By Shirly Ju, August 19th 2020

Virtual reality is the new future, and it’s about to change the game entirely. Insert Redpill VR, who is creating a music metaverse. Metaverse is defined as “a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users,” and they’re here to deliver the most advanced, cutting-edge VR technology that will allow you to party inside your favorite Ibizan megaclub, or watch your favorite DJ play all your favorite records from the comfort of your living room.

Of course with the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like a very long road for concerts and festivals to resume — thankfully Redpill arrives in the nick of time. All you need is a VR mask and you can literally create your own virtual rave, inviting old and new friends to dance, chat, socialize, and hang out as if it was in real life. 6 years in the making, the company prides themselves on being a platform for everyone to enjoy and experience, not just big name artists or DJs. Whoever has a passion for music will have the ability to have an audience and throw shows of their own.

Redpill VR is currently working with some of the world’s most sought-after DJs to produce photo-real digital personas (aka avatars), so that they’re able to connect with their fans virtually in a way we’ve never seen before. Flaunt had the pleasure of sitting with CMO Isaiah Martin to talk about the vital role virtual reality plays in supporting our creative institutions, even getting the opportunity to try an exclusive demo in their office space on Sunset in Los Angeles.

First question, how did red pill VR get started?
Redpill VR was founded by Laurent Scallie, he’s a pioneer in the VR space. He’s been doing VR for 28 years, first doing a lot of stuff for the military. About 6 years ago, he’d been pitching Palmer Luckey and Brendan. They needed to meet and needed to do a company together, that turned out to be Oculus.

My roommate bought one of those!

He’s very deeply ingrained in all the culture of VR. We met years ago at Burning Man over music. He was looking at everything that’s possible in VR, realizing music is really the killer category. We shared social virtual experiences, so this company was created to start to solve very difficult problems we need to create this.

So what exactly is Redpill VR?
Redpill VR is a platform for the creation and distribution of social music experiences. We take a virtualization of a live performance, volumetric capture that and drive a digital avatar. People from all over the world can go into a headset wherever they are on the planet, and join a shard or a group of their own friends. You could be in Miami or New York, having the time of your life. We decide we want to go to Lee Burridge’s series, All Day I Dream this Sunday, so we go to the Redpill platform. We suit up our avatar, choose how we want it to look, then we dive into the virtual All Day I Dream.

What sets Redpill apart from other VR platforms or technology?
#1 is we have 3 patents on real time source separation of music into audio stems. This is important because right now when you visualize music, imagine like a screensaver. Its BPM and amplitude is what’s driving it, but the rest of it is random map. It’s pretty, but it’s random. we’re able to unbake the cake in real time to its 4 key stems of percussion, vocal, melody, and bass. We take that data set from that separate stem and drive different objects within the world. Now you’re getting visualizations of these different components and so much more of an immersive experience.

Our brains are really good at detecting patterns. Why something like a room will feel good or won’t feel good is because of how it’s laid out and where things are. The visualization is another key part of having a music experience that’s truly compelling, then the live virtualization of the artist. Our technology is so far past where everybody else is at right now. If the DJ walks into the booth, I don’t wear a suit. I don’t have markers. It’s AI-driven camera systems and elite motion, high def camera system on the hands and the artist is doing what they do. That zero barrier to entry for an artist to perform is a huge piece of why our platform’s really strong.

Why should artists and venues consider going virtual?
The #1 reason is four walls. You’re stuck, you can only sell as many tickets as you have the capacity for. You have to have that big of a fan base of whatever you’re presenting within that area or you have to convince people to get on airplanes to come, which is now even harder.o This allows a brand, an artist, or a club to reach a fan base outside the confines of the 4 walls. Time and distance are no longer barriers to fans, venues, and artists connecting in a social experience.

What artists and venues have you worked with to debut this technology?
Our launch partner is a company called Sensorium, we’re under contract to build 4 worlds for them. The first of which is essentially a virtualization of Ushuaïa Ibiza, the biggest nightclub ran in the world. We’re building this brand new, absolutely insane world for them. We’re about halfway through, so they’ll be our launch partner for Q2. With that will come all the top names who are getting booked for the Ibiza season.

Talk about the user avatar process.
Right now, we’re at about 30,000 permutations of variations. When you go into our lobby, you walk up to a virtual mirror. You start to basically scroll through the parts and the pieces of how you want to look. If you’re trying to make something stylized that looks just like you, or you’re like “I want to be a hot girl tonight.” [laughs] Whatever you want to do, there’s infinite possibilities in that creativity.

How does Redpills technology fit into a post COVID-19 world?
Extremely well. Live events are essentially, indefinitely non-existent, certainly at any kind of scale. This allows artists or venues to create compelling experiences and reach a marketplace in a safe way, because you’re experiencing this from the comfort and safety of your own home.

What are some of the ways Redpill VR is providing value for fans and music lovers?
Music fans are very passionate. They’ll travel great distances to go to that one festival, that may be their vacation of the year. Now, they will have access to a whole entire giant universe of access to the artists, to the events they love. This isn’t designed to replace reality, but to allow access to a far greater group of people on demand.

Anything else you want to let us know?
It’s a very fascinating time to be in the live event business, that isn’t live events. We’ve always considered ourselves a bit of a market alternative, something that’d augment the live event space. We never dreamed we’d be launching as a solution for where we’re at today. From a technology standpoint, VR is basically gamers. You need a nice gaming computer with a good graphics card. If you don’t have that, then you can’t experience the high-def stuff you want to experience. It’s still a very niche product, but there’s billions being invested in edge computing 5G, which is the technology that will drive self-driving cars. This will remove the computer from the process. In 24 to 36 months, all you’ll need is a wireless, sleek looking headset and you’ll be getting streams in an even more photorealistic level of detail.

We really believe that’s the iPhone moment or beyond. Because now your barrier to entry is the price of a pair of headphones. I imagine the telecoms will be giving them away at that point because there’s so many in our ecosystem. Especially for artists, live events are primarily the only way they generate any legitimate serious revenue. When you look at the Marshmello stunts in Fortnite, 10.7 million people showed up for a 10-minute cartoon show. They generated 25 million in micro-transactions in that 10 minutes. Artists now have this new, totally different model of monetization, also selling digital goods. You want the DJ Ruckus limited edition sneaks for your avatar for a $1.99? Of course I do.