Phonewave EP Project

The Phonewave EP is an international music project consisting of 20 tracks (38min) made entirely from telephone-recorded voicemails collected via 1-818-649-WAVE.  The project was born on my instagram feed (@brainztain) and most of its contributors were part of the Instagram community connected through hashtags such as: #vaporwave #seapunk #webpunk #netpunk #cyber #cyberghetto #sadboys #glitchart #vhsglitch #bitwave #8bit #pixelart #phonewave etc.

Track List Comments

Creative Process and Afterthoughts


Transcribed Voicemails and Audio Files

Promotion and FAQ’s


Track List Comments

1.  Leave A Message
This is the original voicemail greeting that was used when collecting voicemails .  The only difference between this and the actual greeting is that the original had a tweaked “floral shoppe” sample as background music. The gentleman’s voice is my father’s.

2.  Keep It Going
Message from unknown supporter, hence the “keep it going”.  The singing comes from a New York female @cloud.based at the time on Instagram ( Her singing was recorded without any prior knowledge of the beat it was used on.  The voice sample was cut, re-pitched, and re-sequenced to allow it to ride the track smoothly.

3.  Cyborgian Rhapsody
Beat is orginal from an MC-307. Singing by @elisastiltskin on Instagram / @Quimera K. on SoundCloud from Brazil.  The lyrics are from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

4.  1000 Stairs
Unknown sources for voices and beautiful poem about loneliness. Several moans, heavy breathing and someone whispering “don’t die” seemed to be a good fit to mix together along with a robot “kill me” at the end.  Again, all submitted through voicemails.  Only thing I provided here was the beat from an MC-307, also processed through voicemail.

5.  Virtual Reality
Original MC-307 beat processed through voicemail along with two complimenting messages about virtual reality, one from @304angstroms on Instagram, and the other unknown.

6.  Moon (Poland)
Original MC-307 beats processed through voicemail. “Moon” Haiku I wrote in 1999 recited by @yo00shi on Instagram from Poland.

7.  Suave Beijo Azul (Brazil)
Singing by @elisastiltskin on Instagram / @Quimera K. on SoundCloud from Brazil. The voice sample was cut, re-pitched, and re-sequenced to allow it to ride the track smoothly.

8.  Vaporwave (Russia)
This track features @ellmatador's track "Show Me Love" (instagram @ellmatador_ks). The track was emailed, then I called it in to the voicemail and finally processed in Ableton. The processing consists of various time stretch algorithms and settings for each as well as some effects and tons of EQ’ing. It also contains a sample from the documentary “vaporwave”, which was recorded onto the voicemail by an Instagram supporter. The Russian message is from a very amazing chiptune and vaporwave graphic artist @alexogree on Instagram and @alexogre on SoundCloud—he is a master at making music on GAMEBOYS.

9.  Cough Syrup
Original MC-307 beats processed through voicemail. Ableton time stretch algorithms and reverbs. Unknown source of voice message.

10.Twitter Abstraction
Original MC-307 beats processed through voicemail along with tweets from @YvungFeast from instagram (can’t verify user name)

11.Pimp Mob
Original MC-307 beats processed through voicemail along with shout outs from some talented artists including Golden Tunic Skyscraper, followed by messages from unknown sources including two complimenting loan shark-themed messages.

12.Cyber Punk Talk (Canada)
Cyber Punk’s track from instagram @cyburpunk, and when she says she likes cats I bring in a message someone left meowing… unknown source. Perfect.

13.011 Team (Turin Italy)
011 Team party crew message along with some other bits and chunks ripped right out of voicemails with some reverb, delay, etc. The bass drum is made of one single wave oscillation click.

14.A Big F U (Mexico)
Some guy doesn’t like his ex, but he’s cool AF cause he’s from Mexico.

15.Marijuana VHS Kid (Space)
This guy is the coolest VHS hippie ever.  He’s over on Instagram as @dementedtimes.  He lives on a spaceship and eats bacon-flavored cotton candy sandwiches. Don’t believe me? Listen to the track and go check out his Instagram. For real.

