Upstream: Music x Design – 9 projects selected

Nine proposals have been selected in Upstream: Music x Design. Coordinator Ibrahim Alaoui Chrifi reflects on the first round of 2024.

3 July 2024

general impression

Never before has the Upstream: Music x Design Grant Scheme seen so many applications being considered as in this year’s first round. Of the 29 subsidy applications taken into consideration, 9 are receiving grants. The Fund is awarding subsidies for the fifth year in a row via the Upstream Grant Scheme to projects that focus on innovative (and often artistic) applications of design, image or technology within pop music.

The proportion of starting grants was relatively small this round: less than a third of the total. This is in contrast to the last round of 2023, where the vast majority of applications were for a starting grant. The increasing number of applications is mainly due to the fact that this is the last year of the Upstream Grant Scheme. Applicants can only submit a plan this year to be eligible for funding, putting additional pressure on the available budget per round.

Another striking feature of this round is that almost all the applications submitted were accepted for consideration. Typically, there is a fixed proportion of applications that do not align with the grant scheme. These are often projects where there is no collaboration between musician(s) and designer(s). Or projects where there is not enough of a design issue involved, such as audiovisual productions (video clips).

So, in addition to the quantity, the quality of applications has also increased. Applicants seem better informed about which projects are eligible for funding. It is also notable that this round saw many applications for developing visuals (some 3D) at live performances. However, projects applying AI were actually less common than average this round.

Notable projects in this round include:

Timaeus – Holobeyond

Timaeus – Holobeyond
Electronic music producer and epidemiologist Alberta Balsam (Aniek de Rooij), together with artist/designer Timaeus (Tim van Hooft), is exploring the symbiocene: the era where it is no longer about human life (anthropocene), but about the symbiosis between humans and other organisms. With this project, they aim to bring a bio-futuristic world to life through images and sound. It is intended to become a tantalizing vision of a society in which human and non-human organisms benefit from each other’s existence. The final presentation form is not yet definite, but may be a game, interactive music album, AV show or immersive installation at the intersection of science (possibly speculative) and poetic art.

Jeisson Drenth - Thức Tỉnh

Jeisson Drenth - Thức Tỉnh
Jeisson Drenth is joining forces with Animistic Beliefs for the project Thức Tỉnh. Thức Tỉnh is an avant-garde audiovisual live show created with a collection of musical instruments, experimental video art and stories in languages originating from several different times and regions. The title (Vietnamese for ‘awaken’) refers to learning about cultural heritage, unique family histories and giving new meaning to bi-cultural Dutch identities. Linh (Vietnam, China), Mar (Ambon, Netherlands) and Jeisson (Colombia) are presenting with Thức Tỉnh their shared and individual research into personal origins and the culture of their ancestors. The live show will feature acoustic and electronic instruments, poetry, dance and live visuals. In this way, the artists are together expressing feelings of longing, loss, discovery, hope and connection. In an ambitious new step in their ongoing collaboration, they show how electronic music and live visuals together can function not as an end product but rather as a starting point for developing a powerful, layered, critical and embodied audiovisual performance. For support in navigating all the components and phases of the project, they are collaborating with Muziekgebouw Productiehuis.

Arion de Munck - Mystic mirrors immersive

Arion de Munck - Mystic mirrors immersive
Mystic mirrors immersive is a collaboration between the Amsterdams Andalusisch Orkest and visual artist Arion de Munck. With the project, they aim to make the age-old musical traditions of Al Andalus visible through so-called water soundscapes. Water soundscapes are visual patterns created by letting water vibrate at the frequency of sound or music. The start-up phase will experiment with water soundscapes combined with live music. Intended outputs include a prototype of a set-up for creating and displaying water soundscapes during live music performances and a design-based infrastructure.

You can see the entire selection here.


Of the 29 subsidy applications taken into consideration, 9 are receiving grants. This brings the percentage of applications receiving grants to 31%. The total € 337,654.50 budget was spent in this round. The next round of the Upstream: Music x Design Grant Scheme closes on 1 October 2024.

Image above: Dylan van Dael Music – Pokka: an extraordinary creature made entirely out of chrome