a new story and then no one has the opportunity to follow that or adjust to that or relate to that, and also the smaller improvements weren’t implemented when they could have been”.
One such experiment that AIAIAI ran in, in collaboration with record label Ninja Tune was to create the world’s first headphones made using recycled vinyl.“We have a years-long friendship with Ninja Tune – the label that we did it with – and we have wanted to do a project together for years. And we started exploring how we could use better materials in our general products. They wanted to do a headphone, and the idea came up in conversation, well could we actually make – the record industry has a huge issue with vinyl waste. I mean the excessive vinyls being produced is, I don’t know how many tonnes, but it is a ridiculous number, and vinyl is PVC, it’s not the best material.”
AIAIAI 与唱片公司 Ninja Tune 合作时进行的一项实验是创造世界上第一款使用回收黑胶唱片材质制成的耳机。
“我们与 Ninja Tune 有着多年的友谊——多年来我们一直想一起做一个项目。我们开始一起探索如何在我们的一般用的产品中使用更好的材料。他们想要做
一个耳机，然后在谈话中提出了这个黑胶唱片的想法，唱片行业有一个大量的黑胶唱片消耗回收问题。我的意思是生产的过量黑胶 而且我不知道有多少吨，但它是一个非常荒谬的数字，而且黑胶唱片是 PVC，它不是最好的材料。”
While he doesn’t see that individual project as a solution, since the production is not more sustainable than their main product lines, there is still real good to come from the project: “it for us still made sense to do it to highlight the issue and to inspire how we can think more creatively and be more circular, and also for us to experiment and learn.”
While AIAIAI is constantly working to reduce it’s carbon footprint, having recently
overhauled their packaging to do so drastically,
it is remains just one aspect of their responsible design.
虽然 AIAIA 一直在努力减少他们的碳足迹，但最近已经彻底改造了他们的包装，他们始终保持一个使命就是有责任心的设计理念。
“Our priority number one is to make the best possible product that we can. And we cannot have the responsible design limit that. That has to be a very clear statement internally for us. Because if we don’t make a product that is good enough, people are not going to buy it, and it can be the most eco-friendly product in the world, but if people are still buying all the much worse stuff, then we haven’t made an impact.”
Since the beginning, the aim has been to serve the people who create the music, as well as make a difference where they can, says Jørgensen. They do this by creating the best tool that they can for professionals. But also, by working to support social initiatives in the industry, working to make our community a better and more inclusive place.
“我们的第一首要任务是尽最大努力制造出最好的产品。我们不能因为是负责任或者环保的设计而限制了这点。这对我们来说必须是一个非常明确的内部声明。因为如果我们不制造出够好的产品，人们也不会买它，它可能是世界上最环保的产品，但如果人们还在购买更方便快捷但是非常糟糕的消耗品，那 么我们所做的一切等于没有产生对这个世界的影响。”Jørgensen 说，从一开始，我们的目标就是为音乐创作者服务，并尽其所能做出改 变。我们为这些专业人士创造出最好的工具。而且，通过这些努力支持行业中的社会倡议，努力使我们的社区成为一个更好、更具包容性的地方。”
They have partnerships with organisations like Future Female Sounds, highlighting and supporting female DJs and aspiring music creators. They have also worked with Keep Hush on work to get young artists opportunities to get on stage.
他们与 Future Female Sounds 等组织建立了合作伙伴关系，突出和支持女性 DJ 和胸怀大志的音乐创作者。他们还与 Keep Hush 合作，让年轻艺术家有机会登上舞台。
“What inspires us as a company is to empower and inspire and enable people to create music. We often use the phrase “freedom to create” as the sum of it all internally,” Jørgensen tells us. This is demonstrated very clearly in the new podcast series launched in 2022, broadcasting from Refuge Worldwide in Berlin. This six-part series called Freedom to Create features artists from around the world, talking about identity and migration and how these factors influence creation.
Jørgensen告诉我们“作为一家公司，激励我们的是鼓励赋予人们的权力，激励人们创作音乐。我们经常在内部使用“自由创作”这个短语作为这一切的总和，”。这在 2022 年推出的新播客系列中得到了非常清楚的证明，该播客从柏林的 Refuge Worldwide 播出。这个由a六部分组成的系列名为“自由创作” 以来自世界各地的艺术家为特色，谈论自己对身份的认知和移⺠以及这些因素如何影响创作。
Coming to the end of our conversation, we asked Jørgensen how he sees AIAIA’s responsibility to be involved in in the industry.
在我们的谈话的尾声，我们询问了Jørgensen，他如何看待 AIAIAI 参与行业社会倡导的责任和发展趋向。
”Whether we were selling something or not. But just that we are here, we are benefiting from the music being created, so we find it inspiring, but we also find it our responsibility to improve things. It is natural, I think, to focus a lot on improving where it’s needed the most, and that is often underrepresented communities, whether it’s gender or sexuality, geography or religion. So, we have a really strong focus, especially this year, on just engaging with a lot of initiatives to support communities that are underrepresented in the music scene. We do this through partnerships.
我们觉得这一切发生的事都很鼓舞人心，但我们也发现我们有责任改进事物。我认为，这是一种人类的自觉性， 我们非常注重改善最需要的地方，而这些需要改善的地方往往是代表性不足的社区，无论是性别、性取向、地理或者是宗教。所以，我们有一个很强的目标，尤其是今年，我们有参与跟支持在音乐界代表 性不足的社区。我们通过合作伙伴关系来做到这一点。
“We are sitting here in Copenhagen, the happiest place on earth, so I’m not going to pretend all the struggles that are for people around the world, I think that would be a naïve way to approach it. So, I think we can do what we want to do and most efficiently, by partnering with some of the people that really know.
“It’s still a huge task for all of us to get to equal opportunities. There’s a long way to go”.
Interview 作者: Fraser Bonar
Translation 翻译: Ying Li
Photos照片: Iza Chrobok & Grzegorz Bacinski Keyi Studio ( www.keyi.eu )
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