In autumn of 2016, I was introduced to composer Kurt Roembke through a mutual friend. We were working on developing a project which we, unfortunately, didn’t have the opportunity to finish before I moved away. Nevertheless, I saw a spark in Kurt and was eager to work with him again. I was enamored by his ability to create unabashedly and was intrigued by the process and concept of a composer of my generation.
When I decided to start a podcast, I spoke with Kurt about composing the intro music. I wanted something original and personal, and he had the awesome idea of mixing conversational tones with everyday sounds. He had people call him and leave voicemails talking about their day, or telling a story, and composed around that. Thus the No Ordinary People intro music was born.
Kurt’s artistic genius extends far beyond podcast intro music. As a composer, he regularly collaborates with multiple artists creating interactive visual and audio pieces for local museums. He is also 1/2 of touring musical group Silbo Gomero, works in a local art gallery, and composes music for the Cosmos-esque podcast ‘Star*Quest Radio‘. On top of all of that, as of the taping of Episode 2 of No Ordinary People,
Kurt is working with developer Michael Sullivan of Elemental Spark on designing an interactive enhanced-reality soundscape app call Sound Walk, which sets music to the landscape of the park-like Lindenwood Cemetary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The app isn’t complete yet, but thepotential is huge. Once the technology is in place, Kurt could ostensibly compose a soundtrack to anywhere on earth. Imagine walking to work or through the park, and just by clicking on an app, you could hear music specifically composed for that exact place.
Kurt recently got funding for the Sound Walk project through Fort Wayne’s first crowdfunding ‘Soup’ event, saying “It’s really weird to get something funded because everything just seems like a crazy idea, and it’s really hard to know what people will value. It was pretty crazy to go up in front of a bunch of people and say ‘I kinda want to do this thing that really hasn’t been done before in this capacity. I don’t know what it’s going to end up look up looking like or sounding like exactly, but I think it’s going to be pretty cool.’ It was weird to be handed the money that basically funded the first effort… right from the get-go.
As a bonafide art aficionado and composer, I was interested in Kurt’s opinion on the difference between “art” and “not-art”, as well as the benefits or hindrances art can have on society. Kurt states “I think that there’s a lot of art-making for the sake of art making, and it gets caught up in this sub-culture of society that’s really exclusive… A lot of the time it doesn’t connect with people who don’t have a bunch of money. It kind of isolates the human experience – It tells people that they’re not necessarily included in this dialog. Art should help push society forward in how we treat and understand others. It’s an expression of our humanity in a really general way, but for me personally, I feel like art should definitely not be a fashion that’s cool for one person and just totally throws another person out… More and more we need to be figuring out ‘what can we do with this stuff to be relevant for modern society?'”
Lastly, we discuss his contribution to the Star*Quest Radio podcast. He says, “I want to make something that’s exciting for people to think about space. I’m not a journalist, I’m a mild space enthusiast, but I know how to research stuff and I know how to record a podcast and compose music, so I’ll make an experience with the podcast that hopefully brings people to be excited about it in a very similar like, Carl Sagan kind of way.” As a fellow “mild space enthusiast”, I can’t recommend Star*Quest Radio highly enough.
All in all, it’s easy to see that Kurt Roembke is, has, and will be leaving his extraordinary mark on the world, and I’m grateful to have him both in my life and on my podcast.