To those unfamiliar, Gorillaz is a virtual band created by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Tank Girl Illustrator Jamie Hewlett. While Daman Albarn takes reign of musical production in collaboration with a slew of high-profile artists, the “band” is comprised of four fictional personas: 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs. While fictional, Gorillaz has performed at award shows and festivals including the MTV EMA’s, Coachella, Lollapalooza, and more. The rock / hip-hop fusion juggernaut recently emerged after almost seven years to announce a new album and multiple singles, and the internet exploded (as it usually does).
While their comeback seemed out-of-the-blue, the events that followed reveal that their return to music was a much more strategic and calculated effort. Many artists simply release a few singles, drop the album, go on a six-month tour, and head back to the studio to do it all again – but not Gorillaz. What else do expect from a band that’s comprised of cartoon characters? Gorillaz has always been known for their innovative and over-the-top live performances and media appearances. With the rollout of their new album Humanz, they’ve blown away any and all expectations.
First off, with the announcement of their first three singles came with it their “Spirit House 360” video in collaboration with YouTube: an eerie trip through a supernatural house filled with psychedelic imagery and groovy tunes. The experience could be viewed on web and with a virtual reality headset for the true Gorillaz spooky experience. Within a matter of days, the video became the most successful 360 music video of all time – not too shabby. They could have stopped there and just waited to release the album, but no: this music video was only the beginning of their tech revolution.
Soon after their 360 music video success, Gorillaz released their own app, allowing fans to explore the virtual band members’ bedrooms and discover easter eggs of all kinds – all in augmented reality. While many artists are exploring 360 videos and apps, Gorillaz cranked it up to 11. A few weeks after the app’s release, the band announced the “Humanz House Party”: an international virtual listening party. When users opened the app followed the directions to the nearest house party location, they were treated to a floating “Spirit House” and could listen to the album for the first time with fans all over the world. Part scavenger hunt, part music event, part AR experience, part flash mob, all awesome. Name another band, or brand for that matter building experiences like this… I’ll wait.
Rounding out Gorillaz groundbreaking tech experiences for Humanz is Mistajam’s live interview with 2D and Murdoc – you heard me, a live interview with fictional characters in 3D. The famed BBC Radio 1 DJ sat down with the pair at the London YouTube Space to chat about the upcoming album and to answer questions from fans. Viewers were blown away to see the virtual band members sitting on a couch, interacting with Mistajam and each other, and behaving as if they were actually there. In reality, it was probably done with actions and live motion capture, but let’s not take the magic out of it, yeah?
Here at Inphantry, we love the way Gorillaz has been utilizing technology because they are creating groundbreaking experiences that feel authentic. For another band, building an augmented reality scavenger hunt or 360 music video may not be the best way to release content, but they may do it anyways because this type of tech is buzzworthy. For Gorillaz, they know that building these experiences isn’t just to get people talking – it’s about sticking to their cutting-edge brand and exciting fans. We’re all about using the latest technology, but only when it makes sense.
If your brand, company, fake band, or even real band is interested in creating these types of amazing experiences, shoot us a message @ firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat. As always, be sure to follow us on Twitter too.