With a swag of novel enterprises already under his felt tip, UK sneaker customiser Nash Money has long been a Sneaker Freaker favorite. His handiwork has always betrayed the existence of an ingenious mind, backed up with some serious technical manufacturing skills acquired along the way. In fact this particular project marks the first time we’ve worked together on an official basis, and it may just prove to be Nash’s most ambitious, most officially bananas job yet.
Fresh from a recent project where he put a set of speakers into a pair of regular size trainers, we were so struck by the simplicity of the idea, we immediately commissioned Nash to create another set for our office. As is the way with these things, the idea was tossed around and then Nash retired to think for a day, before coming back to us with a plan. A way better plan. What if we made a set of speakers using the giant PUMA Suedes. And most magnificently, what if we made a set for Sneaker Freaker and a complementary set for a music artist... someone we know and love, someone who would be worthy of such a vestal gift bestowed upon them? Now who would that be?
MotherFuckin’ DOOM, that’s who!
High fives gave way to sober negotiation. Convinced we had THE higher calling on our side, we never deviated from our righteous path to DOOM’s door. Then lady luck delivered the hip hop immortal right to us – out of the blue he arrived in our hometown for a clutch of live shows. Thanks to friendly management, we learned he’s a huge PUMA fan and a mad villian for electronic boffinry. The game was on!
The first step was to design the Sneaker Speakers to El Doom’s esteemed taste. Our enquiries revealed the following characteristics are to his particular liking...
- red LEDs, gems and rubies
- sci-fi and laser guns
- mad villian shit!
- comics and chrome
- gothic shit!
- def hard metal - not timber!
- modern architecture and geometry
- gadgets and metal shit!
- mad exclamation marks!
All of this, we anticipated. One-upping DOOM’s alter ego and his heavy metal mask was key to making the speakers rock hard. With a brief tucked under his arm, Nash locked himself in the studio, only emerging every 20 hours or so to refuel on toxic Turkish coffee, Cheetos and the odd jazz cigarette. Strangely this exotic diet seemed to inspire Nash to even more extreme acts of DOOMishness. Once complete, the design can clearly be considered a proper colab and Nash’s greatest feat of creative endurance. There is DOOM in every pore of this sonic masterpiece.
Normally you might expect such an act of artistic genius (and we don’t use the term lightly) to evolve over several months of intellectual finagling. In this case, Nash had deadline instructions issued by Sneaker Freaker’s impatient Editor to be no later than “several weeks, but probably less than that because we’re in a hurry.” Pfft! They say planning makes things perfect, but even a minute to think was a luxury Nash could barely afford. Like two and a half men possessed, he tore into the project like Charles Sheen at a Warner Bros. xmas party. Napkins were used to sketch elaborate boomboxes, lighting and sound modules were deconstructed into bite-size pieces and Skype calls were made to obscure electronics suppliers in four different countries.
On the third day, a man in a van arrived carrying two of the world’s biggest PUMA Suedes. Measured end to end, they are three feet high and rising. Big shoes mean big socks and we had some bigg’uns to fill. Gutting the inch-thick sole was Nash’s first and most dexterous challenge and with scalpel in hand, he endured a solid day of slicing and dicing that was in his own words ‘long and well hard!’ With the trio of circular holes behind him, he added layer upper layer of foam, timber and sheet metal to create a flexible yet sturdy cocoon for our bangin’ often speakers.
As it turned out, this was the easy part. We now know that even a rocket scientest from the former Soviet Union could not have worked out how all the various pieces of electronic trickery could fit inside a shoe, even one big enough for the hoof of Vladimir Shaq. However, after much cussing at the moon and several hours of stimulation with live electrodes rejigged from the strobe light feature, Nash was able to engineer a cunning solution to the multiplicity of problems at hand. Using a soldering iron, a thin strip of foil from a frozen TV dinner and some good old Kensal Rise know-how, everything seemed to come together just in the nick of time.
In the downtime Nash taught himself to weld, via sessions at the blacksmith studio known as Conan Sturdy. Without their assistance it is unlikely this project would have made it to D-Day. With these new skills, the metal frame to hold the shoes upright was politely bent into place and fixed to the base unit holding the amp. Incidentally, this is wrapped in velvety suede and topped with industrial diamond steel.
The graphics and details on this bad boy deserve special commendation. Deep etched into a metallic veneer, the speakers are laden with enough DOOM references to literally sink a battleship. This thing is... heavy metal!
And do we have features? The stunning DOOM RGB (red, greed, blue) disco lights are controlled via remote control, should one need to adjust the ambience from a healthy distance. And there’s eight different lighting effects, including speed control and a dim function. The woofers and tweeters and mids are all top shelf, with over 40 RMS on tap if DOOM ever wants to rattle the windows. There are four input terminals, an LCD screen for barometric pressure readouts and two ports for a mic so DOOM can rock the house – all channeled through a meaty megawatt amp. And did we mention it can only be started with a key engraved to DOOM’s twelve secret specs?
“On the last record I made, I used an old set of monitors just to check out how everything sounded, but now I have my own DOOMSDAY speakers, this is what I’ll use in the studio. I’ll be checking the Madvillain album on them. I’m working on the JJ DOOM record, I have a bunch of instrumental tracks that I’m putting out, I’m going to test out the Masta Ace joint on there.... I got a whole bunch of stuff I’m gonna thrash on these giant Nash Money Sneaker Speakers!” DOOM
Nash has revealed his ‘favourite’ part of the project was the moment he turned the key to crank the huge unit into life for the first time.
This immediately caused it to hum, fizz, belch smoke and ‘almost’ catch fire and burn to the ground. Some swift remedial action was required to save the day – this after all is truly a DOOMSDAY sound system! After the kinks were ironed out, our Sneaker Speakers were ready to throb for the man himself. Barely three short weeks of perpetual motion and chronic wakefullness is all it took to deliver them from the drawing board to DOOM’s gloved hands.
At the time of writing, Nash was hard at work on the matching speaker to this one, not to mention the original Sneaker Freaker pair that instigated this wild ride. We can’t wait to see them, let alone twiddle our own knobs whilst we play Dixie.
DOOM’s reaction? It’s fair to say he was... amped! In his own words... “Oh man, check it out! With the metal wires coming out and the overall specs, I mean it just looks bonkers! Based on the woofer and the tweeters and the mid range speakers in there, it’s out of control. Then there’s separate controls for everything, there’s volume control, crazy lights, you can also bypass the amp, so based on that, this thing can thump! It’s dope!”
Mad mission accomplished and another happy Nash Money customer...
Big thanks to Henry and everyone at Conan Sturdy, Allegra at Puma, Cognito from Frolab, Will at LEX RECORDS, Eion, and Terry at SF.
PHOTOS BY www.errolphotography.com