Following the shutdown of music venues in 2020, Elsewhere owners felt the need to continue to connect with their local community despite having their doors closed for the foreseeable future. Co-founder of Elsewhere Jake Rosenthal tells Billboard that the idea for creating a digital experience first took form as a virtual venue in video game Minecraft and has evolved into the Twitch series airing tonight.
“We really started thinking deeper and deeper about what was possible in digital and not only what was possible in digital, but what could be uniquely native to digital,” says Rosenthal. “We had this door of communication open with Twitch who had seen [the Minecraft experiment] being a successful event … and we really liked the way the platform enables deeply interactive experiences for those watching live.”
Rosenthal describes the show as combining the spirit of Space Ghost with the liveness of an SNL musical performance in “the cluttered mind of a shutter club.” The COVID-safe production will keep staffing light to maintain socially distancing for Smith and guests. The show will feature a mix of live-edited 2D and 3D imagery and animation, face-tracked video effects, original animation, sound design, and AR effects, and will showcase tracked-camera musical performances.
“From the very beginning, we knew that we didn’t want to try to recreate in any way, the experience of seeing music live. It would be doing a disservice to that experience to try to imitate it,” says Noah Norman, who is in charge of the show’s technical direction. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we take people somewhere further? Why don’t we go into complete fantasy?’ We thought, ‘Let’s make something really cartoonish and an idiosyncratic and special — not only to provide kind of context for the live musical performance, but to be transportive across the entire show.'”
In addition to the comedy and musical performances, there is an underlying mystery and supernatural elements about Smith’s character that slowly unravels over the course of the show. The monthly editions are currently booked for six months, and viewers can expect to see performances from Starchild & The New Romantic and Paperboy Prince in February and March, respectively.
“We really want this to be a New York show,” says Rosenthal. “All of us went through the pandemic and are still going through the pandemic and the music community is really struggling. We want people all around the country and the world to tune in and check it out but the spirit of it is very New York centric.”
Following today’s launch, Elsewhere Sound Space episodes will livestream on Twitch monthly on every fourth Tuesday here. Additional artists and guests are expected to be announced soon.