How What So Not Developed His Personal Immersive Rave—And Discovered His Goal

“The storyline of this present I hope evokes folks to tackle these challenges and defy these people who find themselves pushing them away from the place they belong on this world.”

What does it actually imply for a present to be immersive?

Due to the misleading nature of far too many in leisure, nobody actually is aware of. After the explosion of livestreaming within the wake of the pandemic, the phrase “immersive” was crushed into oblivion by the music business. It began out as a silver-tongued method to make the metaverse sound interesting, however has since change into nothing greater than hole jargon.

The phrase additionally transports many again to these darkish and lonely instances, when the unbridled euphoria of raving was changed by “immersive” streams that includes snakebitten DJs who carried out from their bedrooms on tools they might now not afford. So when the time got here to purchase tickets to real-life reveals marketed as “immersive,” we rolled our eyes as a substitute of our cube.

However within the case of What So Not and his bold immersive rave idea, it is totally different. And after these sold-out reveals are by, they could show as disruptive to the business as a heavy steel live performance is to a neighborhood bed-and-breakfast.

“That is going to be higher than something anybody’s seen from me,” What So Not, whose actual identify is Chris Emerson, tells

What So Not.

Jonti Wild

What So Not’s “Anomaly: Immersive Mode” tour, which kicked off tonight in San Francisco, takes its identify from 2022’s Anomaly, his scintillating sophomore album. Nonetheless, its roots return to 2016, when an apathetic Emerson discovered himself “kinda over DJing.”

“I’d been doing it for thus a few years and I used to be at such an thrilling level in my profession,” he remembers. “However I used to be like, ‘I simply do not like this anymore.'”

But when the pandemic did something—in addition to trigger a psychological well being bloodbath—it galvanized us to cherish the little issues that make us most pleased. For Emerson, that was the creativity he derived from DJing.

Emerson says he knew he wished to proceed making music, however this time round, he wanted to verify he bought extra out of it so as to keep away from the fateful path to burnout. So he drew a line within the sand between his DJ units and his ambitions to convey one thing a lot larger to life.

“Here is DJing… enjoyable afterparties, simply spontaneous and rogue vibes—no matter I’m feeling at that second,” Emerson explains. “After which right here’s this unbelievable, thrilling, immersive, curated present with the room for all these natural, stay and intimate moments.”

c/o What So Not

What So Not’s immersive raves have been within the works since 2019. After producing his tune “Anomaly,” which he says “set the dynamic” for the eponymous album during which it finally appeared, he started to conceptualize the bespoke live shows’ phantasmagoric visible course.

“I went about constructing this actuality the place I used to be imagining this dystopian future, and what’s going to occur if we proceed the best way we’re,” he explains. “Will we simply plug ourselves in and exist in an area that’s not even in an actual world due to what we might do to it? All of those complicated questions and possibilities and the place they could find yourself—that was the creation of this whole storyline and all of the visible features you’ll see within the present.”

And from there, he was all in. A laissez-faire perspective wasn’t an choice. In spite of everything, you possibly can’t simply let life run its course when you could have an enormous dream.

“The necessary a part of the storyline for this entire present and the album is it emulates—in a grander manner—my very own life,” Emerson says. “And the modifications in ideas about myself and my very own existence, and the way that had such an influence by myself life. And shifted what my very own existence was going to be.”

It is a large second for the famend digital music producer, who lower his enamel as a child in just a little seaside city in Australia, the place he says his innate musical creativity was largely written off as an aimless passion. At one level, he “snapped” and have become resolute in his pursuit to appreciate his potential.

“I used to be like, ‘No I’m going to do that.’ That is all I’m going to do and I do know that is the place I must go,” he recollects. “And I went there, and look what it’s change into. I’m wondering how many individuals on this world are caught within the unsuitable aspect of that, the place they’re discouraged. The place they’re introduced down and belittled for doing the very factor they have been meant to be doing—what they have been placed on this planet to do.”