16.Love Life, Love U
Happy-feeling track with some unknown sources, including @cisko3000,@filerobrown323,@old_uie, etc.

17.Shout And Instawords (Chiraq)
@itsdonperrion shoutout from Chiraq (Chicago) followed by graphic artist @achievmntmedia flow

18.Disregard This Message
I didn’t call you, so don’t give me no call menu.  Somehow something or someone decided to leave a voicemail of some sort of menu for credit cards… I’m not even mad. Just perfect.

19.Drive Safely (San Diego, California)
Talented @alcoholistics dramatization of someone talking to her dead boyfriend.

20.Phonewave Ghost
Laughter by @elisastiltskin on Instagram / @Quimera K. on SoundCloud from Brazil. Track alterations with stretch algorithms on Ableton followed by a Microsoft wavetable mash-up using a custom coded Pure Data sequencer patch.


Creative Process and Afterthoughts

Initially the Phonewave EP was conceptualized as a traditional musical EP which would usually consist of approximately 4 tracks with some of the voicemails layered on top of normal quality beats.  I wanted to use as many, if not all, off the voicemails that were sent to me from around the world, and I had received quite a few (see log).

I started to visualize the project as a whole and realized that the musical quality of it would be inferior to its conceptual quality if I used all messages (because of the wide range of quality/style of the messages left).  For this reason, I decided to put most of my efforts into the concept behind the album as this would be its main strength anyway.  I decided NOT to use ANY material that hadn’t been recorded on the Phonewave phone line 1-818-649-WAVE. This would ensure the homogeneity of the entire album as a low-fi phone-only project.  This also equated to more work trying to make things sound at least half-decent, such as calling in my own beats and material through the phone line, sometimes even trying to multi-track (recording bass, drums, etc., one track at a time) to get around the frequency bandwidth degradation when recording all tracks at once. This is also when the idea of Phonewave as a feasible genre also crossed my mind.  I believe the concept and the aesthetics behind it make it suitable for a genre. Whether that will happen, probably not.

The audio sources were mostly smooth jazz, but many were original tracks from a Roland MC-307—those are the tracks I was able to multi-track to get slightly better results. Phone-quality audio is very limited in frequency range.  There are generally a healthy amount of bass and mid-range frequencies available, but almost no high-frequency sounds, which means everything sounds very dull. On some of the tracks, such as Track 8 – “Vaporwave” I copied the phone audio on several tracks and used different time-stretch algorithms with different settings to granularly re-pitch the track while maintaining timing.  I configured the tracks to “trigger” these re-pitched frequencies based on the transients of the track, which allowed it to maintain its original rhythmic characteristics.

Many of the smooth jazz recordings were slowed down AFTER they had been processed by the answering machine. I found that this process yielded extremely favorable results with drums by making them extra crunchy. The sound was reminiscent of EMU Emax and SP-1200 samples taken off vinyl and then down-pitched.  In a sense I used the telephonic system and Google Voice as a vintage sampler.

Another unusual workflow that helped me in this project was using one Ableton project for the entire EP.  This allowed me to jump from track to track faster and have a continuous flow throughout the entire album.



I dedicate the Phonewave EP to my brother Cisko Bars whose hard work and creativity inspires me.  I am extremely proud of his achievements and admire his dedication. Cisko Bars, Rock84, Zaigex.


Voicemail Message Log (source audio files coming soon)
(rough transcription by Google)

