If there’s one thing Berlin is famous for, it’s around the clock nightclubbing so legendary it pulls crowds from all over the world. But where does that leave the countless techno fans that have yet to visit the city, or simply haven’t made it past the tough door policy? Enter Google and Boiler Room, two entities who have teamed up to create a new virtual reality experience that offers a lifelike – albeit simulated – taste of Berlin’s music culture.
“VR dancefloors: Techno in Berlin” is the first instalment of a project that has the potential to revolutionise how we discover underground music scenes. “What if Tom from a small village in Poland would love to know what the trap scene in Atlanta is like?” says Ibtisam Omer, Culture Marketing Strategist at Google. “That’s why we’ve created this project.”
Designed to be experienced on Pixel, Google’s first virtual reality-optimised phone, “VR dance floors” combines interactive elements of immersive theatre, computer game narrative, music TV broadcast and installation art. The Berlin techno experience consists of a 15 minute-long video was filmed in an industrial-looking venue featuring a live-electronics set by Berlin’s very own FJAAK. “Technology is such a major driver for us as musicians,” FJAAK say. “We’re often on the road and being on an aeroplane and having a whole studio at your disposal is just wow! And VR is the next step, there’s even programmes that allow you to make street art as a group – and that’s überkrank.”
Beyond being able to transport oneself right into the middle of a cast of 150 of Berlin’s most dedicated ravers, viewers can also choose their own “adventure” and explore the rest of the club. These include a collection of interaction points to discover the dance floor, chill out area, audio-visual art installations, the artists or the darkroom by using the Daydream View controller.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without Boiler Room. They have forever changed the way we interact with music since they started broadcasting DJ sets on a webcam from a Hackney warehouse. “We didn’t want to recreate the clubbing experience because that’s unique, but rather be conceptual about this so we could be fully experimental,” says Blaise Bellville, Boiler Room’s founder and CEO. “The great thing about VR today is that there’s so much potential, it’s such a big experiment that keeps us asking how far can we go?”
The experience is available now for free, globally on Daydream, Google’s high quality, mobile VR platform as part of the Boiler Room takeover of the Inception app