We were at Wallifornia Music Tech during Les Ardentes festival in Liège and it was a memorable week. Here’s a short account of our adventures.


Greetings MOD Community,


There’s a lot going on and the next weeks will be full of unveilings, but we had to take some time to share with you some of the brilliant moments we had earlier this month at Wallifornia Music Tech, during the Les Ardentes music festival in Liège, Belgium.

These are the 5 greatest things that happened during the Startup Acceleration Program, the Wallifornia Music Tech hackathon and the Startup Program, and some of the concerts we attended.


5 – Spending Time in the Lovely Liège


I had been to Liège once, a couple of years ago, and spent the whole time at the university for a conference. The weather was not good and I didn’t get to see much of the city. This time, however, the weather was surprisingly warm and we went out to see some of the sites and enjoy what the town has to offer. We stayed at a quaint little place at Rue Pierreuse, in an artsy neighbourhood on top of a hill.

In general, Belgian people were just incredibly friendly and thoughtful, making sure that we had everything we needed at all times and always proud to show us the hidden gems in their city. In this sense, a special acknowledgement must go to the team from Leansquare – Alice, Clémentine, Gérôme, Roald and Ben, in particular – who were responsible for the excellent organisation of the Startup Acceleration Program. They have an amazing co-working space in the heart of the city and took care of every little detail like a well-tuned machine and with a constant smile.


wallifornia music tech family startup acceleration Everyone is happy in Belgium

Also, Les Ardentes music festival in itself was a spectacular event, in a wonderful location by the river, with an awesome lineup mixing nostalgic headliners, up-and-coming favourites and fresh new acts (more on that later!). The logistics and infrastructure were super well handled for such a big festivity and we managed to enjoy some nice concerts along the way.


4 – Seeing Some Sweet Hackathon Action

We were partners and sponsors of the hackathon during the Wallifornia Music Tech Living Lab and provided some MOD Duos and our API for the hackers to use in their projects. The hackathon was masterfully organised and conducted by Luann Williams and Travis Laurendine, who are, among other things, the people responsible for the SXSW hackathon.

They did a great job motivating the teams and guaranteeing a smooth sail for the tens of hard-at-work and exhausted hackers.


Travis Laurendine Luann Williams Hackathon Wallifornia Music Tech Les Ardentes Travis and Luann counting the jury’s votes for best hack


During this hackathon, we met two amazing lords of bits, bytes and bobs, Tom Brückner and Jean-Michel Dewez, who decided to include a little bit of MOD in their hacks. Tom made a web app that provided information on a given song based on Musimap‘s artificial intelligence API. He used data from our pedalboard feed API in order to propose the corresponding pedalboard and ended up as second runner-up.

Jean-Michel, aka Chantal Goret, an 8-bit virtuoso, wanted to use the Duo with Beatmotor, his crafted MIDI controller and instrument. It was built using an old cigar box, an Arduino board, some knobs, buttons and an ultrasound sensor. He used a teensy board to send MIDI notes to the Duo. For this superb retro hack, he won first prize!


Jean-Michel Dewez Chantal Goret Mauricio Dwek Hackathon Wallifornia Music Tech Chatting about 8-bit music hacks and the Duo with Jean-Michel, winner of the hackathon, with his cigar-case 8-bit MIDI instrument/controller


3 – Sharing an Intense Week With Eight Fantastic Startups

We spent the whole week with an outstanding group of startuppers from all over the world. There was so much creativity flowing in these intensive training sessions that we all came out fueled with ideas and benefitted from our shared experiences.

I’ll try to summarise all their projects because you should definitely keep an eye out for these gals and guys:

  • Beatlinks: It’s a whole living Musiverse in a game that teaches DJ skills to kids  and an animation.
  • Big Boy Systems: The first recording system that unites binaural sound and a 3D camera in order to create the ultimate immersive experience.
  • Paperchain: They provide data services for the music industry, from the collection and organisation of rights information to the identification of unclaimed royalties.
  • Roadie: An app that uses an AI to help bands with tour schedules, based on data from streaming services and social media.
  • Sofasession: They have developed an app for online music collaboration and another that connects music students with music schools.
  • Soundbops: A toy that teaches the fundamentals of music theory to young children. Their Kickstarter is coming out soon – stay tuned!
  • Warm: A huge real-time radio monitor that allows musicians to find out where their songs are being played.
  • WIP Music: The so-called Tinder for Music. An app that connects musicians to their audience and the venues that can host them.


2 – Meeting Trombone Shorty and His Band Backstage

Thanks to our new friend Travis Laurendine, aka Roi Lion d’Orléans, aka Ideas Gardener, we went backstage to meet Trombone Shorty and his band after their concert.

First, a brief word about their performance. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen such energy on stage and there were several mind-blowing moments when I sort of lost it. The whole band is an example of groove, joy and technique.

We met them all: guitarist Pete Murano, drummer Joey Peebles, bass player Mike Bass-Bailey, tenor sax BK Jackson, baritone sax Dan Oestreicher and the man himself, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Travis had sent them a video of the previous day at the hackathon with a short demo of the device and they had gone looking on the website.

Suffice to say, they wanted a Duo. Dan even knew about the MOD Duo from before and is now preparing some demos for us. He plays baritone sax but also has a one-man band so we’re very excited.


Trombone Shorty Dan Oestreicher BK Jackson Mike Bass-Bailey Pete Murano Joey Peebles Les Ardentes Backstage MOD Duo Magical moment: Dan Oestreicher (baritone sax, centre left) and Mike Bass-Bailey (bass. centre right) from Trombone Shorty’s band after the concert with their new companion Duo and footswitch extension


1 – Winning the Startup Acceleration Program

We spent the whole week learning and gathering input from a tremendous team of coaches and experts. We were expected to hone our pitches and enthral a jury of investors and affluent music business advisors.

We all worked very hard to perfect our presentations and find a way to squeeze every last bit of information in under 7-minutes. Gianfranco was selected as the first speaker and gave it all.

You can see his pitch for the MOD Duo below:

He was asked questions from industry experts such as Rishi Patel, Virgine Berger and Ted Cohen, and later sat down to meet with them and other investors.

In the end, we were honoured to take home the title of best startup of the Accelerate & Invest program, which coronated a great week and we hope is a presage of even greater things to come.


Ted Cohen Virginier Berger Gianfranco Ceccolini Mauricio Dwek Prize Startup Acceleration Wallifornia Music Tech Receiving a sizable check from Armonia CEO Virginie Berger and music industry legend Ted Cohen



Honourable mentions: the Ramen at the restaurant next to Leansquare and the Boulets avec Frites, the jam sessions we held with our Dutch acolytes Pjotr Lasschuit and Jesse Verhage at our booth during the Startup Garden using kalimbas, Novation Circuits, synths and a wide assortment of controllers, meeting Belgian geniuses Hermutt Lobby, La Femme’s retro-punk concert…