Jacob Mathew is the speaker guy: he has a knack for giving sound to regular objects. Imagine sitting on a subwoofer as a new kind of musical chair, or even lifting wine bottles with speakers in them. That, or the stereo stilettos which are parked in a pair of red pumps. Basically, Mathew makes electroacoustic sculptures, but unconventional ones where the design literally sings (or gives your ass a massage). He has also created the world's largest speaker—but it isn't in a club, it's in a spa table you lie on.
Check out speakers in lamps, or dangling speakers with bulbs in chandeliers. In fact, he even made a musical speaker chair with a vibrator pinned to it which, uh, vibrates to the music. You can figure out the rest. Anyway, it all began in teendom—as these things do—with a car audio obsession. Since then, Mathew has been building speakers into less-ordinary objects, even "audio furnishings" as he calls them, and selling them for hundreds and thousands of bucks (check out the subwoofer sofa). We tracked him down for a few questions like how it all started, defining "psycho-acoustics" and pushing the boundaries of audio design.
Noisey: You built your first speakers when you were 16-years-old. Aside from car audio systems, what else have you built?
Jacob Mathew: I have explored many realms of audio ranging from car, home, theater, architectural, sculptural, artistic, and even music massage. I love to push the boundaries of audio design and I am always conjuring up new ways to experience the music.
From the couch piece to a chandelier and the musical chair in a seat, I am intrigued by how you’ve placed speakers in unlikely places. What new thing are you bringing to the traditional term "musical chairs?"
In my endless explorations seeking audio nirvana, I have more recently created a couple of erotic "musical chairs," that stimulate in rhythm to the music. They are quite fascinating and have receive quite a bit of attention at the art shows that I have taken them to. I would love to see what future these designs will have.
How did the stiletto piece come about? Can you actually wear them, or are they shelf items?
When I was in the art district of town, I would create new audio sculptures that I would unveil each month for the art walk. The Stereo Stilettos was one such creation that has drawn a lot of attention. So much so that has it has been featured in numerous publications and now resides at a museum in France.
What is psycho-acoustics? (Usually it is electro acoustics).
Psycho Acoustics is about "the perception of sound," the way we experience the music. It focuses not only on how the music sounds, but also how it makes us feel.
Soundsations sounds incredible, a music-vibrated spa. What has the response been like? Where is it located?
Soundsations is the music massage experience. I created a massage table with the world's largest production speaker that is over 860mm in diameter! The music can be felt resonating throughout the table as the massage is performed in rhythm to the music. It is truly an extraordinary experience.
You’ve built speakers into furniture in your very own home. Could we see what they look like? How have you fit sound into functional objects? I assume this saves space.
I do have quite the collection of audio furnishings that I have created from the speakers I have acquired over the years. While a few are functional like the subwoofer sofa, many are retrofitted in a more aesthetic fashion. I have lamps, clocks, chandeliers, and even fondue pots that have been made out of speakers.
So what are you working on at the moment?
My latest works is a new line that I call Echelon Audio. This elegant design has an eloquence that will captivate all those in its presence. I am looking forward to the possibility of bringing them to the High End show in Munich next year.
I saw your wine speakers (speakers built into wine bottles). Are they connected to local stereos, or…?
The wine bottle speakers are one of my favorite designs. Unfortunately, the original set mysteriously vanished. I hope they will reappear someday. Maybe they will show up at an auction or find their way into the hands of a collector. I guess it will make for a great mystery…
No word on whether Nadja has tried Mathew's erotic musical chair. She's on Twitter - @nadjasayev.