Ventura East, CA
2/18/16 10:53 PM
hello wayne stan this is sherman my name thing is a modi lose animal t i e l o s i guess i'll just like rambling fake poetry green key bottle three days old unopened the walls are still out they never fall down the lights are fluorescent and off i hate to like the windows are open the ac hurts my nose i'm sleepy it's not anywhere near 12 a.m. i will not be going to sleep it is a weekday there are no clouds in the sky this is california there's a drought not in san diego like that it's hard with dorm room is for a i'm following the carpet is empty nothing is for us and to accept the lights everything is empty and boring and glenn and blue green furnished yellow i will not fall asleep i will just wait to hear until the sun pounds let me know i can't take it ohh pass out from the heat ohh kaufman on the cell so wake up i will do it all again
Downey, CA
1/31/16 3:58 PM 
2011 teen for brains e tang blood to learn it totally 2011 teen for brains attain blood to learn it totally
Los Angeles, CA
1/30/16 11:20 PM
hey there you little f****** mexican you goddamn little minor i got two things so y'all eating a little brother can shut the f*** up paper you know you're edgar it is mom wants to talk to you linda linda papa in mind spring him s*** i forget his name but say something more wow i need a m*********** chicken
Los Angeles, CA
1/30/16 11:18 PM
where the f*** things are much too stupid f****** listen to pick up the phone most cruises all of the person that was a paper poopoo spencer walker computer honey boo Hello Tom Walker good morning jessica rush here cuz i'm trying to get the remote
Los Angeles, CA
1/30/16 11:13 PM 
who won miss duffy server f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** boo hey are you okay are you have an email first kiss lip elephant sound so who's talking i don't know who you are minh watson p*** app hello yes this is arleen ring i want to call about some more but tell you have for sale i want to call and say f*** you m*********** you don't know me i'm crazy mother damn n***** n***** n***** n***** n***** little boy em as in the garage keys haha little boy
1/23/16 12:52AM
hey i wanted to call you i hope you're doing good i miss you i hope you're happy i love you bye
+18004838314 Add
1/21/16 1:08 PM
for credit card deposits to a prepaid account or other deposit instructions at +1-800-480-3831 for or go to and set up an account if you have already done so please disregard this message to hear these instructions again press one to go to our automated credit card payment system press 2 to end this call please hang up now
Los Angeles, CA
1/19/16 10:24 PM
Boiled it makes I would like to call him to kind of it's simone home. Are you it's just walking in now before I came across your Google. Do you? Nice Limos Building me. Do you hear me co-pay for you than me.
Los Angeles, CA
1/19/16 9:39 PM 
Hola Hi, Okey dokey. I love you, Bye.
Escondido, CA
1/19/16 8:39 PM
yo what up f****** it's me again never wanted b**** ass kid just wanted to say i do need your art go f*** dude and f****** anyways right now or we're going in right now we need food cuz we're out of food and all i got is bread and f****** a bag of baking cotton candy with the bag of cotton candy bacon flavored and i got bread so i'm going to make a f****** sandwich and then up ma f****** i'm on the phone or on the phone anyways here on your website so i can i'm on the phone
Escondido, CA
1/19/16 8:26 PM
yo yo what up dog f****** marijuana b**** ass kid f****** my f****** owe me 20 times told me about this so i'm f****** sunday and stick around and basically like i'm in f****** space to my marijuana in gauges kid and some a means of ducking me man f****** i kind of like they've been contacted me but i thought it was like voices in my head or some s*** demons and i f****** contacted them and they came and picked me up and f****** i'm traveling and f****** space and i know it's f****** we anyways so yeah just f****** collect a jazz and then there's stuff and i just f****** chill smoker juicy know about f****** piece of s*** singer this project sounds like in tight i hope i can be a part of it noon so i can this patient or if they're called banana times the spaceship and was stuck in the whole crew just f****** chill watching movies playing board games sega so i can you know it's pretty tight spiritual sony at first but f****** now we're just so you know going to know that the crew we're always picking up the checkers and through like traveling and he's like there's a lot of people don't know there's like their stories and s*** and space and so i can so we still haven't look for stuff you know stuff that we like like we have not come to collect the same s*** you know anyways i got me working and stuff on here and i post some of the stuff for him and i post and i'm around stuff so we kind of come by and voices and s*** and anyway so it sounds dope you don't want to keep out the f****** your music i can page you got some f****** tired of it and s*** shadow you said brief brief message so anyways i don't want to keep you so anyways i hope i'm not part of this so i can holler back peace i want to get a chance can you give me an x space screw b**** space peace
Covina, CA
1/19/16 6:29 PM 
Yeah, I'm looking for a jerk Jersey City Joey Badass hold me fifty bucks comma give me a call back.