It is clear that the inspiration of Emerson’s artistry has an existential nature, rooted in the concept that we every have the flexibility to create our personal sense of which means. However regardless of this undertaking’s influence on his personal life, it is larger than him.

“The storyline of this present,” he continues, “I hope evokes folks to tackle these challenges and defy these people who find themselves pushing them away from the place they belong on this world.”

Nonetheless, placing your self out there may be powerful. Regardless that he has a crystal-clear imaginative and prescient and the dogged grind to meet it, it is tough to ship in your convictions once they haven’t any previous experiences with which to tether.

“I’ve sure fears in myself about being up there by myself and having to ship all of it, and ship all of it to such a excessive stage,” Emerson says. “I’ve pressured myself into this spot the place I’m going to have to do this. I’ve pressured myself into this spot the place I’m rehearsing day after day after day for like nearly a month now to get this dialed. To do one thing that I’ve actually by no means executed onstage earlier than and ensure it’s above the extent of every part anybody’s ever seen earlier than from myself.”

c/o What So Not

So what precisely makes these live shows immersive, you ask?

“You might need seen within the trailer how there’s a sweeping grid. And also you play with the scale of this grid over a stationary background and it appears like issues are literally coming towards you out of the display screen when you’re standing in the midst of the room,” Emerson explains. “There’s moments the place you may even have vertigo. There’s totally different profound moments you’ll discover the place sure objects are present in several areas round you, and while you look across the room, you’ll have a completely totally different digestion of the expertise primarily based on the music and the visible.”

Emerson, who will likely be performing stay with modular synthesis onstage for the primary time in his profession in addition to singing and taking part in drums, says he is labored with 4 totally different groups since 2019 to convey his imaginative and prescient to life. The manufacturing has gone by many iterations as a phalanx of visible artists, VJs, lighting administrators, stage designers and extra spent numerous hours growing it. Emerson himself additionally realized the ins and outs of 3D animation, learning software program like Cinema 4D and Unreal Engine.

With no large funds, he says the buildout was “brutal.” The undertaking’s inception coincided with the NFT increase of 2020, when visible artists have been commanding exorbitant quantities of cash to design a measly 15-second clip. So the concept of growing an hour-and-a-half present wasn’t possible.

Furthermore, calibrating the reveals to cater to totally different venues has been a significant hurdle, a course of Emerson referred to as “very sophisticated.” One venue, for instance, has a clear display screen à-la Eric Prydz’s subversive HOLO manufacturing, whereas one other has a cuboid stage and onsite installations he has to map round.

“I’ve seen firsthand how tough it truly is to tug this off correctly,” he says. “However I understand how quick the tech is advancing.”

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Emerson remembers a time in 2022, when his workforce was tasked with growing video clips of photorealistic avatars singing lyrics carried out by actual people. He requested singers to obtain a particular app, file a refrain and ship the file for his crew to load into the Cinema 4D software program, whereby they programmed the voices and synced them with animated characters. Earlier than this tech existed, you needed to rent a workforce and pay a five-figure sum to animate the avatar’s actions, he says.

He additionally bought movement seize fits to check out the immersive raves’ visible course, which interpolates depth notion, vanishing factors and different ideas. Emerson’s phrases paint an image of a deeply iterative course of that led to some astonishing—and oftentimes unintended—outcomes.

“Even a number of the errors look so cool and so fascinating,” he digresses. “I’ve had that as effectively with totally different groups, the place they do one thing that’s technically unsuitable however I’m like, ‘That can play so effectively within the present.'”

The true influence of those immersive raves stays to be seen. However one factor is for certain—What So Not has found his goal, and he discovered it on the intersection of innovation and self-acceptance.

“It is simply the beginning of a complete totally different section,” he says. “I’ve type of unlocked a number of issues which can be past what I’ve executed earlier than and I do know they’re going to get even higher from there.”

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