Evan, the artist known as Bluetech, is one of the people I have most enjoyed meeting as a journalist. Neutrality be damned. He really gets it when it comes to having a realistic but positive outlook on life, and finding a way to turn his creative ideas into a business that allows him to continue doing his best work. When we spoke last, we talked about integrity, the long grind of artistry, and the state of the world at large. Catching up with him for his recent show at Aisle 5 was a great update, as he’s now involved in some fascinating new projects and is continuing to build a following for his music.
I arrived during Quicktemper’s set, which was surprisingly energetic. Dissisoma, the next opener and a fabulously accomplished producer, also played a danceable set with lots of intricate, melodic basslines that I really enjoyed. During her set, I managed to duck into the green room for a few questions with Bluetech.
How are you?
Last time we spoke, you were talking about a VR product as a training tool to help people learn to lucid dream.
Right, so, I spent some time with my buddy Android Jones, and he had already built it, and he invited me to join the company. And that is Microdose VR. There are four main people who run Vision Agency. Microdose VR is our first project. Coming very soon on Steam, it is a virtual reality experience designed for HTC Vive. It’s a full audio immersive, synesthetic, transcendental experience where you get to paint with sound and light, and be inside music.
Is it heavily driven by the soundtrack, or is it a creative environment?
All of the above. So, one of the levels…we’ll call it a game.
Is it a game? Is there character progression?
No, it’s not a narrative. So, for example, one of the levels is a full unreleased Bluetech track where you’re in a full environment, and using your controller and VR, you paint, and these audio-reactive particle emitters start going out and there’s your beat. And you can move around and through it and explore it. Paint another system and it’s actually making melodies which will start swirling around you. You can move through it, and it’s all audio-reactive. You can paint all the layers of the track, with multiple instances of each piece of that music, and fly around it, through it, go into a vortex into another place. It’s literally like lucid dreaming inside music created by people…and I’m a developer.
Are you hiring?
We will be hiring. We’re bootstrapping right now. We have not taking funding from anybody, despite multiple offers. We’re going to do a crowdfund here in February, and the beta release. It’s ready. It’s playable now. We were at CES, we were at Sundance, we’ll be at GDC, Silicon Valley VR. It’s functional. HTC is using it as one of their flagship “why you should buy our product” demos right now. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
Our conversation turned towards the technology at this point. They are building the product in Unreal Engine, so if any of you VR developers are working in Unity (almost all of you) right now because of its ease and accessibility, you might want to consider making the switch if you want to work on cool stuff like this. According to Evan, there are things you can do in Unreal that simply aren’t possible with Unity, but if you’re already working in Unreal, they’re willing to teach you what they’re doing with VR. He showed me some in-game footage, and the game honestly looks amazing.
Who’s your target audience for this?
Who isn’t our target audience is a better question.
So, when we talked last, you talked about a tool for lucid dreaming. Is it an entertainment experience or an educational experience?
Well, there’s going to be everything from super ambient, tuned-to-brainwave-frequency style experiences like brain trainers to competitive multiplayer gaming. So, it really is a creative platform. The first wave will be a bunch of levels you can play, second wave, we’ll be starting to open up the developer tools for people to create their own worlds within Microdose VR. They can load their own files and also… [OFF THE RECORD]... So, the HTC Vive is first, coming soon. We are talking to people about doing a Playstation build, and we’ll see what happens with Oculus, but with the lawsuit right now, we’ll see what the feature lock is.
Well, that sounds pretty amazing. In the software world, it’s said that platforms win over products, so good luck. We've talked about the Amazon basin before, which is earth’s lung. And, you said we had lung cancer, probably terminal. So, with the compiled craziness we now face, are you still pessimistic?
I’ve never been pessimistic. Even if the end result is the complete extermination of human life on this planet, I’m not pessimistic. The earth is going to be fine. The earth has been through a lot worse than humans before.
Is the Earth something separate from us though? Is it fine, if one of its species dies?
How many of its species have died in the last 100 years?
A lot, but I think humans dying out would still be an injury to the planet. However, you’re still optimistic even if we all die. How long do you give our species?
Oh man, the one thing I’ve carried my whole life is hope. I believe that life prevails. I believe that love is stronger than death. I hold onto that, because the alternative to believing that is a reality that I can’t metabolize. Do I think we’re closer to the doomsday clock than people really want to talk about? Yeah, absolutely. We’re gearing up for world war. All the players are in place. Trump is suiting up the armies. Who knows… who knows… Trump could have this amazing ayahuasca revelation and actually save the planet. But yeah, it’s a struggle to keep hope and ask if any of this is worth it.
Well, for normal people, whose apartment may or may not provide recycling, and who have to drive a car to work. We talked about integrity last time, but that’s a hard option in modern life sometimes. What do you say to realistic people who want to live consciously towards the planet?
I think each person has to figure out what it is for them at this point. If you get into the specifics of what we’re really looking at, I think it’s enough to scare people into shell-shock. I think a lot of people are already in shell-shock, where they feel like it’s not even worth trying. So, I think it’s an individual decision each day. What am I going to do to live a life of love and connection and integrity, and be about something higher? That’s what it’s always been. Any generation.
Shortly after our conversation, Bluetech took the stage. As before, he never broke through into what I would consider dance music, but kept the energy simmering all night. I ended up having some fascinatingly deep conversations with my partner and losing myself to the ambience of the sounds all night long. I think everyone got something different, and it was wonderful. At the end of his set, just like after deep trance or techno sets, the audience began to break out into clapping and cheering. Whether it’s hippies, house heads, head bangers; you need to find your music family so you can enjoy nights like that night. It was a good reminder of why we all do this. Even if the world is ending, we’re going out with music.
Photos by Grace Kelly for Bullet Music.