Covina, CA
1/19/16 6:17 PM
hey girl what's up when i first heard that term i thought it was the most pretentious kaya will be used for anything that i've ever heard i wondered why would they picked backwards and even make any sense i work doesn't even exist i wanted to definitely most people i mention this to always seem to have the same reaction what the hell and paper way
Chicago, IL
1/19/16 3:15 PM 
Yeah, you are a new mask washes, Sheboygan Perry on our side erection masshealth Monday can bring thing that you already know it is castle cover sheet squad. I was giving you a b****.
Charlottesville, VA
1/17/16 10:58 AM 
Old really featuring Dakota green via not I a complimentary boarding yesterday really giving you a complimentary morning.
Los Angeles, CA
1/15/16 11:51 AM
Starting out if he agreed in the photograph your ice I wire frames straight through and depending on where you land your frame will change fueled runs through sent forward your head follow Coordinate Scottwood disguise a wife here in space and depending on where you're sure the great expense your hourglass is terry.
Danbury, CT
1/15/16 9:52 AM
Hey, this is Jacob Kill lice life's been pretty good lately. I'm finished feeling better feel better. Yeah, this is pretty good Can every 1 good love life. Love you. Bye
1/14/16 3:31 PM
Now. Now now now. So that you can see here.
1/14/16 3:28 PM 
Chili's, Please Stop this video you haven't returned your pending videos yet man turn our you put pto you be Charlie P darlene returning the top of the video man. Can you give me back my take Bye?
1/14/16 4:58 AM 
Yeah, the money boot. Good evening my name and your mind. I guess I'll give you a lot of stuff for you give me money. I live at your mom's or you can call me back by tomorrow. Please Grab a pen how you doing morning, Bye Bye?
1/13/16 9:46 PM 
I'm still sick, but I'm doing better than the last time in case you don't know but yeah, I never hit me back up, but I was going to look at your phone. Give me now. Call me on my cellphone. I'll call you back to see if you could have you you'll have to do is answer where I got to go. I'm just chilling don't worry about.
San Diego, CA
1/13/16 8:25 PM 
Hey. It's me again. I just wanted to call to say that I'm sorry and I guess it doesn't make a difference since I know you're never going to get this message ever. Actually I am I wanted to tell you that I love you and and I miss you. And and I'm sorry. You right always tell you to drive safe. I it's it's weird, but I forgot to tell you last night and I I don't know. It's it's just really bothers me. Ceiling and I miss you. And Really Sorry b****** This s***** driving last night. She didn't need it right now, but it. Always pretended or care. Okay. Skillet Thank you, okay. Okay. Bye
Mantua, OH
1/13/16 1:49 PM
Yo, this is Tyler aka young feast Aka salty money grease board. I think the best thing to do is read some of the tweets of written in the past couple weeks. One of the most interesting things, but I feel like they can make some impact in this project Alright. Let's see the most recent one posted about an hour ago. I read it bicep warm drink it it tastes really bad. I did I I drink a warm drink this morning, and it tasted Jason pretty bad, but can you know alright skip a couple of these this happened yesterday, Ohh, I posted was cracking boy. You know there's no see and crackers or C or ak I'm quite not not sure why did that I don't like I don't like son Jesus he's a terrible rapper, and so I'd I decided to do some on Twitter. I don't think even saw it, but at the slim Jesus all your hose got any titties not sure what that means, but I figured that was a good. As a good day this I don't know if that means their breasts or hardly copper or I don't know if you got I just said nickel. I don't know why I said Nichols, but you know this one came to my head, so little bit about it. I'm no magician, but I can light a cigarette with my chin. Yeah, that's going to be probably in the song baby song you back. I don't know. Next 130 days ago. I'm very moral tweeter Honor it is I injected heroin into my nipples and now it feels like I got a snow globe in my chest. I didn't really do that but sure that's what it feels like. In the same day I wrote this I poured codeine and my eyelids and now I'm blind I don't even see purple or nothing hashtag Powerball fever. Yeah. I'm going to put this very interesting picture of a blind kid he's actually not blind but he has something on his eyes she says, no Pete King. Alright Here's where we get to a little bit older things for like a week ago. I don't know what they just kind of my head, but I'm rich and that dick worth Sha sha sha hash tag guns in America. That's good also. I got here. I feel real good. Lick the Cig embrace, It's nutrients.
Oakland, CA
1/12/16 8:18 PM
Hi, This is Nelly. I'm calling from Morgan, Oakland, California. I just wanted to call and say Hi hope you're doing well really enjoyed the the work you guys are putting on so yeah keep it keep it awesome. Thanks a lot guys.
Richmond, VA
1/12/16 4:58 PM
 Follow at Health 2.0 on Instagram Oh, no my voicemail. Kill me
Waco, TX
1/12/16 2:22 PM 
What up home boy this is tracy over at Wonders Club are February the group and I was going to say we're like your idea man keep it going.

