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DJ Shakey's VoltAxe controls a computer with video glasses and a custom keytar

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Julie Covello, also known as musician DJ Shakey, has created a controller that lets her make music with her computer using video glasses and a keytar-like device called the VoltAxe.

DJ Shakey VoltAxe
DJ Shakey VoltAxe

When Julie Covello, also known as musician DJ Shakey, joined New York's Clocktower Gallery as an artist-in-residence, she wanted to build a controller that would let her step away from the computer and interact more organically with her bandmates and audience. The result was the VoltAxe, a keytar-like creation covered in tape, fur, and velcro that combines with a pair of video glasses to create a portable DJ station. Hacked together in five weeks with the help of some fellow musicians, the VoltAxe lets Covello remotely navigate her laptop screen (which she sees through the glasses) with either a modified mouse or buttons that execute a series of custom commands.

Covello documented the project through an ongoing Facebook event called "DJ Shakey's Audio Control Adventure," where she posted interviews with her collaborators and updates on the device's progress, culminating in a performance less than 24 hours after the VoltAxe was actually ready to play. You can hear a track performed with the controller below; for more about the philosophy behind Covello's alternative controllers, check out this interview.