Syncing mediated and not: Interrail creates unique SoundTracks for every single train traveler

[Many of us have had the strange experience in which the recorded music we’re listening to (e.g., in headphones or earbuds while walking) coincidentally seems to match up with the environment we’re moving through. This story from Creative Boom describes a new purposeful effort to create these matches between mediated and nonmediated elements of our experience, a type of presence illusion. See the original story for several different pictures and a 1:06 minute promotional video (also available via YouTube) and see the “Projects” page of the Circus Family website for other interesting presence-related projects such as “Vlisco – We are Here,” “KLM – Hologram Bar” and “TRIPH Interactive Installation.” For related resources see the June 2021 InsideHook story “Porsche’s Newest Technology Literally Composes Music While You Drive. The Marque’s New Soundtrack My Life App Turns Your Life Into a Movie,” Headphonesty’s “Listen to Music Together: Top Music Sync Apps to Party With Friends Online,” and the “Variations” section of Wikipedia’s entry for “Diegetic music.” –Matthew]

Interrail creates unique SoundTracks for every single train traveller

Fitzroy and Circus Family create an interactive travelling experience like no other. We reveal how it works and how you can try it out for yourself.

By Tom May
August 10, 2022

For five decades, Interrail – a single ticket for the entire European train network – has been providing youngsters with a cheap and easy way to access over 30.000 destinations across 33 different European countries. This year, they’re celebrating their 50th birthday, and they’re marking the occasion in quite an unusual way.

SoundTracks is a real-time, adaptive audio experience that responds to a traveller’s location, time of day, scenery and weather. In doing so, it generates a unique track for every traveller, on every train, and the entire Interrail network.

To make the project happen, Interrail worked with Amsterdam-based advertising agency Fitzroy and interactive installation designers Circus Family, an Amsterdam-based collective of installation artists and audiovisual designers.

“One of the best things about train travel is just sitting down and watching the beautiful landscapes slowly roll by,” explains the team at Fitzroy. “We thought, how amazing would it be to have a real-time generated soundtrack that changes as your journey progresses?

“Day turns to night; it changes. The countryside turns into mountains, and it changes. It starts to rain, and the view from your window changes, so the music responds to that. All in real-time, for every Interrail traveller.”

All the system needs from a user is their GPS location. “Just from that metric, we can deduct all the other variables needed to run the experience. Basically, what we did was ‘paint’ the map of Europe, so the software knows if we’re in a major city, or the countryside, coastal region or the mountains.”

“We are really happy to give Interrail travellers an even more beautiful and memorable experience than ever before with SoundTracks,” adds Kavita Kooijman, brand manager at Interrail. “We wanted to offer something special to our community this summer, to celebrate the spirit of train travel and European exploration.”

The SoundTracks experience is now live at, although it obviously works best when paired with the view from a train window.


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