Puma Made a High-End Drum Kit Out of Its New MTV Sneakers

EP+Co on building the tech-fashion-music installation

When you make a sneaker with MTV, it'd better have musical DNA built into it. 

Well, a special set of Puma's MTV RS-X Tracks shoes literally have music built into them, thanks to the builders at EP+Co's CoLab workshop (the workshop unit of the Greenville, S.C., agency). 

EP+Co built a professional-level drum kit out of a dozen of the sneakers, handing everything from engineering and fabrication to creative technology and build to content capture and experiential activation. 

Here's a video about the making of the kit, which was central to the recent "Puma RS-X MTV SNEAKER TALK" event in Atlanta, hosted by Sway Calloway and Lil Keed, Yung Bans and Deante' Hitchcock. 

Puma Drum Kit

EP+Co tells Muse that Puma has always been about doing the unexpected. 

"Whether with sports, fashion or music, the status quo doesn't cut it," says Jeff Henry, the agency's director of experiential. "That's why when they came to us to create buzz around the release of the music-inspired RS-X Tracks sneaker, we knew the idea couldn't just turn heads. It had to blow minds. 

"After watching a video of people using walls and other physical objects to play music, we thought the best way to highlight the RS-X Tracks was with a musical performance. But we weren't thinking of a DJ. We wanted to make the shoes the instrument, which is exactly what we did." 

From a production point of view, there were a number of unique challenges. 

"The first was how to feature the shoes in a way that made them interesting to look at but also reasonably simple to play," Henry says. "Each shoe is held in place with a highly modified shoe stretcher and ball joint mount for maximum flexibility. In other words, a professional percussionist can make micro adjustments on each and every shoe to make sure it feels and plays right. 

"The second big challenge was exactly how to mount the sensor inside each shoe without destroying the shoe or the sensor. Exhaustive testing led EP+Co's Creative Technology team to discover how best to carefully house a piezo transducer drum trigger in the sole of each sneaker. The wiring harness was carefully labeled and secured to the machine and fed to a drum trigger module. And each trigger input's threshold and sensitivity is adjustable, so the shoe's entire sole sounds and feels like an electric drum pad—not an easy feat with a shoe designed to absorb vibration. Certainly not an 'everyday' challenge we experience, but definitely not one that defeated us!" 

After the Atlanta event, the drum kit returned to Greenville, where it's on display at the CoLab shop and studio, and being enjoyed—and played—by the team at EP+Co. It may end up being permanently displayed at Puma HQ, the agency tells us. 

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.