1/12/16 9:09 AM 
Calling from eleanor, son we spoke to sleep with the I got fans in Mexico. I want to give him to f*** you to my girlfriend Anna. We'll be there til the afternoon.

Toronto, ON
1/12/16 8:58 AM 
Okay, I realize I could have made that way cooler so I guess this is my take to even though. I'm not going to change anything but. I'm just really high right now no set up and no long until know if it. Yeah, I couldn't put like music in the background or like I did in my boys. But it looks like it's time for that right now at least. Whatever it's okay. I'm just going to hang up because you know those ones where you can't even f****** come up with anything. It's that kind of day. Anyways Bye
Toronto, ON
1/12/16 8:55 AM
Don't be shy to the f****** talking to you insider punk my name is Nadia Low cyber with Aq not Annie unfortunately. Blazing it right now. Yeah, I'll just take my money. I'm going to take to and call me actually have something written down. I don't see. No f*** that I'm already doing it now. Yeah, I'm just some b**** living in f****** Ontario, Toronto area just to make it more clear. And I'm going to guess. With everything I do almost sleep. I don't paper like digital her butt. But like the way. I left my life. I'd say. Well trying to get my list. You know? Life sucking So s***** I'm not even going to get into it cuz this probably long distance cuz I was cali and MrS. Ontario Canada Yeah, so find me on Instagram. Check me out. I'll talk to anyone unless you get f****** weird on me. I like mean. And cats. I love kids. I love you. I love you internet. I love not working like sleeping like We'd like cigarettes, but I should have my cigarettes anyways. Just just f****** hang out here for a living see you.
1/12/16 12:22 AM
Hahaha? Hahahaha, Hahahaha, Hahahaha
Long Beach, CA
1/11/16 8:49 PM
Diesel a life Beez in my city Key's in the world peace in the universe.
Long Beach, CA
1/11/16 8:48 PM
Tina calling one to let Connie morning.
New York City, NY
1/11/16 6:04 PM
Definitely, baby, I know that I'm below the baby. You know that although who picked up your ass all over the phone one of the reason. You don't have to make me feel bad. I know what is it called when you have time you know that I'm trying to make me feel beautiful.
New York City, NY
1/11/16 6:03 PM
New York City, NY
1/11/16 6:02 PM
 Specially baby, I'm know that the baby. You know that our who broke lol with fries if you wanted to reach me you can you don't have to make me feel the home. I'm not sure who damn you know that I'm trying to stop making me feel free to play.
Minneapolis, MN
1/11/16 4:19 PM
Transcript not available
1/11/16 2:44 PM  
Hello. I'm sick right now, Yo. Colorado Air you can call the truck Call stirrups? Good chicken noodle soup Hey, Nolan stuff where goodbye. Call me back.
Compton, CA
1/11/16 1:32 PM
Transcript not available
Weekiwachee Springs, FL
1/11/16 1:23 PM  
Hey, Brian, it's dane. Just cheap meant just. You know just wanted to give you a call just went straight to voicemail apples for trying to reach reach you all day but look. Hey listen well. Hi Matt this is my voicemail. Just wanted to you know tell you about my day. I guess you're going to call back talk to you you know my stepmom Stacey just called and told me that you love me and all the other line. I got a call in from the homey. You know mixed emotions going to be feeling f****** f****** funny. It's ironic and everyone got jokes when it comes to be in a comic make sure to start to chill cuz that's the reason why I'm in my room, and I eat alone. It's 98 in Polk you know where I was previously from the heart so cold. Yeah, it's so damn cold the f****** Mom 723. I'm getting too damn old and I've been told these make us all to donate on the go what I do for my heart and soul and I guess to worry about we can host best part is asking about cost and the low so this is it bro. I don't even have friends anymore to reason so just the guy riding dirty and the storm snow Yeah. The treatment

