Eric Zhao and Jiaqi Wang (2023)

Jambo was inspired by our love of longboard dancing – a form of skateboarding best described as flowy, rhythmic, and expressive. Instead of jumping 5 feet in the air, longboard dancers step and spin on their decks in a way that looks effortless, but with confidence that sings with every move they make. So why can’t longboards actually sing with every move? We feel that with the musical nature of this art, there must be a more immersive, multisensory interface for dancers to express themselves. Immense potential lies in creating a musical longboard, one that a dancer can not only use to express themselves visually but also aurally. In addition, such a longboard could be used in the future for experimental music production, opening up a genre of producer-skaters who would put on one hell of a live
performance if they so chose.

In the span of a month, we created a working proof-of-concept for Jambo that transforms the board’s movements into sound when paired with music production software. With the financial support of an FRFF grant, we built a second, vastly- improved board with better musicality, more robust and carefully-designed aesthetics, performed user studies to support our ideas, and even facilitated a live demo for over a month in the Miller ICA.

Jambo is a passion project of ours and will continue to be developed using our own free time and remaining funds from the grant. It was made possible with the Frank-Ratchye Further Fund microgrant #2023-006.