A few months ago when 5000 attended Run The Jewels live in LA, there was no other way to get a ticket, not even in VR. Then at the Grammy Awards, Beyonce pushed the boundaries of live performance with her holograms glowing on stage. What’s next in live performance and technology? The band Miro Shot is revolutionizing live performance in every way imaginable.
I began to talk with Roman Rappak, lead creative of Miro Shot, a few weeks back. Rappak explains that no one has done this type of production before, “it’s no longer just cinema or just live music. Our show is borderless, it’s mobile and adaptable to anything and anywhere,” he said.
But entering into an entirely type of immersive experience is not without its risks. “Many businesses have developed immersive experiences which have proven to be unsuccessful in the commercial sense,” said Rappak, and that is why they’ve worked carefully over the last year to develop a live immersive show that can overcome these factors.
“We have created a live ticketed event which appeals to a wide range of demographics and is combining various disciplines in one performance. We have sold out shows and demonstrated in small groups of 12 over a few days that we can be extremely successful, however our shows are yet to be performed to larger groups and this is where our challenge lies,” said Rappak.
As Miro Shot continues to develop their production, they analyse every dynamic how it resonates with their audience. They encourage discussion within their collective of artists, technical experts, and academic advisers to push the show in technical and creative limits, as well as to engage in how to build the show in a way that presents immersive technology as a positive and inclusive platform for innovation.
Beyond leading Miro Shot creatively, Rappak’s key responsibility is to ensure the team’s collective of artists sticks to the overall philosophy of the project, “…the idea that tech will save us,” he wrote in an email. The Miro Shot Collective, their associated open arts collective, was inspired by a vision to revolutionize live performance, with immersive technology as the clear route to transforming the stage.
The collective began to take shape when Miro Shot, the powerhouse band managed by Stephen Taverner at East City Management (Alt J, Wolf Alice) and sighed to Believe/ All Points, with Warp Publishing, began to challenge the norms of what is a concert, stepping into a new era where there are no longer any back seats.
Miro Shot originated from Rappak’s previous band. They went on world tour, what most bands dream to do, but at the end of the day he found they were doing just that: what every other band has done. “The world was changing all around us but we were still in a structure that existed since the Stones or Joy Division,” he wrote. Then, VR, AR and MR became available, as well as programs like Unity that enabled the first parts of code to be developed that would eventually become a part of the Miro Shot VR experience. At this stage, they began to work with new artists and creatives from outside the music industry and they put together some of the first shows that would later become an entirely new entity, and that is Mirocolabs, the start-up in LBE immersive production.
Today, Miro Shot has showcased their work with Mirocolabs, their production startup, at the Amsterdam Institute of Contemporary Art, “… making us the first band to put on a VR event in this way- a collective experience, live rendered, with haptics and multi-sensory elements such as scent,” said Rappak. They continue to play secret shows around Europe, but this is all going to change too.
Rappak and I talked last week about how the music industry has been stagnant for a long time. There’s always been that same stage set-up, length of show, format and audience experience. In their new album CONTENT, this is no longer the case. CONTENT was taken to the next level with Miro Shot as they created an interactive live VR and mixed reality concert. They use VR gear that switches between live streams of the band, virtual landscapes and even a combination of the two. The goal is for the audience to feel every aspect of the music. What if music is no longer something that can only be heard? What if it can be produced in a way that uses all senses? Now that is revolutionary.
While I have yet to experience one of the Miro Shot shows, I’ve been lucky enough to experience it from a distance through audience reactions, an introduction track by Erik Dellums, exclusive video footage, and access to their yet to be released album. Let me do my best to describe the concert so that you can also live vicariously through me. If that’s not enough, you can see footage of their shows here.
The show begins like no other. After abandoning all electronic devices, one by one the small group of participants enters the immersive setting. There’s smoke, sound, scent, and artwork suggestive of the content that will be seen during the show. Here, participants enter a new realm that grasps all attention from where they were, to the here and now.
Once seated, the show continues. As the live band plays, participants begin an interactive journey through virtual landscapes and reality accompanied by scents, haptics, wind and smoke. With VR headsets, where a participant looks affects the outcome of what they see, so everyone chooses their own route through the story. The band is also able to monitor and respond to these choices by altering the live music, using automated responses and uniquely generated randomized algorithms. One person’s experience is never the same as the next.
I can only imagine the sudden rush of what must feel like ‘sensory deafness’ when the show ends. It would be so quiet after an introduction to this new art that “allows you to explore human imagination and to experience music in a way like never before,” said Rappak. How cool would it be to have memories of a place that doesn’t exist down to the very scent itself? Yes, even the unique scents generated during the show are manufactured by Miro Shot’s own Timothy Han.
With just this description, can you see that what constitutes music may have to be redefined? Rappak said that at the moment this change is mostly due to technology, but there’s another feature as well. Over the last year and a half, Miro Shot has grown into something completely different compared to where they started off, and this is in part due to the unique feature that they work with a collective of multi-disciplinary artists, allowing them to produce content at new levels in the immersive space.
Miro Shot’s current concept show is a collaborative effort, a community driven project and an open sourced album if you will. This collective is divided into two parts. First, is the open collective that anyone can join. Rappak said it’s here that you are able to interact with, remix, and rework every aspect of the album and even the VR experience itself. Currently this is only available at the events, but they have an app and a site in beta (testing) that will soon open this to anyone anywhere. There are 150 individuals in the open collective and the numbers continue to grow. The second part of the collective is the core which is the inner circle band members. This includes graphic designers, film makers and coders to name a few, who are all a part of the Mirocolabs production team. A total of 54 members make up the core collective.
Along with these mixed reality concerts, Miro Shot will also play regular shows and festivals and will release a standard LP. Rappak said Miro Shot, signed with Believe Recordings, is still a band at its heart, but I wonder if we’ll have to come up with an entirely new term to describe what they are. How all these questions unfold is definitely looking like a future blog post- the way this band functions opens up a whole new array of questions about the music industry.
Speaking of which, as a writer, I’d like to say that CONTENT features a new form of storytelling.“It’s the most exciting way of encoding a message,” said Rappak. It’s not just the artist who is a part of the story, but also the participant who completes the story based on their actions and reactions during the show. Only when the show ends, is the story, or artwork, complete. It’s an entirely new form of creating.
Miro Shot is still underground until official launch early 2019, but you can join their collective of artists and attend concerts as a member of the collective. They’ve already hosted secret shows across Europe, and will soon travel the world on tour like no band ever has. Date, time and location of the shows are revealed only to members of the collective pre-launch. While I want to ensure I have a seat at their next show, there’s no way I can’t share this opportunity, so you can find info the secret shows here.
Photo Credit: Alex Ford of the Miro Shot Collective
*LBE- Location based entertainment
*Miro- a painter who was part of the surrealist movement who used mixed media and collaboration to create something new, and question why art has to be done in a particular way.
Shot- Meaning an intense dose of something intoxicating, or a quick image of something taken instinctively.