Arvada, CO
1/11/16 11:41 AM
Brian Stan What it is man, Just call me hilfiger gT Skyscraper man checking in you know let me hit super artist extraordinaire our work is crazy mom and maybe some music producers all that s*** man. I see you I respect you bro and saying all that s*** man keep it up keep the good work going man. We we don't f****** know make this s*** work there today. If you have any smooth everything you doing man. I see you keep it up.

Great Falls, MT
1/11/16 12:22 AM
1000 Stairs leading up to my bedroom ocean waves at my door that this tomorrow and jeans or forever my own voice is the Celis fair winds person dies at me see. I long for a friend.
1/10/16 8:59 PM
Yo, this is Christie Christie Christie Christie Christie Christie Christie Christie Christie
Kinderhook, NY
1/10/16 8:17 PM
This is Network Adam, and we more original content. Be sure to distinguish virtual reality reality and ask yourself in my dreaming or my awake.
Downey, CA
1/10/16 7:00 PM
How you doing it's me, baby? Hey, what's up shout out to everyone Open Instagram leaving a message. This is Cisco 3004 and centers bates, please.
Montebello, CA
1/10/16 6:06 PM
Yo, yo, what's up, in the middle of a galaxy, only stars can talk to you. Peace


The track was promoted on my instagram feed (@brainztain) using a multi-post banner, which is a continuation of several posts.  Each post had a description that adverstised the project with a short description and a list of FAQ's below:


These are the original FAQ's as presented when requesting calls--they don't fully apply to the final project.  To learn more about the final version of the Phonewave EP read the Creative Process and Afterthoughts.
Q: What is Phone Wave anyway? 
A: It is music with telephone recordings as central elements. Phone Wave captures a collective snapshot of overlapping cyber-space cultures. It destroys the collaborative boundaries sometimes upheld by varying art forms and skill levels. And yes, I made it all up.
Q: What should my message say?!
A: There are no rules, but you can start off with your name/handle followed by a short greeting, poem, rant, singing? Something in your own language? Make a weird sound? Just be creative and have fun. Short and interesting messages will work best but don’t limit yourself, if you have an idea that takes more than 20 seconds, be my guest. I will do my best to fit everyone on the 4 tracks, especially if I contacted you directly. Who knows, maybe It will turn into a full album.
Q: I’m International and don’t want to spend money calling long-distance, but still really want to be part of it… 
A: It’s all about the voicemail aesthetic, but e-mail me a recording at cuz I will break my own rules in the name of art
Q: Uh, is the Phone Wave EP, like, trying to be a vaporwave mix tape? like, cuz I only, like, like real Vaporwave and Mallsoft and Donald Trump, like…
A: No, I just like vaporwave aesthetics so this EP and its artwork might be heavily influenced. Phone Wave is more about the underlying concept (explained in the definition above) and phone voicemail aesthetics.
Q: Can I make Phone Wave?
A: You can, and you SHOULD
Q: Why are you doing this?
A: Cause I can <3 <3 <3
music, audio, visual, art


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