make voice culture

Rain At Mama’s House

Transporting you to a rainy day in Chicago.

invocation name rain at mamas house
category music & audio
release date february 2018
catalog # bon013
product page 🇺🇸🇦🇺

One day my mom sent me a video of her backyard on a rainy morning in Chicago after the snow had melted. It sounded amazing. So I called her and walked her through how to record audio on her phone with the Voice Memos app. Explaining this took about 20 minutes. Once she got it working, I asked her to leave her phone on the porch for awhile and to send me the recording.

I made this for a few reasons: #1) to make a skill with my mom so she could better understand what I’ve been up to (world’s first mother-son voice collab?!) and #2) to surprise her with a custom skill for her new Echo so she could summon the sound of a rainy day at her house.

Soundscapes are one of the killer apps for many Echo owners. Developers like Nick Schwab at Invoked Apps saw this early and continue to crush it in this category. But Rain At Mama’s House wasn’t about taking on the rain sound incumbents. As I wrote in the skill description, “there are lots of rain sound skills. but this is my mama's rain.”

This review really opened my mind, as the user felt a connection to the skill explicitly *because* of its backstory. In other words, a sonic commodity become more valuable because the narrative contextualized and elevated it in their mind. It made it more relatable to them.

So are stock soundscapes equivalent to the staged hilarity of stock imagery? That’s a little extreme. And I assume the vast majority of soundscape listeners would never consider such a thing. These skills serve their purpose – helping users relax or fall sleep or whatever. But as audio becomes increasingly more prominent in our lives, the notion of personal versus generic sound design is an interesting one for us to chew on for sure.
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